What do you see when you look outside?

Many Landscapes are Ecologically sterile. People are increasingly disconnected from nature and searching for outlets to reestablish that connection. The home landscape is the primary connection to nature in our lives; how we maintain it, shape it, display within it, live life within it, and view it from inside our houses, are often overlooked between dwelling and property that leave patrons further disconnected.

Earlier this year, our design team was invited to come up with a planting plan to transform an engineered drainage solution into a native garden. Engineered drainage solutions are typically Function > Form, and can be very intrusive on property and the command attention apart from the overall aesthetic of a house. However, they can be enhanced with creative garden design to be fully functional ecologic installations that look stunning.


Initial Conditions:


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The Process:

We started with brainstorming an ecology that will be aesthetically intriguing and function as a wetland to filter the water. We did this because we needed plants that could thrive in a frequently flooded environment and to attract valuable pollinators to the site. After meeting with the client and honing the plant pallet, we started drawing in CAD to produce construction documents, and renderings to better illustrate how the garden would transform the engineered swale.


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The pallet consisted of many native species of shrubs, trees, sedge, and  perennials.

  • Hammamelis | Witch hazel
  • Vaccinium | Blueberry
  • Illex | Holly
  • Rhododendron | Azalea
  • Viburnum | Viburnum
  • Salix | Willow
  • Chamedaphnea | Leather Leaf
  • Juncus | Sedge
  • Betula | Birch
  • Fotherguilla | Fotherguilla

Initial installation was aimed at placing material in a naturalistic manor without leaving spots bare, or awkward. After the plants were placed and approved planting begun, initially we installed the plants and left the existing grass as an under-story. Post installation the homeowner opted for a mulched under-story until the perennials come back the following season.


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Photos from Staging and Initial Planting. As we were installing the garden Birds, and beneficial insect populations were starting to make the garden their home!



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First fall season ( and a better camera)! Fall color and the swales new aesthetic is filling in. Plants are happy and vigorous, although the birds have gone home for the season, I’m sure this will be a point of interest during spring migration.