Design pro Jayson King transforms a lackluster landscape into a modern outdoor retreat for his Millcreek clients
The backyard of Roy and Mary Lou Gandolfi’s home had all of the makings of a landscape desperately in need of an overhaul.
Average sized and oddly shaped, the Millcreek property suffered from a list of shortcomings including an awkward slope, scrappy shrubs and an old hot tub and deck that detracted from the design and livability of the modern, angular home.
To transform their yard from dated to dynamic, the couple turned to Jayson King, landscape designer and principal of Landform Design Group.
“The home’s architecture is really unique and it was imperative we created a landscape that complemented it,” says King, who acted as the project’s lead designer. He and his team did just that with a concept-to-completion approach addressing everything from the terrain’s unwieldy grade to the mix of dated amenities and disjointed materials. “To successfully create a landscape, you need a solid plan and a process that addresses the entire project,” says King, likening the venture to constructing a home. “You don’t build a house room by room.”
With that in mind, the existing property was stripped of its obsolete features, regraded and then renewed with a host of inspired elements satisfying the homeowners’ needs and wants including a lawn for their dogs, a garden area, spacious entertaining spaces and a new hot tub area. “The Gandolfis were really open to interesting ideas,” says King, noting low-maintenance and clean-lined design guided all decisions.
To unify the landscape with the bold architecture, King mirrored the home’s angles with expansive patios, steel retaining walls and walkways. There’s not a curve to be found—that is unless you include round pots strategically placed against the house or the metal orb planter accentuating the spot where straight walls connect in the back corner of the property. “It looks like the bow of a boat,” says King of this bold focal point.
Elsewhere, grouped metal garden boxes, a raised concrete fire pit and strategic plantings also stop the eye as it travels across the renewed property. “It’s important to create points of interest that pace movement throughout the space,” he says.
Knowing that what you don’t see can be as important as what you do, the team removed, disguised or -repositioned undesirable elements throughout the property. They buried power lines, eliminated view-spoiling poles and moved utility boxes.
They camouflaged an unsightly concrete foundation with a slope-retaining, raised steel planter wall and swapped the perimeter’s worn fence with a contemporary horizontal cedar-slat replacement. They also replaced the dated hot tub with a new version that now resides under the deck, where artsy 3form panels veil nearby air conditioners.
Finally, to elevate the design with architectural gardens, the team installed organized groupings of low-maintenance plants. Grasses, daylilies, burning bush and Japanese yew are among those selected to add “blockings” of color, texture and height to the gardens. “Mass plantings create a solid and balanced statement to the landscape,” says King. The exceptions to his organized clusters are flowering lupine plants added for pops of color and assorted vegetables flourishing in raised garden boxes.
Across the landscape, Landform Design Group worked its magic transforming the once-lackluster yard into a living space as dynamic as the one the Gandolfis enjoy indoors. And that was precisely the intent. “The landscape is an extension of the home,” says King. “It deserves the same attention to detail.”