Bilson & Associates - Landscape Architects & Land Planners


Bilson & Associates Designs Mountain Retreat
Front Entry Hardscape & Landscape

The Lodge (as we've come to call it) has been a very exciting and challenging project for us. Situated on top of a mountain ridge in Ellijay, Georgia, this property brought considerable challenges with access, views, elevation changes, plant material and hardscape features. Because the house is located on top of a mountain ridge, which provides for exceptional views, there was a very steep transition in the back of the property and virtually no back yard. Since the owner wanted a backyard with a flat lawn area, a fire pit, and a water feature, the challenge was going to be the steep topography.

Our goal was to provide a design that looked timeless, but also met our client's needs. We proposed a series of retaining walls to provide for a flat area in the back yard extending approximately 30 feet from the residence. The design included a meandering garden wall with natural landscaping for year round interest. The varying sizes of planting areas were proposed to break up the long rectilinear shape of backyard. The walls created two levels in the backyard -- the upper level with a large patio area is directly accessible from the residence and could be used for gathering and entertaining, and the lower level which includes natural landscaped areas and a round fire pit with built-in stone seating. The fire pit is centrally located just below the large expanse of living room windows and provides a perfect place to build an outdoor fire with friends or family and enjoy cool evenings as the sun sets, with great views to the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The backyard design also includes a pond less water feature with a series of weirs pouring water out of a large stone wall. The water drops down into a basin filled with river stone that is surrounded by natural landscaping, varying sized boulders, and cut tree stumps. The boulders and stumps add to the natural character of the property and serve as seating areas near the fountain.

Bilson & Associates Designs Mountain Retreat
Rear Plaza Overlooking Mountains

The landscape design incorporates many native and shade-tolerant plants, while focusing on mostly evergreen materials with a variety of colors, textures and blooming cycles. We also incorporated deciduous plant material to balance the design and keep the property looking full and interesting throughout the year. We chose deciduous plants that would offer year round interest, with vibrant fall color, showy spring blooms, and interesting bark color or textures. The landscape design features Yellow and Red Twig Dogwood shrubs, Oak Leaf Hydrangea, and several others native plants. The plant selections not only offer year round interest, but they provide focal points throughout the property much like sculptures in the landscape.

Our inspiration for this project included several historic lodges around the country and the natural beauty of the site. Since main building material for the house was timber logs, the design intent was to incorporate other natural materials for the hardscape which would blend the site with the features of the lodge. The hardscape materials we chose included stone walls, large stone steps, crushed granite and pavers. During the design process, we found that Pavestone offered a selection of material that could be incorporated for the driveway, pedestrian pathways and lower patio areas and maintain the natural character we wanted. The selection of pavers for this project included a tumbled Venetian paver blended with three colors for the driveway and Plaza Stone pavers for the walkways and patio areas. We feel like Pavestone provided the best selection of colors and style for this project, and the selected pavers complimented the overall design and, most importantly, satisfied our client's needs.

We faced many challenges on this project including very steep topography, weather conditions, and the transition from natural materials to man-made materials. One of our main concerns was the steep transition from street level to a lower garage and parking area. We decided to incorporate concrete bands into the paver pattern to help with the structural design of the paver system and provide a decorative pattern to break up the large expanse of the paver field.

While projects like this can provide increased levels of complexity and frequently require changes in the field based on conditions or Architectural changes, we find that it also can provide a higher level of satisfaction when completed. Overall, we are very pleased at the final outcome of the project, and are proud to have been involved with the design and construction of this beautiful mountain retreat.

This project was also the recent focus of an article in Landscape Architect & Specifier News. Click HERE to read the online copy of the article.

40 Powder Springs Street / Marietta, GA 30060
(P) 770.419.0006 (F) 770.419.3664
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