The existing timber walls were removed along with the wood stairways and platforms that gave access down to the tennis court. In their place were built dry-laid Pennsylvania fieldstone walls.
We used the flat, solid surface of the old tennis court for storing materials because it was ultimately to be refurbished. From the contractors perspective this was “a luxury” because even during muddy periods (and we had them) the area stayed solid.
Now it was time to build the stone steps, which would connect the two spaces…the upper and lower yards. These steps were to be large stone slabs varying in width from 5 to 7 feet. You can see some of them stacked on the old tennis court ready for placement.
Notice how their thickness is similar from one to the next. We tried to have a consistent step height of 6 inches, but natural stone like this can vary slightly in thickness. There are a couple of tricks to manipulate the stones so they match one another more closely. I’ll cover that in a future post.
In addition to the concerns of engineering and construction, the process of setting the stones involves a great deal of design thought. Each stone is unique. As detailed as the landscape drawings may be, the installer is basically creating the look as he goes. This is why it’s so important to have a capable stone-setter who will give the time and thought to this phase.
Notice in the picture above how the large boulders are being placed in concert with the steps. Stone slab steps like these are dry-laid on a base footing of 3/4″ clean gravel. The backhoe was used to “crane” each step into position using heavy duty nylon straps.