Hardscaping Lessons from the Pilgrims

From on January 09, 2009 in Landscaping

Old Rock WallAs you travel from coast to coast, you’ll notice that a lot of things change – the weather, the language, the culture and lifestyle. Our country’s rich natural landscape is no exception, mutating from desert to lake to mountain to valley, depending on your location. Homeowners usually take these factors into account when they remodel, choosing their materials and designs accordingly and timing their remodel for just the right season.

On the East Coast, hardscaping is a big deal, serving modern needs while blending into the natural environment. Retainer walls that date back centuries flank rolling hills and steep inclines, cobblestone and brick roads date back to the birth of our country. Tim Fabroski, Owner of Fab Home Improvements, says East Coast hardscaping is European in the sense that it is the location where the pilgrims landed. “Our homes date back to the 1600s, from the cedar siding to the wooden roofs to the huge, stained glass windows.”

Preserving this history is critical to the Boston-based clients that Fabroski services. Hardscaping is made to look natural and reflect the New England environment. One way to achieve this is by using natural field stone. Whether it’s ground stone, cobblestone, or round stone, Fabroski ploughs through the materials available on the property, mixing it into his hardscaping so his client’s homes don’t look factory-made. “People like to keep that nostalgic, authentic look.”

Fabroski references the ox and hoe method used by the pilgrims: “The pilgrims hoed their fields with the ox and plough. Everytime they hooked the natural field stone from the ground, they tied it to their oxen and pulled it to their property lines. They were just trying to get all of the stone out of the way. Field stone usually has a flat side to it. They stacked them along their outside borders like books, and in this way, natural stone turned into miles of walls.”

These historic walls are still around today, a testament to durability. Fabroski tries to replicate the native style, creating walls that aren’t perfectly square or level, but that look like they were created by ox and plough. He says, “In modern America and the West Coast, and even in Florida where you have a lot of flat land, everything is manmade and intended to look perfect, square and level. You’ve got 100 to 200 subdivisions being made at once, out of concrete. Here, we’re not taking away what existed for hundreds of thousands of years and replacing it with manmade concrete. Instead of disturbing what’s on site, we remove and replace it, restructure it.”

Fabroski uses the same approach with other land sculptures, such as walkways, driveways, and decorative walls. He only goes to the manufacturers when the materials aren’t readily available onsite. These manufacturers have replicas made from cast or colored concrete, colored and shaped to look just like natural native stone, which he mixes in to the hardscape material.

Fabroski’s currently working on a natural field stone waterfall. “I’ve got pavers going around it, which are all manmade, then an all-natural field stone waterfall with 5-foot-high field stones.” The project is a hybrid of sorts, just one example of how your remodel can take the environment into account, preserving resources and highlighting your location’s unique composition and history.