Tag Archives: Denver Landscape Architects

Kid-centric Colorado Landscapes

Encourage kids to spend less time in front of a screen and more time in the great outdoors with a kid-friendly landscape. And with the help of a professional, you can achieve a fun landscape that is also sophisticated in style. A thoughtful design can creatively integrate style with functionality that’s fun! Here are some fantastic kid-centric landscape design ideas.

Set the Stage for Creativity 

Most kids love to draw, and you can provide a space just for that outdoors with a custom backyard fence design that includes a chalkboard paint wall. It’s a no-mess, no-stress solution for uninhibited creativity.

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Source: Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture via Houzz

This unique and versatile deck serves as a stage for kids to perform on while also making a great lounge area that adds chic interest to the landscape.

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Source: Clive Nichols via Garden Design

A House of Their Own

A playhouse gives kids a space where they can let their imaginations run free. Clever playhouse designs like this hobbit house can blend with the rest of the landscape, pleasing both kids and parents.

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Source: Marion Brenner via Garden Design

Having a tree house is a childhood dream we can all relate to. A tree house can be custom designed by landscape professionals to complement the home exterior and landscape while achieving a cool design with exciting features like a zip line or a slide.

colorado landscaping

Source: Keith Willig Landscape Services, Inc. via Houzz

Play in Harmony 

To avoid play areas from clashing with the remaining landscape, playgrounds can be custom designed to look natural and blend beautifully with the natural surroundins. In this example, a magnificent tree trunk playground was designed to appear as if it was gracefully growing out of the ground.

playgrounds colorado

Source: V.I.Photography & Design via Houzz

Another great strategy is to incorporate terraced gardens into playgrounds to create a lush and seamless look that blends in harmoniously. Using the same type of wood for the garden retaining wall as the play structures creates a seamless look.

colorado landscape architect

 

If you are interested in putting the fun in a functional, kid-friendly landscape or any other improvements to your landscape or outdoor living spaces, contact Lifescape Colorado to learn about our professional landscape design services.

Green In Between – Permeable Hardscapes

When you live in Colorado, outdoor living space is not an extra amenity – it’s a necessity. But beauty and sustainability are valued just as high here, and it’s these factors that make permeable hardscapes such a wonderful option for Colorado landscapes.

Gravel or broken-up pavers can create permeable surfaces that can still be outfitted with outdoor furniture while also avoiding a monotonous aesthetic and urban runoff. And as TreePeople explains, “This practice also helps reduce the heat island effect (an increase in ambient temperature from heat-retaining buildings and paved surfaces). These methods will lower the surrounding temperature and reduce the need for air conditioning.”

Plus, I think we can all agree that there are prettier things to look at than pure pavement, so let’s look at a few ways to achieve beautiful, permeable hardscapes for sustainable Colorado landscapes.

 

The broken stone or concrete approach with grass in between always creates a cool visual effect.

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Source: Windsor Companies via Houzz

And an alternative to grass is dymondia, which is a drought-tolerant ground cover that can grow beautifully between broken slabs of stone or concrete.

hardscape designs

Source: Shirley Bovshow via Houzz

But if you rather some solid surfaces, create multiple paver platforms with green in between.

denver landscape design

Source: FormLA Landscaping via Houzz

Don’t let the gray tones fool you. Gravel can actually look great, especially when you play with the borders and plantings that surround.

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Source: Debora Carl Landscape Design via Houzz

Here’s an interesting permeable hardscape design that exemplifies the infinite design possibilities with gravel.

colorado landscape design

Source: Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture via Houzz

If you are working with difficult soil that doesn’t lend itself to green in between, trying combining the broken paver and gravel approach. Gravel between pavers can create a nice contrast.

hardscapes denver

Source: Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture via Houzz

If you are looking to achieve a beautiful and sustainable Colorado landscape that allows you to enjoy year-round outdoor living, contact the landscape architecture professionals at Lifescape.

The Balancing Act of Landscape Architecture

We were recently inspired by an interesting observation that landscape architect and writer Billy Goodnick made about the way many people approach landscape design:

“Humans have a strong attraction to color (we don’t have 6 million cones in each eye for nothing), so it might seem logical to focus your design energy on conjuring up beautiful foliage and flower combos.”

Color should be the last step in designing a landscape. The first step, rather, should be about how to strike a balance of “stuff vs. space” as Goodnick puts it.  

In landscape architecture, balance can be either formal and informal. Formal balance is often achieved with strict symmetry where the left and right sides mirror one another. This approach creates a stately look that can be very elegant.

landscaper colorado

Source: Lapicida via Houzz

A landscape with informal balance may have an equal mass of plants on each side but will differ from left to right. This approach can be used to achieve landscape designs with wonderful movement and eclectic interest. While landscapes with informal balance will have a nice, relaxed look that is natural and organic, it still must have a cohesiveness and stability to feel harmonious.

