Friday, October 26, 2012

Solutions 102

Last week we took a look at a challenging landscaping project we're currently working on.  This week, we'll see some of the solutions that will be incorporated in the final design.

The site is a property that backs up to a preserve area of boggy, natural Florida plants and wildlife.  The area on three sides of the house has been tamed into a manicured landscape, and the back is natural.  Here are some of the ideas.

This area will be cleaned up and organized by building a pergola and potting bench.  This will offer the homeowners a clean work space, and a modicum of shelter and shade.  In order to avoid building complications, it will nestle into the space, but not be attached to the house.  There will be a paved path leading from this to the new patio outside the rear door.
The next space considered is the area where you exit the pool cage.

This is where water erosion is a major issue.  The area will become a step-out patio, with a pergola/trellis structure on the adjoining property side to provide some privacy from the neighbors. 
Stepping off  this new patio area, there will be a series of what I call "bubble steps" leading down the grade to the lower ground.  Planting beds will be interspersed into the steps to help create an overall organic shape that fits naturally into the existing landscape.  These steps and planters will be created using stacking paver blocks, which you can see from the elevation drawing of the steps and pergola, looking back towards the house. At the bottom of the steps, there is a seating deck with fire pit.
This plan shows how the pergolas and hardscape fit into the site.

And the next drawing shows the planting plan, and the system that will be incorporated underneath the new hardscape elements to carry the rain water down the slope properly.

The plantings will consist of Florida natives and Florida Friendly varieties.  Next week we'll look at these selections and talk more about why they were chosen.  Questions or thoughts?  Don't hesitate to ask!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Problems 101

Sometimes the main design goal of a project is just to make things pretty...and other times it's a two-fold process of solving real problems, then making things pretty!  We were recently hired for a project of just this nature.  And I do mean "nature".

Our new client lives in a beautiful home that backs up to a natural wetland preserve.  The house is built onto ground that was raised about 6 feet above the wetland floor, and the yard is sloped into the wetland on the back and side.  In one area, the yard almost literally "falls off" into the preserve.

In addition, there are major drainage problems because of water-shed from the roof of the house.  These issues--combined with the need to clean up a potting area and create an outdoor patio space--became a significant and exciting challenge.  Here are some photos showing what the property looks like now.
This area is tucked in to the side of the house, and is a natural space for plant potting and maintenance.  But it's easy for an area like this to become cluttered.

This side yard retains a lot of water during wet weather.  Drainage needs to be resolved.  And, since this is where a new patio will go, the pool equipment could use some camouflaging!

Because three different roof lines meet at this corner, a huge amount of water pours down and is slowly eroding the soil away from this step-out area from the lanai. 

The Florida wetland immediately behind the pool cage is beautiful, and filled with wildlife!

As beautiful as it is, it does get a little swampy!

The challenge here was to find solutions that would both resolve the problems, and still fit well into the surrounding landscape.  Though still on paper, next week we'll take a look at what we've come up with.  You'll see something very different from the simple elegance of our most recent outdoor project!

Friday, October 12, 2012

All About Why

In our final posting on this project, I wanted to look at some of the details that went into it and explain the reasons why I made these choices.

The client requested an elegant, Newport look for the pool and landscaping.  Unfortunately, most of the beautiful plants that will grow in Rhode Island wouldn't last one season in Florida!  So finding plant varieties that give a similar feel was the goal.  I tend to favor "green garden" designs (not a lot of flowering plants), so this concept was exciting to me!
The client wanted black planters.  Love these!  They are vinyl, with a well-designed self-watering system.  The black adds a lot of elegance, and opened the door for other design elements.  A mixture of tall and short plants, with some annuals, and a small nod to color by using 2 varieties of coleus.
The plant beds outside the pool decking were filled with a low growing juniper that will become the ground cover, podocarpus that will be trained as a hedge in the background, and variegated liriope to add a different texture and add a little "sunshine" into the green selections.

Podocarpus were also used along the fence line.  These will be trained as tall, thin hedges to separate the pool area from the driveway, and add privacy.

On this side of the pool, white crepe myrtle were selected for height and summer color.  White is always an elegant choice for a garden, and in fact, the only flower color that will show up in the dark!  The trunks of the crepe myrtle also add a lot of visual interest to the plant beds.

To flank the fireplace and trellis backing up the jacuzzi, I selected Juniper chinensis for the deep green color and soft, cedar feel.  In front of these we used a low, standard gardenia (the client's favorite!) to continue the white flowers, and completed the bed with the low juniper and variegated liriope as elsewhere.

Two espaliered Magnolia "Little Gem" plants will be trained to cover the trellis.
A full-skirted magnolia repeats the theme, and adds a dark, glossy foliage to this corner.  It will also hide the odd transition between fences!

One of the Magnolias graced us with a bloom right after planting!

Confederate jasmine will be carefully trained to follow the lines of this trellis, and the low juniper continue as ground cover.

The light columns were painted black to match the fence, trellis and planters.  After reviewing thousands of choices (literally!), this fixture was selected for its color, scale, overall design, and the fact that it had frosted glass as the shade.  It has a built-in LED light, and should last forever!
The fact that the planting spaces were small left no room for arbitrary choices here.  When grown in, this garden should give a full, soft, (and softly lit), surrounding to the hard surfaces of the pool and the fireplace.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Payoff Has Arrived!

Our recently completed pool project has truly been a labor of love.  Many delays, and as always some unforeseen setbacks...but it's time for the "big reveal".  In true "HGTV" style though, let's first take a look at what we started with.

Nothing much to say about this!  Here's what we have today.  (Sorry, but it was raining during the photo shoot.)

This has been a project that I'm very proud to have been a part of.  Hat's off to the pool contractor, the General Contractor, and the Landscaping company.  It does indeed take a village!

Next week, I'm going to break down some of the details and tell a little about the thinking behind the selections!