Briar Hill Full Yard
About this project
- Location: Calgary, AB
- Scope: Design and Installation
- Timeline: 2016 to 2017
The owners of this property in Briar Hill had recently redeveloped their 1960’s residence in a contemporary style, which incorporated passive solar design, solar photovoltaics, plans for a green roof, and sustainable building materials such as reclaimed barnwood. They wanted to update their landscaping to complement the style of their new home, and further demonstrate sustainable living practices such as food forestry, rainwater harvesting, annual vegetable gardening, and growing native plants. They wanted to achieve this all in a way that would be low maintenance, provide ample food production, habitat for wildlife, increased privacy, and still retain a large lawn space to play with their grandchildren. Aesthetics was also an important goal for this project, with the clients desiring a mix between formal, natural, and japanese garden styles, and for elements in the space to have an enduring, modern-yet-recycled feeling and texture. They wanted the space to be organized in smooth, flowing lines, with meandering hardscaped pathways for meditative walks, and social areas and private settling spaces that open towards their beautiful view of the city, Bow River valley, and mountains.
reGenerate Design worked with these clients to produce a full property design, and in the installation of their front yard and rear yard landscaping. The front yard features natural limestone boulder ridges that invoke a sense of the montane and subalpine landscapes in the Alberta foothills. As the front yard contains many large established trees, plants were chosen to offer both aesthetic appeal and form a beneficial and low maintenance plant community that is suited to growing in forest-edge conditions.
The rear yard landscaping began with felling two mature trees that were near the end of their natural lifespan, and processing the logs for future use as wood cookie pathways and slope retaining features in the rear yard. We then planted several large specimens of upright juniper to match existing specimens and increase privacy for the main outdoor social area located close to the house, and a large caliper pear and apple tree to begin their food forest. Heavy duty tarps were used to cover 700 sq ft of lawn for a period of one year to kill off the grass. The following year, the tarps were removed and the area was prepared for planting along with an existing perennial bed, that together framed the remainder of the existing lawn. Small terraces were constructed entirely from on-site stone and logs to retain the meandering crushed rundle pathways, annual vegetable garden, and food forest plantings. Some existing herbaceous perennials and shrubs were relocated, and a whole new set of species were planted alongside them to suit the dry, sunny, west-facing hillside microclimate. The existing irrigation system was modified and expanded to provide additional irrigation in the new annual vegetable garden and food forest areas.
The front yard is rejuvenated with increased curb appeal that works with the aesthetics of this stunning house, there is a sense of order to the landscape while maintaining a woodland feel. Flowering and native plants add interest to the front yard, where previously there were patches of bare soil and exposed roots. Despite the relatively challenging microclimates across the property, the perennial plants have established well. The clients have added to their sustainable lifestyle with increased growing area for annual vegetables, and are enjoying the fruits of their food forest labours. The rear yard feels more like a park. The perennial beds wrap around the lawn area, drawing your eye out into the far corner of the yard and inviting exploration into this area where you can truly appreciate the spectacular views.
In 2016 we began the project design, completed the front yard installation, and began installation in the rear yard. In 2017, the design was completed along with the rear yard installation.