In today's world, where environmental consciousness is on the rise, planting a pollinating garden has become a popular and responsible trend. By creating a habitat that nurtures our local pollinators, we not only help them thrive but also contribute to the overall health of our ecosystem. There are a few valuable insights I want to share on how we can make our gardens and landscapes more welcoming to pollinators, and I’ll be emphasizing the importance of focusing on the right food sources, trees as host plants, and year-round considerations. So let's dive in and discover how we can play a crucial role in supporting our local pollinators.
Recently I was hanging out with Fred, our trusty mannequin friend, and we stumbled upon a conversation about Shaq's pond. Now, let me tell you, it was a bit one-sided and honestly a tad boring. But then we had an idea! We thought, maybe you guys haven't seen the full glory of Shaq's pond and its surroundings. So, we decided to take you on a little adventure to show you what went into constructing this magnificent pond and some of the headaches the team faced along the way.
What if we told you that you don't have to leave your home in order to have the outdoor experience of your dreams? What if you could create that sense of adventure, natural beauty, and relaxation right in your own backyard?
That is exactly what we did for this space in York County, Virginia.
One of my favorite things about this property is how it is set right on the water, but this setup also posed one of the biggest challenges for the job.
Properties like this one in Poquoson, Virginia, that are set right on the water have one main issue: they are often sitting on an RPA, or a Resource Protected Area. The RPA in Poquoson is a 50-foot buffer area that helps to protect the natural environment near a body of water from being disturbed. The main concern with hardscape projects like this one is the runoff that can occur as a result of installing pavers. We always want to preserve the natural beauty of any space that we’re working in, so we came up with a plan that would allow these homeowners to have the outdoor space they wanted, while also protecting the natural beauty of Poquoson.
Once we had approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals to get started on the job, we still had a few obstacles to face. While the backyard as a whole is not small, the area that we had to work in was pretty compact. After accounting for the boundary lines set by the RPA, we had to fit an outdoor kitchen and bar, a patio, and a full-sized pool inside 700 square feet of space.
When we first stepped into this backyard in Hampton, there was nothing in the space. Before the transformation, the homeowners were never really out here. The yard was basically just the place where they came to walk their dogs, and that was it! There was nowhere to sit, nothing to do, and there since there wasn't a fence in place the dogs couldn’t even run around. Well, they decided it was time for a change!
Today we’re going to talk about how to pick a good contractor for your next outdoor home project and what possible red flags you should look for before hiring someone to fill that role.
To make sure we didn’t miss anything, we sat down with our supplier, Jacob, from Yorktown Materials. Jacob works closely with contractors and homeowners alike, so he has a unique view of the industry and had a lot of great information to share!
Our goal is to educate others about what to look out for and what questions you should ask before hiring a contractor for your outdoor space. After all, you’re about to invest your hard earned money into a space that YOU have to live in, so you need to choose the right person to get the job done!
Have you ever had that feeling that something was missing, but you just didn’t know what it was? That was definitely the case for this homeowner, Ray.
You see, we had already completed phase one of a backyard transformation for this homeowner. We started in his barebones backyard, I used my trusty can of spray paint, and we made a plan that we thought would bring all of Ray’s wishes and hopes for this space to life.
Back in 2018, my business was struggling a bit. I still needed to learn how to actually operate and run a business. Enter: The Contractor Fight. The funny thing about The Contractor Fight was that this group was made up largely of a bunch of pond builders, and suddenly I got to be a part of that world.
While we had already built a bunch of water features at that point, we definitely weren’t doing it at the same caliber as these people. I immediately loved the camaraderie that this group had, and the tribe that The Contractor Fight had built. I started getting introduced to different builders around the country, and ended up at Aquascapes Pondemonium event, where I met April (aka “Queen of the Lady Pond Builders”) from American Waterscapes.
There's not much that hasn't changed about this backyard! When the wetland buffer was moved the possibilities opened up, and we've made quite the transformation at this home in the Cypress Creek neighborhood of Smithfield.
First up is the Forno Bravo pizza oven, which required some interesting modifications to keep the inside as hot as possible and insulated well.
This homeowner was, quite simply, tired of staring at the same old giant plot of grass in his backyard day after day, month after month. He's in the same situation a lot of people find themselves currently: working from home full-time. While there are some awesome perks of working from the home office, there are some definite drawbacks. After all, who wants to get tired of being in their own house?
