English Landscape

English LandscapeEnglish Landscape





English LandscapeEnglish Landscape





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A combination of Formal and Informal

Overall sense:  Around the turn of the 18th century, English landscape gardens shifted from formal, symmetrical gardens to a looser, rambling look that recreated the natural beauty of the English countryside but in a cultivated way.  This gracious style has evolved over the years to include a balance between traditional formality and organic flow and between natural and man-made.

Geometry:  The English landscape garden design style is a contrast between flowing and geometric but there is a strong sense of geometry underlying the overall space and of everything having its place.

Hardscape:  Hardscape elements of the English landscape include traditional, classic materials like brick and cobblestone with gravel paths within the English garden.  Beds are edged to provide a sense of order. Fences are classic in style and are made of wood or wrought iron.

Plants: Plants are traditional with lush foliage.  Examples include magnolia, boxwood, yew, hydrangea, roses and daylilies.  English landscape garden colors are pastel rather than bright and sometimes feature white gardens against a green background.

Lawn:  Large, lush, park-like lawns anchor the space and are often surrounded by stately trees.  Think of the yards along the historic parkways in central Denver.

Furniture & Décor: Water features include a fountain or birdbath in cast stone and other classic accents such as planters.  Teak is popular for furniture as is cast iron or cast aluminum.colorful accessories and plantings to make the English landscape pop in areas and add character to your yard. Native American, Spanish, and natural details are also appropriate.

French Landscape

French LandscapeFrench Landscape





French LandscapeFrench Landscape





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Formal or Informal: The French landscape can be created in a formal or informal way more reminiscent of French country gardens.

Overall sense: The French landscape adopted many principles from renaissance gardens but incorporated a style of their own that represented control over nature.

Geometry: The French landscape design is geometric with symmetry. The home should be the number one focal point with paths that provide axial views and lead to something significant such as a fountain or sculpture. The remaining space is then arranged into a series of usable garden areas.

Hardscape: Common elements within the French landscape include flagstone patios, columns, formal shapes, stone edging along paths and planting beds, and pea gravel. Modern stone pavers, cobblestones and concrete can create the same ambience.

Plants: Different garden spaces are often created using a border of clipped boxwood, an allee of trees or topiary shrubs in containers. Fastigiate European Hornbeam or Columnar English Oak would achieve this feel. Plant material examples include boxwood, lavender, climbers & edibles in cool colors like purple, blue, white & green. Grapevine can be used on overhead structures.

Lawn: The principal axis is composed of lawn or gravel paths for the French landscape design.

Furniture & Décor: Water is the most important element and water features are in circular, oval and rectangular shapes. The furniture is simple and elegant, such as cast iron seating. Other elements include planters made of cast iron, wood, or glazed ceramic and statuary, urns, trellises and birdbaths.

Asian Landscaping

Asian LandscapingAsian LandscapingAsian Landscaping





Photos 1 & 2 from, Photo 3 from

A combination of formal and informal: Balance and symmetry are combined with imperfection and man-made is combined with natural when focusing on Asian landscaping.

Overall Sense: Meditative is the overall sense with Asian landscaping.

Geometry: Free-form, organic shapes with meandering paths or, for a more modern take, concrete squares or rectangles with grass or moss in the spaces between.

Hardscape: Paving should be simple and natural. Examples in regards to Asian landscaping include natural stone, pea gravel, exposed aggregate, and concrete for a modern approach. Dark granite rocks and boulders are also used in naturally occurring, varied shapes and sizes but consistent color and texture. Do odd-numbered groupings. A sense of enclosure is provided by fences & gates made from bamboo or wood with a grid pattern.

Plants: Examples of plants with Asian landscaping include Japanese maple, weeping flowering cherry, ginko, mugho pine, bamboo, boxwood, grasses, hosta, and sweet flag. The space should not be filled completely and should have some voids.

Lawn: no lawns are usually part of the Asian landscaping

Furniture & Décor: There should be minimal décor since the emphasis is on nature, however, simply designed furniture in bamboo, teak or stone works best. Water features are integral and should be simple in design and made of stone. Stone lanterns, rain chains, and wind chimes are also used.

Minimalist Landscape

Minimalist Landscape

Minimalist Landscape
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Minimalist Landscape






Overall sense: The minimalist landscape style is a streamlined aesthetic with sleek, sophisticated style that is distinguished by refined forms, pure materials and the achievement of balance. Typically, the focus is more on hardscape and structures than it is on plants. This style includes mid-century modern and works with a contemporary or ranch style home. It has its roots in the 1950s and ’60s but draws on the simplicity of Asian design principles. One of the main goals is to create contrast, however, it is important to do so selectively. Limit it to two or three areas and focus on one contrasting element for each area.

