Tuesday, February 12, 2019

2018 Project Highlights

Happy new year to gardeners, and all those who love gardens.  We always take a moment during the cold and wet winter to put together a blog post reviewing some of the previous year's projects.  The photos shared here are by no means exhaustive, but show some of the highlights of 2018.  Thank you to all of our new homeowners, as well as those homeowners who we see every year or two to continue to expand on and improve their gardens!

The projects shared are more or less in chronological order from early spring to later fall 2018.

We begin with the completion of a two year project.  This project completely transformed an urban backyard with new fences, shed, deck, pergola, patio, wall, and two water features.
Fountains are up and running: Overflowing Urn with Wall of Water Fountain create the relaxing sounds of flowing water.

The Wall of Water makes efficient use of a fence to add a water feature to this urban garden.

A built in bench with planters on the deck pair with the local quartzite wall to create a serene gathering space around the overflowing urn.  An overflowing urn is a great water feature to add to a front entrance or smaller garden where space is limited.

BEFORE: It was time to refreshen this patio.
AFTER: Bluestone graced a new patio and to add more elegance we covered the concrete steps with bluestone as well.  This relatively simple upgrade polished this great little nook.

Hamden, Baltimore is on a hill, and many of the home entrances feature steep banks, often covered with ivy.  Terraces or retaining walls is a great way to create a level garden.  A native plant garden attracts local pollinators, monarch butterflies, and is visual delight.
BEFORE:  Too much green!  This garden had an overwhelming amount of pachysandra with straggly shrubs and little visual interest.

AFTER: Drift roses, Catmint and Lavender now create color and texture, brightening the garden.
BEFORE: This shabby bank held together with rotten railroad ties retained the driveway.
AFTER: Two timber terraces create a clean outline for the driveway and a new garden bed.
Around the side of the same home, a new set of timber steps, filled in with river gravel curve around the home.
BEFORE (during): Demo begins on the existing front porch.  It was sinking in the middle, it had outdated terra-cotta tiles and needed some railings.

AFTER: White vinyl railings and quartzite flagstone makes this porch unrecognizable.
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Another view of the front porch. Quartzite flagstone is a great choice to brighten a shady space.  It is also very hard, durable stone.
BEFORE: The steps jutted out awkwardly into the garden.  We designed a reroute to use the little used space to the left. 

AFTER: The new steps now effectively use a previously unused space, allowing for a large patio and convenient grill area. A landing and turn allows a more comfortable climb or descent.  Trex decking and railings are a great low maintenance option for remodeling decks.
BEFORE: These two porches were definitely the original ones, as we discovered concrete blocks rather than brick behind them. This unwelcoming garden needed a radical change.
AFTER: A spacious bluestone patio, sitting wall, and pergola begin the process of allowing this garden to reach its potential. Two retractable shade canopy allow a passing shower not to ruin a summer BBQ.
A fire pit patio with decorative and functional drainage gully, further develops this great garden.
BEFORE: This garden had not seen an upgrade in years.
AFTER: We removed the unused parking pad next to the garage to create a more spacious garden with a better flow.  This allowed ample room for the fire pit patio as well as a more green space.  
BEFORE: While ivy is an effective ground cover, it has a tendency to climb and strangle trees, as well as be susceptible to plant diseases which render it very unsightly.  Additionally this slope was very steep and difficult to manage.
AFTER: A small retaining wall gives a crisp definition to the slope as well as providing a less steep gardening space.
BEFORE:  Several stages of decking add ons had outlived their use and were preparing to rot away.

AFTER: The new design reused the existing bricks and new bluestone to create a ground level patio with a set of masonry steps.  The new patio visually created a larger space.

A new composite deck replaced an oversized wooden deck as a first step in creating a new outdoor living space.
Trex decking and railings are a great low maintenance option.

Thank you again to al those homeowners who have entrusted their gardens and outdoor spaces to Seven Winds.  We look forward to another year, bringing new beauty and function to familiar gardens, and creating new ones!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Seven WInds Projects from 2017


The past year, 2017, was a busy year for Seven Winds Landscaping.  We installed projects all around the area.  Below is a selection of some of the projects from 2017 with some fun "before and after" photos.  Some of these gardens are indeed unrecognizable after their transformation. We thank all of our great homeowners for entrusting Seven Winds with caring for their gardens, from the most simple project to the most complex.  It is because of you that we can continue to do what we love to do!

