When a local nonprofit in Newport News, Virginia asked us to create a space for their staff to reflect and find some peace and quiet, we didn't realize it was going to be quite a task. With a bus stop, cars honking nearby, along with a fire station, it was challenging to create a tranquil oasis. Our original plan was to build a 16-foot wide space on the side of the building with an 8-foot tall fence for privacy. However, just as we were finalizing the plans, we were informed by the city that it would not be allowed. Back to the drawing board!
Today we’re taking you on a journey through a remarkable transformation in Newport News, Virginia. In this detailed account, we will walk you through the entire process, from the challenges we faced to the stunning features we incorporated. Prepare to be amazed as we unveil the captivating hardscape and water features that have turned this once mundane space into a backyard paradise for the whole family.
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!
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.
Some of our projects are in big, wide-open spaces...and then some are like this one in Newport News, Virginia, which boasts a grand total of 750 square feet in the backyard. We knew it would be challenging to create a full design in a tiny space, but we also had some big ideas and a lot of experience making seemingly impossible dreams come true.
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 the heavy rains come to Virginia, they can really wreak havoc on the backyard! Fortunately we had a lot of grading to do anyways, so all the extra mud will be cleaned out and we can leave everything back in its perfect condition.
This was a very complete project so it took some time to make everything not only look good but flow smoothly throughout the space, and we actually finished with a walkway leading to the backyard from the front of the house so there would be an easy way to get to the good stuff. And if you're wondering, there was a LOT of good stuff to get to...
We are working with Wayne Harbin Builders in Williamsburg, a company that builds beautiful custom homes in the area. We work with them to provide landscaping, install water features, and making the outside look as incredible as the inside will when the homeowners step into their new house. In this Ford's Colony home, we did a pathway and landscaping in front with lighting as well as a patio and steps in the back.
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.
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.
The backyard started out as just grass and ended with 2,500 square feet of a Techo-Bloc constructed patio complete with a massive sunken fire pit, two water features, a pergola, some screening walls, and a total of 91 lights. One of our favorite elements is the Boy with His Dog, a small fountain that had been dormant in their garage for over 15 years!
As large as this space was, we didn't want it to feel too big and grandiose. Instead, we want it to feel like a comfortable space for their family to be at home outdoors, especially when their grandkids get the opportunity to play in the fountain.
This project, built at a home nestled in the heart of Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of our favorites and we can't wait to see how they live life outdoors in such a gorgeous space.
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!
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then how much is a video worth? Usually our project recaps include an explanation of our process and the installation details, but for this koi pond and patio install, we thought that we would let the finished project do all the talking. It's no secret that water feature are our favorite element to build in Hampton Roads and beyond, so this one - complete with a fire pit and patio - was the perfect project for us.
If you're interested in the details, here they are: We installed a 14x10 Tranquility Elite koi pond. Complete with underwater lights, water auto fill valve, and an auto doser. We also carved stone steps into the landscape along with a 38’ retention wall and two patios.
Our goal, as always, was for this family to enjoy their outdoor space as a second home right outside their home. Let us know if this is something you would want in your backyard!
Recently, Micah got to appear on the Hampton Roads show to talk about all the various options for outdoor lighting. He covers everything from the type of lights we use (low-voltage lighting that takes no more power than a cell phone!) to the surprisingly small number of lights we typically use and how these lights compliment water features that we install.
Watch this short video and let us know what surprised you about the segment!
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:
We already worked on this space near Lee Hall in Newport News last year, but then our client wanted something more. Originally, we put in...
...but if that wasn't enough, we are now adding a putting green to her backyard! Watch the video to see how we're maintaining proper drainage, installing color-changing lights for nighttime fun, different holes with different levels of difficulty, and more. We're thrilled to add a mini-golf course to her backyard...have you ever thought of doing something like that?!
At the end, you'll get a sneak peek of the finished project, along with some fun before-and-after shots.
Who knew what 2020 would bring?! It ended up being The Year of Home. I mused that since no one would be traveling to Paris or Venice this year, maybe people would put their vacation budget into their home, landscape, and outdoor spaces. While I may have meant that as a joke, it wasn't far from the truth, as few of our clients have told us.
Despite the challenges of finding supplies, manufacturers being shut down, wood prices skyrocketing, and material shortages, we had a lot of fun this year. We live to create. We enjoy the end result. We love seeing our clients live in their new space. We take pride knowing we had something to do with the memories they'll create enjoying the great outdoors.
Here are the Easton Outdoors top 10 projects for 2020!
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!