Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vann Residence

This is my first "real" residence in the sense of we went out to the property and meet with the clients and from that made our own program. This is a two person residence with two poodles. Their main goal was to have a raised bed garden out back, a turf area for their two dogs, a small patio off the house in the back, and two water features with one in the back and one in the front of the property.
 Below is an email sent from the client which describes his ideal design:
The stone piers in front of the driveway will be connected with wrought iron fence to form a courtyard to hide part of the driveway and create a little sense of privacy for the porch.  We plan to have low berms on the front corners of lot and right of the driveway.  Minimal lawn in front yard and no lawn abutting concrete (eliminates the problem of turf building up over time and being too high for the sidewalk). 
Desire a rose garden south of the house in the indented area.  Desire to use the south sideyard for "dog lawn" for our 2 standard poodles.  Due to coyotes in the area behind us, we want to fence that south side so dogs can go no further east than the back corner of the house.  Dogs exit and enter house at laundry door (20 feet back from front southwest corner of house) and basement exit at southeast corner).  However, we also want to fence entire rear yard with 3 rail fencing and wire mesh so that dogs can roam when we are in back yard.  Forget invisible fencing - poodles will make the calculation of pain vs. reward and go right through it.  We also want to put stone patio (stone is stacked on south side of house - its random-sized sandstone that will be fitted together on bed of gravel and sand with "stepable" plants in margins) behind house on south indent next to basement exit.  Desire large vegetable garden in rearmost yard .  Fruit trees and grape plants north of that garden would be good. Grapes must be inside yard (not on fence line) so we can protect grapes from
marauding skunks and raccoons.
Problems to solve:  Drainage swale needs to allow stormwater overflow from cul-de-sac north of house next door to flow to lake south of our house.  Need way to make it look nice.  Retaining wall is desired on northeast corner of house to protect house from that water and allow for large elevation change.  Steps could be incorporated into that wall. How do you allow water to flow through fence without blocking flow while still keeping dogs contained?  How to plant north side of north garage (no access/pathway is needed)? How to use north sideyard?  How to plant south side next to fence because it is shaded?  How to keep south neighbors from backing cars into our fence outside laundry/ garden shed area yet still maintain enough room to access shed?
Other desires: water feature (one or more), perhaps in front courtyard and near rear patio.  All plantings except veggie garden low maintenance.  Everything will be either spray or drip-irrigated.  Blocking northwest wind in winter.  Blocking east sun in summer, but allowing maximum solar gain in winter on south and east sides.  Perhaps an arbor could be used to shade basement windows on south of sunroom in summer, but still allow solar gain in winter.  (Roof overhangs block summer sun for most other south windows).
Photos of the residence:
Back of residence
Front of residence
Swell in backyard

The main problem I came across in this design was the large swell that runs right through the middle of their yard as you can see in the photo above. I saw this as an opportunity to come up with something new and I enjoyed the time I spent thinking up ways to design this area. I really wanted to design some sort of rain garden into the swell but with Colorado's weather you really cant have a practical rain garden design. Therefore I decided to put a big dry river bed going all the way across the property, which helped define two different spaces within the back yard. 
Here is what I came up with:
Here is my first concept I did which is the one I liked the most of the two I did. I can already tell that I'm going to have to make the raised planting beds bigger and may change up the design and add a couple more. Also I am going to move the bubbling rock in the back by the patio over to the other side of the dry stream bed. There, it will be visible from the patio off the house and it will give an opportunity to play around with it's design and shape.

This is the preliminary plan I came up with. I decided there was too much space in the back for just planting so I came up with a low cost secondary gathering place which consists of a breeze pathway material with a few cuts of flagstone placed through out. I also placed a waterfall next to this secondary patio which can also be seen by the small patio space off the house. This way the clients can enjoy the water feature when they are tending to their garden. It is also placed so that it can be viewed from the master bedroom and the indoor deck/sun room. On the north side of the house I came up with another breeze pathway/flagstone area which steps down to the backyard through use of siloam steps and moss rock to give a more natural/mountainous feel when ente ring the backyard.

This is a quick sketch from the east side of the raised bed gardens looking west toward the house.

Here are some quick concept sketches I did. One is of the planting beds. I want them to be terraced on different levels to add to the form and also give it a little more personality. I look forward to playing with the shape and form of these beds. The second one is a sketch of the front of the house. It has a dry stream bed coming from in between the two berms.
Here is the final rendered planting plan. This plan is purely for presentation use only when one on one with the customer.
This is the final planting plan for the Vann residence. I enlarged the raised bed garden to provide more space vegetables and spices. I made a small keyhole cut into the raised bed garden to make access to the plants easier for the clients. A breeze path with cuts of flagstone were used for the patio space in the back and the north side of the house to create an enjoyable area that relates to the mountains but is also more affordable. Since the property is surrounded by full grown trees provided by the neighboring yards, I used very few trees, but the ones I did use would compliment the color and character of the existing trees. Minimal turf was used in this design to keep weekend maintainence down but is also large enough to provide space for the clients two poodles to rumage around on. The fenced in turf area on the south side of the property is designed to provide a safe space for the poodles at night and protection from the native coytees in the area. A rose garden is also placed on the south side of the property nears a large window, providing views for the kitchen and dinning area. Two three foot berms are placed on the west side next to the street to provide privacy to the property. A small bubbling rock is placed on the south side of the driveway, near the house. The bubbling rock is also the starting point of a dry stream bed that spills out between the two berms. All plantings around the house are meant to complement each other and provide seasonal texture and color to the property.

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