Ornamental grasses are among my favourite garden plants:
Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Fire’
Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland on the left; Festuca glauca ‘Beyond Blue’ in the middle; Miscanthus sinensis ‘YakuJima’ on the right.
East Side (Hastings-Sunrise) Vancouver
With a lot of chafer beetle/crow and racoon damage the clients wanted to remove lawn and replace it with manageable (aka “low-maintenance”) plantings incorporating some grade changes
They had taken pictures of various neighbourhood gardens that were similar to what they wanted to have themselves and liked the Japanese garden style
North-facing East Vancouver house
There were a few precious plants the clients wanted to keep including the small Japanese Maple in the middle of the above picture So the whole design became a context for that one small tree
Overgrwon Aucuba japonica a bunch of no-name shrubs that turned out to be spirea and forsythia some azalea and a beautiful variegated Fatsia japonica by the front steps By June when we started the installation the Fatsia was almost covering the steps
E Van Design
The “Leaf” laid out
The raised bed which will be the home of the Japanese Maple Lots of boulders–“standing stones” in the raised bed and “lying stones” will be placed in the patio area
The clients decided on a custom made bench that would attach to the largest stone toward the back so instead of a low flattish stone we put a tall one that would complement the bench which would be built after installation
The Japanese Maple will get some shade from the street tree–Lavallei Hawthorn–and from the Magnolia ‘Little Gem’
Beautiful Belgian Bluestone
Thanks to 4 Elements Gardens for a great job!
West Side House (Vancouver)
The client wanted to dispatch her lawn in the shady north-facing front yard, so had some work done in the Spring 2015. But it didn’t really meet her expectations, so she asked me to do a revision.
Front yard is north-facing, surrounded by large trees. So shade tolerance is key.
There was too much similarity–many small leafed evergreens, little variation in height, and many shrubs that didn’t survive the summer. Wasted space in the front slope.
We planned to salvage as much as possible, but not compromise the plan in order to do so. Turned out pretty easy to salvage most, the rest were quickly snapped up when put on the boulevard with a “free to good home” sign.
Design (Click–then click again–for larger image).
Renovated; these pictures were taken November 28, during a frosty snap.
We used all the existing rocks and built up a rustic, casual retaining wall, about 20″ tall, adding almost 3′ of front yard space. The Irish Yew will fill in in time; you’re always balancing cost vs size.
Boulevard. The outer boulevard (got pretty thrashed during the installation process) will just be re-seeded. May review that next year…
Winter container. Most of the ground plantings are Sagina subulata and Ophiopogon planiscapus. Others are completely dormant now. More about the winter planter here.
False Creek Condo
West-facing balconies (Click for larger image)
With two small balconies on this two level condo, there’s lots of options for outdoor living. The clients wanted container gardens, leaving enough space for leisurely sitting outside their master bedroom, and eating outside the kitchen.
Lower balcony is off the master bedroom, upper balcony is off the kitchen.
Original plan was for white containers, but they would have been GLARING in west sun, so decided on charcoal coloured.
22″ cubes, fiberclay, “anthracite” colour.
- Schizachyrium scoparium Carex ‘Everest’Lysimachia nummularia
And while shopping for the coleus that didn’t exist, I did find this pennisetum that I don’t remember the name of, and thought it would complement the Schizachyrium nicely. Which it does.
‘Waterfall’ Japanese Maple, tolerant of more sun than most J. Maples.
- Acer palmatum ‘waterfall’LysimachiaCarex testaceaSedum ‘John Creech‘
Love the Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica)
- Imperata cylindricaLysimachia nummulariaChamaecyparis obtusa ‘aurea nana’, which can grow to 6′, but won’t here.
This is at east-facing front porch, pretty deep shade.
- Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘fastigiata’Lysimachia nummulariaHeuchera ‘Bright and Breezy’I’d wanted to add coleus, but there wasn’t any to be had by Aug 21!
New house construction:
Quite a significant slope up from the street: 2 x 40″ retaining walls.
