Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining High Style in the Pines - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Maintaining High Style in the Pines

Photo: Andrew Olsen

About 25 miles outside of Denver, Colorado, you’ll find a luxurious house among the hills of a golf course community. For much of the year, this property is a vibrant hub of activity as the homeowners entertain guests and enjoy the vast amenities of their home.

Photo: Andrew Olsen

Lifescape Colorado, based in Denver, has maintained this exceptional landscape for over six years, leading to a 2023 Gold Award of Excellence. This site combines the ambiance of a ski resort with the elegance of a French country estate. While this property expands beyond the house, a strong focus is the outdoor living areas around the home.

In 2017, the property was renovated to make the landscape more user-friendly for the homeowners and their guests. Before the renovations, much of the property was unsuitable for landscaping since the slope was extremely steep, causing weeds to overtake the space.

To minimize issues with weeds, the team takes preventative measures to monitor the natural and formal areas on the property, including the slope and turf.

Since this project, the property has improved, but certain areas are still difficult to maintain, especially in parts of the backyard, where a 30-40% slope remains. Lifescape has taken several steps to combat this challenge by using native turf and creating a customized mower to increase the mowing height, reduce erosion, and minimize foot traffic. 

Photo: Andrew Olsen

This site is found near the Palmer Divide, a ridge that causes many forms of extreme weather, like heavy hail, snow, wind, and cold temperatures. In the landscape, this plays a major role in how everything is maintained, especially the irrigation system. With the temperature fluctuations in spring and fall, this site is usually the last home to have their irrigation system activated in spring and the first to have it shut it off in fall.

Additionally, the team uses heat tape on the backflow to protect the system from early and late-season freezes. Lifescape gives extra attention to the turf areas to promote rapid spring green-up and maintain consistent quality across the site. For daily watering, evapotranspiration measurements are taken, allowing each zone to be adjusted based on its specific needs.

Hail can be a frequent problem, so extra pruning and deadheading are necessary to keep everything tidy and meet the client’s demands for a meticulous property.

One unique area is a nature trail that connects the backyard to a horseshoe pit toward the back of the property. This trail requires extensive pruning to remain natural-looking and functional.

Photo: Andrew Olsen

To make the trail accessible, trees are hand-pruned to allow six feet of clearance. Throughout the property, mature specimens of ponderosa pine and gambel oak are preserved to retain privacy for the family.

Areas near the house feature lush planting beds and containers of annuals, perennials, and shrubs to create a welcoming environment for the family and guests. A few common plants used here are salvia, iris, daylilies, and fragrant sumac. These are a beautiful backdrop for the many seating areas, outdoor kitchen, and fire pits.

Since the renovations, this landscape has matured and been a frequent source of joy for the homeowners and their kids. Here’s a recent piece of feedback from the family.

“Our kids have grown from grade school to college age since we remodeled the landscape,” the client says. “Even though they are away at school, they still come home every vacation and every summer with a group of friends joining them, and they always spend most of their time outside. While we love that the beauty of the landscape still exceeds our expectations, the real ROI comes from knowing that we created a space our kids will always gravitate to.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Enter your projects by July 29, 2024.

Matt Olson

Matt Olson is a freelancer for NALP.