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Steamboat Magazine

Four Great Outdoor Spaces

02/24/2013 07:47PM ● By Christina Freeman

Secret garden at the corner of 3rd and Pine.

By Jennie Lay

No matter how much Yampa Valley locals love their houses, they spend an inordinate amount of time outdoors. Be it flower gardens or seas of natural grasses, a well-designed landscape created around a home can be as magical as the mountains that surround us.

Old Town Living

This is a secret garden tucked away at the corner of Third and Pine streets. Now a mature landscape, the patio and landscaping were completed at the same time the owners did a complete remodel of the home more than five years ago – and the yard was promptly featured in Strings Music Festival’s garden tour. The patio includes a seat wall that incorporates a water feature along its back side. The tinkling effect of two waterfalls creates just enough sound to maintain an air of tranquility in the middle of downtown. Plantings screen the alley and create a private outdoor room complete with landscape lighting both in the wall and in the water feature.

Landscape Design & Installation: I-Design of Steamboat

South Valley Living

Horizontal layers of landscaping work their way out from this home that sits on a large parcel of land. The idea was to work out gradually from a refined area directly around the home to the surrounding high mountain meadows. The first 20 feet surrounding the house feature manicured lawns that end at a stone pathway. The next layer gets more organic with native grasses that grow high and low and don’t have to be mowed, nor intensely watered. This section ends with a meandering dry stream bed, and again, the plant species continue their progression toward the natural and wild environment. Everything beyond the stream bed is native.

That is, aside from the imposing Deborah Butterfield sculpture. Butterfield is a Montana artist who uses found objects, usually in the form of a horse. It appears to be driftwood, but it’s actually bronze – and it was a key to the landscape design, placed first with an intent to create the landscaping around it.

At the windy and sun-baked southwest corner of the home, a xeriscape garden blooms with Russian sage, ornamental grasses and other high altitude native plants. In this space, an ornamental grass called maiden grass has proven to be an exceptional natural wind break if not a deterrent for wildlife. Deer, elk, moose and bear wander through regularly.

Landscape Design: West Elevation Architects, Inc.
Landscape Installation: Gecko Landscape and Design

Strawberry Park Living

This was a landscape remodel for an avid gardener. The mission was to simplify the transition between the built environment and nature. The redesign got rid of massive plant beds, and refined and rebuilt patios, stone walls and walkways to meander down to a pond as a central focus. Gardens were brought down to size because the owner does a lot of work himself – and they came up with a species list together that emphasizes beautiful ornamental plants.

In search of a shady place to sit in the woods, the home gained a haven in the aspen grove along the east edge of the property. The pergola became an extension from the refined patio areas – and the perfect place to sit with the Sunday morning New York Times. From the dappled light under the pergola, there is a long vista toward the lawn and Strawberry Park beyond. A boulder the size of a VW Bug was burrowed in nearby to look like it has been there for millennia.

Landscape Design: West Elevation Architects, Inc.
Landscape Installation: Gecko Landscape and Design

Grotto on the Mountain

Water features make an incredible focal point in a yard. This water feature in Alpine Mountain Ranch blends impeccably with the wild surrounding landscape. The designers built a concrete foundation to begin with, then created a stream that looks like it runs into a hot tub. The interconnected pathways of the water create a grotto effect that is irresistible. Like the rest of the home, the water feature is well integrated into the mountainscape so it feels as though it is an inherent part of the scenery.

Landscape Design & Installation: Gecko Landscape and Design