A Yard Transformed for Beauty & Function
Bainbridge Island Residence
Harnessing beauty and function with a terraced, arced retaining wall.
Before the reinvention of this yard, there was only a cobbled together rockery that was barely keeping the slope of the yard in place – it wasn't doing the street presence any favors, and the sloping landscape wasn't very usable. Of course, the redo would improve the look of the landscape, but an additional key goal was to increase the functionality of the yard. This meant creating a small, level front lawn that would not only set up a clean aesthetic for the front of the home, but would be a great spot for kids to play.
In order to create this, the entire front of the yard needed to be leveled out and the grade retained. Complicating matters, there was an excess amount of migrating groundwater, so it was crucial to plan the drainage carefully so the retaining wall didn't act like a dam and turn the new lawn into a swamp.
To prevent the wall from looking too harsh from the street, rather than a straight line, it forms a sweeping curve that instantly softens the appearance. Additionally, we created a terrace in the wall. Stepping the wall offers a mid-level plant area to showcase seasonal plantings. Hand-chiseled edges on the Pennsylvania Bluestone cap bring the natural character back to the stone for a great finishing touch.
When it came to plant selection, Derek explains, "I like to keep the palette simple by using just a handful of ‘structural’ plant types that hold the form of the space year-round, and then let the perennial infill come in as the growing season takes off. Highlighting specific seasons with flowers and leaf color is what really makes the space dynamic. Sarcoccoca, Hakonechloa, Heuchera, Acorus, Pieris, Seiryu Maple, Coral Bark Maple, Azaleas, Liriope, Leptinella, Cotoneaster, Lilac, Daphne, Hosta, Lonicera, and Allium are a few plants that help this landscape glow."
Now that it’s all in place, it turns out that the new flat lawn is a complete game-changer for the use of this yard. Not only has it tidied up the street presence, but – and certainly aided and abetted by the outdoor sound system — it has also turned into a dance platform for all the neighborhood kids.
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