A masonry fountain, brick and bluestone graces a city garden oasis.
The project pictured below required extensive designing in order to incorporate all the elements that the homeowners desired. Myriad details went into creating this complex, yet visually flowing space. It features a lot of functional elements incorporated into a pleasing and harmonious aesthetic experience.  The yard was originally framed by privet hedges which made the garden feel narrow.  There was no functional deck space.  
The first step was the construction of a cedar fence which was finished on both sides, unlike many privacy fences.  The gate was highly unusual in that it is a 10' bifold gate.  The second step was the construction of a deck with pergola, planters and benches, and the construction of a small shed built into the actual fence in order to maximize space.  Narrow raised planters flow along the walkway with metal trellises to create additional vertical green space.

AFTER:  This shows the winter view of the garden.

Phase two which took place over the winter 2017-2018 involved a great deal of masonry as walkways, patio, walls and a fountain completed the space.

AFTER: A paver "flagstone' patio allows dual use as a patio and parking area.  A waterfall water feature is built into the fence on the right side.  
Phase two involved a curving masonry wall built from local quartzite stone quarried out of Butler, Maryland.  This wall curves up to create a sitting area around an overflowing urn garden.  It also creates a large raised garden along one side of the space with ample room for a couple Japanese maples.  The AC unit (a common eyesore in small gardens) is covered with trellis and a top to create a table.  Trellis sides and cap are removable for the summer season in order to allow AC unit adequate air.  
Urn water garden in deck extension is accessible from deck and walkway.   Seating areas on the wall and on the built in bench between planters on deck create an intimate space to enjoy the water features.
A second project in another narrow garden shows the difference an elegant bluestone patio can make in a garden that had not been "updated" in many years.  In this case we removed a straight paver patio and walkway and created a curved patio and walkway.  Curves give a walkway a sense of surprise with their inherent invitation to continue walking to discover what is around the curve.  In rectangular yards, curves can soften the space.  In this particular case a beautiful cascade of blue morning glories from the neighbor's yard compliments the various blues, greens and purples of the bluestone.  The rose colored bricks of the garage complement the patio as well.  This is now a garden ready for an array of plantings to further develop its beauty.  
Simplicity of design and smoothness of flow form a strong foundation for this  garden.
The following project combines classic brick and bluestone with sleek contemporary design.  A large fountain pond is a visual and auditory centerpiece harking back to the charming village fountains still found throughout Europe.  A generous bluestone patio allows space to stretch out with ample room for container gardens, while a series of steps drops to the alley grade at the end of the garden. Follow the photos as they move from the alley into this gorgeous new space.

An arched gate leads from the back alley into the garden.  Brick knee walls retain the higher garden grade, while a horizontal cedar board fence introduces a modern tone.  
Upon opening the gate a series of steps rises to eventually give way to the upper patio.  Raised beds retained with timbers allow gardening space on each side of the walkway.  A hidden trash area is tucked in the left corner.
AFTER:  Two new trees, a seedless Sweet Gum and a Sweet Bay Magnolia have taken the place of the prickly Holly and overgrown pines.  The trash area is hidden behind a fence panel in the back right corner.  
BEFORE:  Three large trees overshadowed the garden, dropping pine needles and prickly holly leaves.  The garden was feeling cluttered and in need of some more functional space, however the water feature was an essential feature to bring into the new design.  
Diagonal lines cut through any boxiness that a rectangular design can give rise to and the arched gate becomes a visual focal point from this view due to it being one of the few curves in the design.
The visual and auditory jewel of the garden, a goldfish pond and fountain  provides room for water garden plants, sitting walls,  and shelves, while it creates the tranquil sound of a waterfall which drowns out the city noises.  The waterfall itself consists of a reclaimed granite slab over which the water flows.  The pond is deeper than grade, allowing for safe overwintering of fish.

