Category Archives: Projects

Colorado Zen

This client had plans to relocate to Denver from San Francisco when they contracted with Urban Gardens long distance to design their backyard which was a blank slate in the Lowry neighborhood.

Their vision for the backyard was to have a space with a “Colorado Zen” feel and an elegant, minimalist aesthetic. They wanted to use the space to for entertaining with a pergola to shade their dining table and a conversation area with a fire pit for summer parties. They also wanted a native landscape that required minimal water and maintenance and a place to grow their own vegetables and herbs.

The contemporary feel of their updated craftsman home was reinforced by drawing on Asian influences common to the craftsman style.  Broad, parallel lines typical of the craftsman style were used to break up the slope and create different functional areas.  Materials like wood, stone, concrete and pebbles with contrasting smooth and rough textures were incorporated and the three colors in the house, light grey, dark grey, and white, were repeated to create a harmonious color palette.  Massings of xeric plants such as ornamental grasses and those with architectural interest and interesting texture were included throughout the plan.

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.

Historic 17th Avenue Parkway

This family owns a beautiful old home on Park Hill’s historic 17th Avenue Parkway. Their backyard was a long, narrow yard with a lot of lawn, large overgrown plants, a different style of old worn fence on each side of the property, and a small rectangular patio against the house. They were interested in reducing the amount of lawn, adding more trees, changing the shape of the patio, having a small kids play area and a place to grow vegetables.

The hardscape plan included a combination of classic curves and straight lines, more in keeping with the elegant, historic architecture. A more generous patio constructed of red flagstone edged with aged brick was added which was surrounded by a raised brick planter bed/seat wall for an intimate feeling. Planting beds along the perimeter of the yard were enlarged and edged with aged brick. Overgrown plants were replaced with plants of a smaller scale in a color palette of purple, white, and yellow with a small amount of pink and magenta for accent. A new fence was added as was a raised stripstone (a cut of sandstone) wall at the back of the yard for growing vegetables. A children’s play area was tucked away on the perimeter of the yard where it could be viewed from the patio without being right in the middle of the yard. Lastly, the brick from the original patio was used to build brick paths connecting the patio to the front and back gates.

Craftsman Style

When we first met with these clients who live in the Stapleton Development in NE Denver, they were unhappy with their builder landscaping. They wanted more interest for their front yard with a raised bed, a little grass and landscape lighting we encouraged them to consider redesigning their front steps which were not wide enough and to consider covering their concrete porch with the same material we would use for the new hardscape.

The first step was to develop a hardscape plan that complemented the lines of the architecture in their craftsman style home. I developed a couple of different design concepts and they chose the one they liked best. At this point, we also considered several different material options. We ultimately decided to use the same brick in the house for the walk, the stair risers and as trim on the porch and stair treads. We used a dark lilac colored sandstone as the cap on the wall, on the stair treads, and on the porch. A buff colored stripstone (a cut of sandstone) was used for the wall.

Details included an inset of lilac sandstone in the brick walk and beautiful craftsman style post-mounted light fixtures which were added to each of the four columns. Porch furniture was painted the same color as the siding on the upper level. Lastly, a planting plan was completed which utilized burgundy and silver/blue foliage along with red, purple, pink and white flowers.

Client Testimonial:

“Sarah’s creative ideas have transformed our yard into a beautiful, relaxing haven. She is wonderful to work with, knowledgeable about all aspects of landscaping and has a keen eye for what works. Sarah not only provides exceptional designs, she manages each aspect of the implementation so every detail is covered. She personally checked on the progress of our project, gave us frequent updates, and identified and handled potential issues. With Sarah, we discovered how enjoyable landscaping can be and how exciting it is to see creative ideas come to life. Working with her is a true pleasure, and we highly recommend her without reservation.” -Sheila & Andy Knudsen