Nick Powell always knew he wanted to work outdoors, so it was a good fit when he chose landscaping as a career. But it was only when he began working with stone, and saw he had a talent for it, that he found his true profession.

Powell, 34, is co-owner of Associates Four, a Bloomington-based landscape, hardscape, and tree service that he started with partner Andy Tatman in 2013. Powell is the hardscape specialist, designing and building retaining walls, fire pits, patios, walkways, steps, and flower beds. Unlike most stone construction, Powell’s walls and patios are built “dry,” without mortar between the stones.

He works primarily with local limestone and sandstone. “I’m glad we have two different types of stone,” he says. Much of the stone comes from a quarry near Bedford, Indiana. “Sometimes I can just pick out what I want,” he says. He is especially drawn to “old field stones where moss is growing.”

Among his favorite local projects is a 200-foot-long wall that Associates Four built on a property along Lake Monroe. “Some of the base stones weighed two-and-a-half tons,” he recalls. “We had to lift them with a loader and big straps.”

Then there is Maple Grove Road with its historic dry stone fences. Powell says his work there “aims to keep the flavor of the area.” He built a fire pit and steps for one house on the road and a patio for a neighbor across the street. Finding an old, hand-hewn limestone post in the yard, he stood it up at the entrance.

Powell grew up in Carmel, Indiana. He moved to Brown County 15 years ago, and now lives at the edge of Nashville, Indiana. He honed his dry stacking skills at a weeklong stone workshop in Shaker Village, Kentucky, where, he says, “there are miles of dry stone walls” for inspiration.

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