Residential PORTFOLIO:

Prairie Retreat

ILCA Award – Residential Construction Gold Award

The influences for this landscape design most certainly came from the prairie and the homeowner’s passion for the Illinois native prairie. The landscape architects’ approach for this 10 acre homestead was to embrace the site, to understand the family’s lifestyle, and to create a living environment that used natural materials and native plantings dramatically.

The client had specific family needs in mind. Melding the architect’s vision for natural looking landscape surrounding the home and the clients’ desires for more stylized functional garden rooms was accomplished by carefully planning the views on site.

Plantings were kept in simple broad sweeps to accentuate the architecture; vertical accents were used sparingly. Trees were planted in groves to direct views to the home and the surrounding woodlands and meadow. The flowering meadows were shaped to give a visual rhythm and create a sense of flow from the house into the woodland border. The meadow is an integral element in the overall design, providing great textural contrast to the manicured lawn as well as a harmonious transition to the woodland border.

The plant palette has its roots in the northern Illinois oak savanna. Plants were chosen to accent the architecture, blend in and enhance the woods, and survive continual deer pressure. Fall at the residence is a stunning time and gives the site a warm soft glow all through the autumn season. Spring is heralded by thousands of daffodils that were planted.

Nine feet of the hillside was carved away to nestle the pool into the surrounding topography. The grade change necessitated terraced limestone outcroppings, which were selected by the landscape architect. The planting at the new pool area was to screen it from the house while providing a visual connection to the surrounding landscape. The pool area itself has a waterfall, a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, and a fire pit. Numerous containers planted with lush annual flowers provide a vibrant display. The meadow was brought right up to the edge of the pool deck to anchor the pool area to the surrounding landscape.

The site also features special garden rooms including a cutting garden, a children’s vegetable garden and a secret garden. Also, a stone bridge was developed along the entry road to take advantage of the views.

The walking trails through the woods and prairie were developed with careful thought to the hiker’s experience, offering clearings, views to the stream, and informal allees of quaking aspen along the way. These were done in a way that the visitor would not realize these experiences had been planned, but would feel instead that the visitor had just happened upon the landscape.

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