On February 3, 2022, our complete landscape renovation of a mid-century home was recognized with a Silver Excellence In Landscape Award in Residential Landscape Construction by the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. We are grateful for this recognition and the opportunity to create beautiful and functional outdoor living spaces.
Our clients, a mature couple, were looking to downsize from their large, multi-level home, to a single-story home. They hoped to design spaces that were elegant, stylish, and above all, functional. With accessibility being the key goal, our clients needed a ramp to enter into the home easily, regardless of varying abilities. They also wanted to create a rear garden, complete with an accessible raised vegetable planter. The couples’ children had grown and moved on, but two canine friends graced the home and needed a dog run with a series of gates to corral them, in between walks and grooming in the on-site dog grooming/mudroom. Finally, tasteful plantings were to be incorporated featuring white blooms and as much chartreuse as possible.
Challenges to Overcome
This neighborhood was planned to have water run to the rear lot line in most properties. The homeowners added on to the rear portion of their home and with the increased impermeable square footage, surpassed the impermeable amount allowed for the municipality. Rain events resulted in large amounts of water pooling in the rear. The access into the home prior to the renovation relied solely on steps, which weren’t ideal for a user navigating the space with a walker, cane, or wheelchair.
Meeting the Challenges
A variance was granted to allow the impermeable lot coverage to be exceeded. A drainage system utilized gravity to run the water into the front yard where it can infiltrate the soil, or spill out over the lawn in heavy rain events. The ever-active sump pump also was buried into a gravel pit. To achieve the proper ramp grade by ADA standards, we needed to extend the ramp out 18′ from the landing. While functional, the idea of a ramp being the focal point of the new renovation wasn’t something the homeowners were excited about. To overcome this challenge, we used high-end materials of sleek bluestone paving and limestone veneer and copings to create a beautiful ramp that blended into the contemporary renovation. Low-voltage under-coping lights were installed to help navigate the space at night and a sleek railing was installed to offer stability when using the ramp.
The Final Result
The entertaining area in the rear is contemporary and intimate while the generous front ramp welcomes guests into the stunning interior renovation. Hundreds of Sir Winston Churchill Daffodils and White Azaleas pop in the spring, announcing a new season of growth. A London Plane Tree replaced the diseased Tulip Tree and acts as a unique living art piece with its fabulous bark. The rear garden is flourishing with loud pops of chartreuse from the Sumac, Hakone Grass and Hostas.—there is something to look at all season. The new fence, along with four separate gates, allows the homeowner to move the dogs throughout the space at their leisure, allowing for dog-free moments. The irrigation system was repaired and adjusted so the garden and lawn have flourished even during drought conditions. The final result is beautiful and functional.