Lushly landscaped with paved patios, tranquil water features, and fresh Florida foliage, Joe Chiellini’s Tampa property is as livable as it is luxurious. Joe desired a high-end style with a very comfortable, informal feel for his family, which consists of three children from 5 to 11 years of age, two large dogs, and parents who like to host social events. Joe utilized his experience and expertise as a landscaper and owner of Ameriscape Services, to bring his vision to life. Ameriscape’s lead designer Justin Parker helped to develop the landscape design plan. “This particular project was a challenge,” Parker says. “A luxurious look was important, and functionality was as high of a priority as any.”
The front and back yards were revitalized to blend seamlessly, and various planters with flowers and shrubs were peppered throughout both areas. Parker began with the back yard, and the initial site analysis showed several obstacles around which to work. There was a grandfather live oak in the center of the yard, a large wooden deck in need of repair, a new shed, a remodeled dock, and a large grassy area full of children’s toys. And there was no connection or flow between any of the spaces.
So Parker brainstormed in his design studio, preparing multiple concepts and plans. “Most of the design centered around the need for a large outdoor gathering space, anchoring the shed and the dock into the design, providing a large grassy area for the kids and the dogs, and a way to tie all these uses together,” Parker says. “The first step in the process was the hardscaping.”
The dilapidated wood deck was removed and retaining walls were installed to forge a large outdoor gathering space. New pavers replaced the wood and a stoop-like porch was crafted for the shed entrance. A grand, wide stairway with elongated treads was also put in place to slow users down when entering or exiting the main outdoor area.
“This stairway is also the starting point of a paver pathway that creates a connection between all other outdoor spaces and terminates at the two access points of the dock,” Parker says. “The pathway provides access to another small gathering space, access to the shed stoop, and runs parallel to a large grassy area for the family to play.”
Once the bones of the design were sturdy, Parker and the team focused on rebuilding the irrigation system, as well as tackling the landscaping, lighting and water feature. Ameriscape aimed to deliver an irrigation concept that would make water conservation paramount while still hydrating the many different species of onsite plants.
The high-tech irrigation controller installed in the yard is fully automated with multiple sensors to measure site-specific conditions. Low-volume drip lines irrigate the plants, delivering water directly to the roots. Conventional spray heads with new nozzles now water the grassy area in an efficient, rotating, stream-like pattern. With these eco-friendly and intelligent tools in place, Ameriscape achieved an impressive, sustainable landscaping concept.
“The landscaping is very tropical and features many palms that set the tone for a casual, waterfront paradise,” Parker says. “The use of Fishtail, Adonidia, Foxtail, Roebellini and Bottle Palms creates a diverse planting pallet. The shrubs and groundcovers help reinforce the tropical feeling.”
Annual and perennial beds are interspersed throughout the landscape for seasonal pops of color. Oversized rocks were used as mulch around the grandfather oak tree, and boulders were used as accents. A bevy of pots, in all shapes and sizes, soften up the hardscape areas.
“The pots all feature a centerpiece of tropical specimen plants, and a plethora of annuals, perennials and trailing vines,” Parker says. “One of the large pots was used as a water feature; it makes a gentle bubbling noise and serves as a nice accent to the landscape. This feature is located in a spot where it can be experienced from multiple locations.”
A range of lighting effects were installed to create a comfortable, balanced feel. Ameriscape carefully considered where the fixtures were placed to avoid the detection of “hot spots” within the landscape, Parker says.
After Ameriscape finished the back yard, the team moved on to the front yard, adopting a similar style and material usage. Front yard highlights include a new paved three-car driveway and walkway to the front door, and a rebuilt front porch stairway and landing. A 10-trunk royal palm, handpicked at a tree farm outside of Miami, was installed via a massive crane.
“The whole project was a challenge but, in the end, the front and back yards were complete. The landscape and hardscape features come to life as the sun goes down. The use of low-voltage, LED lighting makes the site useable for big after-hours social events as well as intimate family dinners,” Parker says. “The front and back yards are now in complete cohesion, blending both style and substance.”