South facing front of house.
West facing eclipse door to kitchen/ family room. This is where a large patio and water feature will locate.
SketchUp draft a
SketchUp draft b
SketchUp draft c
This South Burnaby client initially just wanted to create a prettier foundation garden, and then possibly replace the turf on the boulevard with something lower maintenance. In discussion about what that could look like, they decided to go further and redo the whole front, none of which worked well as it was. The long dry summer (unusual for the Wet Coast) showed up the inadequacies of a mainly turf yard.
Street view, South Burnaby home
Very deep boulevard set-back.
South Burnaby site, north facing front yard.
Click for larger image
Vancouver’s west side
This client wanted a low-cost, low maintenance renovation of her dark, dry, dingy ground-level apartment garden. We negotiated on the “low-cost” part.
A lot of Thuja hedging, all of which is in poor condition because of low water and low light conditions.
Behind the hedging, lost space under the canopy of Western White Pine
Poor Clematis armandii failing to cover the trellis.
Their cosy retreat
Does the gnome look as sad as the garden?
After pics, all credit to the homeowners who did all the work.
Looking north, removed all the hedging, in fact almost all the plant material that was there. Lots of extra seating by building over the existing retaining wall.
The space not only looks a lot bigger, it is a lot bigger–we gained about 130 sq.ft.
A few changes from this; the brick path became a dry stream bed separating the space; the pavers joining the backs of the adjoining apartment gardens moved a bit, and altho’ you can’t see here, a lot of the plants needed to be substituted because the originals were out of stock.
The clients wanted a fun space for their two little girls to enjoy, a space for the adults to sit and relax and watch the girls, and lots of fruit and vegetable gardening space.
West facing front yard.
Didn’t initially recognize the sprawling Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon). With a nice wide canopy it could be a shade tree but for it it’s low branches. We decide to make that a picnic area since the girls already liked to play under it.
The kids loved to “slip ‘n slide” on the lawn, so we needed to keep a large lawn while still changing the overall character of the yard.
The nice big–about 210 sq.ft.–vegetable garden turned out to be inefficient use of space so we decided on lots of attractive raise planters which would be much easier to garden in and better use of space.
18″ pavers and gravel create walkways around the 4′ x 6′ raised beds made of clear cut cedar and corrugated steel. grape arbours to the back, and an espalier Bartlett pear to the left.
Three sided pergola leaves room toward the right for lots more access than if there were a 4th support beam. The girls asked for a swing, so they got a swing.
Using SketchUP to design the pergola really simplified measurements. The concrete pad was originally going to be cut up into sections for planting in the spaces, and thereby relieve the grey monotony. But we needed to economize a bits so that may come in the future.
Front yard circle theme.
Random rocks found in the preparation phase carefully located in the garden by the kids.
girls picnic area. The Hibiscus syriacus was pretty aggressively pruned.
New half-circle patio added to the existing space. Complements the rock facing on the pillars. More edibles throughout the front garden: Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon berry) in the centre of the circle. In the pictures above, a dozen mixed blueberry bushes surround the crushed limestone walkway.
Boulevard planting: Nasella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass), Elijah Blue Fescue, creeping thyme, Lewisia cotyledon, and a few granite boulders.
A few changes from the plan: the south side border of the driveway became a narrow flagstone path with boxwood along the property line; concrete pad at the back has to wait a while for artistic cuts and plantings.
Semi-formal back yard, leaving room for future “endless” pool.
Semi-formal design; right border is reserved for vegetable garden.
A Sketch Up model with just a few elements illustrating the arbour/art concept.
New house on unfinished lot. About 6200 s.f., but 14′ boulevards on two sides. So a pretty large site.
This is what the raised beds with built-in benches looks like.
This design is pretty simplistic to see here. The planting beds are identified as numbers–each numbered bed is treated like a large container garden, using the existing plants, but replanting them in different places to give a better sense of continuity to the whole.
Click on image to see details close-up.