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Hardscape Solutions: A small sanctuary

April 10, 2020 -  By

Location: Wheaton, Ill.
Company: Grant & Power Landscaping

Grant & Power Landscaping has worked with this client since the home was built, more than 25 years ago. The homeowner is a garden enthusiast who wanted to transform the property into a private retreat.

The project included a new patio and updates to the front yard to welcome guests. A major challenge for Jan-Gerrit Bouwman, senior landscape architect, and the team at Grant & Power was the lot size. “It’s a small lot, but it feels very large to people,” he says.

Bouwman estimates the backyard is only about 80 or 90 feet wide at its most narrow and is angled back about 150 feet.

“We installed different levels of purpose; we created vignettes all over the place, little features here and there to make it fun,” he says.

Bouwman says his team designed the patio to keep the same footprint to work around mature plantings. New plant beds were designed to create movement and trick the eye into believing the space was larger than it is.

“When the lights come on, it’s truly amazing,” he says, noting his firm used FX Luminaire products to light pathways and highlight features of the design and specific plantings, such as a tricolored beech tree. “It’s a total sanctuary, a haven in the backyard,” he says. “They can literally sit in the backyard like a resort.”

This project earned Grant & Power Landscaping a 2019 Gold Award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

A bluestone walk draws guests in from the street at the front of the house. Limestone steps and mortared walls create a grand entrance while transitioning the grade from the front to the door. Layers of plantings frame and soften the hardscape elements.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

This bluestone walk directs from the driveway around plantings to the front door, creating the illusion of a short but meandering path. A bench at the end of the walk encourages guests to take a break and enjoy plantings.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Before, the front was closed off with gardens and had no access to the front door from the street.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

The front landscape is illuminated at night with an LED system. Up lights on ornamental trees at the perimeter frame the front entrance.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

The entrance to the backyard leads visitors through a garden arbor into lush, diverse plantings.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Holey boulder outcropping stones create a grade change in the garden, adding texture and depth. Undulating beds form different sections with lawn areas. Direct input onsite from the homeowner shaped the majority of the design of the plantings.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Mature trees provide cover for a shade garden. Purposefully placed flagstone paths throughout the gardens encourage exploration.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

A view from the garden allows only glimpses of the patio area, encouraging guests to stay in the gardens and continue exploring.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Before, the patio area was irregular flagstone and old brick. With a direct view of the neighbors, it lacked a private sitting area.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Adding a custom rain curtain water feature, with a backdrop of green, creates a living screen for the neighbor’s house. This area of the patio has evolved into a secluded sanctuary, illuminated at night with downlights on the water.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

A mortared limestone grill surround was added directly across from a dining area with smaller sitting areas intermingled. Planting areas soften the house and help designate areas. A custom water curtain feature creates privacy from the neighboring property.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

The bluestone patio is framed by a mortared limestone seat wall. The wall lights under the coping accent the stonework. The view from the dining area shows layers of gardens and the gazebo, a perfect place to relax after dinner.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Path lights around the gazebo direct guests to an entertaining area at night. In the background, up lights around the perimeter trees showcase branching of well-maintained trees.

Grant & Power Landscaping hardscape project (Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography)

Photo: Grant & Power Landscaping/Karen Knecht Photography

Uplights showcase the property’s trees such as this tri-color beech.

Christina Herrick

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