In 2010, my wife and I purchased a beautiful 68 acre farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The farmhouse, originally built in 1817, and then expanded in 1867, was in fairly original condition, and optimally located in the center of the property. It's most significant problem, however, was water. Rain water would shed off the nearby ridge, and pool in front of the house, and then ultimately leak through the hand dug cellar walls and cracks in the cement floor. The sump pump in the basement would run for weeks after a single heavy rain. Our little Garden of Eden was becoming a swamp.
Consequently, we looked to Joe Duggan of J. Duggan & Associates to help structurally, and permanently, solve our water problem. This was our first time working with a landscape architect. Joe recommended and coordinated the hiring of several key professionals to assist with the design of the project, namely a topographer/surveyor and an arborist. The topographer mapped the elevations around the farm house and associated ridge, and determined the various sources of the water pooling in front of the house. The arborist identified which of the seven 150 year old trees that closely ringed the house were still healthy, and which were in failing condition.
With this data, Joe created several drafts of various front patio and stone retaining wall configurations that primarily solved our water problem, but also took advantage of the fabulous views from our front porch. The project plan we ultimately settled on was both simple and elegant, and in perfect keeping with the age of the house and surrounding farm land. The stone patio and stone retaining wall were built on reinforced concrete that had a series of drains embedded within the structure that successfully discharged water away from the house. Having stated that though, the drains are cleverly concealed within the patio and surrounding grounds. The patio is perfect for entertaining while it performs its utilitarian task of keeping water out of the house.
As we were new to the area, Joe also identified a stone mason/general contractor who actually built the patio and retaining walls according to his specifications. During construction, it seemed to us that one set of stone piers looked like they were going to be too high. Joe immediately came out, sat in the front porch chairs that we were sitting in, and agreed that the offending piers could be shortened. In the end, we have been exceptionally pleased with the work and care that Joe put into this project. The front porch/stone patio/stone retaining walls are beautiful, and in keeping with the spirit of our house and farm.