The good news is that we had a massive plot of land and a built-in beautiful water view at this space in Lanexa to create something spectacular. We began to hatch a plan...
When we started working on the outdoor set for the Hampton Roads Show at WAVY TV 10, we knew there were three critical elements: the fire pit, an outdoor kitchen, and of course some lighting and landscaping to complete the look. After talking with the producers, though, we decided to surprise them with one more addition...
Does the sloped yard and water run-off problems ruin our project?!
We faced some pretty big obstacles at this house in the heart of the Ford's Colony Williamsburg neighborhood, and we had to come up with answers. Here's what we did...
We've been waiting on this project for a long time, and it's finally ready for us to show off! When these homeowners first called us with their idea, we were excited, but house renovations - as they often do - went long on the timeline and the budget, so their back yard had to wait for awhile. Luckily, their beautiful view of the James River Bridge wasn't going anywhere, and we saw the potential of this incredible Hilton Village home from the first visit.
For obvious reasons, the homeowners wanted to maximize their sunset view while keeping the space kid-friendly, so we got to work with a few goals in mind.
You already saw part 1 of this project when we began to create a backyard paradise at this Williamsburg home, and now we're thrilled to show you the final results. This little slice of heaven is tucked away amidst already-beautiful landscaping, and our goal was to create a space where the homeowners could truly enjoy what was already growing right in their backyard.
The basic outline of the area was to add pavers with a stair landing, water feature, fire pit, and - of course - a small but beautiful water feature. The curved staircase leads down from the new landing straight to a grill, perfect for backyard cookouts. The fire pit, centered among the pavers, has some added features - a wood grain look and smokeless insert - that will make this space perfect for those outdoor summer evenings spent with friends.
And that's not all...
When you walk into this backyard oasis, there are three areas where you can spend your time: the pool (now re-done), the sunken fire pit, or the hidden hot tub in the back corner. By creating a yard with multiple 'layers,' we wanted to have an oasis (or three!) within an oasis right in this Virginia Beach homeowner's backyard.
While some of this structure already existed, it wasn't welcoming - pea gravel around the pool isn't exactly friendly to bare feet! - and needed a big upgrade. We surrounded the pool with pavers and re-made their diving board, adding two full palettes of concrete to create a solid foundation. For the sunken fire pit, we made sure the space felt connected to the pool while still being separate, with a small step as a transition piece. Techo bloc creates an eye-catching area for a table and chairs to break up the paver pattern, and behind wooden panels is a hot tub area for a private, intimate setting so guests can truly get away.
This driveway was originally asphalt layered with gravel and it just wasn't working for these homeowners. We transformed the non-workable space into a 5500 square foot paver-style driveway complete with some extra flair.
Because we built this in Newport News, there were a few extra steps: permits, approvals, a reinforced apron, and more. We also dealt with some surprising angles to make this as friendly to driving in and out as possible and create a family-friendly space for the homeowners and their grandkids.
Are you landscaping around the ugly parts?
It’s not uncommon to have something in the yard you want to hide. Utility boxes, telephone poles, fire hydrants, maybe a power box. Unfortunately, these are often in the middle of the yard, creating an unsightly feature in a place where you are trying to relax and enjoy nature.
For a lot of people, the prevailing wisdom might be to plant a group of bushes around these utilities to hide them. Some use a clump of flowering drift roses or maybe some low Ligustrum, I even see some grasses with a boulder and river rock placed around unwanted yard elements.
I usually discourage from this practice. Even if the plants add beauty to the yard, placing them right next to the object you are trying to hide often draws even more attention to it. Sure, there might be a beautiful bed of white roses...but you'll also notice the power box behind the bush as you enjoy your flowering plant. Even worse, in the winter, flowers and bushes are often bare, which creates layers of objects that you'd rather draw attention away from instead of highlighting them!
So the question reminds: how can you hide ugly parts of your yard or installations that you wish you could move? My vote might surprise you: just leave them alone! Instead, spend time and effort creating an amazing landscape at the front of the house. A welcoming entrance and landscaping can pull attention to your home, which in turn draws the eyes away from those yard elements that you wish would just disappear.
Here are a few examples of some homeowners who did just that using outdoor lighting, beautiful landscaping, stunning patio designs, and more!
