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Ecological Landscape Alliance Annual Conference – February 25 & 26, 2015

Sustaining the Living Landscape: Conference & Eco-Marketplace at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA.

Keynote Dinner: The Essential Layers of Living Landscapes by Rick Darke
Wednesday, February 25

Intensive Workshops:
From Seed to Success: Creating and Sustaining Dynamic Landscapes
New Strategies for Water Conservation and Protection

Visit to register online or to see the full brochure.

Urban Living

This client’s small backyard had to serve many functions for her and her tenants.  They enjoyed growing flowering plants and vegetables, but also wanted separate spaces for dining and relaxing.   The loss of two shade trees had changed the environment significantly.  Existing raised beds, already in the sunniest location, were left in place.   Wood chips from the downed trees were used to create paths around the raised beds and a patio closer to the porch steps.  There was now sufficient space remaining for a corner reading nook; it was partially enclosed by a low stacked-stone wall and shaded by a newly planted river birch.  This and other new trees will gradually replace the lost shade and privacy.

Concrete walkway and stone patio had fallen into disrepair and were to be replaced. The large shade tree had to be removed, changing significantly the local environment.
Removal of the shade tree gave space for a sitting nook separated from the rest of the yard by a low stacked-stone wall.
With no pathways around the vegetable beds, neighboring plants were encroaching on the beds and limiting access.
Wood chips from the felled shade tree were recycled into paths and patio. Patio is now more accessible from back steps.
Detail showing the stacked-stone wall with mortared top, and step and stepping stones from Pennsylvania steppers.
Detail showing full-color irregular bluestone walkway.

Patio and walkway were in need of repair. Shade tree was to be removed.

Patio, walkway and shade tree were all to be removed and replaced.

Tree removal created space for a sitting nook, raised slightly behind a low stone wall. Stepping stones replaced the concrete walkway.

Low stone wall separates raised sitting nook from rest of yard.

Overgrown plants limit access to vegetable beds, in part because the beds lacked surrounding paths.

Overgrown plants limit access to vegetable beds.

Wood chips from the shade tree used for vegetable bed paths and patio.

Wood chip paths around vegetable beds extended to form patio.

Detail showing stacked- stone wall with mortared top and Pennsylvania steppers forming step and path.

Detail: Stacked-stone wall with mortared top.

Detail showing full-color irregular bluestone walkway.

Detail: Full-color irregular bluestone walkway.

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Construction Aftermath

With home renovations complete, the clients were looking to reclaim their garden from construction debris to create inviting, relaxing spaces.  A custom arbor and trellis help screen the yard from the street and create an inviting entry garden. A wide bluestone walkway merges into the spacious patio partially enclosed by curved stone seat walls.  Beside the patio water flowing through a runnel to the pond provides a pleasant burbling sound.

Nothing separated the driveway from the back yard, which therefore lacked privacy from the street.
The custom arbor and trellis at the foot of the driveway effectively separate the backyard from the driveway and create not only screening from the street, but also an inviting entry garden.
Construction had damaged the lawn and limited access to the garden, so plants had become overgrown.
A generously-sized curving bluestone walkway and patio, and expanded planting beds have replaced much of the lawn.
Overgrown planting beds conceal the many interesting and native plants that they contain.
The garden bench, set into the planting bed and reached via stone steps from the patio, allows the garden to be viewed from a different angle.
Many shade-loving native plants are largely hidden from view in this overgrown corner.
Raising the patio by just a couple of steps gives a more expansive view of the planting beds that have been edited and reorganized.
Overgrown plants prevented access to the under-deck storage area.
Stone steps to under-deck storage meld with the stone-lined runnel and pond that skirt the patio.

Driveway opened directly into back yard, leaving yard exposed to street.

Back yard lacks privacy from driveway and street.

Custom arbor and trellis separate backyard from driveway and create inviting entry garden.

Custom arbor and trellis help screen back yard.

Construction has damaged the lawn, and planting beds have become overgrown.

Construction leaves rocks and rubble, damaged lawn and overgrown planting beds.

Lawn mostly replaced by curved bluestone walkway, patio and wider planting beds.

Most of lawn replaced by bluestone walkway, patio and expanded planting beds.

Planting beds have become overgrown and poorly defined.

Overgrowth hides many attractive plants.

A garden bench set into the planting bed provides a different view of the garden.

Garden bench provides different view of garden.

Shady corner nurtures many native plants hidden from view.

Shade-loving native plants hidden in dark corner.

Sized for relaxing and entertaining, the raised bluestone patio looks out on reorganized plantings.

Raised patio and reorganized planting beds makes plants more visible.

Under-deck storage inaccessible.

Access to under-deck storage was blocked by vegation.

Stepping stones lead from patio to under-deck storage and meld with stone-lined runnel and pond that skirt the patio.

Patio, skirted by runnel and pond, gives access to stepping stones to under-deck storage.

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MassRealty Feature Article

Our business was recently featured on MassRealty, one of the top sites for Massachusetts Real Estate, including condos, multi families, and townhouses for sale. You can read all about Designing Your Ideal Gardens in our interview here.

A Multi-Phase Project

While the completed landscape plan addressed the entire property, the installation is being undertaken in phases.  This takes careful planning to ensure that access is maintained where needed and plantings in one phase are not undermined in subsequent phases.  The most immediate issue for these clients was screening the view from kitchen and patio onto neighboring properties.  This we addressed in Phase 1 by replacing most of the overgrown deciduous shrubs with a varied selection of good-sized conifers.  In Phase 2, other structural plants were added to the conifer bed.   Planting of perennials and development of the foundation bed nearby were undertaken in the most recent phase.

Clear view to neighbors in winter.
Phase 1: Planting of evergreens
Uneven path and overgrown shrubs.
Phase 1: peastone replaced stepping stones. Phase 2: shrubs added by conifers. Phase 3: Foundation bed developed and perennials planted.
Patio lacks privacy.
Screening complete, shrubs filling in, perennials just added.
Undefined foundation bed.
In Phase 3 hydrangea remains, forsythia and turf removed, planting completed.

Deciduous shrubs left neighboring homes in clear view in winter.

While effective during the growing season, deciduous shrubs left neighboring homes in clear view in winter.

Phase 1 saw the planting of a mix of evergreen trees along the property line.

In Phase 1 some of the shrubs were removed and a variety of evergreen trees were planted in strategic locations along the property line.

The stepping stone path was uneven and the shrubs overgrown and misshapen.

The existing stepping stone path was uneven and the shrubs overgrown and misshapen.

Peastone path replaced stepping stones in Phase 1; more structural plants added in Phase 2. Foundation bed developed In Phase 3 and perennials planted throughout.

A peastone path replaced the stepping stones in Phase 1 and in Phase 2 structural plants - dwarf trees, deciduous and evergreen shrubs - were added in front of the conifers. In Phase 3 shrubs were added at the foundation and perennials planted throughout both beds.

Gaps in the shrubs reduce privacy on the patio.

Gaps in the shrubs leave an uninterrupted view from kitchen and patio to the neighboring properties .

Trees and shrubs planted in Phases 1 and 2 are filling in nicely; perennials added at front of border in Phase 3.

The trees and shrubs planted in the first two phases now screen kitchen and patio. In the latest phase perennials have been added at the front of the border.

Foundation bed is undefined.

The foundation bed is poorly defined leaving the roots of the shrubs in competition with those of the turf.

The hydrangea has been left in place, the forsythia and turf removed and the remainder of the bed planted in Phase 3.

The hydrangea has been left in place, the forsythia and turf have been removed, and the remainder of the bed planted in Phase 3.

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