Landscapes of the Month: Rooftop Refuge in Colorado - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Rooftop Refuge in Colorado

Photo: Emily Minton Redfield

The three-story property on a corner lot overlooking Washington Park in Denver, Colorado, offered Lifescape Colorado a number of maintenance challenges.

Lifescape has been maintaining this property since 2018 and their work earned them a Silver Award in the 2020 Awards of Excellence for residential landscape management.

Photo: Emily Minton Redfield

Dan DeGrush, senior landscape architect for Lifescape Colorado, says a lot of evergreen and aspen trees were used to help provide privacy for the client.

“They wanted a certain look and feel and they wanted privacy in an area that’s not super private,” DeGrush. “The client’s wishes and needs were the biggest drivers on plant decision making versus the maintenance.”

The Norway spruces trees require specialized maintenance, including organic pest management and a soil care program.

“Access is really tight,” DeGrush says. “It’s a big house on a very narrow, tight lot, and so pretty much wherever the building could be it was. So, the landscaping had to fit around that and in all the narrow nooks and crannies so it’s time-consuming to take care of the plants.”

The rooftop garden includes eight flower containers, seven containerized multi-stem hot wings maple trees and 12’ containerized Hawthorne trees. Getting these plants established in the Colorado sun and wind required supervision, additional visits and extra monitoring.

Photo: Emily Minton Redfield

“Picking those plants and keeping them lush, full, living and thriving is a maintenance win to keep them happy all the time in a less forgiving growing environment,” DeGrush says.

There was a learning curve with one of the plants selected for the rooftop garden. Initially, Lifescape thought the harlequin plant was shielded by the glass railing, but it was not enough to allow the plant to survive so they replaced it with a new variety. 

While the company does rooftop projects, it’s not common for them to have to enter their client’s home. A schedule and interior access plan was established with the client so the crews can maintain the second level balcony and rooftop garden.

“Because we come at a reoccurring time and at reoccurring dates they can choose to be in a different part of the house or not be there at all,” DeGrosh says.

Photo: Emily Minton Redfield

A three-person crew comes on a weekly basis to maintain the property. This includes tending to container plantings. The coleus and Persian shield require consistent pinching to keep the shape of the containers on the back patio looking sharp. Lifescape installed automatic irrigation systems with multiple zones for the various container plantings throughout the property.

Wind frequently carries in dirt and debris into the back patio space so on a biweekly basis, crews pressure wash all the hardscapes and perform additional services like wiping down the grill and tabletops.

Photo: Lifescapes Colorado

While getting equipment through the house is not ideal, the crew is quick, concise and efficient when working on the site.

“The clients are very discerning and expect quality,” DeGrush says. “Our crews game plan their work prior to going onsite so they’re not fumbling around and making multiple trips up and down the stairs. They plan ahead so they have everything they need and go up the stairs once and come down the stairs once and hopefully minimize the pain to the client of someone being in their house.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your project when entries open in February 2021.  

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.