Patio perch: A new hardscape creates space for entertaining outside

An existing rock wall and boulders found on the site gave the homeowners cues for the colors and textures of the patio build. Photo: Stephen Barling An existing rock wall and boulders found on the site gave the homeowners cues for the colors and textures of the patio build. Photo: Stephen Barling

After living for decades in a grand house in Suffolk, Virginia, overlooking a 27-acre lake, Diane Grieder and Marion Grigg retired to Charlottesville and a whole new landscape. They were glad to downsize to a smaller home, Grieder says, but “it was hard to give up that lake view.” Two years ago, when they found a house in Lake Reynovia facing the Blue Ridge, they knew they’d make it their new spot.

Perched on a rocky slope, the property had a clear sightline to the mountains in the west, but their deck and screened porch didn’t take advantage of the vista. “We were climbing up the rocks to watch the sunset,” Grieder says. They started to imagine a patio that would tie in with the deck and provide a place to entertain outdoors while drinking in the view.

Existing stone walls on the site, along with large boulders placed here and there by a former owner, led them to envision a rustic design that would connect visually with the mountain landscape. One day, during a daily neighborhood walk, Grieder spotted Tony Kline building a similar hardscape, and Kline’s company, Earthtones, eventually became the couple’s designer and builder.

Because of the site’s steep slope, Kline knew from the start that the patio would have to be terraced. “It would be really tough to achieve this with one level,” he says. “The [retaining] wall would have been too high.” He sketched a curving, two-level patio that wraps around the deck on the lower level, connecting to it seamlessly. A young oak tree and a water feature—a boulder “bubbler,” as Kline calls it—provide focal points. Three steps lead to the upper level.

Kline and his team began by building the retaining wall below the first level. Using Timber Ridge stone in three sizes, Kline blended the wall into boulders at the end furthest from the house. The flagstone patio surface, also from Timber Ridge, features beautiful reds, oranges, and grays, while the steps are sandstone blocks. Kline spent hours choosing and placing each flagstone. “He’s an artisan,” Grieder says.

As home improvements often go, the nearby walkway around the back of the house—made of concrete pavers—suddenly looked shabby after the new patio was finished. The couple asked Kline to replace it with more Timber Ridge flagstone set into gravel, and to build the adjacent retaining walls with new wooden beams.

Kline finished the project around Thanksgiving, and Grieder and Grigg look forward to enjoying the space in warm weather. A movable fire pit and patio furniture will give them options for different setups on the patio’s two levels. They’ll also be busy this spring putting plantings in the mulched hillside below the patio wall.

And anytime they want, whether they’re working or entertaining, they can look up and soak in that great view to the west.

Posted In:     Abode

Previous Post

Lay of the land: A Lovingston mapmaker painstakingly pieces together history

Next Post

Grand garage: A grungy space gets a lush upgrade

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to

Leave a Reply

Notify of