A lush landscape that makes your home the envy of the neighborhood doesn’t happen overnight. As you’ll hear from some of the area’s go-to landscape artists, their most elaborate projects involved months of planning, plenty of know-how and a great deal of hard work.
Chesterfield Valley Nursery
Water was a big issue for one Ladue family that wanted to create a more private pool and patio area. “The home is located on a lower area of the subdivision, so we had to deal with runoff from the other properties,” explains Chesterfield Valley Nursery project supervisor Bob Graeler. In addition, a waterfall that emptied into the pool presented another slew of problems. “The waterfall got a lot of mud and silt into the pool, so after it rained, the pool would turn brown,” he says.
Much of the work had to be done by hand, Graeler notes. “Because of the way the property was laid out, we could not access it with large equipment.” Elevation also presented a challenge. “The waterfall was different in elevation than the pool, deck and patio. We were also working with a bunch of steps coming from the house. We had to take all that and wrap it into something that was aesthetically pleasing.”
Graeler and his crew came up with a design that incorporated the property’s multiple levels and gave the clients the added privacy they desired. “We took the existing concrete pool deck and worked along those lines,” he says. “We used plant material like spreading yew and Sango Kaku Japanese maple to soften those lines, and upright, columnar forms like arbor vitae to provide privacy.”
Transforming a Frontenac home’s landscaping from front to back required months of planning to address drainage and topography issues that came with the property. “This home bordered a fairly busy two-lane street,” says Poynter Landscape president/CEO Rich Poynter. “Because some of the areas in Frontenac are relatively flat, there are plenty of drainage problems. The client also felt that he was too close to the road. The house was probably only 90 feet away from it.”
Poynter says functionality was a guiding principle for coming up with a design. “Addressing the drainage and topography were key to making everything work,” he says. “The goal was to make it look like the house was built around an existing visual barrier.” A few berms were built to raise the ground and function as sound barriers. “When you have a large area that needs berms, the challenge is to not make it look like the Jolly Green Giant’s burial ground,” Poynter says. “We wanted to create something that was more like a golf course—smooth and natural-looking.”
Granite boulders, interspersed with a mixture of evergreens, multi-stem flowering trees and groundcover, added texture and interest to the property. Other features in Poynter’s design included a pool and separate re-circulating pond, pergola, private sitting area, lighting and a new driveway. “It worked because we had enough creative control over the entire site,” he says. “That’s an important part of landscape architecture.”
Landscape Saint Louis
For creating an elaborate garden in a Frontenac home, Landscape Saint Louis co-owner Ron Goedeker immersed himself in its surroundings before drawing up a plan. “The clients wanted to feel as if their home sat amongst lush gardens,” he says. “So I spent a lot of time walking and getting a ‘feel’ for the site.”
Goedeker initially had to address some issues on the property, such as conforming to drainage requirements, working with elevation changes and maneuvering around large existing trees. He came up with a design that reflected the homeowners’ personalities and brought the home, pool, patios and gardens together as one beautiful, flowing entity. “I wanted to use material that had wonderful color, form and texture,” he says. Plantings included ‘Autumn Brilliance’ serviceberry, ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud, Kousa dogwood, Girard azalea, ‘All Summer Beauty’ hydrangeas, ‘Knockout’ roses, purple loosestrife and perennial geranium.
Goedeker and his crew also installed flagstone paths, garden walls, dry creek beds and small water features. “It’s a very serene setting where our clients can meander through the gardens with the feeling of a small escape,” he says.