Geometry: Bold, linear lines with straight edges and ninety degree angles are found in the minimalist landscape style. Curved lines should be avoided.

Hardscape: Hardscaping has a restricted palette with limited material types. Paving is simple and clean with geometric shapes in repeated grid patterns. The materials of choice for minimalist landscape styles are concrete and wood decking used to create geometric patterns and straight lines. Gravel with rocks/ boulders is used in place of wood mulch. A feeling of enclosure is important and achieved with boundaries such as fences, blank walls and patio covers. Materials commonly used for fences, screens and walls include poured concrete, stucco, Ipe Brazilian hardwood, and steel sheet metals. Wood panels or fences should have horizontal versus vertical slats with hidden fence posts. Patio covers should emphasize geometric patterns and have an industrial appearance. Wire mesh and cable rail are also used.

Plants: Plantings are designed with order and a simplified, restricted palette. Plants are selected for architectural interest that have interesting form, line, and texture but minimal color, mostly in shades of green. Examples include spiky plants like ornamental grasses and yucca, rounded or columnar shapes like boxwood and evergreens, soft-textured weeping plants, succulents and anything with a strong visual punch. Use a single specimen of the architectural plant and a contrasting form around its base such as soft, fine textured plants. Plants should be planted in straight lines and grouped in odd numbers, preferably threes or fives. The spaces between pavers can be filled with gravel, rock, or grass. Enclosure can also be provided with the use of hedges.

Lawn:  Minimalist landscape styles have little to no lawn.

Furniture & Décor: Water features are formal, geometric shapes with simplistic materials.   Furniture should be sleek, refined and made of sculpted metal, wood or plastic. Pops of bold color can be added with furniture cushions, planters or a painted wall. Containers should be selected for texture, color and be geometric in shape. Contrast the shape of the pot with that of the plant. Sculpture and spheres are commonly used. Mid-century modern gardens feature vintage furniture and decor.

Mid-Century Modern

This client wanted a mid-century modern feel for their new contemporary home, a style characterized by clean, simple lines, functional beauty and natural hues.  Their wish list included less grass and more planting areas, an expanded patio, a fireplace to provide privacy from the alley, a different style fence and a more level back yard.  They also wanted some play features for their children somewhere outside the main backyard space.


To make the yard more level, we built a board-formed concrete retaining wall around the perimeter of the back yard and brought in over sixty tons of soil.  A modern, semi-open fence was then added to the top of the retaining wall.

The existing concrete pad was extended and stone was laid over the top of it making a larger patio area.  A new fireplace, a mix of stone and brick, was designed to provide a private sitting area which tied together the materials in the patio and house.  Concrete slabs with joints for groundcovers were installed on two sides of the yard.  Brick trim separates the lawn from the new, larger planting beds.

To accommodate the children, an arbor was added to the long, narrow side yard from which swings and climbing bars were hung.  Climbing hydrangea will eventually cover the arbor and make for an attractive feature long after the swings are gone.

Hardscape Design

Park Hill Contemporary Remodel

This Park Hill client had just completed a remodel which included a new concrete patio and asked us to assist in finishing their backyard. They wanted a contemporary look with a fire pit, planters, a place for grilling, trees for privacy from the neighbors and lush foliage for this shady back yard.

A prefabricated fire pit and planters were selected for the patio and synthetic turf was added under the large shade tree where grass had not grown. To add to the contemporary look we added connecting concrete stepper paths to the front and back gates with an adjacent space for grilling. Lastly, Pear trees were added for privacy and plantings were selected with interesting foliage color and texture to complement the shady space.

Intimate Family HangOut

Our client had a narrow and underused back/side yard that consisted of a single tree with a small area of grass and mulch.  They wanted an extension of their existing concrete slab patio with privacy from the alley for a family hangout.  They also wanted a space to grow vegetables and compost.

Budget prohibited treatment of the existing concrete slab so we created an adjacent lower level patio to be used as a seating area which was perfect for a family hang out area.  An overhead pergola with a built in privacy screen and benches around a fire pit gave the space an intimate, enclosed feel.  All grass was removed and planted paths were added from the seating area to the front and back gates.  A raised vegetable bed was added on one side.  On the other side, the compost and air conditioner were screened from view.

