A Backyard to Beat Them All

Materials: Lumber, Slate, Gravel, Stone, Landscape Lighting, Pavers, Wall Block, Built-In Grill, Fire Pit, Soil, Seed, Plants, Mulch, Fountain Equipment, Boulders

Backyard Transformation

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, not just once, but twice!


Our story starts in the middle of this home’s construction. We met 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.


Phase one used two paver circles joined by a contrasting texture paver. One space for dining, the other for the fire pit. What started as a simple 6′ pondless waterfall, grew to a fountain and 9′ long stream. We wrapped this area with landscaping and plenty of low voltage lighting.

Unique Outdoor Space is Required

Ray emphasized that he wanted a space that was unique, not just the same cookie cutter outdoor space that every other house had. He wanted it to feel special. Well, one way to make a space special is to add an incredible water feature, and this guy ended up adding four!
We wanted to make sure you could hear that relaxing sound of water from every spot in the yard. In fact, the sound is the reason Ray was sold on the water features in the first place. After taking a look at some previous jobs we had completed, he just knew that being able to hear the sound of water would bring a sense of peace and calm unlike anything else.
Originally, the two primary areas for this yard were the outdoor fire pit and a seating area with a table and chairs. We added some interest by creating these two circular designs and used a variety of different textures for the pavers to really help define each space.

Sounds of Water with Waterfalls and Outdoor Fountains

In order to bring in that soothing sound of water, we installed a gorgeous waterfall just a few feet away from both the fire pit and the seating area. We also added a stacked slate sphere from Aquascape at the bottom of the waterfall. The addition of the fountain really helps to draw your eye down the waterfall, and of course adds to the sound!
Having some epic water features in the backyard obviously wasn’t enough, so after talking through some plans we also added a stacked slate urn to the landscaping in the front yard. Now they had a true surround sound experience.

Still Missing an Outdoor Kitchen

But we weren’t done yet. Like I said, this all happened during phase one of this project, but Ray and I both felt like something was still missing…
When I first met with Ray and we started dreaming up his new outdoor space, he shared with me that he wanted his backyard to feel like an extension of his home. He already had a pretty awesome man cave inside, so we needed to make a seamless transition to the outside.
Adding an outdoor kitchen was almost a no-brainer. An outdoor kitchen really makes your outdoor space feel like an extension of your home. It puts everything you need right at your fingertips without having to run in and out of the house. Now he had a refrigerator, countertop, and this awesome Napoleon grill to help achieve that seamless transition from inside to outside.

The Final Piece

But we still weren’t quite done. We had this open space in the yard that definitely needed something, we just weren’t sure what. We tossed around a few ideas. Should we do a plunge pool? A putting green? Do we put in a pond? The homeowner couldn’t quite put his finger on what he wanted for the final piece of this project…

And then one day, he called me and told me he knew exactly what he wanted: a cigar lounge. That’s right, the final piece to the puzzle was an outdoor cigar lounge, right in his backyard. ​

Since we had already completed phase one, we needed to figure out how we were going to extend the paver walkway into the lounge and kitchen area in a way that felt natural. Originally, the pavers stopped right at the basement steps. In order to keep things flowing, I continued the walkway using textured pavers going all the way through the added space, and then we used the smooth pavers underneath the pergola (aka, the cigar lounge).
These smooth pavers matched the material that we used in the seating area and fire pit, and then all of the walkways had textured pavers. This subtle change really helps to define the different spaces and draw your eye through the whole yard. ​

This is also where that third and final water feature came in. Since the cigar lounge was on the opposite side of the yard from the waterfall, we incorporated one more stacked slate urn into the landscaping right next to the pergola. Now, no matter where he was in his yard, he would always hear that relaxing sound of water.

Unique Backyard in Toana, VA

Our pergola has shade panels to block wind and views from the surrounding neighbors. We also installed two 240v heaters (amazing!) and a poly-carbonate roof. Of course, the lighting had to be on point, and it is built into the pavers and up-lighting the rear panels.



I can personally attest to this space being perfect for cigars. One of our first moments enjoying the space was a winter day in the 40’s with heavy drizzle. Ray and I enjoyed bourbon and cigars without ever once feeling chilled or getting damp. 



This job has been fantastic to work on, and it certainly has been unique. Who knows, maybe there will be a phase three?! Check out the YouTube video to get a closer look at this one-of-a-kind backyard in Toano, Virginia.