Walls - Retain It then Plant It
Living on sloped land means needing to be creative about garden design. This retaining wall in Millis, Mass takes advantage of a two and half foot grade change from the driveway to the front yard by adding a stone retaining wall with granite steps going right through it. The planters filled with spring annuals along with trees, shrubs and perennials makes this transitional area a beautiful focal point in the landscape.
Walls: Solutions to steep slopes in the landscape
This Lexington, Mass. propery has about a 20 grade variation from the street to the garage doors. It is all hill. When we were called in, there were little knee walls all through the landscape. We consolidated two shorter walls in this small space and engineered a longer more substantial wall to open up the landscape. We widened the driveway and created a functional lawn space (the only flat surface other than the deck and play set area on the whole property).
Above the wall is the begining of a garden. Boulders and boxwood will be added to make a strong visual buffer (and safety barrier) from the driveway to the lower lawn area.
Walls - The Layered Garden
Gardening in layers makes the landscape interesting to view and to interact with. This modest cape style home in Franklin, Mass sits above the main lawn area and is fenced in with a traditional picket fence.
The New England style fieldstone wall with rock face granite steps set through the center make the transition through the terrace inviting. The wall just feels timeless in this landscape setting.
Wall: Upper and Lower Gardens Using Segmented Blocks and Granite
When I first visited this home there were two long railroad tie walls that took up twice as much space as the wall in this picture. In between the two walls were some seriously failing plants; no doubt toxic from all the chemicals in the creosote soaked wood.
Once we figured out how to safely remove and legally dispose of all the hazzardous waste wood, we started thinking about how to get more yard. By building a taller wall with a double set of steps, the homeowner gained about 8 feet of valuable yard space.
The lower portion of the wall is filled with woodland plants and the upper wall is loaded up with hardy perennials.
Walls: An Urban Landscape Solution
The urban landscape always poses challenges from small sites, to pollution, to critters using the space in ways we'd rather they didn't.
This Watertown, Mass home sits on a busy street nestled with other small homes on one side and commercial sites up an down the other. The busy side walk transitioned to their tiny sloped plot and was constantly used as a cigarette butt dump and a doggy curbing station. The home owner had enough AND was itching to garden.
This low New England fieldstone wall - 21" at it's lowest and about 32" at it's highest - wraps from the driveway on one side, to the front of the house around the corner and has solved all the problems.
The wall is an immediate barrier to dog use. The lift allowed for back filling with rich organic soils for planting. A central stepping stone path and patio allowed for some interactive use by the home owner. She has been growing these pansies from seed and naturalizing them in the warm crevices where the stone and soil meet.
Somehow, by transforming the urban slope into a lush urban garden...the cigarett butts have disappeared. Seems everyone is enjoying this little Urban Oasis enough to respect it too!
Walls: Concrete block has come a long way in the landscape
This new garage built in Medfield, Mass. had a very steep transition from the garage doors to an upper story woodshop in the building. The earth slopes were too abrupt and were a perfect erosion problem just waiting to happen.
Post construction left this client with a skinny budget, so we turned to a man-made SRW (Segmented Retaining Wall). Eager to have a good looking solution, we chose Ideal's Roman Pisa wall set which is in a gray/tan color and allows for blocks being set both horizontally and vertically. Each unit has wonderfully tumbled and irregular edges making the wall feel rustic.
As you can see, we set up many plants both above and below the wall, so that in time the wall will become just a structural element within a gloriously planted space.