Thinking Outside the Lawn
2018 Gold Award for Excellence in Residential Landscape Design and Construction - Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association
Featured in Classic Home Gardens, March 2018
Retired and empty nesters, our clients built a new home in an established neighborhood. Their number one criteria for their landscape design was that it could be chemical free. This in turn led to our suggestion to eliminate nearly all lawn. This was a practical decision for the front yard, based on the significant slope and the existing trees which created a fair amount of shade for the north-facing garden. We created a rock garden effect for the non-traditional front yard , with outcropping stone tucked into the hillside among shade tolerant shrubs, perennials and grasses. Serviceberry trees provide vertical interest among the tall existing pines and spruce. Plant choices were made not only for ease of maintenance, but also to follow the craftsman/ Asian vibe that the we and the client chose for the theme.
Because the home was the last to be built in the 1990's neighborhood, we were forced to work with problematic grade changes in the backyard between the lots on either side. The home builder had a minimal swale graded across the backyard from west to east to deal with the significant runoff that occurred during rainstorms. We suggested to our client that this was a perfect opportunity to create a dry creek bed that would meander across the backyard, and would double as a functioning drainage swale. This element fit well with the idea of an Asian garden and it is surrounded by colorful plantings on all sides. River birch were placed along the banks of the creek, providing vertical interest and privacy from the neighbors. Slate chip water "flows" around Aqua Blue Granite boulders and under a Lannon stone bridge that leads to a small lawn panel for grandchildren.
The bridge is connected to the new half circle patio, which is paved with Full Range Irregular Bluestone. Per the request of our client, the sun tolerant plant palette consists of cool blues, pinks and purples along with white. The chosen plants meet our goal of long blooming and low maintenance. Low voltage, LED lighting highlights paved surfaces and the multi-trunked birch and serviceberry throughout the property. The unique landscape is equally enjoyable to view from within as it is to view from the house.