John Granen

Landscape designer was consulted before home construction on lot


When the phone rang, Patrick Leuner heard a request that every landscape designer likes to receive: Prospective clients wanted his advice before their house was built. So from the get-go, Leuner was able to assess the existing Bainbridge Island landscape and work closely with the owner, the architect, an arborist, and the general contractor. This cooperative planning paid off.

For starters, the owners helped decide which plants would stay ― such as stately old trees, camellias, and rhododendrons ― and which would go. During construction, the contractor kept heavy equipment away from mature trees, protecting them from potentially fatal root compaction. The architect kept space open for these and other plants in the exterior hardscape and designed a shed for potting.

A beach borders the property, so naturally the owners wanted an unobstructed view of the water. A large lawn allows that and serves as an emerald foil for their cedar-sided house. Throughout the rest of the landscape, trees provide structure, color, and texture.

INFO: Landscape design by Patrick Leuner, Leuner Landscape Design, Hansville, WA (206/842-7325); hardscape and home architecture by Brian Jonas and Scott Allen of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, Seattle (360/638-0800); landscape installation by David Hutchinson, D.M.H. Landscaping, Grapeview, WA (360/426-9981) 

Landscape lessons

Use water to mask sound. The recirculating creek just outside the front door covers the road noise behind it.

Contrast textures. In the entry courtyard, lacy-leafed Japanese maples add a soft counterpoint to stone walls ― and some fiery hues when their leaves change color in fall.

Add interest underfoot. A path with ribbons of greenery between its pavers is especially inviting. Carpetlike pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) fills the spaces between pavers in the entry court.

Make the most of shrubs. The right ones in the right places can add hits of seasonal bloom. Camellias are ideally suited for shapely pruning and espaliers; their blossoms stand out in elegant relief against shiny evergreen leaves. And rhododendrons make lavish focal points when cloaked with spring bloom.

Make room for vines. Showy ones such as Clematis montana rubens create walls of bloom. Clematis are especially effective climbers; this one covers a pergola, which is decked with flowers every spring.

Borrow views you like; hide the ones you don’t. Fronted by a lawn, this landscape preserves a panoramic vista of Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier beyond. East of the main lawn, a border of ceanothus, rosemary, and Spanish lavender conceals a path to a beach with canoes at the end (far right). And trees behind the house screen views of the adjacent road and neighboring houses.

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