Portfolio

Prairie Influence

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The clients wanted to install a pool in the backyard of their recently purchased home overlooking panoramic views of Spring Lake. We were consulted to create a design for a patio that would allow activities from the house to the pool, but also create a space for entertaining guests as well. At the same time, work was being done to update the house interior while also remodeling to create connecting spaces outside.

The style of this particular house is unique in that it emulates Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Prairie Style’ of architecture. Low, sweeping rooflines and clean lateral accents in the masonry creates a distinct Asian feel to the home. However, beyond the house itself, the 20 year old landscape was minimal at best and tired and overgrown at worst. The clients were very open to exploring ideas that would better reflect the architectural style of the home while incorporating an ‘inside-out’ connection to the landscaping beyond. Being well traveled, the clients were especially interested with incorporating an Asian theme to this project.

As the pool was being installed, we were setting large stones to help retain the patio along the slope facing the lake. Afterward the patio was installed on the back of the home and wrapping around the concrete surround of the pool. Later plants were installed to help knit together the spaces between boulders.

Through careful communication and coordination, we employed a creative design to update an architectural gem overlooking Spring Lake. By following cues from the existing architecture and incorporating Asian-inspired details within the garden spaces, this expansive landscape is a unique experience from almost any direction inside and out of the home.

Backyard Retreat

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As the clients renovated their house, they included extensive landscaping as part of their project. Before arriving on site, the woods were encroaching on the back yard area where the pool now resides.

After a long day, the clients wanted a space to enjoy with family and friends. A pool was the main attraction here and a patio was needed to provide adequate space to play and to relax.

Creating a large limestone stairway and Pennsylvania boulder retaining wall helped make the grade change possible from the upper level near the garage down to the basement walk-out door.

We worked closely with the house contractor to expand on ideas for the pool house and pavilion at the end of the pool during the construction process. When finished, this space is truly one of retreat while at home.

Historic Renovation

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The house had been in the same family for 95 years until 2011, when the new homeowners purchased the home. Sitting vacant for 3 years prior to being purchased, the house and landscape underwent extreme renovation with specific care to preserve the historic integrity of the property.

Much of the materials were specifically chosen to stay in tune with the home’s historic roots, while creating an updated appearance. Dimensional bluestone, Annabelle Hydrangeas, various ferns and groundcovers helped set the stage.

In addition, a small recirculating water feature was installed off the back patio to help mask sound of nearby cars and neighbors.

Lake Michigan Cottage

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Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, this project had specific challenges that pertained to dealing with the tight site conditions while using plant material that would survive the bitter winter winds coming off the lake.

As natural fieldstone veneer clad much of the lower level of the house and garage, we used the same material in larger form to create retaining walls and stone outcropping throughout the property. Limestone steps were set on either side of the house as well as down the bluff face to provide ease of transition from one grade to the next. Dimensional bluestone bordered with tumbled pavers, mop head Hydrangeas, Azaleas, and a 7’ Weeping White Pine creates a warm welcome for visitors as they approach the main entry to the house.

Lakeside Challenge

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Between creating the layout for the pool, patio and stone walls and stairs, this project was quite a puzzle to complete! We had to work from the bottom of the lake bluff, hoping that our measurements were correct to meet the patio, pool, and house being built above! Over 120 ton of Fon Du Lac stone, 900 square feet of pavers, and over 1,000 groundcovers later, we created a truly unique landscape at this lakeside residence.

A small patio was added later after the initial construction to provide homeowners a more private space to enjoy views of the lake below. This was especially tricky since so much of the landscape was finished and adding an entire patio required careful use of space and materials to integrate it properly.

Natural Beauty

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The clients requested that the landscaping around their home renovation be naturally blended with the surrounding wooded environment. They also requested that color would be visible in each season of the landscape. In addition, per client request, there were some plants and stone materials that were kept from the original site and became repurposed within the new installation.

The clients also asked that the driveway be re-routed to provide more screening from traffic at the end of their street turnaround. Three large (18-20’) evergreen trees (Norway spruce) were direct-spaded to help fill the gap left from the old driveway. Other large Hemlock and Dogwood were left intact and had to be worked around throughout the construction period.

The clients also wanted to have spaces to entertain outside. This would include additional turf area as well as the installation of a patio with a firepit by the newly dug pond near the back of the house. We suggested adding a water feature in the form of a spring-fed stream to further create a relaxing atmosphere near the flagstone patio area. The challenge here was to functionally and aesthetically integrate the water feature, patio area, and existing pond together within the landscape.

Finally, the client’s wanted a vegetable garden that would stand the test of time and remind them of some of the gardens they’ve experienced in youth. We designed custom cedar fences, arbors, and raised boxes to make their wish come to reality.

Through meticulous planning and detailed construction, we created a landscape that fully met our client’s needs while seamlessly blending the home and surrounding outdoor environment together.

Natural Hideaway

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On our first meeting, the homeowner said, “I want it to seem as if a seed were planted and the house emerged within the rest of the landscape. “ These words helped drive many of the design decisions for this project. In order to create the place of retreat that was desired, many large evergreen trees and shrubs were installed as well as hundreds of perennials and dune grass plants. A water feature was also installed to help mask the sound of a busy road on the other side of the woods as well as create more privacy for intimate conversations while relaxing on the outdoor patio. Spaces in the landscape were intentionally left open as the homeowners wanted room to add and move plants at their leisure.

We worked closely with the various contractors present during the house construction. Most specifically, we collaborated with the concrete contractor and homeowner to ensure the decorative concrete patios and walkways were placed properly to support the design intent of the project.

Suburban Restoration

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This fantastic front yard renovation involved removing old and overgrown shrubs to provide better sight visibility to the road as well as replacing a tired concrete walkway with a new bluestone approach to the front door of the home. Landscape lighting was also included to help accent specimen trees and illuminate the new bluestone pathway.

Curb appeal and a better functioning front walk were the driving forces in this landscape project. We worked close with the homeowner in order to ensure proper plant and stone materials were employed to meet their desires.

Wright Style

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This project was built in multiple phases over the course several years all while staying true to the original landscape design. Since the home was newly constructed, the landscape was essentially a blank canvas to create an environment that truly reflected the Asian influence (specifically Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style architecture) of the house. Sweeping patio spaces of tumbled pavers near carefully placed stones and hand selected ornamental plants were essential to creating an “inside-out” feel to this very private and natural backdrop.






“We bought a house that was really nice on the inside but needed “curb” appeal. It is an “L” shaped house and the 1400 foot gravel driveway ended in a circle in front of our house. In the middle of the circle was a flag pole. The house looked like a grade school The landscaping was minimal and needed to be redone. Chris Major their designer is a true professional, a pleasure to work with and excellent designer. He did (Unilock) pavers in the front of our house and in the back for our patio. They look beautiful! Then he did the landscaping which is gorgeous . We live in the woods and he made everything look natural and deer proof. I would recommend him to anyone. HIs workers are very professional too! He worked well with the company who did the cement for the driveway. He referred us to the fence company for our backyard and they also did a superb job.”

- Cathy Fillion