Stapleton Scoop Article:

Client Testimonial:

“We had a long, narrow side yard that faced the alley and it was a totally unusable space with nothing but grass and mulch. My husband and I knew we wanted an extend patio space, privacy and shade but we had a hard time envisioning what we could do with it. Sarah did a great job taking our wish list and turning it into something that made the space totally amazing! She suggested things that I would not have thought of and picked out an amazing array of flowers and shrubs that bloom from Spring through Fall. The whole process was simple and having her oversee the project construction made it even easier! We spent more time out outside the summer it was finished than we had in the first three years we lived in the house!”
– Matt and Kristen Tenney

Modern Asian

Our clients had a large yard by Stapleton standards that did not include any builder landscaping other than a single tree.  They wanted a modern Asian feel with lawn, a sitting area around a fire pit, a shaded dining area, fruit trees, raised vegetable beds and a zen garden.


Concrete was chosen as a less expensive alternative to stone combined with natural wood for a minimalist look.   The patio, fire pit and wall behind the wooden bench were constructed of concrete.  This wall not only provided a back to the bench but a sense of enclosure in the large, open yard.  A wood pergola was added over the new concrete dining patio to further tie the two materials together.  The zen garden, complete with an Asian style water feature, was placed adjacent to the sitting area with vegetable beds, fruit trees, black granite boulders and other plantings around the periphery.


Hardscape Design

Plant Design

Portland Inspired


These clients wanted a design for their uninteresting, builder-grade backyard where the adults, children and pet dogs could coexist.  They wanted a Portland Inspired casual seating area and outdoor kitchen, some art and a way to better connect their underused covered concrete porch with the rest of the yard.

First, the children’s playhouse was moved to the side of the house with a path connecting it to the patio.  A casual sitting area with a coffee table large enough to place dinnerware on and high enough to pull chairs up to allowed the space to maximize its function, serving as both sitting and dining area.  A screen was added behind the furniture to provide a backdrop that frames the area.  Grape vine was planted at its base as the owner enjoys having fruiting plants.

To connect the existing covered porch to the rest of the yard, the same Pennsylvania Blue flagstone used for the patio was added to the top of the concrete pad.  The railing around the porch was removed and replaced with planter beds against the porch to avoid a sharp drop off and new steps lead to the lower area.  A built-in kitchen was added to the covered porch, located adjacent to the kitchen door and includes a storage place for their smoker.  A beautiful, artistic bronze architectural screen was added to break up the garage wall.  A water feature and outdoor lighting were included to enhance the ambience.  The plantings were designed to provide a lush, full look that focused more on interesting foliage than flowers.

Hardscape Design

Plant Design

Urban Gardens, Inc. Wins a 2015 CARE Award


Urban Gardens, Inc. Wins a 2015 CARE Award

Urban Gardens, Inc., a landscape design and consulting firm located in Denver, Colorado and owned and operated by Sarah Christian, won a 2015 CARE Award. Sponsored by the Homebuilder’s Association of Metro Denver, the Colorado Awards for Remodeling Excellence, known as the CARE awards, are the largest and longest running contest recognizing remodeling of all types, including both commercial and residential projects. Categories are numerous and include kitchens, bathrooms, landscape, green building, and much more. CARE awards are judged blind by local volunteers, making it a fair competition that recognizes excellence in remodeling, no matter the authorship.

Sarah Christian of Urban Gardens, Inc. received a First Place prize for a landscape remodel project in the Stapleton Development in Colorado in the Landscaping category. This is her second CARE Award. The Tryggestad family wanted to redesign their small front yard and porch with an updated prairie style for their craftsman home. The round columns installed by the builder were the only round element on the front elevation and were replaced with new square columns with simple, clean lines more in keeping with the door, exposed rafters and multi-pane windows. To add a more contemporary look, the vertical wood railing on the porch was replaced with stainless steel rods run horizontally with a matching sliding porch gate to contain the family dog.


The steep, uninteresting existing steps were redesigned to be more gradual and reflect the long, low horizontal lines typical of the prairie style. The composite wood steps were replaced with natural materials, local stone laid in an Ashlar pattern with stainless steel lights installed in the risers. A stone wall was added across the front of the porch with the same feel as the steps and the ground level beds were outlined with stone edging.

Plantings included symmetrical massings of ornamental grasses and low perennials and groundcovers with interesting textural foliage that repeat the horizontal line of the prairie land and sky.

Sarah’s work was judged by the strength of design ideas, aesthetic and market appeal, sensitivity to existing structure, appropriate use of existing building elements, function and flow, craftsmanship, and overall presentation and compliance with entry requirements. When asked, Sarah stated, “I’m very honored to receive this wonderful acknowledgement from a jury of my peers. I’d like to thank my clients, Mike & Jen Tryggestad, for a great collaborative effort…” To read more, click here to view official press release.