“With asymmetrical gardens, you will want to really make sure you maintain good unity through use of other elements such as rocks, plants, and decor to ground your design and keep it from becoming too hodge-podge.”  (Weekend Gardener)

landscape architecture colorado

Source: MarkDesign, LLC via Houzz

What kind of balance would you like to strike in your Colorado landscape? Whether you are looking to achieve a pristine landscape with gorgeous symmetry or an enchanted garden with boulders and butterflies, the experienced landscape architects at Lifescape can help! Contact us at (303) 831-8310 to learn more about our landscape architecture and garden design and maintenance services.

How Well Do You Know Your Soil?

Have you ever proudly planted a garden that you lovingly watered, weeded and sunned, only to have the once-promising harvest not grow beyond the sprouted stage? What could have gone wrong? Perhaps it was the soil. Poor soil conditions can influence the success of your garden, which would have benefited from a test to make sure the topsoil was a stable environment for plants to flourish.

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The success of your garden depends on the health of the topsoil
— Image via Lifescape

Every geographic region in the world has a different type of topsoil comprised of varying minerals and organic matter. Colorado’s climate, geography and geology do not produce the most nutrient-rich soil in all the land. Particular to the Front Range, the resultant soil profile is mostly thick clay that lacks organic matter, which and impedes proper drainage and root growth, thereby stunting plants’ maturity. The best way to combat this problem is to mix the clay soil with sand or organic materials such as compost, dead leaves, grass clippings, or peat moss.

a soil profile

The Front Range’s soil profile mostly contains thick clay
— Image via CUNY

To find out if the dirt in your yard is conducive to optimum plant growth, it is a good idea to have the topsoil tested. Front Range soil tends to have a high pH — specifically with alkaline and calcium; therefore, it is difficult to grow plants that require acidic soil. A topsoil test will determine if your soil has too much or too little nutrients like iron, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and many more elements. A test will also uncover contaminants in the soil.

a rhododendron

Rhododendrons thrive best in acidic soil — not readily found on the Front Range.
— Image via Wikipedia

But knowing the pH of the topsoil isn’t the only thing to consider before planting a garden. You’ll also need to scope out:

  • Land grading. Steep slopes affect soil erosion. Conversely, the bottoms of hills can collect too much water. 
  • Existing vegetation. How well do other flora and fauna in the area fare? Does the land have a tendency to invite weeds? Is there competition for space with surrounding trees and plants?
  • Sunlight and shade. Most plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, so make sure the proposed garden area receives the minimum amount.
  • Underground and overhead barriers. Septic tank systems, large tree roots, and utility pipes and wires will only get in the way of any landscaping. If you plan on planting tall shrubs or trees, ensure that  utility wires overhead won’t be an issue.
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When planning a garden, consider the land’s limitations.
— Image via Lifescape

Understanding the makeup of the soil in your yard, as well as other factors that contribute to soil’s health, is an important step in the planning stages of a landscaping or gardening project. Contact  Lifescape in Denver to help you configure the perfect way to make your garden grow!

What Makes a Modern Style Landscape?

Like architecture and interior design, landscape architecture is an art. It requires special knowledge and understanding of how shapes, lines, colors and materials can be carefully and creatively combined to achieve an aesthetic that is beautiful and engaging. Everything from the borders of flower beds to the types of grasses and materials used for retaining walls can be thoughtfully chosen to achieve a landscape with a certain look and feel. And since modern rustic residential and commercial designs continue to be a top trend in Colorado and beyond, we’d like to take a closer look at the design elements that are commonly found in modern style landscape architecture.

Here are a few strategies that can be implemented to achieve a sleek, modern style landscape to complement a modern style home or building for a cohesive look that maximizes curb appeal and – as founder of Landscape Design Advisor Allen Quay puts it – “magnifies the beauty of nature with the sophistication of modern living.”

Create clean lines.

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Photo via Houzz

Create contrasts with plants and other materials like metal or concrete.

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Photo via Houzz

Play up texture or incorporate abstract patterns.

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Photo via Houzz

Use light in unique ways.

denver modern landscape design

Photo via Houzz

Work in geometric shapes.

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Photo via Houzz

In his article “Preserving the Modern Landscape,” Lawrence Halprin reminds us the importance of thoughtful landscape design.

“The quality and character of all cities is dependent on design. This includes the design of buildings and, perhaps more importantly, the design of open spaces (streets, plazas, parks, river edges, etc.). These open spaces have been designed over time and all together are what we term landscape architecture.”

If you are looking to enhance your home or commercial building to – in turn – further enhance the beautiful city of Denver, contact the passionate and experienced landscaping experts at Lifescape in Colorado.