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Terri's Garden - Designers Amy Whitworth & Lora Price

This design has been a close collaboration between 2 designers, our intrepid contractor and our client. Terri has consistently been an advocate for maintaining a landscape style befitting her Terra Linda neighborhood, and appropriate to her 1967 tri-level ranch home.  Gracious lawn spaces are part of that aesthetic. Terri looks toward the many pleasures of aging in place by reducing maintenance with a lower maintenance landscape. The first challenge of the design was to re-grade and simplify all circulation for easy access throughout the garden.

Curb appeal was important, and since the driveway looked like a volcanic eruption due to encroaching tree roots, we took a holistic look at the entry and front door experience. New concrete was modified with a border of exposed aggregate to become a single level from the driveway to the front door.  The approach was expanded to increase the landing outside the entry.  A red laceleaf Japanese Maple was transplanted further from the driveway to allow it to gracefully spread.  A circular lawn reads well from the street, while a Cornelian Cherry provides many seasons of interest with bird activity seen from the kitchen window.

The existing rock border along the street was emboldened by plants with structure and seasonal color.The backyard is a study in hydrology.  Heavy clay soils and a high water table, combined with a sloping site led to drainage and plant selection challenges.  An existing system of lawn drains leading to a sump pump continues to push water out of the backyard to the street 365 days/year.

Irrigation from uphill neighbors contributes to a steady supply of underground water. A new perimeter drain was added under river rock that defines the lawn edges and ties into the sump.  The lawn area was significantly reduced with the establishment of wetland plantings at the low end of the property, while moisture loving trees and a robust perennial border of pollinator plants help absorb water as it enters the property at the top.  Soil conditions remain a challenge to plant selection as the top 4”-6” is dry, while deeper soil levels are constantly wet.

Behind the garage, a dangerously tall step out of the door onto a small flight of steps led to a redesign that includes a landing to provide easier access to the trash cans in the utility area.

Two small decks along back of the house were removed to make way for a more generous patio to enjoy off the lower level sliding glass doors.  A Sweetbay Magnolia reduces the late afternoon sun. Due to the linear nature of the backyard, an undulating edge for the new patio, echoed in the lawn, enhances the flow of the space.  A defunct water feature in a remote location was reinvented in the form of a shimmering pebble clad bubbler, now visible from the sliders with a small sitting area nearby that is naturally shady in the afternoon.  Borrowed landscape views and privacy abound from neighboring evergreen and deciduous trees.

Amy Whitworth, Plan-it Earth Design

Amy Whitworth, educator and owner of Plan-it Earth Design since 1998, collaborates with homeowners on personal landscapes for healthy living from concept through completion. Interactive natural spaces for families, pets and wildlife include edible, native and compatible plants. Specialties include stormwater solutions and water efficient plantings that are easy, diverse and texturally interesting all year.

Lora Price, Design With Nature

Lora Price owner of Design With Nature, combines her backgrounds in landscape architecture, organic horticulture and permaculture to create outdoor living spaces that are functional, beautiful and low maintenance. Design attention is given to building healthy soils, utilizing rainwater as a resource, conserving water use, and enhancing habitats for birds and pollinators.

Photographer: Doreen Wynja

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