Project Spotlight: Natural, Modern Home Landscape Renovation

Blog Category: Landscape Design & Installation
July 31, 2021 by Wright Outdoor Solutions

SERVICE: Landscape Design & Installation
LOCATION: West Des Moines, Iowa

Wright Outdoor Solutions worked on a landscape design and installation project for a someone who has a longstanding and strong impact on our company. We sat down with Kim Rieber, account manager and design team lead to answer a few questions about the project.

Q: Explain the project and client history.

A: We’ve been providing services for this client for a very long time. In the past, we’ve provided spring and fall clean-up services, turf management, plant health care, tree care, landscape maintenance, and landscape design and installation. We were excited to start on another project for them – this time being a landscape renovation facelift.

Q: What challenges were faced before, during and after this project?

A: The property had sloped back and front yards, and we had to keep the dog’s play habits within the fenced backyard in mind. We also had to remove and relocate very large boulders from an existing retaining wall that was disassembled. Water issues in the front were causing mud to settle on the driveway, which we addressed by widening the dry creek bed and adding a catch basin.

The overall goal of the backyard was to make it as “dog-proof” as possible while minimizing the amount of landscape bed space. Due to overhead trees, shade was making it difficult for grass to grow and there was too much mud, making puppy bath time a daily routine! First order of business was to get our arborists in there and prune and remove trees that were hazardous and open up the canopy. They also had an existing boulder wall that was starting to fail as well as a concrete patio that was cracking. To address both items, we built a new limestone wall and paver patio for an extended outside lounging area and secured the slope below the enclosed porch.

To clean up the muddy flagstone path from the fence gate to the back deck, we added a solid paver path with raised beds for a clean, safe, beautiful walkway. Garden beds were minimized and planted with shade-tolerant sturdy plants such as rhododendron, Green Tower Boxwoods®, oakleaf hydrangea and barberry bushes. We used their existing boulders from the wall we disassembled and located them along a steep slope to help slow water and minimize erosion.

Q: What made this project unique and fun?

A: The property had dense shade with several elevation changes. The client wanted low-maintenance garden choices. We also had to keep their dog in mind in all decisions. Due to the dense shade and pet access, we worked with a plant pallet that was fun and challenging. This project was especially fun because the clients were wonderful to work with. They were available to answer questions as we worked through the project and very appreciative of everyone’s hard work.

Q: How did this project help with the curb appeal?

A: It’s a beautiful home. What this project did was refresh and restore its already great foundation. They had very nice existing plants when we started, including wonderful spring color and amazing mature hostas, but we helped to add a broader plant pallet while keeping some existing ones, relocating some, and removing some to complement the overall design. By adding low-maintenance, deer-resistant, clay soil-tolerant trees, shrubs and perennials, we brought year-round color and texture for a long lived curb appeal without all the trouble. We changed out several perennials and added shrubs such as orange rocket barberry, ruby slippers, oakleaf hydrangea and a merlot redbud for foliage color, along with easy long-blooming perennials to extend the seasons. We added boxwoods and lilacs around the utilities to help camouflage. The icing on the entire cake was adding fresh new sod to the backyard. Any time you can add deep green grass to a property it helps to make it look polished and well taken care of.

Q: How many crew members were involved and how long did it take to do the work?

A: A daily crew of two to three crew members, with the help of others for sod and planting. The project from tear out to sod took approximately eight weeks to complete.

Q: How many plants were used and which plant material was chosen?

A: We used about 46 shrubs, including boxwoods, hydrangeas, barberry bushes, fothergilla, deutzia, rhododendrons, junipers, forsynthia and yews. There were 47 perennials for the front, back and side yards, including Japanese painted ferns, foam flowers, heuchera, sedum, baptisia, lily of the valley, epimedium, hardy geraniums and lady’s mantle. There was also one tree planted in the landscape.

Q: What hardscaping materials were used?

A: We used a combination of wallstone and flagstone. We actually repurposed some materials from their existing landscaping as an environmentally conscious choice and to be more cost effective in the end. Approximately 330 square feet of pavers, 227 square feet of retaining wall, and many boulders to hold grade in the steep portions of the back yard and for decorative purposes.