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Case Study: Downingtown, PA Outdoor Kitchen, Patio, and Outdoor Fireplace

Posted On: January 29,2018 By: Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

When it comes to entertaining, the layout of your outdoor living space can make or break the party. That’s exactly what this Downingtown, PA family found out with their existing deck. It was not only very small, but it was fenced in on all sides, giving it a “playpen-like” feeling.

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.

The family wanted to be able to spread out and truly enjoy their outdoor area with a space that was thoughtfully designed. This would allow them to get more use out of the space for themselves, and for their guests.

To meet these goals, the family pursued landscapers in Chester County, PA that could design a new space which would be better suited to entertaining. However, they struggled to find the right Downingtown landscaping company to meet their specific needs. So they looked a bit further into nearby Lancaster County.

That’s when they found us and realized we were a company known for being able to handle large-scale projects from start to finish. With this project, there were some very specific design goals as well as some critical challenges to overcome, first.


Working with Space Challenges

The small deck was just one of this property’s challenges. The yard was also situated on a steep slope, making a lot of the existing space nonfunctional. Coupled with the fenced-in deck, the property felt very crowded and required a better solution.

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.

In order to give the family more space, it was necessary to first work with the grading issues at hand. By pushing back the bank, we were able to give the homeowners more space and ultimately create a multi-level, bluestone patio, which has a much more open feel than the former deck.

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.

The two levels, which are connected by bluestone step treads, maximize circulation efficiency and allow a lot more space for guests to spread out. The space also features a seating wall, for extra space for guests.  

Of course, pushing back the bank required a retaining wall. We achieved this with a wall built from boulders. The family already had an existing boulder wall in another area of the property and liked the “rubble look.”

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.

They did not want anything neatly stacked but wanted something more natural to complement the surrounding landscape and the existing wall. To match that wall, we found more boulders like the ones they already had.


Addressing Stormwater Management Issues

An additional challenge with this project was the stormwater management concerns. Because the site had very specific impervious surface restrictions, we had to account for every single square inch of hardscaped space. In order to remain compliant with the restrictions but not take away from usable space, we added stone mulch around the patio edges.

This creative solution was functional given the fact that you could still walk over the graveled area (making it usable “overflow” space). But it also kept the area within the limitations of the township’s impervious surface requirement. The stone mulch also looks aesthetically pleasing.


Outdoor Kitchen and Fireplace in Chester County, PA

The addition of some amenities was another key piece to this landscaping project in Downingtown, PA. The family wanted a relatively basic outdoor kitchen with some simple amenities that would enhance their entertaining capabilities. This included an outdoor refrigerator, sink, grill, and cantilevered countertop space, where family or guests could sit while a meal is being prepared.

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.

The family also added an outdoor fireplace to create a gathering space for family and friends. Now, when their friends from the baseball team come over, they can all gather around the fire for a very cozy and welcoming atmosphere.

Since design is always given careful attention, the stone veneer on the outdoor kitchen, the seating wall, and the outdoor fireplace matches the stone that is found in the home’s indoor fireplace. It is always important to us that spaces flow seamlessly from inside to out, as we believe outdoor living spaces are an extension of the home.


Finding the Best Solution

By refusing to settle for the easiest answers, the family has found the best solution to their backyard challenges. Their new, multi-level space not only looks aesthetically better, but it’s more functional as well.

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.

There is a nice flow of the space as a whole. Since the family often hosts the children’s baseball teams, they no longer feel squeezed into the playpen deck but enjoy entertaining the teams in a comfortable space. It’s no wonder that even years later, our client had this to say:

“We still love everything about our patio, kitchen, and fireplace. We spend a great deal of time outside. It is truly another room of the house and I grill outside all summer, and yes even occasionally in the snow.” - John U., Downingtown, PA

Downingtown PA landscaping project with patio, outdoor kitchen and outdoor fireplace.What these homeowners found out in working with Earth, Turf, & Wood for landscaping their Downingtown, PA home is that sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

You are not limited to just using the landscapers in your immediate town should you find that they don’t have the solutions, or maybe even the capacity, to handle a large-scale project like you have in mind.

At Earth, Turf, & Wood, we often travel outside Lancaster County to work on total backyard transformations in which the homeowners could not find the right company for the type of project they wanted to be completed.

When it comes to a project as important as a complete backyard makeover, it’s simply not worth taking any chances. Like this family did, you want to find a company that has the skill and capability to handle your project from start to finish.

If you’re ready to start a conversation about your Chester County, PA landscaping project, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at (717) 276-9447. We also serve clients in York, Reading, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Hershey, PA.  

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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.

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