From Dust to Aquascaped Oasis-Ford's Colony

Materials: Slate; Stone; Gravel; Pond Equipment; Landscape Lighting; Compost; Seed; Plants; and Mulch.

It Started as a Simple Conversation

What started out as a simple conversation about growing grass turned into a much bigger vision: creating a small oasis in this desolate backyard. ​Homes everywhere deserve a beautiful and liveable backyard, and the Ford’s Colony neighborhood in Williamsburg is certainly no exception. Our homeowners had just removed and ground the stumps on few trees providing shade their backyard. Now with that shade gone, it was time for a lawn. We started to discuss different possibilities for the yard and before we knew it, we were talking about way more than just a new lawn or grading. We started dreaming about not just landscaping, but adding a water feature as well.

Dog-Friendly Design

Since the family included a lab, poodle, and a brand new cavapoo, our new design for the backyard needed to be dog-friendly. We knew there would be a lot of activity back here! Another goal of ours was to attract pollinators and butterflies. While there’s no such thing as a “zero maintenance” yard, our goal was to keep the end result as simple and low maintenance as possible so the homeowners would not need to spend a ton of time shearing and pruning in the future.

Our Sketch

Fill-In Plants

With all this in mind, we decided to use Winter Gem Boxwoods along the foundation on one side with Hoogendorn Holly on the other side of the feature. We also added a mix of perennials, including Nepeta (Catmint), Russian Sage, Creeping Jenny, Echinacea (Coneflower), Karl Foerster Grass, and some Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan). Other plants we installed included Juniper, Limelight Hydrangea, and Saint John’s Wort to fill around their waterfall and landscape.

A Pondless Stream

With the options laid out before them, the homeowners chose our 6′ pondless stream (found here in our catalog) with a large stacked slate urn added on for height and visual appeal. We upgraded the pump in our standard system to a 4000-8000 gallon per hour capacity to make sure we had enough volume to power the waterfall and the urn.

Too-Tall Urn

As we started to put together the feature we realized the urn was going to be a tad too tall (55″), so at the last minute we had to pivot and split the urn in two. The bottom portion was used to created a distinct look and also created an additional aquatic planting area. Thankfully our larger pump was up to the task to now run the top of the urn, our new planting area, and the waterfall all at once.

Bringing in the Light

Throughout the landscape, we incorporated lots of outcropping rock. We wanted to carry the water feature further into the yard than just around the actual water. Using boulders in the landscape design helps naturalize the feature to this particular space.
The whole left side of the yard was coming together fantastically! On the right side of the home, however, was an area that still didn’t see much sunlight. After talking with our homeowner, we landed on a small slate patio where they could set a bench, a few Adirondack chairs, and possibly install a fire pit in the future.
After the water feature and planting were completed, we turned our attention to the grade throughout. We leveled all the humps, removed old roots, added topsoil, and finally spread compost over the yard to grow grass and complete the ‘finished yard’ look.

Backyard Privacy

Our final piece to the puzzle was to restore privacy to the backyard. Along the outside of the fence we had removed six large Leyland Cypress. We replanted Chindo Viburnum in this space instead.

Completed Landscaping

We were able to pull of this whole space for just a tad over $17,000, including the water feature and all the upgrades. Our project had morphed a little – ok, maybe a lot! – from just planting grass, but we left our homeowners with a private oasis where they can kick back and relax to the peaceful sound of bubbling water for years to come.