Image of a large home in the evening being spotlighted by warm outdoor lights

Walk This Way: Our Award-Winning Basking Ridge Transformation

From a Simple Paver Pathway to a Bluestone Showstopper

Proportion. Balance. Symmetry. Important in life, and especially important to your home’s curb appeal. Few examples make this case better than our recent and total transformation of the front walkway of this Basking Ridge home. A simple 4-foot-wide paver pathway was stunningly reimagined by our designer into a 1,200-square-foot sectioned bluestone courtyard. The before and after was so breathtaking, the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association bestowed two awards upon us for our efforts (Landscape Installation Without Pool: $50,000-$100,000 and Landscape Installation: Lighting). This project was a true testament to our comprehensive outdoor services, from landscape lighting to hardscape design and installation in Basking Ridge, NJ, and the surrounding areas.

Visionaries in Design: We See the Big Picture

When we were first contacted by the client, he was looking to replace the front walkway that led from the driveway to the front porch of his home. What struck our designer immediately was how out of proportion the existing walkway was to the scope of the house. A 10,000-plus-square-foot dwelling had a mere 4-foot-wide paver walkway leading to the front door. We knew we needed to create something that would match the majestic nature of this home! Our designer outdid herself, proposing a striking offset bluestone courtyard/walkway in three sections, complete with flawless lighting and lush plantings. This was going to be a dramatic transformation that would require out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and some major problem solving. As always, Castle Point was up to the challenge.

Nothing Two Truckloads of Concrete Couldn’t Fix

Wet-laid bluestone presents a series of installation and longevity challenges, but we can’t argue with the aesthetic it provides! For a project this size, and really anytime you’re installing wet-laid bluestone, the challenge is always preventing the stone from cracking. Once this kind of stone cracks, there is no repairing it. So, we needed to get ahead of that issue by constructing a firm foundation that would ensure stability and prevent any kind of settlement. Oh, and one more thing: The homeowner wanted to be able to drive his small tractor across the walkway from the driveway to the front door. Challenge accepted.

After the above revelation, we knew we needed serious architectural soundness in the foundation upon which the bluestone would be laid. Our custom-made base included a drainage system, rebar, wire mesh and concrete poured 8 inches deep. For those of you keeping score at home, that translated into 22 YARDS of concrete! But here at Castle Point, we understand that if you frontload with quality, repairs are unnecessary on a project’s back end. Thanks to this solid foundation and three strategically placed control joints, the courtyard stones look as beautiful today as the day we finished the job.

A Potentially Explosive Situation: Things That Didn’t Go Boom

After the initial strategy for the walkway was discussed, the client also asked for the portico to be extended, as it, too, did not match the proportions of the rest of the house. We rolled up our sleeves and were ready to do some digging.

On the day we were scheduled to excavate the existing portico, the homeowner happened to be on-site. Almost in passing, he mentioned that we needed to be mindful of the two-inch gas line that ran to the home’s generator. This was the first we’d heard of this gas line. It didn’t appear in any of the utility plans. And the homeowner was unsure of its exact location. The brainstorming and troubleshooting began. That’s when our eagle-eyed team happened to notice a settled-out portion of the existing paver pathway that was in a precarious location. Surely the gas line wouldn’t have been placed running across the front of the house, right? To be certain, we brought in a wire locator to test our theory of the gas line’s position. Bingo! We were spot on. Without the tip from the homeowner and the quick thinking of our team, it’s quite possible the gas line could have been severed on the first dig. What began as a standard excavation project turned into a two- to three-day affair. But “safety first” is always our motto!

Lighting Up the Night

Once the courtyard was finished, it was time to make sure all of the other elements were up to the task of showcasing this magnificent house. The homeowner had indoor-controlled lanterns installed on the four pillars that surrounded the front-porch area. Noticing the original landscape lighting was somewhat outdated and didn’t provide enough light for the much larger courtyard that now existed, we proposed revamping the system for the front façade and walkway. Implementing our vision was no small feat: We needed to both complement the home’s existing lighting and strike a balance between being overly lit versus providing enough light to navigate the courtyard safely. But as the pictures show, our team knocked it out of the park! The finished product looks consistent, and everything down to the tiniest detail is symmetrical—every window, every peak, every shadow. Wowsa!

That Rewarding, Awarding Feeling

We are so honored to have won three awards at the 2023 Landscape Achievement Awards held last December, receiving two for this Basking Ridge project. The competition was fierce, and we congratulate all that were nominated. In addition, this incredible transformation will be featured in the spring 2024 edition of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association Magazine.

At Castle Point, we are so incredibly passionate about hardscape and landscape design in Basking Ridge, NJ, and across the Garden State. We want to thank our client for trusting us with this project, one that started off small and ended up turning into a major overhaul. We also want to thank our incredible team for doing such a phenomenal job, from our designer to our customer service reps to our installers. This truly was a team effort and we’re so grateful to everyone who was involved!

With more than 25 years of experience, our talented team is primed and ready to transform your outdoor space into something more amazing than you could ever imagine. Contact us online or call Castle Point Landscape Design at 908.512.2267 to request a free, on-site consultation for your NJ home today.