Landscape Design Focus: Modern

Last summer, when I attended the annual Wheat Ridge Garden Tour, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to explore a beautifully designed and built modernist landscape.  The site is challenging; a sloping corner lot with a "built-over/walk-out" garage.  The 1950's era home features classic mid-mod geometry and deep roof overhangs.   In a nod to our region, pink flagstone was used as a decorative accent on the facade.

The homeowners worked with Los Angeles based landscape architect, Charles Elliott, and Kevin Bound of the local landscape design-build firm, Artscapes, to get a simple, elegant, low maintenance design and high quality installation.

Slopes were terraced with flagstone retaining walls and filled with colorful plantings, making access to both the front entry and the backyard most welcoming:

The backyard features multiple play areas for the family's young children.
A concrete "sport court" (in the foreground), a play structure with soft landing (upper right), and just enough level lawn area means lots of play space for everyone.
Distinctive dining and lounging areas are joined by a "soft" patio.
A platform deck floats over the sloping grade and minimizes damage to tree roots.
Use a bunch grass (like turf-type tall fescue) for this type of planting rather than a sod forming grass (like Kentucky bluegrass) for lower maintenance (less trimming).
The original flagstone patio features vintage furniture, too!
The use of the cast concrete squares throughout the landscape is a nice unifying element — and a much more economical choice than cut flagstone.  They serve as a practical surface for stepping stones, and a decorative accent in larger areas of gravel mulch.

The limited plant palette and row plantings enhance the geometry of the house and make for lower maintenance, too.
Purple-blue is the key color for the entry garden, filled with xeric lavender, bluemist spirea, grasses, and mugo pine.
For those of you considering a minimalist, modern style, remember these key concepts:
  • proper scale
  • very limited palette of hardscape materials, harmonious to home
  • geometric shapes for planting beds and hard surface areas
  • limited palette of plant material
Thanks to the Mead family for sharing their beautiful, distinctive landscape with us!

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