As you most likely already know, I am a Landscape Designer and owner of Gardens ALIVE Design. You might also know that we built our own home, mostly ourselves, acted as the General Contractors, designed, and stamped our own home plans. My husband is the real star in the home construction story! For better or worse, I take credit for the landscape. Maybe you have always wondered, what does her landscape really look like? Well here you go!
You also may be wondering, did Kirsten complete a landscape design for her own space or just throw it together? What plants did she use? Did she follow her own ‘rules’ in the design process? What was her design theme? Give me the real deets on her landscape!
But first more of the landscape story . . .
The process really began with the building plans in which my husband and I mapped out extra wide pathways to create a welcoming feel, the need for a wall and stairs appeared because of topography and curves were drawn at corners rather than squares. The new driveway turn around provided ample space for deliveries and guest parking. An extensive drainage system works silently and tirelessly. Conduit was added for future landscape lighting. Entry garden sizing was identified to be in scale with the home entry and provide as little lawn as possible being that the full sun, south facing reflected heat would be a challenge to keep green. One of my favorite steps was hand selecting 20 tons of boulders, marking each one and identifying where it would be placed and at what angle. Containers were selected in large sizing and placed to mimic the roof color as the ‘rules’ suggest. A container fountain was added at the dining room window to be enjoyed as one entered but also daily from the dining area and included submersible lights and stainless-steel spheres to add that extra bling.
If you have completed the landscape design process, you understand that our first meeting is called the Introductory Consultation in which I learn more about your likes, dislikes, availability for maintenance, goals, to do’s etc. It was a little weird to talk to myself though this step, but it really did help to clarify my needs and create the design path. I easily identified color preferences; green, silver, burgundy and red creating a cohesive calming scene with both upright and weeping plants and pops of red, geometrical and abstract forms with low maintenance being the goal. Then onto the plants – the really fun part! Being that I also had to think about the entire acre of landscape and 18 + (I actually don’t even know how many beds!), it was also decided that each area would have a centering theme of 1 evergreen per area. The Entry Gardens had to be Chamaecyparis aka Hinoki Cypress and 8 of them demurely reside. Other shrubs include Ilex, Nandina and Weigela. Cherished Cornus alternifolia and Acer ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinal’ punctuate the vertical space. 6 types of evergreen-ish groundcovers promise to suppress weeds; Archtostaphlos, Helianthemum, Erica, Calluna, Helleborus and Bergenia. 4 herbaceous options give and give and give; Panicum, Persicaria, Echinacea and Hakonechloa. 5 bulb varieties paired with the perennials offer interest when the ground would normally be bare. In the Landscape Design step, spacing allowed for plants to grow to their mature sizes with a little overlap to further suppress weeds. Locations are equidistant-ish to provide balance, repetition, and order. My hope was that the Entry Gardens would be simple enough for everyone to recognize some of the plants, provide interesting cultivars to plant loving friends, offer texture-o-rama and include colors that would look great with the siding colors. Actually, we chose the siding colors after the plant palate had been determined!
Installation in mounded beds after soil testing and organic amendments were added was a snap as was starting the lawn from seed. Fertil mulch is added every other year. Being that the property has a lot of natural groundwater, watering about twice a month during the hot season is all that is needed being that most everything is now established.
We really do LOVE our home entry and landscape. It is a joy to come home to and enjoy from my windows. The function of the landscape is beautiful and it makes me smile!