In the Winter of 2012/2013, we were contacted by a referral client for a new house landscape design and build project. The client had bought an old, smaller house on a two acre corner lot in Bloomfield Township. They were tearing the house down and building a new one. We started working on preliminary designs as the house had begun.
Changes in slopes and elevations are both a designers dream and nightmare. A dream as it adds interest to a landscape and the opportunity to install walls and other features that cannot be done on a flat piece of property. Slopes and changes of elevations can also be very challenging in the design process. Meeting local ordinances, staying in clients budgets and helping the client visualize the design are all challenges that we designers face.
It was mutually decided to use a ledgestone boulder instead of a typical round shape boulder such as Michigan Fieldstone Boulders. Mocha mint limestone was chosen for its consistency in thickness, relative ease of installation, and its buff to brown color. Since the township had a limit of 4′ high retaining walls, we designed and installed two tiers of four layers (12″ thick pieces of stone) to get us to that four foot maximum height.
3D renderings were used to help the client visualize how the landscape would look.
The design and front retaining walls were completed in 2013 with the majority of the job installed in 2014. The only stipulations we had from the homeowners was to keep it somewhat natural looking to blend in with the landscape and neighborhood. Otherwise we pretty much had free reign.
To keep the design somewhat simple, but give the property color and interest large swaths of landscape roses, perennials and flowering shrubs of the same variety were planted. Some evergreen hedges and shrubs were also added to give the landscape relevance in the winter. Free flowing bed lines and hardscape edges were used to add to the natural feeling.
Many Proven Winner plants were used in the design including: Incrediball Hydrangea, Little Henry Sweetspire, Vanilla Spice Summersweet, Kodiak Black Honeysuckle, Abracadabra Orb Hydrangea, Quickfire Hydrangea, Fine Line Buckthorn, and All That Glitters Viburnum.
Landscape roses included Double Pink Knockout and Drift Roses.
Perennials from Spring Lake’s Hortech include: Walker’s Low Nepeta, Biokovo Karmina Hardy Geranium, and various others.
Various sedum, creeping phlox and moss were used planted in the cracks of the limestone walls.
A large raised brick paved patio with limestone wall was constructed in the backyard leaving room for potential future pool. The patio was constructed using Oaks Colonnade Pavers.
Four inch thick limestone stones, called “steppers” were installed flush with the lawn from the rear walkway to the sidewalk limestone steps. This was to give a very informal pathway connecting the two areas.
The real issue in designing and installing this job was WATER. The neighbor’s yard to the East and the entire backyard of the property was engineered to drain along the South side of the house. This is where the walkout was, adding to the complexity of the situation. The sump pump discharge at the rear of the house needed to be addressed and there is no storm sewers in the neighborhood. We ran piping from all downspouts, behind walls, from sump pump discharge and several french drains in a very thought out and intricate design to avoid any flooding and/or erosion issues. All water was directed to a dry pit in the lowest part of the yard at the ditch by the street.
In the Summer of 2017, the job was entered into Michigan Green Industry Association’s (MGIA) Environmental Improvement Awards Program. The aim of the program is as follows:
- To increase public awareness and reflect MGIA’s commitment to environmental through quality landscaping.
- To recognize and encourage the landscape professional who executes superior landscaping through the use of quality materials, design and workmanship.
- To recognize the consumers.
On December 7, 2017, we were awarded both a Gold for Residential Landscaping and a Design Award for the project. Gerardo (Jose), the project leader received the award on behalf of the whole team involved.