Creative Thinking: Pt. 7
Amy's project gets the finishing touches
We’ve come to the end of our online coverage of my studio renovation—and what a journey it has been! My last step is to take on the landscaping with the help of Matt Almy and Jim Gerrity of Oliver Nurseries in Fairfield. Jim tells us a little bit about their work on the project here:
Where did you begin?
We began, as always, by listening to the clients, in this case Amy and her husband Chris. Once their goals were clear, site obstacles were noted and the assets that could be used to the property’s best design advantage were catalogued. By distilling the clients’ input and our own assessment of the site issues, we were able to formulate a plan of action that would capitalize on opportunities and suggest a novel solution. Our design approach was to first view the small scale of the property, a seeming drawback, as the key to creating a well-defined and uniform space.
How did you make the most of this small space?
One benefit of a small property is that fewer resources are needed. When possible, plantings can serve dual purposes. On this project, Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ (arborvitae) were planted as a tall hedge on the west side of the property. Not only do they provide screening for the home, they also create a very private outdoor room. Since the plants serve two functions, fewer resources were allocated and virtually the entire side yard was made available for usable outdoor space. Because they are tall and narrow, the arborvitae also help provide a sense of scale to the outside of the house. One of these was repeated off the rear corner to anchor the house to the side yard and make a visual connection to the hedge.
What plant material did you use?
In the front yard, Carpinus betula ‘Fastigiata’ (Fastigiate Hornbeam) were planted to repeat the shape and habit of the arborvitae. Two flank the driveway to frame the new garage and four were planted to screen the eastern border. These are deciduous and will be pruned to maintain a formal look. In addition, Buxus sempervirens (Boxwood) were planted to wrap around the veranda in front of the house and continue the overall theme of the property. The combination of the Thuja, Carpinus and Buxus works to connect the house to the landscape, and extend the architecture into the outdoors.
When is the best time of year to begin a landscaping project?
We are often asked this. But that depends—the best time is when you are ready to get started. Each season has its advantage. Planting can be done whenever the weather allows, but planning can be done at any time. For that reason, winter has a slight advantage over the other seasons. Nothing is a better incentive to create a new landscape than dreary winter weather and the longing for warmer days.