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Add interest, increase your privacy and articulate the edges of your garden with patios, ponds, pavers and pathways
Large pools, fish ponds, spas; gates, arbours, fences; stone or concrete; metal or wood: faced with so many choices for hardscaping, perhaps the most important thing for homeowners to keep in mind is that motifs and materials should suit their lifestyle and the existing dwellings. The mandate of Gabriala Adamov of Malvina’s Design Group was to restore an overgrown and neglected Lower Mainland property to a classical garden in keeping with the residence, but with some contemporary touches. The biggest challenge, says Adamov, was the narrow entry. Creating a curved pathway gave the illusion of length and added interest. Recycled stepping stones echo the driveway and patio installed at the time the house was built. Clipped borders, classic urns and a formal planting scheme provide the traditional look the owners wanted.
Another example of recycled materials—brick reclaimed from the demolition of the old CN Railway warehouse at Terminal and Main—can be found in the hardscaping of the Eric Van den Kerkhof garden. “I’ve always loved old brick in a garden setting,” says Van den Kerkhof. Here Pennsylvania bluestone contrasts to good effect with the “warm and inviting” brick. His tip? Have an architect/designer devise an overall plan; even if you don’t implement it all at once, you can “tweak things as you go, and it helps you plan materials and labour well in advance.” Urbanites with a small backyard will find this display garden by Pacifica of interest. Stone walls provide protection from noise and wind and the flow of water also masks traffic sounds. Surrounding the entire patio space is a naturalized pond with access via cedar bridges, creating a peaceful oasis in the city. Basalt monoliths dot the perimeter and add definition and a rustic feel. Delineated by a stone retaining wall and a curved arbour that also frames views to the surrounding park-like setting, this sunken garden room fulfils the objectives of the owners, who wanted a private retreat as well as a place to entertain. “We focus on the client’s objectives, personalities, lifestyle and, ultimately,” says Michael Bjorge of Pacifica, “the feelings these spaces will evoke.” Those with a difficult site can take heart from this luxurious spa-like retreat, also designed by Pacifica. The challenge was to fit a large pond (7.5 by 13.7 m/25 by 45 ft.) with a sunken spa, a cantilevered deck and a solarium into a narrow strip between the residence and a steep drop to the ravine below. “One of the unique aspects of the project,” says Bjorge, “is the near fish-eye vantage point of the cascading water feature from the spa.” Meeting the objectives required carefully choreographing each step of the operation. Even before that, the key to design was preparing full-colour landscape presentations so the homeowners could visualize the space by imagining the sights, scents and sounds of the setting.