Montgomery Front Yard

About this project
  • Location: Calgary, AB
  • Scope: Design, Installation
  • Timeline: 2016 to 2017

This project is a classic case of “the problem is the solution”. The owners of this newly built home in Montgomery discovered, after their first winter and spring, that they had some significant drainage issues. The site grading of the front yard channeled water from overland flow and a downspout from the roof to an area right next to the house and front sidewalk, which created a 2-foot deep sinkhole that extended all the way underneath the front entrance staircase and several feet down the side yard. They needed a permanent solution to this grading problem, and took the opportunity to create the yard of their dreams; a perennial, low maintenance, food forest landscape with increased privacy for a seating nook, and place to park their bikes.


We completed the design of the entire property, and the installation of the front yard. To meet their desire of having a place to host company outdoors, the main social area was located in the rear yard, along with raised vegetable beds, a trellis for growing hops, and 3000L raintank system neatly concealed underneath a raised deck.


To address the front yard topography and drainage, we designed and installed a comprehensive water harvesting and site drainage system including a hydrostatic rain tank system. Rainwater is captured from two downspouts, and utilizes hydrostatic pressure in a sealed, underground pipe network to drive water up to the highest point in the yard, next to the city sidewalk. Water appears to be flowing uphill! This water fills the highest vegetated terrace next to the city sidewalk, and overflows via dry creek bed to two more terraced gardens, becoming a force for life in the garden. Any additional water then flows into a dry creek bed and culvert that extends underneath the front sidewalk and around to the side yard where it eventually leaves the property. These terraces were constructed with a beautiful combination of river stone and large branches of a Manitoba maple tree that we felled on-site in the first steps of the installation process.


A network of pathways allow access to the entire landscape, and a flagstone patio is tucked in close to the house provide a seating area with increased privacy from adjacent trees and shrubs. The entire front yard is dedicated to perennial food forest plantings, including 9 fruiting woody plants, and 185 perennial plants sharing edible, aesthetic, and other ecological service functions, resulting in a nearly instantaneous establishment of a complete plant community.


Since the installation was completed, the water harvesting and site drainage system has functioned to provide passive irrigation to the front yard plantings, while allowing water to safely flow through the property all year round without causing erosion or ground slumping. The garden has established very quickly, with full soil coverage by the multiple ground cover plants, and the clients have already reported a significant drop in maintenance requirements.


Design for this project was completed in 2016, with installation beginning in late 2016 and completing in 2017.

Date:  March 15, 2019

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