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Design Concepts

Nollendorfs – A before picture front yard

Here is a picture of what we started with some 5 years ago.


Nollendorfs – After picture front yard

The look today with minor additions in 2009′.  Planters and boulders add nice character and seasonal interest.


Outdoor living space, where does it start and stop?

I searched the internet to find the perfect definition of an outdoor living space, and to my surprise I came up short, even Wikipedia left me hanging.  In my opinion, creating an inviting outdoor living space is similar to that of changing your house into a home.  They both require an investment of time and materials. They both require the owner to personalize the space.  Some of the adverbs I’d utilize to describe this place would be, comfortable, welcoming, functional, interesting,… etc.  Establishing such takes ability, creativity, experience, and a personal investment in the effort (a.k.a “time and money”).  This definition includes both you and the people doing the work.

Outdoor living can consist of both structural and natural elements.  The tactful combination of these elements determines the overall success of the project.  Structural elements that come to mind include but are not limited to a pergola, deck, outdoor furniture, grill, patio, fire pit, hearth, etc.  Natural elements would be plantings, lighting, contours, fragrance, water, stone, sound, etc.  The outdoor living space is not to be confused with an outdoor kitchen.  An outdoor kitchen is simply structural elements in combination with the needed appliances to cook outdoors.   Therefore the outdoor living space may include an outdoor kitchen but is not limited to having one.  A growing trend in residential landscaping is that of placing more emphasis into the outdoor living space.  This is perhaps one of the most cost effective home improvements.

Improving your home is always a good investment. In the current economic environment, people are staying home.  Adding to your home’s value is smart, it positions you well if ever decide to sell your home as it makes your home more marketable.  At the same time, it improves your way of life and adds to your overall health and well being by placing you in direct contact with the outdoors.


Pergola – Lighted with water feature

Outdoor structures add so many options to the outdoor environment.  Here we have a covered structure with lighting and a water feature.  Lots of interest, what a great way to whine down at the end of a hectic day.


Pergola as part of an outdoor room

Today the trend is to bring the living space outside.  Here a pergola was used in conjunction with outdoor furniture and other amendities.  As one can see, a classy yet comfortable look and feel is well within reach.


Petersan – Corner planting

Nice little corner planting with stone elements.


Petersan “Corner planting Spring”


Poolside – Projects

As I said before, pools make our job easier.  Look at the color and interest, couple that with the reflection off the water and you have a recipe for success.


Rose – Project before and afters

Well what do you think.  We gutted the pond and built an entirely new one.   Tree’s were added for shade and dimension.  Plantings were changed to better fit the design and mood we were shooting for.  Boulders and contours were added as a backbone to this landscape.  Finally, lighting was introduced, which tied the whole project together and extended the use of this special area.


Steps – Manufactured stone

Concrete “stone look a like” block has come along way these days.  Customers have many choices these days.  Applications very as well.  Here steps are created using manufactured stone blocks and pavers.


Tennity – After pictures.

Here are some after installation photos.  Note:  the color both in bloom and foliage.  Contrast is everywhere, and bold distinctions abound through this landscape.  We installed a retaining wall for the elevation changed to accommodate the pool.  As you can see we added a dry creek bed to eliminate trapped water.  Then we installed a flagstone path to the golf course.


Water Feature Lighted

All water features look better under lights.  Here the feature continues to add enjoyment into the evening hours.


What components comprise a professional landscape?

As a landscape professional, I ask a fairly complex question of my customers; “what look do you have in mind for your landscape”? On many occasions I get, “I’d like my yard to look great” or “I want some nice curb appeal”. These generalized statements are exactly what designers constantly address. The fact is many customers lack an understanding of what a professional landscape can entail. I will cover some of the basics in the design concept below.

Per Wikipedia – Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including:

1. Living elements, such as flora or fauna; or what is commonly referred to as gardening, the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a beautiful environment within the landscape.
2. Natural elements such as landforms, terrain shape and elevation, or bodies of water;
3. Human elements such as structures, buildings, fences or other material objects created and/or installed by humans; and
4. Abstract elements such as the weather and lighting conditions.
Landscaping is both science and art, and requires good observation and design skills. A good landscaper understands the elements of nature and construction, and blends them accordingly.

The above definition speaks of elements both natural and human. A landscape professional will have an eye for combining these elements in a creative, harmonious, and sustainable manner. In a perfect world, I have a few elements available right out of the shoot. The first natural element I prefer to have or add is elevation. In the picture below, one can clearly see how the ground slopes. This is a good example of elevation change. Elevation change allows one to stack items, if done properly; nothing is hidden behind taller items. Depth is visibly created in the bed through the use of contrasting elements. The picture below does a nice job of featuring contrast as well. We see contrast in color from plant to plant and through the introduction of boulders. I also see the use of contrasting texture as some plantings offer long grassy leaves where others have small dainty leaves. I see too many landscapes where there is very little contrast between one plant and the next. This slope planted with only plants providing green foliage would have presented an entirely different look. Again and again, I see my eye drawn to landscapes that combine elevation change, stone elements, contrasting foliage color, contrasting foliage texture, and differing heights. If you can maintain these principles your landscape is off to the right start in my opinion.


What not to do?

Here is a good example of  “In my opinion” what not to do in your landscape.  As a landscaper, I crying when I see yards like this.  If nothing else it goes to show just how important professional landscaping is in the overall valuation of your property.  This random placement of stones, and bleak expanse of river rock, only lessons the value of this home.


Wooded trail

Not everyone has the space to create a beautifull trail like this one but for those who do… wow what a soothing walk this could be.