New construction has its perks. Being able to fully customize a home to your standards is a rare luxury, but one very common downside can be the building site itself. Commonly in residential developments, houses are constructed on lots that are then backfilled with debris and poor-quality soil that is merely pushed from one part of the site to another. Once homeowners settle in and begin working in the yard or landscaping they often realize that the lot isn’t at all what it seemed to be. Plant material never seems to thrive and even turns yellow and dies because of soil that does not drain. Watershed issues begin to creep up, with water pooling or creating ruts following a storm due to unaddressed elevation issues. Many people resort to using plastic corrugated piping in an attempt to remedy some of the runoff and before you know it, that newly constructed home appears to be covered in band aids.
Subpar soil and steep grades can be a dangerous combination with the potential to impact not only the site, but also the foundation of the home. At Inside Out, we have used retaining walls, dry creek beds, and permeable pavers to solve just some of these site issues. By using materials that either harmonize with existing resources or that balance out differing ones, a remedy can appear organic to the site rather than being an obvious solution to a problem. We have used multiple remedies at one site in particular; the outcome has been fantastic. The beautiful home, located on a cul-de-sac with a backdrop of woodland, had an unfortunate issue of water runoff down the driveway and through the backyard where it cascaded as it took advantage of the elevation decline from the front street to a backyard forested area. Our design solutions included a dry creek bed that allows stormwater to meander along a rock path, stone terracing that creates a less drastic change in elevation, and a permeable driveway that accommodates stormwater runoff. These elements independently are great solutions to both poor soil and steep elevations. Together they work to create a distinctive landscape that, although it appears effortless, is performing a very important job. In addition, the stone terracing doubles as an entertaining space, with a seating area, firepit, and incorporated edible raised beds. Not only is water runoff no longer a concern, but the resulting solution now offers an appealing view as well as a usable space for entertaining. Future phases of work at this property include creating a meadow that will surround the dry creek bed. The meadow will create a beautiful viewshed toward the perimeter woodland and also provide additional absorption for any residual water runoff. Additional plant material will be added over time to soften the remaining hardscaping. In this way, hardscapes and softscapes go hand in hand. A well thought out landscape plan incorporates both in a way that allows them to complement one another.
It can be difficult as a homeowner to step back and ask for help and it is near impossible to find the time and means to fix a problem such as a drainage issue on you own. When you hire a landscape designer not only can they aid in fixing the problem, but they can do so in a way that looks organic to the site. Reach out and ask how your homesite can be enhanced or reinvented. After all, it is our job to create beautiful solutions so you can enjoy your home and the property that surrounds it.