Category Archives: Landscaping

LANDSCAPE STYLES to Inform and Inspire your Dream Landscape

Regardless of your home’s architectural style or your personal tastes, you want your home to appear connected to the surrounding space.  By taking cues from the architecture of your home, its materials and the surroundings, your house can blend seamlessly with the landscape.  That is not to say that it must be a literal interpretation of a historic landscaping style but you can add aspects of those styles that are adapted for you.  Landscaping trends tend to overlap and merge more than architectural styles and, while garden styles may have originated in a specific location, they’ve migrated and can be readily adapted to any area.  This blog on different landscape styles will explore the following:

  • are they formal, informal or a combination of both
  • what is the overall sense and geometry
  • what are the design elements and material types for both hardscape and plants
  • what is the role of lawn
  • what furniture and décor is typical
  • what are the uses of form, line, color, and texture
  • what is the role of complementing versus contrasting elements to create harmony and/or tension and interest

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.

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:
http://www.stapletonscoop.com/maximizing-outdoor-space-stapleton/

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.

Before Photos:

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.

After Photos:

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.

Urban Gardens, Inc. Wins a 2015 CARE Award

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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.

BEFORE

BEFORE

After

After

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.

Urban Gardens, Inc. of Denver Receives Best Of Houzz 2015 Award

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 Urban Gardens, Inc. of Denver Receives Best Of Houzz 2015 Award

Over 25 Million Monthly Unique Users Rated Top-Rated Home Building,
Remodeling and Design Professionals in the United States and Around the World
Denver, Colorado, January 19, 2015Urban Gardens, Inc. of Denver, Colorado has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” for Design by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The landscape architectural design firm was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 500,000 active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Design and Customer Satisfaction. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers.” Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2015” badge on their profiles, helping Houzz users around the world who discover and love a professional’s work to learn even more about that business’ popularity and satisfaction rating among their peers in the Houzz community.

“Houzz provides homeowners with a 360 degree view of home building, remodeling and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Urban Gardens, Inc. among our “Best Of” professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

Follow Urban Gardens, Inc. on Houzz http://www.houzz.com/pro/sarah-christian/urban-gardens-inc

About Urban Gardens, Inc.

Sarah Christian is a registered landscape architect with 20 years of experience.  She owns and operates Urban Gardens, Inc.  For more information visit www.urbangardensinc.com.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin and Sydney. For more information, visit  www.houzz.com

Updated Prairie Style

This client 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 they disliked the traditional white porch railing and steep, uninteresting composite wood steps with a railing.

The round columns were replaced with new square columns with simple, clean lines more in keeping with the door, exposed rafters and multi-pane windows.  When the fiberglass columns were removed and the structural posts exposed, a sag in the posts was revealed and a structural engineer was brought in to replace them and reinforce the porch ceiling before new trim was added.  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 existing composite wood steps were redesigned to be more gradual and reflect the long, low horizontal lines typical of the prairie style.  Natural local stone laid in an ashlar pattern replaced the composite wood and stainless steel lights were 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.

The backyard, redesigned several years prior to the front reflects a consistent style and use of  materials.

Note: This project won a first place 2013 C.A.R.E. Award for Landscape Remodeling. The CARE awards (Colorado Awards for Remodeling Excellence) are sponsored by the Homebuilder’s Association of Metro Denver.

Client Testimonial:
“Sarah worked with us in completely remodeling our front and back yards – plants and hardscape. She provided lots of great ideas and worked with us in modifying the design until we were all happy with it. We have had SO many compliments on the finished product. We would work with her again!” – Jen Tryggestad

Landscaping Your Hell Strip

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Urban Garden

Hardscape materials & plantings were chosen to complement the architecture of this Spanish style home. Designed by Sarah Christian, RLA.

The rectangular piece of lawn between the sidewalk and the street was historically known as the tree lawn but has also been referred to as the median strip, parking strip, right of way, boulevard and “hell strip.” Colorado horticulturist and author Lauren Springer said in a 2010 New York Times article, “It’s a strip and it’s hellish. It’s hard for plants to grow there.” She listed the hardships of the hell strip, which include dog waste, snowpack, road salt, and reflected pavement heat that can reach 150 degrees at ground level. Continue reading