Phase 1 is complete for this three-part project in Yorktown, Virginia. To kick things off we built a four-season room and a deck, started in on the landscaping, and completed a walkway leading out to the front yard. The most exciting part, of course, is the 38-foot waterfall that will eventually have 20,000 gallons of water rushing over the space.
We started with a completely flat yard, which ended up being a challenge because our waterfall required almost 48 inches of elevation! Outcropping rocks will hold the soil in, and the slopes will be filled with plants like maple and cherry trees that have been repurposed into the space from other parts of the yard.
We installed 3-inch plumbing in the Aqua-Blocs to allow such a massive amount of water to flow through and, in places, bubble up like an actual brook. Big rocks and boulders will bring the whole water feature together. We love that in this backyard, even if the pool is shut down, the homeowners will still be able to enjoy all four seasons with the rushing sound of water controlled by an adjustable pump.
In Phase 2 we're adding a walkway to a pavilion with a fire pit carved into the side of the water feature, an outdoor kitchen, and a lot more landscaping, so stay tuned for some more incredible updates!
It wasn’t that long ago COVID happened. It was a bit rough. Travel was almost completely nixed. Consequently 2020 was coined The Year of the Home. Boy was it! As we entered 2021, the trend continued. We were asked many times to use the vacation budget to create a place where experiences, conversations, and life could happen steps from the living room. We happily accepted the challenge. We are honored to change the landscape around Hampton Roads, consequently changing the way our clients live outdoors.
Watch the video below to see some of our favorites, then click here for a brief review of our top 10 projects and take the opportunity to vote for YOUR favorite!
Years ago we added outdoor landscaping and a fountain to this beautiful backyard in Yorktown. This year, we came back to add an outdoor kitchen complete with under-counter storage, side-burners, and a built-in Napoleon Prestige grill. We also included WiFi enabled low-voltage lighting to make sure you can get around it during the evening.
If it wasn't already a welcoming space, this small kitchen addition is going to make the ambiance even better. It's a usable space even in inclement weather, and we can't think of a more perfect way to welcome fall.
What would you want in an outdoor kitchen? Comment and let us know!
We started with a mess and ended with a pool! Originally, we installed everything from a patio to a hot tub in this Toano backyard, but it was time for a pretty big upgrade. Of course, we had to tie the new pool in with the existing hardscape, and the result is an absolutely incredible outdoor space.
Now, the yard features:
It's never a bad day when you have a beachside view! This backyard in Croatan Beach needed a makeover, and we were here to help. We partnered with Virginia Beach Patios to fix a minor disaster that destroyed the original landscaping. After the rebuild, we added a gorgeous water feature to take it to the next level.
We also added hydrangeas, flame inserts to the aquascape, and a new, safe way to collect water during a rainstorm.
Now this backyard in Virginia Beach, so close to the Atlantic Ocean, has paradise written all over it. Watch the video to hear about what happened and how we worked together to fix it!
How do you like your marshmallows? When you have your own fire pit, you can experiment every night if you want!
This home in Hampton, Virginia, started out with a lot, and it was our job to refine, simplify, and upgrade the space. We added native plants and clean landscaping, and not too long after the homeowners decided to add a fire pit to their backyard.
The entire patio is made to maximize seating space and use shade-loving plants (think azaleas, virburnum, forsythia, hydrangeas, etc.) to beautify the overall project.
Watch the video to see our process and get ideas for your backyard fire pit!
We originally added a pool, carport, and landscaping to this home in Yorktown, Virginia. A few years later we added a water feature...and now they want even more! This beautiful backyard features summertime hydrangeas, an outdoor kitchen, and crepe myrtles, among other things.
For their new water feature we added a bubbling sphere, but after they got a taste of it they knew they wanted to add on. We're taking out hydrangeas, repositioning the sphere, adding a waterfall, and upgrading the overall view. Tons of AquaBlox were used along with the new Aquascape SLD 5000-9000 for the fountain and a Aquascape AquaSurge 5000 for the waterfall.
This backyard is going to be quite the showpiece, right in the heart of Yorktown. Watch this video to see the transformation! Do you think they're done, or will we come back for more in a few years?!
About Easton Outdoors
We started out as the neighborhood lawn boys – a group of high school friends trying to make some pocket change. It soon became more. We realized how much we enjoyed landscaping. Over the years, we've transformed hundreds of properties, beautified countless landscapes, and made many homeowners proud. This has become our passion!