A Word About Landscape Architecture and Garden Design

Posts tagged ‘residential garden design’

Fences and Trees

What do you do when the fence alignment you’re planning is blocked by a tree or another large object?  Most clients tend to assume you either have to cut down the tree or move the fence.  Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb advises otherwise.  Often you can adapt the fence design to the tree’s position.  To share with you a particularly extraordinary example, Brooks designed a fence in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle to envelop the gigantic limb of a mature Western Red Cedar.  While the tree limb itself provided good visual screening of an alley from the client’s back yard, it did nothing to keep their large dog safe from running out into traffic.  Here’s a photograph of the stunning solution, which reminds Brooks of the Chinese puzzle of rock/paper/scissors.  Which element is conquering the other, the tree or the fence?Image


Gabion Walls in Landscape Construction


Little used in the Pacific Northwest except for highway projects, a terrific landscape construction device called a gabion wall is used to great effect in gardens and parks in Europe.  Gabion walls can either be free-standing space dividers or they can retain steep slopes.  The concept is simple:  rather than using heavy, giant boulders to retain soil, you make a metal wire cage and fill it with much smaller rocks.  The inert mass of the caged rocks holds the slopes in place.

For an enterprising client in Bellingham, Washington who had admired gabion walls when she lived for several years in Germany, Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb designed the three-tiered wall system pictured below at the client’s cottage overlooking Bellingham Bay.

Although gabions are usually filled with any commonly available rock, Ocean Pearl stone from Marenakos Rock Center was selected to line the top and front of the cages, while basalt rock filled the invisible backs.  The blue-gray color of the Ocean Pearl stone harmonizes with a similar retaining wall in the back garden.  The planting terraces behind the gabions were backfilled with drain rock and a top layer of organic soil to provide an extensive rooting zone for a diversity of shrubs and ground covers.  When finished, the end result will be an elegant terraced slope unlike any landscape in the neighborhood.  Rock construction was by Russ Beardsley (see related blog article), and the custom fence was built by Tony Keslau to a design by Brooks Kolb.


Gabion Walls in Progress, March, 2013

planting 9-20-13

Planting Nearly Finished, September, 2013

Brooks Kolb in “Exceptional Properties” Magazine

Seattle Landscape Architect Brooks Kolb’s residential landscape design is featured in the September/October 2012 issue of “Exceptional Properties” Magazine.  In an article called “Localism Meets the Landscape – Creating Formal Gardens that Look Like They’ve Always Been There,” author Nanci Theoret focuses on the work of Chicago firm Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects as well as Brooks Kolb LLC.  As Theoret puts it, “…across the country, there is a stream of consciousness to use plant materials indigenous to a specific region and a concerted effort to create more sustainable gardens.”

In the article, Theoret paraphrases Brooks Kolb:

“Homes within Seattle’s city limits pack a lot into every square foot of garden space out of necessity; homesites are small, says Brooks Kolb, a landscape architect there.  Urban residents, he says, want more hardscape elements – paths, hot tubs, outdoor fireplaces, and water features – to maximize use of these smaller alfresco areas.”

“ ‘People think of a garden as a place to sit outside,’ Kolb says.  ‘They want outdoor areas for seating, dining, and entertaining.   Some of my clients are avid gardeners; others just want to enjoy the feeling of being in a garden, to enjoy the fragrance and sensory qualities.’”

Here’s a link to the full article:  http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/00b26966#/00b26966/10, turn to pages 6-10.
Two photographs of Brooks Kolb’s work are published in the article, as displayed below.  The top photo is from the Blue  Ridge Garden; the bottom photo is from the Matthews Beach Garden.  For more information about both garden designs, please visit the portfolio page at http://www.brookskolbllc.com