Most of my landscape design clients want sustainable or “green” features in their landscapes. Native plants and water saving features often are requested. For the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a client who sees sustainability way beyond a few native plants and low water usage.
The design process started right after our client purchased the house. We had worked together on her previous garden, so she knew the importance of getting a designer’s eye on the project as early as possible. Donna Burdick of D&J Landscape Contractors and I evaluated the site before she began the extensive remodel. We made note of plants to save or protect and materials for re-use. Next, a master site plan for circulation and hardscape features was drafted. We planned construction phases to work with the budget, remodeling schedule, and planting seasons.
During the first phase we removed weeds and other undesirables and transplanted plants. The site was graded to control mud. One interesting problem we had was an abundance of garlic. The previous homeowner loved garlic and let it self-seed through out the yard – lots of garlic was consumed that first year.
In the second phase we installed raised beds for an extensive vegetable garden. The garden beds were designed to enable the homeowner to easily tend them as she ages. Paths are compacted crushed rock. The raised juniper lumber beds are tall enough to allow gardening from a chair. Each garden bed has its own water spigot, allowing for individual control and lessening the need for hauling a hose around. The diagonal placement and attractive wood of the beds add year round interest to the garden.
Next we installed the hardscape elements, including a fence and gates to safely contain the dog. Key plants for privacy and screening were added. While there were a few mature trees and shrubs, notably a large Dawn redwood and oak tree in the backyard, screening of the street and the neighbor’s parking area was needed. Evergreen strawberry trees were added to the front yard and a large rhododendron was transplanted into the back yard. We also added plants close to the house in areas that could be used for summer entertaining.
Structures have been built as the budget allows. A shed at the back of the garden is a convenient place to store tools and pot up plants. A compost bin system was built of recycled wood pallets. The house has a metal roof specifically for rainwater harvesting. In the future, storage tanks will be installed and the rainwater will be used for irrigating part of the landscape.
As this landscape matures, so will the homeowner. This garden and the homeowner will age in place together. I’m looking forward to seeing this garden stand the test of time and serve her well.
Sarah Smith, The Gardensmith
Sarah Smith, The Gardensmith, works with homeowners who see their outdoor spaces as an extension of their home, and who enjoy spending time entertaining, playing, and relaxing in their gardens. Does Sarah have a green thumb? No, its stained brown – she is a hands on designer! On her “days off” she spends time tending her own landscape, volunteering at her neighborhood park and community garden, or is in the kitchen cooking her home grown veggies for her husband and dogs and cat. Sarah joined ANLD in 1998, she works on small and large projects; learn more at www.TheGardensmith.com and follow her on twitter: @garden_smith