This piece of paper does little justice in describing the size of this property, but perhaps if I say that every square inch represents 400 square feet, you will get the idea. Transforming what was a field with an occasional box elder, lots of buckthorn and plenty of quack grass into a home with a landscape has been an enormous project that is still going on, years later. The land is very hilly and high. While that seems so romantic at first glance, it did make for a site where the winds, summer and winter, are fierce. Steep slopes are great for goats-and very tough for people. Nonetheless, I have a client with lots and lots of property that he loves, not to mention lots and lots of energy. He has a mind to live here-beautifully.
The construction of the house came first, of course. Then, a landscape plan. My client knew there would be a lot of time between the beginning and the end of the landscape project-me too. Something is always in progress. Progress, no matter how slow or intermittent-is a good thing. Given the intense winds, and the acres of dirt, his first move was to grass every dirt surface and install irrigation. That done, some perimeter plantings of evergreens were installed to break the wind as much as to screen the property. The landscape in the front was designed, and installed. Given the sheer numbers of plants required, certain key plants were big to begin with-others planted by the hundreds were smaller in size.
A big home is one thing, but large tracts of land are usually known as parks, farms, ranches, or golf courses. This much property was a big thing to take on. But my client has an incredible amount of energy, and a vision for his place. It is just going to take some time. A number of dry stack stone walls were built to transform an irregularly hilly site into three large level planes that would be friendly to people. Last year, a terrace and dining area was installed off the back porch.
Under construction now, the pool, and a wood pergola. The construction made quick work of destroying the lawn, but this phase will be coming to a close soon. The idea is to have grass, pots and planters-and friends over for a swim in June. Well, that may be a little bit optimistic, but not too much so. What you see here is a lot of broken eggs-but I see plenty of cooking going on.
The back of the pergola will be closed off with a series of horizontal cordon espaliers. They will provide some filtered privacy, and with any luck, some fruit. The pool was designed with a very minimal surround. Large paved surfaces around a pool say “swimming pool”-loud and clear. Minimal pool coping quietly says “reflecting pool”, dead ahead. People who go the distance for a pool generally have very definite ideas about how they should look. This pool will have a very dark pebbletec surface inside. That dark color means every cloud in the sky will be reflected in the surface of the water. It will be much more a water feature in feeling than a swimming pool. The only other accompaniment-4 very large steel boxes from Branch, with their characteristic dark grey patina.
The pool is just days from a finish. The debris has been hauled away, and the ground regraded. This was not a job for two men and a pair of shovels. Lots of people were involved. I so like to build things-this stage of a project is my idea of adventure.
There were lots of documents. Lots of trades coordinating their efforts. Lots of measurements. A whole lot of work to do. One step at a time. No matter a big, a small, or a medium sized project, everything moves one step at a time.
Why this picture? You are looking at the pool terrace retaining wall surface, and the first post of the pool fence. The plan here-a double row of hydrangeas. The outside row, closest to the wall-Annabelle hydrangeas. Unstaked Annabelles. Thier natural propensity to fall over will greatly soften the stone wall. I cannot wait to see how that looks in 3 years. The back row-Limelight hydrangeas. I have never planted them together before-but a tall stone wall and a pool fence asked for some big simple solution to both issues. Annabelles and Limelights together-my idea of a really great party. The grass in the background-a grass ramp up to the pool level-for those guests for whom stairs are too tough.
These stone walls were the first gesture. They are better than 5 feet tall, and beautifully done. There was a year when all that got done was the grading, and these walls, the irrigation system, and the grass.
Now the upper level has the pool-the pergola is not far behind. The stairs are in. The fence posts are in. This is a very exciting time for me-seeing a conceptual plan with just a few lines come to life. Any time now, we will be installing the gardens.
A year ago, I was looking at all of this grass, and trying to imagine a rear yard landscape. I stood a good 10 feet above the house grade to take this picture. All of the terrace furniture-piled up on the back porch.
There is a terrace now-the furniture is out. An outdoor grilling area not pictured to the left of this photo-operational. I cannot tell you for sure if this is phase 4 or 5 or 6-but I can tell you this project is on the move. As for the pace-whatever makes sense for my client.