Original Plans Guide Landscape Restoration: Wisconsin Gardening Magazine

Article originally published in Wisconsin Gardening November/December 2013 p. 56-59.

Early 1900s gardens were part of an overall historic restoration project that included the Yawkey House Museum and its outbuildings in Wausau.

A water feature, pergola and sunken gardens were part of the original design, but were deteriorated. There is a rich history for these assets, starting with the original landscape
design done by Morell and Nichols in 1910. Their design brought the focus out into the east yard. There, visitors could view the classic pergola, covered with grapevines and accented with a classical pool and sunken perennial gardens. Other walking paths flanked
the grounds of this Marathon County gem.

Original Plans Guide Landscape RestorationView the project image gallery on our website.

Many of the steps presented here can be applied to homeowners who have historic or period properties, whether mid-century modern, Victorian, or Arts and Crafts. Gardens during those periods had certain kinds of designs and plants, which can be replicated in the landscape or updated with modern cultivars that provide the same look and feel. Anytime you buy or sell your house, it’s a good idea to provide the buyer with any landscape drawings you might have. They help the new resident learn what’s in the

Before Landscape Solutions could start, a structural report and diagram of the existing site had to be completed. The report compares what exists on site now to what was
originally planned. It was imperative that the new garden design gave
considerations to the original design, while unifying new needs. We
developed a sketch of new concepts to enable the committee to work out
specific needs and raise funds for the project.

Original Plans Guide Landscape Restoration  Original Plans Guide Landscape Restoration

Presently, the home and gardens function as a museum open to the public. The grounds can be rented for events, such as weddings. Because of this, wheelchair accessibility and gathering areas were needed, as well as wash rooms and catering areas.

The new design followed the original hardscaping concepts with emphasis on the pergola, water feature and sunken gardens. Other issues addressed were privacy, safety, garden viewing, interaction, functionality, lighting and noise. In home gardens, camouflaging sites or deadening, traffic noise may be concerns, too. For instance, a water feature dampens the sound of road traffic, and the pergola backed by a row of shrubs provides the garden with a bit of privacy from passersby.

The result is well thought-out garden beds, which provide color and texture, as well as historically corrects plantings wherever possible. The plants were chosen and arranged in both formal and cottage styles befitting a turn of the century estate.

The pergola, which supports a 100-year-old grapevine, was restored by saving the original columns, but replacing the arbor boards. Scaffolding held the historic grapevine while the columns were being restored.

Because of cracked concrete, the water garden had to be completely restored, by implementing moulds made from the existing feature. A variety of patterns, using warm-colored clay pavers, were installed to connect the museum with the gardens and carriage house. Limestone and slate were also introduced to add contrast and prominence.

The restoration of Yawkey House Museum and gardens gives a sense of history and pride to our central Wisconsin area.

View the project image gallery on our website.

Feeling Curvy: Backyard Solutions Magazine

Article originally published in Backyard Solutions 2012 Country Almanac #150 p. 118-119.

Winding stone & gravel borders perk up a cold climate front yard

Backyard Solutions Magazine Backyard Solution Magazine

BEFORE: Overgrown jumble of plantings needed to be reordered in a low maintenance way.

AFTER: Reshaped and replanted existing materials; added in new stone planting beds, gravel paths and a water feature.

Sprucing up a front foundation can be a challenge when you live out in the hills of central Wisconsin. Add the challenge of roaming, hungry deer. The homeowners in this beautiful country home did not have time to maintain theil landscape, leaving them with a mess of plantings and weeds corning up to their front door. After landscape designer Susan M_ Murphy Jones designed theif backyard entertainment area, they asked her to help with the front. They needed ease of maintenance and order to the planting method. To assist with those priorities and cope with the limited plant selection and deer, Jones immediately thought stone! She pulled out existing plants and reused them in masses for a cleaner look. To save money, she left the curving concrete walk in place and bordered it with beds of a mix of larger and smaller cobblestones. She added a new, crushed red·granite path that works off the concrete walk and leads around the property. To accent the front entry and complement the more natural look, she planted a large white spire birch clump.

KEY PLANTINGS: Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’ (Golden Thread Leaf Cypress); Berberis thunbergii ‘Crimson Pygmy’ (Crimson Pygmy Barberry); Juniperus spp. (Juniper); Calamagrostis spp. (Feather Reed Grass) ZONES: 3-4

Rocky Meander: Backyard Solutions Magazine

Article originally published in Backyard Solutions 2012 Country Almanac #150 p. 120-121.

