Winner Of 2010 Excellence In Landscape Award
February 11th, 2011
This project was one with unique challenges, but limitless possibilities. The homeowners moved from the Midwest, where the climate was harsh and the comfortable season for outdoor living was short. When moving to Colorado, enjoyment of the outdoors was on the top their priority list. Their property however, was less than conducive for the outdoor living space for which they hoped. Although situated on almost 2 acres of land, the back yard consisted of a 20’ wide drainage ditch, just steps away from the back door with the remaining lot sloping steeply downward towards the drainage ditch.
After we completed the design phase, we began a journey to transform the challenges into exceptional spaces for outdoor living and entertaining. The installers worked through the grueling, snowy winter in order to complete this project for summertime enjoyment. The ditch was spanned with a custom designed and engineered deck, and perched adjacent to a jaw-dropping water feature, which takes full advantage of the steep slope towards the house.
Meandering paths draw the homeowners and their guests up to a delightful fire pit, overlooking the water feature and deck below. By way of creative contouring and boulder work, other distinct areas were carved out of the remaining slope, like an area for gardening, a horseshoe pit, lawn for the dogs, and another seating area at the peak of the hillside. Low voltage lighting also helps the homeowners and their guests enjoy the landscape in the evening by illuminating the paths and highlighting landscape elements such as the water feature and trees. With a long term vision and several phases, this uninviting hillside has become an outdoor living paradise for the homeowners, their dogs, and their guests.
The material choices in this landscape were selected in order to emulate natural Colorado settings. The hillside resembles the mountains, the crashing water feature mimics the Poudre or Big Thompson River, and the wildflowers mirror those found gracing the hills and valleys of Steamboat. Moss rock boulders were used to construct the water feature and retain the grade, while flagstone paths draw you from the deck to the fire pit, and back to the garden area. The deck was built out of a Brazilian teak called Cumaru, which is known for its strength and durability. The drainage swales were re-vegetated with native grasses and a wildflower mix. Many Colorado native perennials were used to add color and interest to the otherwise barren slope.
The bulk of this project was installed by our in-house installers; however there were a couple of facets that were tackled by the builder or subcontractors. The custom deck and shade structure spanning the water feature was installed by the builder. Also, the fire pit was veneered by a mason to match the house, and connected to natural gas by a plumber. We also had an electrician supply GFI protected outdoor outlets for the water feature pumps and the low voltage lighting transformer.
It is critical for the success of a landscape that the design and installation meet and exceed industry standards, such as those set forth by GreenCo’s Best Management Practices. This project involved a well conceived plan to irrigate the plant material appropriately based on their individual watering requirements, while also compensating for the drastic incline in terrain with ample pressure. The soil was improved for both the lawn areas as well as the plantings, which will help to promote water holding capacity, absorption of water, and drainage of the otherwise heavy clay soil. Organic wood mulch was used to retain moisture around the plants as well as help inhibit weed growth.
Many of the principals of Xeriscape were also incorporated, such as comprehensive design, native plant selections, and reduced turf areas only as needed for the dogs. All of these practices seamlessly add integrity and environmental conscientiousness to the landscape.