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Hardscape Solutions: Making the most of a tiny space

November 5, 2021 -  By

Location: Whitefish Bay, Wis. 

Company: LandCrafters

This project started as a front yard and entryway for a duplex and later expanded to an outdoor living area on the south side of the home. LandCrafters is also slated to work on the small backyard of the property, located in a historic neighborhood of suburban Milwaukee next year.

Challenges to the project included navigating a small staging area and working with city building officials to get plans approved. David Guthery, landscape designer for LandCrafters, says as the team started to work on the new entrance, LandCrafters had to update the footings of the masonry porch to a 4-foot depth with the help of a Bobcat mini excavator. The company also used New Holland skid-steers to execute the project.

What really sets the project apart, Guthery says, is how the south side of the home functions on such a small footprint with a Tudor-style pergola that matches the look of the home. LandCrafters designed a small space for the client’s mother who lived on the first floor.

Other noteworthy elements of the project include masonry that reflects the older home’s look and a permeable courtyard. Guthery added a high-branched Fastigiata European hornbeam to soften and shade the area.

“How do you get a tree to be successful in a 3-by-3-foot pit that’s not really going to limit the tree?” Guthery says. “The solution was to open it up to being permeable so that its roots would have access to water and oxygen and be able to expand into the farther planting areas over time.”

LandCrafters won a Gold Award for this project in the 2020 National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

The entertaining space on the south side of the property connects to a small patio for guests of the first-floor resident. (Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

The entertaining space on the south side of the property connects to a small patio for guests of the first-floor resident.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

In June, Summer Cascade wisteria and lilac flowers dangle over the pergola. The vine adds color, fragrance and additional shade to the patio area.  

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

FX Luminaire LED lighting features include downlights in the pergola, under-ledge lights in the new masonry pillars and well lights that uplight the hornbeam tree.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

Before, the south part of the property was the only area suitable for the installation of an entertainment area due to its large size. The area was stark and also extremely hot in the summer.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

A cut Eden stone retaining wall supports an upper mixed border. The front entry is now visible and easily reached by a new concrete walkway and stairs.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

LED lighting illuminates the front entry with the address plate on a new masonry pillar.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

Before, the original stoop and railing were too small for guests.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

The masonry of the first-floor entrance provides a platform for guests. Plantings on the north side transition grades and separate visitors from the neighbor’s drive.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

LandCrafters planted a ‘Leonard Messel’ magnolia close to the drive to serve as a reverse focal point of the front porch and shield the small sitting area for the first-floor resident, the client’s mother.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

Transplanted ‘Green Mountain’ boxwood shrubs now serve as a formal clipped hedge below the first-floor windows.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

Plantings on the north side of the home separate the property from the neighbor’s drive.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

A mixed peony hedge anchors the top of the wall of the small sitting area.

(Photo: Landcrafters)

(Photo: Landcrafters)

A ‘Fastigiata’ European hornbeam anchors the grilling patio, shading the home and patio. The bluestone patio is permeable to allow for healthy tree development.

Robert Schoenberger

About the Author:

Robert Schoenberger is Landscape Management's senior editor. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from University of Houston. He has worked in magazines and newspapers since the late 1990s. Robert can be reached at rschoenberger@northcoastmedia.net.

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