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Hardscape Solutions: Diamond in the bluff

June 15, 2022 -  By
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Location: Bayside, Wis. 
Company: David J. Frank Landscape Contracting

The client wanted secluded outdoor dining and a casual retreat area for this property that overlooks an 80-foot-high bluff on Lake Michigan. The 40-degree slope and size of the property presented a major challenge in the execution of the design. Only one skid-steer would fit on the site. The operator had to back the company’s Takeuchi skid-steer up and down the hill to control the machine safely.

David J. Frank also had to get creative when constructing the property’s 1,000-square-foot cedar pergola with 28-foot long beams, says Jeff Hershberger, landscape designer. Access was another challenge: Switchbacks on the pathway to the job site made it impossible to take the material down by hand and foot.

“We used a zip line from the top of the block to the bottom,” he says. “There was no way to get them straight down the hill. That zip line would be the best way of slowly lowering (the beams) down to the bottom (of the site).”

The unique site meant crews needed to get most of the materials staged on the site before winter. They lost days when a polar vortex brought -25-degree F temperatures and frozen ground 8-feet deep.

Details on this project include bluestone pavers, a wood-burning fireplace, a gas fire pit, a bocce court with Brazilian ipe hardwood frames and monochromatic, deer-resistant plantings. Hershberger said the client added a Wi-Fi extender to ensure the signal from the wireless router in the home reached the FX Luminaire landscape lighting controller.

This project earned David J. Frank Landscape Contracting a silver award from the 2021 National Association of Landscape Professionals Awards of Excellence program.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The boat house sits 80 feet below the main residence at the base of a bluff. The completed project includes multiple gathering spaces with a dining terrace, fireplace and fire pit area.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

David J. Frank worked around the razing and rebuilding of the main residence, which meant the bulk of construction occurred during the heart of winter.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

Dusk comes early below the bluff. Deer-resistant monochromatic plantings complement the property’s stately look.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

Irregular bluestone stepper paths connect the various entry points as well as the outdoor shower behind the gray cedar fence.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

A look at the entry to the outdoor terrace from the property’s bluff path.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The 1,100-square-foot pergola features large rough sawn cedar beams supported by large rough sawn cedar posts.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The client can activate and control warm, dimmable LED lighting, including perimeter and bluff path lights via smartphone with a FX Luminaire system.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

Key focal points of the outdoor space include the wood-burning fireplace and raised masonry natural gas fire pit with a 300K BTU burner.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The bocce court includes a Brazilian ipe hardwood frame, drainage system, crushed oyster shell surface and illuminated court marker lines for play after dark.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The switchback path provides access down the 80-foot-high bluff.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The nautically themed safety rope rails/handholds are complete with back splices and Turk’s head knot detailing.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The formal-patterned dimensional bluestone paving on the terrace morphs into irregular stone steppers and paving for the informal paths and fire pit area.

Photo: David J. Frank

Photo: David J. Frank

The outdoor space overlooks Lake Michigan.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University and has been in B2B publishing for seven years. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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