Mar 21 2016

Focal walls are a fun and open-ended aspect of landscape architecture, but can sometimes be one of the more challenging parts.  Focal walls can be walls that enclose a courtyard, exterior walls of a residence, or even the exterior wall of a garage or storage structure adjacent to open space.  In Naples, vines and espaliered trees are popular and can be traditional or transitional based on the plant selection, wire material, and even direction of the wires.  

This residence in Naples chose square trellising for their focal walls, to give the home a transitional feel. 

 

Another great option for focal walls would be the addition of art, scuppers or other water features, or a series of tall pots with or without plant material. 

    

 

A new trend in landscape architecture is the use of decorative wall panels.  Made of iron or another outdoor-safe material, with anything from geometric patters to custom-designed works of art, they look beautiful when uplit and serve as a great backdrop where plant material has trouble growing. If you are looking for a greener approach, greenwall technology has greatly advanced and now come in modules that can be installed to any wall type and are even self-irrigating.  They range from simple units installed by the homeowner to large, multi-story walls inside hotels and corporate buildings.

 

Just as an accent wall indoors can draw your attention to a particular part of the room, focal walls outdoors can help distract from unsightly exterior walls and allow new colors and materials to be introduced into the landscape. 

Nov 16 2015

Vertical gardens are a relatively new trend in landscape architecture and are starting to take hold in the residential world.  At the Caixa Forum museum in Madrid, Spain, the vertical garden is in the form of a large green wall.  With built-in, large-scale, irrigation this wall is one of the more advanced systems. 

The Caixa Forum green wall

 

The concept of a "vertical garden" is not a new idea.  Growing English Ivy on homes is an old tradition in many parts of the US and abroad, but recent trends have gravitated toward more controlled vine growth.  Stainless steel trellising has become widely popular and allows vine growth to be controlled in any number of patterns.  In the cover image above, designed by Outside Productions, the homeowner wanted Confederate Jasmine in the traditional diamond shape.  While most of our vertical gardens are in trellis form, we have seen growing interest in pallet gardens and modular gardens. These systems can be purchased as units or even custom built!  To pick the correct vertical garden for your home be sure to consider the following questions.  What plant material do you plan to grow?  What is your ideal level of maintenance?  Do you plan to water yourself or have irrigation included? No matter what time of system you select, vertical gardens are a great way to add green to your home within limited space! 

DIY Pallet Garden

Purchased Vertical Garden Units

 

 

 

Oct 05 2015

Faux turf has become a hot product for both residential and community projects in Southwest Florida.  With advances in technology it is often difficult to visually distinguish real versus faux turf. 

AstroTurf, invented in the 1960s and made famous when used at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, became popular for its uniform appearance, ability to be used indoors, and lack of irrigation needs.  In the 1990s it gained popularity in California and throughout Australia in both commerical and residential applications.  Faux turf is a great option for property owners that enjoy the aesthetic of turf, but do not want the maintenance requirements. 

Outside Productions has used faux turf on pool decks for both homeowners and communities throughout the area.  Faux turf is a great option for pool decks because, unlike natural turf, shade and pressure from pool furniture will not cause dieback.  Faux turf also brings a pop of color to decks when used as banding. In the image below faux turf bands and natural stone stepping stones made a great sunning deck with little to no maintenance! The image above shows a pool deck at a large community that takes the opposite approach and combines faux turf with natural stone banding.   We have also incorporated faux turf into projects as chipping and putting greens as well as for multi-purpose recreation fields. 

Faux turf banding and natural stone sunning deck. 

Faux turf used as the pool deck material stays green year round and works great for areas with pool furniture.

 

Sep 21 2015

Bath gardens are becoming more common for residents that live near the beach or have active lifestyles.  Often containing an outdoor shower, bath gardens can be an oasis for days when you don’t want to trek through the house or even on the days with beautiful weather that are so common to Florida.  Not all bath gardens contain showers; some are simply gardens that can be viewed from the bathroom or a soaker tub.  These gardens tend to have a larger emphasis on focal points and softscape.  

To decide which type of bath garden works best for your home the most important question to address is accessibility.  Do you plan on incorporating an outdoor shower?  If so you likely will need to incorporate hardscape elements to help get you through the space.  If a shower will not be used often perhaps a combination of stepping stones and faux turf will work well in the space.  Benches are often incorporated for seating or even to serve as a towel rack and changing area for outdoor showers.   

To make the space one-of-a-kind incorporating accent planting, artwork, or even water features makes the space your own.  Water features can include tiered or wall fountains or water wall feature.  If water is not appealing, incorporating a statue with night lighting is a great option for art enthusiasts and creates a unique focal point throughout the day.  Planting is the final piece to creating your ideal oasis.  Selecting materials that will not block views, requires little maintenance, and has light requirements reflecting the space are key.  Accessibility can be a problem with bath gardens so turf should be used sparingly and plants with similar water requirements should be grouped together.

The image below shows a bath garden for a client preferring mostly hardscape to lead to the outdoor shower.  The statue is lit from below and provides a unique focal point for the adjacent bathroom.   Benches were built-in with raised planters.  The above renderings were for a client desiring an outdoor shower and wall fountain.  Material was kept low to preserve views from the adjacent bathtub and accents and large pots were incorporated to provide pops of color. 

Jul 20 2015

Outdoor games are becoming a popular trend for communities of all sizes.  With options ranging from basketball, sand volleyball, horseshoes, and the trendier pickleball and bocce ball, it is easy to find a game for every interest and skill level!

Pickleball is a game designed for everyone from small children to adults.  Played with a paddle and a wiffle ball, it is similar to tennis and played on a 20'x44' court.  Bocce ball is played on a 60'x10' court made of sand, natural soil, or asphalt.  The game is played by tossing a small ball, called the jack, from one end to another with a goal to land your team's ball as close to the jack as possible.  Unlike pickleball, Bocce can be easily transported and played anywhere including open lawn.  Horseshoes is similar to Bocce in both rules and where it can be played.  Typically horseshoe courts are 48'x6', but require little equipment or set up. 

Tennis, played on a 78'x27' foot court, and basketball, played on a 94'x50' court, require more space, but are valuable amenities for communities because they are played by a large variety of residents and can be played in larger groups.  Sand volleyball is less common, but requiring a 30'x59' court, is a great option for communities with kids as it can function as a safe playing zone for any sport.  

Areas dedicated to outdoor games are important in creating a sense of community and allowing interaction between residents.  Providing a variety of games will attract a larger mix of residents and allow residents of every skill level to join in the fun! Be sure to plant shade trees and provide benches and water fountains for those who prefer to take a passive role!

Page 1 of 2