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Carpenter Costin Blog

5 Benefits of a Stone Fire Pit Entertaining Space

Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are quite the trend in the United States today. According to the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Residential Landscape Trends Survey, topping the list of outdoor design features is the stone fireplace and fire pit. 

Why are the fire features so popular currently? To understand the sudden appeal of stone fireplaces and fire pits in the Massachusetts area, one only needs to examine the benefits associated with this type of residential architectural detail. 

Let’s take a look at the 5 benefits that a fire pit could add to your property this year. 

#1 Extended Entertaining Area 

One of the top reasons why homeowners in our region love to add fire pits or outdoor kitchens with a fireplace component is the idea of transforming outdoor spaces into viable entertaining areas that can be used throughout the year. 

Adding a fire pit or fireplace to your backyard is like adding valuable square footage to your home except the room is outdoors and allows multiple gathering spaces as well as cooking options. 

For most homeowners in the northeast, getting outside at night becomes an option when there is a warm cozy (and attractively designed) fire to sit beside. Spring, summer, fall, and even some parts of the winter will allow for fire pit season in our area. 

#2 Functionality 

Not only does a fire pit area allow for more entertaining space to be added to a home, it provides a function as well. Many homeowners use the pits or fireplaces to cook their meals during the hot summer months when they don’t want to heat up their homes. Grilling dogs and burgers becomes less of a hassle when you can do it outdoors while enjoying the peace of your yard and nature. 


#3 Warmth & Light 

Who doesn’t like to sit by a crackling fire while enjoying the company of friends and a few cocktails? A fire pit can lengthen those late-night get-togethers by providing both warm and light. The party doesn’t need to end when the sun goes down when you have a fire pit to keep everyone cozy and entertained. 

#4 Adds Curb Appeal & Value to Landscaping

The National Association of Realtors explains that, “Outdoor hardscape projects (such as walkways, fire pits, fireplaces and walls) add resale value to a home as well as bring extra enjoyment to homeowners while they are living in the home.”

When it comes time to sell your home, a well-manicured and hardscape-designed backyard will be more valuable and create more curb appeal, thus attracting more serious buyers. 

#5 Makes Unusable Space Usable

Many New England homes have sloped or rocky yards that are not great for doing much planting, playing, or entertaining. By adding a tiered fire pit to a yard, areas that were once unusable become highly functional and possibly your favorite aspect of the yard! 

If you're thinking about jumping on the fire pit trend and adding one to your property, let our landscape architects handle the planning and heavy lifting for you. We can design, plan and execute the entertaining area of your dreams. 


Preparing for Spring Landscaping

Landscaping Services in the Spring

It doesn't feel like Spring is around the corner but in reality now is a great time to start planning your Spring landscape. To begin, think about how you want to use your yard this year and consider areas for kids or pets, entertaining or outdoor living. If you're not sure, our landscape architects have great ideas and will help you envision your yard as a perfect place to play and relax.

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Here are some ideas for Spring Landscaping:

  1. Bring warmth and fun to your backyard with a stone fire pit

  2. Redefine the entrance to your home with a new walkway

  3. Add a beautiful flowering tree for an interesting focal point

  4. Introduce seasonal color to your property by adding flowers that bloom all season

  5. Add outdoor living space with a new patio

  6. Remove or transplant overgrown shrubs that detract from curb appeal

  7. Install a stone wall to delineate a seating area

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Carpenter Costin’s landscape architects will work with you to explore the possibilities of your property and turn your dreams into reality. Call now for a no obligation consultation on spring landscaping, 877-308-8733.

The Perfect Touch: A Danvers Paver Driveway

Improve Your Landscape With A New Paver Driveway!

Custom Paver DrivewayYou might think of your driveway as an after-thought to your landscape or yard work, but pictures from this project will change your mind! A beautiful driveway is the perfect touch for curb appeal, welcoming visitors, and creating a clean and polished look to your property.
We just completed a beautiful 3,000 square foot driveway in Danvers, MA using a premium combination of pavers. The different shades and shapes create an interesting and beautiful look.
Paver Drive with GarageA horseshoe section of driveway delivers you to the top parking court area and garage, which sits about 15-feet above the grade of the road.
Some of the details include a double interior banding of weathered brick type pavers throughout the horseshoe
section of the drive, with a single banding at the top section to delineate the parking court area.
Our Carpenter Costin masons custom built an inlaid, 6'-diameter compass rose as a center piece for the parking court area. Look at the detail!
Custom Compass Rose Center Piece
Installation of select landscape boulders, plants, and high-quality Kentucky bluegrass sod softens the hardscape edges and finishes off the overall aesthetic.
Natural Stone Garden Wall

We love sharing projects like this to start sparking ideas! If you're interested in speaking with a landscape architect who can give you ideas about giving your outdoor space the perfect touch, call us at 877-308-873 or request a free consultation.

Create a Destination - At Home!

