Spring is early and so are the calls for Landscape Design. 2012 has been a banner year for design questions. I wanted to take a few minutes and discuss the best practices for material choices that we are using on a current project named Abbey the Beagle - Backyard Dog Paradise.
Upon my initail visit to Abbey's backyard, I was struck by the size of the property. From the back door of the upper patio it measured 80 feet wide & almost 200 hundred feet deep (one lucky dog). The area has many Native Elm trees and a brilliant green fescue lawn. From the upper terrace, you meander down generous Hackett steps to a Limestone lined Koi pond fed by a twenty foot long stream. Generous large beds grow Azalaeas, Hostas, Ferns, and various evergreen ground covers under the tree canopies. This space draws you into nature right in the middle of the city. The fence is round rail pine with vinyl coated gavanized chain link that disppears into the natural woods setting. My blood pressure dropped ten poiints as I moved deeper in the woods.
The back of the home is Brick with some painted siding. Ten windows on the northside look on this area from the den, breakfast nook, and master bedroom. Many of the these warm views are great during the growing season but go lacking in the winter.
How to improve
There were several areas I looked to improve during this project. Here are the hightlights:
- The stream feeding the Koi pond was technically perfect but needed a more natural feel. Answer - Widen the stream in places & plant trailing evergreens to soften the rock on the edges.
- Install several Azaleas in small groups to mimick a natural setting under the trees.
- The landscape was beautiful during the day, but needed a few well placed LED Landscape downlights to extend the view into the night time from the windows in the house.
The owner entertains outdoors (Cindy has the Gift of Hospitality) and was planning an April baby shower for a friend's daughter. In midyard, we installed a 22' x 19' Blue Mist Flagstone patio where she will use 8-top round tables to provide a cozy feel. Extra tables can be placed off the edges in the lawn and beds to use as much of the patio space for guests. We also built-in some benches to give the space a permanent feel that draws to linger.
Finally the Materials
So often, we must limit the choices of materials to avoid the design from becoming too busy. This project allowed us the break the rules. The upper patio is a Gray Ashlar Slate, the steps are a gray Hackett stone, and the koi pond is Limestone. The new Flagstone patio is Blue Mist (blue-gray) . By utilizing a gray color throughout it unifies the spaces. The large expanse really allowed us to have three to four outdoor rooms. If the space were smaller, we would have been much more restricted to limit the number of elements.
So now, Abbey the Beagle can enjoy her backyard knowing we had employed the best possible design to make her outdoor Dog experience emulate nature.