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building landscape where it doesn’t grow naturally

Landscape is not just about living plants. People are very vocal to speak about how important the soil conditions, light, temperature, biota, etc. are to plants and landscape. While all of these are extremely important to the long-term sustainability of your garden, they are not the complete package. To really pull together a landscape to remember you need something special. Bare in mind that this ‘something special’ does not necessarily have to be a high culture, elegant design element – it could be something to add a moment of comic relief or give your eye a break from what it is expecting. The follow two images show one of these moments.

can you see the box between the flowers?

Recently I was at a hotel that had an entryway that spanned two sides of a street with a walkway between the two. Along with the typical hotel landscaping, the facility also had some practical utilities that had to be accommodated in the walk area. Instead of simply trying to hide the electrical box with rangy plants, the designer painted the box to look like it grew there. It is silly and I love it! It is disguised just enough to make you look twice, but not so overdone that you see it glaring at you.

the 360 degree painted garden

Special moments in landscape do not have to take over and overwhelm the whole view. Nor must they be avoided to make the landscape look nice. The more important point is to place elements well and do it with intention.

before and after pictures to inspire you to start

Often times I find that clients have trouble visualizing what is possible with their landscape. To help people get a little feel for what is possible I’m presenting two before and after image pairs. Most times that people want to embark on a landscape project there is a specific reason that pushes them from ‘just putting up’ with what is there to spending the time and money and changing to something new.

In this first pair, my clients had a free-standing garage that they were converting into a work studio. There was an ugly, not-flat slab of cracked concrete directly in front of the carriage doors. To make the studio feel more inviting, we broke up the concrete and planted grass between the pieces to soften the look. We also planted lush and colorful plants around what became a cozy outdoor sitting room between the home’s kitchen and the new studio.

Cozy Outdoor Patio – Before

Cozy Outdoor Patio – After

In the second pair of images, the family I worked was very active and had twin middle school aged daughters. The  family inherited a huge backyard overgrown with a mess of old fruit trees, vines and weeds. Basically they had no usable space even though the back yard was close to 70′ wide by 40′ deep. We did a huge clean-up of the space and discovered enough usable space to give each member of the family a space to play (dad’s bocce ball court, mom’s croquet and lush grass area, trampoline area for the girls and a fire pit for the whole group to enjoy together). The initial picture of this pairing is mid-construction. Large projects like this take time and tend to be messy before they are finished but the end result is worth it!

Family Backyard – Under Construction

Family Backyard – After