It’s fun to break away from the norm in design, but it is important not to “miss” when you do that. When I drove up to this client’s bright yellow house with orange trim, and saw the 12-foot banana tree in the back, I knew we were going to have fun.
The stone accents we wanted to incorporate were a terrace, walkway, seat wall and fire pit. A larger pull- in area for vehicles and the incorporation of red “terra” gravel in her driveway were also important to the client. She loved chalet river stone and had leftover brick from ages past that she asked us to use.
If anyone could come up with ideas to do all these things and make them work, it was us!
So, we created a fun and functional space with a mélange of materials. All terraces are dry laid with a dark purple lilac variegated thin stone. Seat walls are made of Pennsylvania Fieldstone, river chalet and bricks. The simple and inexpensive fire pit has ample airflow with a grate we created from rebar. As a safety feature, the edge of the fire pit is a raised row of brick.
Plantings included using her inventory of butterfly bushes, roses, and crape myrtles. For this portion of the bed work, we did lots of pruning and pulling of ivy in preparation for more plantings in the spring.
The raised berm around the terrace allows a great root reservoir for plantings. It also conveniently used up her driveway dirt that we dug out when extending the driveway.
Her objects of art included 2 four-footed bathtubs, broken tile mosaics, shells, and other artistic goodies. I decided to make a platform for each tub rather than try to incorporate them in the berm. It is sometimes better to give a sense of presentation to an unorthodox feature, rather than try to disguise it in the landscape. Because the tubs are raised, her energetic dogs will not destroy the plantings.
We filled the tubs with vermiculite, potting soil and topsoil and treated them like large pots. This is a great idea for a bevy of exotic annuals in the spring and contrasting conifers, snapdragons and red twigged dogwoods in the winter.
At the intersection of 3 walkways, we designed and created a circular medallion with her bits of tile from Mexico. These we lay in mortar.
Our talented carpenter on staff made 4’ high bamboo bird perches for her beautiful macaw. We placed them in the berm underneath some overhanging branches.
As we worked, we saw the need for both back stoops to be raised and leveled as well as her drainage off the back of the house re-worked.
All of the work for this yard and garden was done with wheel barrels since a narrow porch cachere on the side of the house blocked the driveway access to small trucks.