The Power of Rejuvenation

Neglected back yard gets a second chance

By Julie Thompson | Photos by Daniel Feldkamp
 

Five years ago a Frank Lloyd Wright-style home in one of Kettering’s upscale neighborhoods received a second chance at life when an ambitious couple bought it.

The exterior of the home, originally built in the 1970s, had fallen far from the care of a diligent homeowner in recent years. The back yard had become overgrown with long scraggly trees competing with each other for pockets of sunlight, while weeds encroached upon the in-ground swimming pool.

A modern vision

The new homeowners knew that great potential lay beneath it all. Each spring, they’d head outdoors and do their best to cut back honeysuckle and trim dead limbs. After four years, however, they realized they needed a professional plan to finally bring the space back to life.

The couple knew exactly what they wanted. They dreamed of a space with sharp, clean lines that mirrored the contemporary feel they had given their home’s interior. But they began to wonder if finding a designer who could appreciate such a look would be as difficult to find as the pool that still sat beneath their yard’s brush.

“I would tell (designers) that we wanted modern, clean and straight lines,” the homeowner says. “But what they would come back to us with every time were big, curvy lines that were more traditional.”

Finally, the homeowners were connected with Dwight Goodin and Columbus-based Paver Planet and their entire outlook changed. “Dwight got it and hit it right on the nose,” she says. “We were speechless. It was perfect.”

Paver Planet is a small, specialized business that gravitates toward contemporary styles. A new design was drawn up for the back yard, and once approved, the difficult part of creating a clean slate to start from began. The first phase included removing the home’s original deck, which had been useless for entertaining since it sat an entire story above the pool area. Next, the overgrown brush and about 20 large trees were removed to provide 30 additional feet of space to the yard.

Fluid design

The homeowners had originally wanted stamped concrete for their new patio area surrounding the pool, but changed their minds after seeing the varying sizes of available pavers. They settled on Unilock’s Umbriano Winter Marvel paver. This paver—a 24-inch square weighing 127 pounds—is unlike most traditional pavers. Once laid down, the pavers meet seamlessly, making the 2,200-square-foot patio area appear as one piece. The paver’s pulverized granite surface also gives it a unique look. “It looks like a frosty covering of snow and it sparkles in the sunlight,” Goodin says.

Jeremy and Jacob Bihn, owners of Paver Planet, personally did all the work on the patio, including the angular waterfall that has become the homeowner’s favorite feature. The waterfall pulls the yard’s retaining walls together, acting as a small, soft stream that continually flows to the side.

The retaining walls were created from a Unilock Pisa natural color concrete, while limestone was used on the steps and wall caps. Mexican river pebbles, shaped like shiny flat eggs, fill bed areas. One of the most beautiful touches are the blue tumbled chunks of glass placed down the water feature that light up after the sun goes down.

While the new hardscape design would give the contemporary feel the homeowners wanted, its landscape would offer the right amount of softness needed to balance it. New Carlisle-based Studebaker Nurseries was used to help choose the right plants. The homeowners spent two hours driving one day around the nursery’s 1,800 acres looking at plants and trees in their natural environment. In the end, a variety of species were chosen to bring blooms and color in nearly every season.

Different trees—such as the Holmford, Crabapple and Canada Red Choke Cherry trees—provide six weeks of flowering during the spring. Those are followed by a colorful appearance from hydrangea and rose bushes, which bud all summer along the patio.

A place to unwind

The back yard, which once lay hidden from sight, is now an open space for gathering and entertainment. It’s an extension of the homeowners’ living space. The homeowners often swim twice a day in the summer and unwind outdoors after coming home from a game of tennis. And for the first time in years, they have had a proper backdrop to hold their annual Fourth of July party.

“Every year, we bring in a local entertainer and we finally have a spot for him,” the homeowner says. “Before, we would have to create a little space among the mulch. But now it’s very professional looking.”


Resources:
Landscape designer: Dwight Goodin; Landscape developer, plant installation and hardscapes: Paver Planet; Plant supplier: Studebaker Nurseries; Accessories: Frontgate; Lighting: Nite Time Décor; Fence: Willhoite Fence; Maintenance: Ohio Ground Solutions


To see this landscaping article featuring:
Plants, Accessories, Water Features and Sculptures,
as it appeared in the Dayton Housetrends magazine,
please visit our June/July 2012 Digital Edition, pages 34-39.


 

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