A Solid Plan Addresses Problems
Low stone walls, which surround the raised beds and water garden, double as seating. Gold-leaved plants serve as bright accents against the darker stone.
To begin the problem-solving process, I measured the site and drew up a base plan. Using copies of the plan, I developed several loose schematic designs to address the site’s problems and to create a layout that would meet Tim’s wish list.
To gain privacy from the neighbors, there needed to be tall screens of plantings in certain areas. The space where the driveway connected to the garden also required screening and a gate.
To unify the appearance of the existing fences, I suggested covering them with a material made of Chinese reeds. These durable, strawlike reeds are woven with wire into 20-foot-long rolls, which are easy to cut and staple onto wood fences.
One way to deal with a slope is to terrace it to create usable, flat space. Since the grade in this yard was not steep, I decided to divide the space into two levels and to make 18-inch-high walls, which could double as places for sitting and for setting objects. I mortared the walls for solidity, using broken concrete rubble from the patio demolition to build up the back sides. In the center of the upper terrace, I used pea gravel spread over landscape fabric to economize on paving stones and to minimize rainwater runoff. I made a step between the two patio levels to reduce both the amount of excavation required and the impact on tree roots.
For the walls and terraces, Tim and I selected a local stone with rich brown tones. The house had been painted a dull gray that did not enhance the architecture or the garden, so we decided to repaint the house a rich chocolate brown with burgundy trim, which looks attractive with the stone. The dark colors actually make the house recede visually so that its scale feels less dominating.
I designed a high arbor to connect to the back of the house and to add to the feeling of privacy on the lower terrace. This arbor brings the towering façade of the house into scale with the garden and creates a pleasing transitional area. I also installed a gated entry where the driveway meets the lower terrace.