Project Description

A pair of 1921 Renaissance Revival 3-story homes creates a powerful façade along this East Lakeview street, just blocks from Lake Michigan. The formal style of architecture lacked a complementary landscape, which gave rise to an opportunity to create an eye-catching Italian Renaissance-inspired garden. In this urban setting, lot coverage is dominated by impervious surfaces such as buildings and garages. This makes a permeable brick driveway an appropriate choice to reduce storm water runoff.

Because of our long Chicago winters, the homeowner wanted an emphasis on evergreen plantings. The plant palette was selected to showcase a variety of the best evergreens for our Midwestern climate. This includes various hardy Boxwood (bred in southern Ontario for hardiness and good winter color), Azaleas, False Cypress, and Arborvitae. These evergreens, combined with select flowering Dogwoods that are particularly attractive set against a dark green backdrop, make a complete four-season garden. The Pine Hall clay brick pavers were selected for the driveway to complement the red brick and limestone buildings.

The formal gardens complement both the powerful architecture and the permanent landscape elements such as iron fencing and stone columns. These elements, combined with clay brick pavers, extend the visual interest of the architecture out into the landscape. This consistent choice of materials leads to a more cohesive end result. Masses of repeated plantings soften the edges and angles of these long-lasting hardscape materials. This is an excellent example of how symmetry in the landscape can pull a space together.