In the hardscape industry, small spaces can offer big opportunities for creative design. When Andy Welch from Oriole Landscaping first walked the property of this Hardscape Hero-winning project, he knew something special was about to take shape.

“Especially for smaller installations, the right design choices, both aesthetically and functionally, can have a bigger impact than a larger patio and pool install. Having the opportunity to use my creativity is definitely one of my favorite parts about the job,” Welch explains.

The homeowners, located in Richmond, Virginia, spend a lot of time outside enjoying the moments on their front porch and evenings in the backyard. Because the property was located in a residential community where many of the houses have similar architectural designs, there was a great opportunity to add hardscapes that would create new and unique outdoor living spaces.

“The first features you notice driving up to the house are the beautiful, large custom planter boxes. As you walk between them and down the paver walkway toward the front door, you’ll find a new patio with fresh landscaping. The homeowners love to sit there in the morning and have coffee together,” Welch says.

Like most projects, this one didn’t come without its challenges. The team had to remove a giant concrete slab to accommodate space for pavers on the front patio. The existing slab was connected to the foundation of the home, so to install the pavers, Welch and crew had to carefully remove it piece-by-piece to ensure no damage was done to the foundation.

In the backyard, the team quickly discovered a drainage flow issue due to the way the house was situated on the lot. It was remedied by regrading and installing pavers in a variety of locations. The result was an additional 70% usage added to their property.

The backyard is naturally divided into a few separate areas and Welch designed an intricate but natural way to connect them. He also created unique ways to make the smaller spaces feel elegant and functional.

“I started the design with the view from the back of the house, noticing the kitchen window looked directly onto their detached garage. We realized this space would be perfect for a water feature, allowing the family to enjoy the sound and movement of water both outside and in.”

Around the corner from the water feature, the walkway bends into another part of the yard that now hosts a gorgeous patio, sitting wall and Weston Stone Traditional Fireplace, equipped with gas.

“Andy was able to take our vision and create spaces for us that exceeded our expectations. When it’s warm we spend most mornings on our front patio and most evenings on our back patio. We’ve been able to host socially distant family gatherings, and even celebrated Christmas outside on our patio, which was especially meaningful this year.”

Welch’s backstory is as distinctive as his work. After 18 years in the cycling industry, he was ready to make a change. A mutual friend connected him with Kenny Oriole of Oriole Landscaping, and three years later, Welch is a Belgard Hardscape Hero.

“Learning from Kenny has been awesome and I feel really fortunate. He’s super patient and he’s taught me so much about the process and trade. The most important lesson is that long-term success in this industry is about making sure you and the homeowner are a good fit. And this project is a great example of that.”


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The following Belgard products were used in this project: