Project Scope and Client Requirements

The homeowners wanted to improve the layout of their landscape for personal and entertainment use.  They expressed an interest in accent features including a fire area, water feature, and ‘formalized’ planting areas.  During the initial consultation, we discussed their ideal landscape, which would incorporate the open expanses found in the American West and the formalized feel of French provincial gardens.  They indicated their concerns about maintaining the landscape due to the size of the property and irrigation due to the high sand content of the soil.  The property also has a septic system to contend with as well as large herbivore (deer) issues.

What Was Done

The design was presented and discussed.  The design included a formalized patio and planting area nearest the house.  The design also takes advantage of the property scale, opening up to a turf area leading to a broad expanse of mixed short grass prairie with woodland backdrop.  The front yard entry has been designed to lighten up the front of the residence and incorporate elements found throughout the rest of the landscape.  The hardscape features include a concrete paver patio, European styled dry-stacked stone works, stone bread oven and fireplace, and a cascading water fountain.  The plantings are designed for multiple uses including food, fuel, structure and sensory stimulation.  The plantings were also designed as guilds of sustainable zones, with the higher maintenance requiring plants nearest the actively used areas.  Specific planting areas have been designed to draw the deer away from sensitive areas.  The septic system area has been designed with a reduced mow and short grass prairie area to create minimal disturbance to the septic drain-field.  The landscape was also designed to be installed in stages due to the scope of the project.

Stage One

The back yard entertainment and garden area was the main concern at this time.  The patio areas, formal paths, raised stone planting area and soil amendments were installed.  The patio is constructed with tumbled Strassen Bavaria pavers to give the patio an old-world feel.  The initial granite inlay design was a rose, but per the clients request a custom fleur-de-lis was designed and installed in place.  The raised herb planting bed is constructed with a mixture of iron range slates.  The pathways are a mix of limestone and grey granite gravel with the idea stepping-stones may be installed at a later time.  The planting areas were amended with bark mulch and the irrigation was routed to allow for drip zones to be installed when the plantings commence.

Stage Two

Several parts of the backyard landscape were completed during second stage installation.  Some of the fruiting plants were installed at this time including columnar apples, peach, blueberries, and strawberries along with appropriate companion plants.  The herb border planting of lavender and thyme, roses and some accent trees were also installed.  The patio privacy screen of columnar cedar was planted around the perimeter of the formal planting area.  The outer yard screen of bigtooth and quaking aspen were also planted.  The dry-stacked stone water feature was installed and constructed with northern Minnesota slate and customized copper water outlets.  LED low voltage path accent lights were installed around the patio and step areas.  The custom arbor acting as a grape trellis and the gateway to the broad backyard expanse was also installed during this stage.