Finally Some Progress on the Landscape Plan Stairs and Paths

This has been a long time coming.

Last we heard, we had received the detailed survey that our landscape designer Paula required. That was in November. The delays on this have been driving Kevin and Francisc crazy, as they want to get the project wrapped up. We can’t blame then, but given the difficulties presented by the sloping plot, we’ve been patiently waiting for this plan.

At this stage, we’re focusing only on the hardscape — the stairs, walls, and paths — since that work needs to be started right away. The next phase, once this is settled, will move on to the plantings.

I’ll start with a plan overview that shows the whole property. It’s a little hard to read, so I’ll show close-ups of the key areas around the house and provide some commentary.

Landscape Plan Overview
Landscape Plan Overview
Click image to enlarge
In Front

We’ve done a lot of land reshaping to try to soften the slopes around the house. This work has helped a lot, but right now we’re left with only one way to get down from the parking area to the house, via a path that leads to the kitchen door.

While this is fine for everyday use, we need a more direct route to the front door for guests and for a “proper” approach to the house.

During our trip in May, when we first met Paula we discussed the need for some stairs that went directly down from the parking to the front door. She’s included those stairs, divided into a top section that is more formal and a lower section that is more informal. (Aesthetics, I guess.)

There is also access to the kitchen via a gravel path, following the existing slope. (More on that below.)

She’s also included a very indirect approach, starting along the path to the right of the house, cutting across on the level in front, then descending some stairs to the left front of the house. (This seems like it’s likely overkill.)

She’s also recommending that we build up the retaining wall at the end of the driveway, as a safety measure to define the edge of the slope and to act as a barrier to prevent a car from sliding all the way down to the house.

Landscape Plan Detail in Front of House
Landscape Plan Detail in Front of House
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Side Near the Kitchen

This is just a closer look at the path that approaches the kitchen. This slope is shallow enough to build a path, gravel with wood risers, like railroad ties.

Landscape Plan Detail at Side of House
Landscape Plan Detail at Side of House
Click image to enlarge
Behind and Down to the Pool

First, Paula suggests we add a pergola across the back of the house, covering the area from the portico to the edge of the house.

Next, she’s suggesting a stone landing in the middle of the back of the house, leading to a set of (too steep?) gravel and wood steps down to the level below the house. These steps would then continue to the next level, the one above the pool.

From here, the slope is less steep, and we might be able to do just a path down to the pool, really a series of short stairs with grass levels.

Then, at pool level, there would be a portico to provide some shade.

Landscape Plan Detail Behind House
Landscape Plan Detail Behind House
Click image to enlarge

We think that overall it’s a very good plan. We’ll send it off to Kevin for his thoughts and some ideas about feasibility and costs.

Source:
Plan drawings by Paula Ryan: Copyright © Our Big Italian Adventure

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