Soothe Your Soul by Enhancing your Landscaping

The fragrant hint of summer roses, the sound of the wind in the trees and the beauty of brightly colored flowers all reward our senses in the garden. After a long day of traffic jams, deadlines, difficult economic news and endless demands, a stroll through your garden can soothe the soul. In fact, researchers have found that exposure to nature can actually reduce your blood pressure, give you a sense of peace, and lift your mood. Lincoln patio and poolTurn your yard into a place to relax by making it a destination. You can create an inviting outdoor living space by adding outdoor ‘rooms.’  Here are some ideas:

  • Design a tropical, comfortable and calming oasis. Imagine sipping an ice cold drink and relaxing with friends in the sun!
  • Add a pizza oven for unmatched entertaining.
  • Create a special place just for the kids and bring them out into the fresh air to play. 
  • A special, secluded ‘room’ in a quiet spot can be used for reading or meditation.
  • An outdoor fireplace can be used throughout the year.

If you have any questions or interested in any of our services please call us at 877-308-8733.

Spring Landscaping Ideas

Ideas for Your Landscape in the Spring

After a long, cold, snowy winter, it’s time to get outside, take a deep breath and start planning how you are going to use your yard this year. As we all seek outlets for stress reduction and restoration, let our landscape architects help you transform your property into an attractive, welcoming and serene place to play and relax. describe the image

Here are some ideas for Spring Landscaping:

  1. Bring the warmth and fun of a campfire to your backyard with a stone fire pit.
  2. Define the entrance to your home with a new walkway.
  3. Add a beautiful flowering tree for an interesting focal point.
  4. Introduce seasonal color to your property by adding flowers that bloom all season
  5. Add outdoor living space with a new patio.
  6. Remove or transplant overgrown shrubs that may be hiding your home.
  7. Install a fence or stone wall to delineate a property line.describe the image

 Carpenter Costin’s landscape architects will work with you to explore the possibilities of your property and turn your dreams into reality.  Call now for a no obligation consultation on spring landscaping, 877-308-8733.  Visit our landscape portfolio.

Why Fall is the Right Time to Add Walls, Walks, & Patios

Installing Hardscape Features: Walkways, Walls, and Patios

Even though the normal fall landscape maintenance include raking leaves and assuring your trees are structurally safe to withstand the load of snow, you don’t need to wait until spring to make landscape improvements - fall is a terrific time for hardscape installation. Take advantage of a few great months for landscape improvements and install a new hardscape feature this fall that will undoubtedly add value, and a new dynamic to your property. The fall landscape construction season can last from September until December depending on how hard the ground is.Stone Steps and Stone Pathway

Why Construct in the Fall?

Constructing hardscape features in the fall has a few main benefits over installing in the spring and summer months. During the spring and summer, you want to enjoy your landscape as much as possible, and could do without interruption due to construction. If you decide to construct in the fall, it ensures your hardscape feature will be ready come spring, and you won’t miss a single cookout or lounging opportunity. If you act fast, you’ll even be able to enjoy some of the nice nights this fall on your new patio.

Choosing to build in the fall also presents better conditions for growing turf and planting/transplanting trees and shrubs. You’ll have a better chance at establishing turf and plants around your new hardscape should you choose to install in the fall.

What to Build?

Adding a patio, walkway, or wall to your property will not only increase the property’s value, but it will also serve as a functional and attractive landscape feature. Looking for a timeless, durable entertaining space? A natural stone patio may be the answer for you. Tired of the heavily trafficked areas in your lawn wearing down to bare dirt? Add a walkway or stepping stone path for extra durability and appeal. Fall is a great time to install any hardscape - from a small natural stone patio, to a large concrete block retaining wall, or a durable new front walkway.

In addition, fall is also a great time for adding trees and shrubs, or transplanting existing plants to new locations.

Where to Start?

Start your fall landscape project with a free consultation with a Landscape Architect. During this consultation be sure to discuss all your wants and needs with the Landscape Architect and they’ll be able to discuss your various options, and work with you to find the hardscape solution that meets your needs, wants, and budget.

Don’t wait any longer to improve your landscape. Fall is a great time for both hardscape and softscape installation!

Request Free Landscape Design Consultation

fall patio hot tub

Install a stone patio around your hot tub this fall so you can enjoy the cool nights under the stars later this fall and winter!

Natural Stepping Stone Walks and Paths

Consider a natural stepping stone path to guide traffic throughout your property.

It happens every year; the most highly trafficked areas on your property get trampled down natural stone stepping stone walkwayto bare dirt, leaving an unattractive series of paths across your landscape. Let this be the last year you have to look at these beaten paths, and add attractive stepping stone walkways to guide traffic across your landscape. Natural stone makes a great looking and durable stepping stone walkway.

The areas that are beaten down to dirt are done so for a reason – maybe it is the easiest path from the driveway to the front door, or quickest route from the back door to the grill. Whatever the reason, people choose it as the desired path; therefore, it makes sense to give it a desirable look and durability. Choosing to install natural stone as “steppers” is a great way to discretely improve your the path's durability, without sacrificing the natural look of grass and stone. Adding an engineered paver path or concrete walkway would undoubtedly increase the durability; however, it will sacrifice the natural appeal of the landscape.

