Complete Landscape Package in Kingsmill

Materials: Lumber; Stone; Boulders; Landscape Lighting; Drainage Parts; Compost; Sod; Seed; Plants; and Mulch.
Landscape Layout for New Construction

Building a Forever Home

My client wanted to go big with this landscape. They were in the process of building their forever home, and they knew this landscape needed to be special. They also knew they wanted something different from the neighboring houses.

Three Big Hurdles

I had three main hurdles with this property. The first was the deer. They’d shown themselves to be aggressive and willing to eat plants normally considered “deer resistant”. Secondly, the ground here was solid clay. Even though topsoil had been brought in to amend the ground, it only covered the top few inches, and many of the plants were planted 12-20″ deep. Thirdly, we had to get all of our thoughts onto paper and approved by the HOA.

The Six Stages

There were six stages to the landscape plan here: Irrigation; drainage; playground transfer; minor grading & sod; lighting; and finally the landscape layout and installation.

Smart Irrigation

We contracted George with Southwell Irrigation to install the system for us. He got us set up with a smart irrigation system, which included heads that seal when they go into the ground, keeping water from seeping from the system while it is not running. We also installed drip lines to every tree, shrub, and perennial on the property. Between these two features, this 9 zone irrigation system prevents water from being wasted. The controller connects to the home’s WiFi network, allowing either us or the homeowner to control the irrigation and adjust as needed.

Drainage and Ground Gutters

Next was drainage. The home was installed with exposed aggregate ground gutters on the front/sides, and seamless roof gutters in the backyard. Due to the size of the home, the amount of roof square footage draining through each of the drainboxes and downspouts was excessive. Because of this, we needed to break some of the drain boxes into their own 4″ PVC pipe. We installed three drainboxes coming from the front into one 4″ PVC pipe. We connected four downspouts, one drainbox, and the HVAC condensation to two 4″ PVC pipes. Finally, we installed two drainboxes coming from the driveway into one 4″ PVC pipe. We installed popups at the end of each line, along with a few yards of river rock around them to avoid any erosion. Additionally, while the drainage system was going in, we installed all the leads for our lighting system.
Our client had a backyard playset that they wanted to move from their previous home to the new one. We disassembled the playset, transferred it to the new property, reassembled it, and anchored it to its new home. In order to avoid wear and tear to the lawn around the playset over time, we built a play area with treated lumber. We notched 6″x6″ posts to create a 22′ by 16′ area filled with certified playground mulch.

Let’s Wait for Cooler Weather

We were now ready for the actual landscaping to begin. However, it was the middle of August at the time, and we wanted to wait until the builder was ready to move our clients into the home. We also wanted to be closer to the cooler weather to put the least amount of stress on the sod and landscaping. Nothing like coming up on a deadline!

It’s Finally Time!

When the time came, we started with the light grading. We fluffed the soil with a power rake to make sure our sod could root quickly. We then installed 9000 square feet of tall fescue sod. We watered the new lawn heavily, and then rolled it flat with a barrel roller.

Addressing Clay Soil

Next, we moved on to the beds. Because of the clay problem, we decided to bring in a load of pure compost. We used a rototiller to loosen the soil and get the compost down as far as possible. This had the added benefit of making planting much easier! We also installed gravel underneath all of the plants with gypsum, lime, and a biobased slow release fertilizer. The gravel would help keep the moisture off of the plant’s roots, and the gypsum + lime would help break up the clay.

Adding Depth to the Landscape

Our client wanted depth to the landscape. We decided to use boulders on three of the corners in the front landscape. We had already installed our feature boulder while doing the drainage portion of the project, so we worked around these and laid out our plants. We used them as anchor points for the yard, installing Russian Sage, Nepeta, Coneflowers, and Karl Foerster grasses around them.
We decided on a Boxwood hedge to run along the walkway on the left side of the home. The hedge would be kept trimmed to around 2.5′ tall. This would allow our Endless Summer Hydrangeas planted behind to be seen while they are in bloom, but also hide them during the winter months when they go dormant.

Groups of Three

Along the foundation into the corner of the left side, and then continuing to the right side of the house, we used Otto Luyken Laurels, in addition to some Loropetalum. We now had three hedge rows of various heights, starting with Boxwood, Loropetalum, and Otto Luken’s, with more Endless Summer in the middle. We used Coral Bark Maple, and then a Little Gem Magnolia for our large anchor in the front yard. We also used groupings of three Green Emerald Arborvitae on each corner of the home. We needed height to match the scale of the home, and using the Arborvitae on the corners would do just that.

A Few More Plants

Around the back porch, we used Schip Laurels with more Arborvitae, and one Edith Bogue Magnolia to create a diverse screen from the neighboring house. We also used Spring Glory Forsythia for added spring color and interest.

Keeping it Simple

Along the back of the home, we kept it extremely simple. We evenly spaced Carissa Holly and underplanted them with Spicata Liriope. We then put a Limelight Hydrangea on either side of the back steps. The Carissa’s won’t need pruning, and the liriope will eventually fill in the space and negate the need for mulch. We also wanted to add a spring pop to the woods, so we installed a dozen forsythia throughout the woodline.

Specimen Trees

Finally, we wanted to incorporate some specimen trees into the design. We wanted them to all be of similar size, but also provide interest through the changing seasons. We choose a Bloodgood Maple for the leaf textures and color, Natchez Crape Myrtle for summer blooms, Eastern Redbud for early spring blooms, a Cherokee Princess Dogwood for mid-spring bloom, and finally a Gingko Autumn Gold for brilliant color in the fall.

The Hard Part is Done

With the landscape just about complete, we started on the lighting. Because we had already run the wiring to each bed when we installed the drainage, the hard part was already out of the way. With 26 lights to install, we ran the landscape lighting wire together with the drip irrigation for easy maintenance in the future.

Uplights and Pathlights

Each of the eight trees we planted received an uplight. We installed seven pathlights on the front walk, two wash lights on the roof, one on the mailbox, and the remaining eight washing the walls and corners of the home.

Adding WiFi into the Lighting Mix

Our client wanted to be able to control the lights individually, so we created 4 lighting zones- all controlled from the phone through WiFi.

All Six Stage are Done!

With all six stages now complete, we cleaned up the woodline by removing minor underbrush. We then installed pine straw along the woodline, and finished everything off with shredded hardwood mulch in the flower beds.
Original landscape budget was $50,000. After a few upgrades we finished just over $53,000.