Stone steppers provide safe passage along a hillside stream

Backyard Solutions Magazine Backyard Solutions Magazine

BEFORE: Wood beams made a ho-hum stairway to connect lawns over a slope.

AFTER: A 60′ stream and stone steps create a naturalistic and inviting journey down to a lower patio.

On a several hundred acre site near Wausau, Wisconsin, landscape designer Susan Murphy Jones, APLD, offered Mother Nature competition in fashioning a naturalistic stream, reflecting pools and rocky paths. The owners of this estate, with a trout stream running along the property, asked Murphy Jones to create a water feature to provide access to the bottom of the property, where they wanted a sitting area. Murphy Jones built a reflective pool at the top near the house and another at the base of the hill, with a patio area connecting the ponds. On one side is a staircase of stones, planted horizontally for safety and well lit for night-time enjoyment. Murphy Jones brought in boulders and rocks in all shapes and colors-and arranged them casually here and there as nature would have.

Putting a Fresh Face on an Older Home: Wisconsin Gardening Magazine

Article originally published in Wisconsin Gardening Magazine May/June 2012 p. 56-57.

There are many ways to give an older home a new look – from plants to paint to siding and walkways. This is the story of how a landscape designer gave a house an exterior makeover.

WG-fresh56 WG-fresh57

Click on image to enlarge page.

During these unstable economic times many people are deciding not to move, or build new homes, but still crave good design and change. It is important to make a home as inviting and unique as possible so that it reflects individuality, creativity and a sense of well-being. This process starts with the exterior of the home, and how it relates to the existing landscape and surrounding environment. Giving your landscape a fresh look doesn’t depend entirely on plantings; there are several other factors to consider that can enhance your home’s exterior.

Using color is the number one way to change the appearance of your home, and repainting or residing the house is often the most practical thing to do. With sensibility as a primary concern, I encourage my clients to consider updating their exteriors (which can include replacing rotting trim, poor shingles and changing the siding color) as the first step to a landscape renovation. To some degree, the color of the building will dictate the colors chosen within the landscape, and how hard surfaces and plant materials will relate. Exterior color welcomes one to the interior of the residence. It is important that all colors be harmonious, both inside and out.

Minimizing an investment by adding completnentary architectural elements to the exterior adds interest to the landscape. This can be done with columns, shutters, window boxes, lamp posts, new railings, accent trim, large urns, placement boulders, vignette low voltage lighting and more. At times adding a bench or focal point, such as a bubbling water feature, will also enhance an older existing landscape, detracting from other less desirable elements. One nice feature is better than a host of less desirable items.

Just renovating the entry can totally change the complexion of an older residence. In most cases, having an open and welcoming entry is a necessary step to develop a safe and inviting home. A client’s specific needs, as well as traffic flow patterns, regulate where walkways or small resting patios should be placed. Some of the biggest mistakes that I see are uninteresting, narrow, walkways that snug up to the residence – that can compromise the function of the entry. Another mistake is small stoop pads that are unable to accommodate more than one person making the entry into the house awkward. The final mistake I want to mention is forgetting to plan for downspouts and water distribution across walkways, which can cause dangerous accidents. Adding an open flowing walkway design is another great way to update an older residence. There are endless combinations of hard surface materials that can complement or contrast a home.

Often removing shrubbery is necessary, but by protecting the shrubs during the renovation process many plants can be rejuvenated or moved. This can be a substantial cost saving to the client. Of course bringing new plant materials into a des ign is one of the most exciting elements of landscape architecture. Any good design has texture, and plants are a great way to bring texture into the landscape. Spacing and arranging plants correctly can make or break a design. Remember, less is sometimes more.

Working with a landscape designer or architect is very important when you can’t afford costly mistakes. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers is a great place to look for a certified designer in your area. With creativity, good design and value can go hand in hand. When every penny counts, it is important to hire a professional to analyze the complete landscape site, including making changes to the home’s facade to bring impact. Often times there are elements of the home’s exterior that can be enhanced with limited change and cost, and most designers will notice this opportunity.

Learn more about Wisconsin Gardening Magazine.

Restored Entertainment Area with Water Feature


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Renovating an existing landscape Landscaping is an evolving art. In landscape design the design never stops evolving, it is constantly changing. Plants need dividing, shrubs and trees sometime die. Wood mulch needs replacing, etc…Sometime the use of the yard changes … Continue reading