One major benefit of a stepping stone walkway is that, when on a small scale, it can be an achievable DIY project. Natural stone can be picked up at your local landscape supply store and laid into the desired area. Once you have the stones where you want them you’ll need to dig a spot for the stone to rest, which is dependent on the thickness of the stone. You’ll want the stones to appear “sunken” in the lawn, but not too deep as that can become hazardous.

If you’d like to add a stepping stone walkway with large stones, or a full natural stone or paver walkway, we recommend dealing with a professional landscape construction firm since these projects will require additional equipment, grading, and expertise. Remember, as with any DIY project – safety first! Click the button below to speak with a Landscape Architect about natural stone walkways.


walkway stepping stones

This is the best route from the gate to the back deck - newly installed stones will help limit wear and tear on the lawn.

natural stone path

This path leads from the back patio to a beautiful garden and sitting area.

Combining Natural & Engineered Stone in Your Hardscape

Add a landscape feature with natural stone and engineered pavers to give you the best when it comes to hardscape

Deciding which type of stone to use for your next hardscape project can be a difficult. With a variety of natural stones and engineered pavers readily available, the paradox of choice threatens to make adding a new landscape feature a daunting task. If you’re having a tough time deciding which stone to use, we may just have the best answer for you – use both!

A skilled Landscape Architect will be able to design a new hardscape feature that incorporates both natural stone and engineered pavers to ensure you get the benefits of both materials. If you’re looking to add a new driveway, and want the durability and easy maintenance of pavers, but the classic look of natural stone, you can line the new pavers with a cobble or granite edge. Another common combination consists of a durable paver patio, with the natural look of a fieldstone wall surrounding the patio or lining the property.

Combining the two different types of hardscape materials requires a trained hand, as it is very easy to get carried away and end up with a hodge-podge of a landscape. The proper balance of natural stone and engineered pavers, when coupled with a great planting design, can really make a synergized property.

When adding any new landscape feature, it is wise to develop a landscape master plan so you can visualize the entire property, and plan to phase landscape projects that you would like to construct in the future. Take advantage of a free consultation to discuss how you can make natural stone and engineered pavers work for your property.

Request Free Landscape Design Consultation

paver patio w granite

Paver walkway and patio, paired with granite steps and retaining wall.

paver driveway cobble edge

Paver driveway lined with a cobble edge, and natural fieldstone wall.

Build a Natural Stone Wall to Line Your Property

Natural Stone Walls Serve as an Attractive and Functional Boundary Marker

For thousands of years, land owners have been using stone to construct the walls that lined their property; keeping their cattle in check, and helping to identify rigid property boundaries with their neighbors that could have lived many miles away. Though times have changed, natural stone is still a great choice for a wall surrounding your property.

Years ago, farmers would save the stones they encountered when tilling their fields and use them to construct the long stone walls that marked their land. Luckily, stone is now readily available at a local hardscape distributor, which saves some excavation time and effort - but if you have existing stone on your property it can certainly be reused to help save costs! We’ve even constructed walls out of stone excavated from someone’s basement.

There are many different varieties of natural stone, but for simplicity sake, let’s just focus on two styles: round stone and flat stone. Round stone presents a very organic and timeless look that meshes well with classic New England architecture. Flat stone is still very natural, but portrays a more elegant appeal that works well with both modern and classic architecture. Both styles of natural stone are beautiful and are sure to add a timeless appeal to your landscape.

A natural stone wall is not only a great aesthetic feature, but it can also provide safety and security. We’ve seen a number of stone walls that have been damaged by cars that have strayed off the road. There is no telling where the car would have ended up had the walls not been there.

Take advantage of our free consultations and discuss adding a natural stone wall to your property with a Landscape Architect.


natural round field stone wall

A small natural round fieldstone wall at the edge of a property, separating it from the street.

flat field stone wall

This flat stone wall sits between a natural stone patio and a beautiful garden.

Using Recycled Stone to Build a Retaining Wall

Take advantage of existing stone on your property and create a new retaining wall.

We always try to utilize existing materials when feasible, because it helps the homeowner save a few bucks and creates a cool story along the way. A recent project; however, involved using recycled stone from a very unlikely place – the homeowner’s basement.

The homeowner was excavating an area in his basement, and transitioning it from a crawl space into a full-sized basement room. Little did he know, but he was going to find a tremendous amount of schist in his excavation that would make a great natural stone retaining wall just a few weeks later courtesy of one of our Landscape Architects. The wall, (pictured below) is made entirely from stone that was excavated out of the basement.

Who knows, maybe you have some stone on your property that can be used to build a great hardscape feature of your own. Here are some before and after shots of the retaining wall.

 natural stone wall before

The area was overgrown and had an exisiting wall that was crumbling.

stone wall after1

The schist was perfect for this retaining wall.

stone wall before2

The wall was long, and the railroad ties weren't going to last much longer.

recycled stone wall

All this schist was excavated from the homeowner's basement.

stone wall before shot

Using recycled stone saved the homeowner a tremendous amount.

recycled stone retaining wall

 The wall is ready for some new plantings and mulch!


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