This petite garden needed a new fence and reorganizing using existing stones that were already present.  The new fence created a new frame for this space, with a level top rather than the more typical top that follows grade.  For city gardens a truly level fence is more elegant.  We can step it down (as in the previous project) to comply with city or county building code restrictions of fence height.  Especially with a very small garden such as this one, building the fence to be level is essential.  We reused existing stone collected by the homeowner to define very specific raised planting areas. The new curved walkway is pea gravel, a classic choice for informal gardens.  
AFTER: Now a strong new fence frames the space, while clearly defined and beautified planting areas  are separated by a pea gravel walkway.  The Serviceberry tree, now freed from its pot, will appreciate its roots being in the earth.  New plantings will give color and attract birds, butterflies and bees.
BEFORE:  Undefined planting areas and a very old fence needed to be addressed.
Pavers and concrete wall units offer a wide range of hardscaping options.  In this particular project a new deck had been built creating a large sloped unusable space underneath it, and an area that needed a patio to connect a back door to the bottom of the steps.  We came up with a design that allowed level terraces under the deck as well as a lower patio to connect the door with an existing walkway and the new deck steps.  The back drop to the patio was an array of color, given this project took place in November.  We also enjoyed seeing some very tame deer passing by.
The paver selected by the homeowners was Belgard 'Mega Arbel' in fossil beige with matching wall units and caps.  They provide a flagstone look alike patio.  

Terraces under the deck create new useful spaces as well as provide for easy cleaning.  A privacy lattice was installed  to hide a storage area under an existing enclosed porch.  We like to use a tight mesh lattice for privacy or to obscure the view of a storage or trash area.

Many features can be added to the garden to provide architectural interest and yield a result, be that result fruit, wildlife food and nectar, or cut flowers. In this project we installed a cedar trellis system for an espaliered apple tree (with three different apple varieties grafted onto it) as well as some raspberry rows on the side.  Espaliered trees and shrubs are a way to fit a tree into a narrow vertical space, such as along a wall or at the side of a deck or fence.  They do need a strong supportive structure.  
Espaliered apple with raspberry rows on either end.
We also planted a native plant garden to feed butterflies, humming birds, various other birds and beneficial insects. These are robust plants which quickly take root and thrive.  The ones we selected for this very sunny spot are meadow natives, which tend to be very flamboyant.  A humming buzzing haze of insects and butterflies fill the air around them in the summertime.  
Some of the native wild flowers here are Joe Pye weed, Monarda, Buttefly weed, Iron weed, Goldenrod, and Red Cardinal flower.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seven Winds Landscaping Projects from 2016

From Rain Gardens to Outdoor Fireplaces, 2016 projects ranged from beautifying small corners of the garden, to constructing whole new outdoor living spaces.  Here are some visuals of our Year 2016 with some dramatic before and after photos too!

A key element to enjoying your patio year round is an inviting hearth.  This fireplace is brick with bluestone accents.  The space is defined and embraced by curving brick walls.  The patio itself is Pennsylvania Bluestone- a classic withstanding the test of time!

 Moon gardens must shimmer in the moonlight.  The choice of quartzite flagstone with its mica particles was natural in designing this Moon garden.  Plants with silvery foliage light up in the moonlight and give year round texture and color to the landscape.  The summer is filled with white blossoms of roses, hydrangeas, day lilies, echinacea, astilbe and coral bells.

Functional, beautiful, and a gift to bees and butterflies, a rain garden can be incorporated into any landscape.  Generally filled with native plants, a rain garden absorbs water runoff and provides a wonderful ecological benefit.  The second photo in this series is a rain garden in its second year of growth.

Old ivy laden chain link gives way to classic brick and iron.  Elegant and secure this alley way wall is the visual back drop to a reimagined city garden.

New lattice fences flank garden beds lining a new Bluestone walkway.  In city gardens, space is a valuable commodity and design can make a small garden feel expansive.  After springtime planting this will  be a tapestry of color and texture surround simplified lines and a contemporary yet classic style.
Here the goal was to create a more serene space.  The garden was spilling over with flowers creating an unmanageable space.  The challenge was to keep the color but redefine the space.  Plants moved to new perennial borders leaving space for a bench and step ping stone pathway that acts as both a visual accent and functional seat. 
A front garden of grass and weeds is transformed to a view of texture, color and year round interest.  A Sango-Kaku Japanese maple tree takes center place surrounded by perennials.  A lovely birdbath that had been hidden by the weeds becomes a second major accent in the composition.
This tired slate patio was crumbling on top but had a solid concrete pad below.  Removing the slate and its mortar bed, and replacing with new brick pavers mortared on to the existing concrete pad allowed this patio to take on a whole new look.