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Mid-Century John Randal McDonald Landscape - Racine, WI

Masterful McDonald

2019 Gold Award for Excellence in Residential Landscape Design and Construction - Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association

2020 Silver Award Residential Design - Association of Professional Landscape Designers

Historically significant, this home was designed by architect John Randal McDonald as the second home for his family. After many years of neglect, it was in need of a major restoration which was undertaken by our clients. After completing the interior they realized they needed to turn their attention to the rest of the property.

We designed a new linear concrete walk with shifting wedge shaped panels (separated by beach pebble runnels) that mimic the roofline of the home. Some of the existing stone steps were re-used and a low, retaining wall defines the edge of the new driveway in Tennessee sandstone to match the stone on the home. The long lines of the house are mimicked by a group of autumn moor grass while mixed perennials and shrubs occupy the remaining wedge-shaped plant beds.

To connect front yard to back, a walk-through garden of grasses and long blooming perennials was created in what was an overgrown, under-utilized space. An existing grade change allowed for this garden to be elevated above the new patio below but also required a new masonry retaining wall and steps. This wall replaced a rubble “wall” and was constructed with matching Tennessee stone and ties into an existing wing wall.

The existing patio was not pitched properly, and also had roof runoff collecting in one spot. To get proper pitch on the new concrete patio, yards of soil had to be removed from the backyard and the entire lawn re-graded. The overall shape of the patio continues the wedge shapes of the front walk. A semi-circle cut out in the new patio to pays homage to a shallow pond formed into the original patio surface.

Wedge-shaped beds surround the patio with a focal point magnolia, and a linear group of moor flame molinia extends beyond the stone retaining wall. Beach pebbles were also used to highlight the ornamental grass groups while slate chip not only provided a contrast in some plant beds but was also used functionally under the large roof over hangs all around the house and under the cantilevered lower level. New border plantings surround the perimeter of the backyard and subtle landscape lighting completes the makeover. Happily we came in just under our client’s targeted budget of $50,000. The landscape now feels like it was designed when the home was built and reflects sensitivity to the historical importance of the home.

Designed by James Drzewiecki, APLD

Mid-Century Front Landscape - Racine