Congratulations to March’s HARDSCAPE HERO winners, Dean Johnson and John Guidon of James River Nurseries. Dean has been in the hardscape industry for 17 years and John has been in the industry for 31 years. The team at James River Nurseries works together on most jobs and we recently spoke with Dean and John about their winning project.

“We love working on anything that falls under the hardscape umbrella,” Dean says. “However, our primary focus is the high-end residential market.”

James River Nurseries offers a wide array of services, and they can handle everything from residential landscaping to commercial hardscape projects. Their winning project was no different, comprising an interesting mix of landscaping, hardscaping, and custom patio design.

“Our client purchased an eagle statue while on a trip out West. She came to us with the sculpture,and she wanted it to be the focal point of the entire patio.”

It’s not often that contractors are faced with a bronze eagle statue with a six-foot wingspan and a gold-plated beak and talons. But Dean and John are always up for a challenge and they quickly began designing.

“It was difficult because we wanted the eagle to blend into the patio and look natural. It needed to be a focal point, but we didn’t want it to overpower the patio. Conversely, we didn’t want the patio design to bury the eagle.”

The team at James River Nurseries is big on field design, and they implemented that process into the winning project. John told us, “I’ll draw up a project conceptually in the office, and then we start work. That’s where Dean takes over. He’ll come onto the job site and actually tweak the design as we’re doing the installation. This process allows us to be agile during the entire installation and really work with the homeowner to customize their patio as much as possible.”

Dean and John worked with their client on the winning project to design a custom pillar that anchored the eagle in place. The rest of the design, including other features like the fire pit and freestanding walls, were all created to work in unison with the sculpture and create one unified structure.

John and Dean agree that the best thing a client can do when starting a hardscape project is to be patient and dream big. “I’ve never had a client wish they went smaller. We want people to dream big and be comfortable letting the project evolve. It always results in a beautiful finished product,” John says.

This project was completed using Highland Stone Retaining Wall, a Highland Stone fire pit, Chatham Natural, and Cottage Stone Chamfered.

Want to be our next HARDSCAPE HERO? Submit your project here.