Growing up in the middle of a large Midwestern city, my connection with nature was little more than a few minutes in our highly manicured yard, an occasional visit to a city park or a stroll through our botanical garden for the Christmas display. My family simply did not see the need to spend much time in the natural world. When I met and married my husband, that all began to change. His passion for and commitment to the environment became a shared value, but for a long time I was still tied to the belief that landscaping needed to be symmetrical and formal to be attractive. Sustainable planting was, to me, synonymous with overgrown, under- maintained weed patches. Over the past few years as I have seen well-designed native plantings, my beliefs and my yards have changed.
The following four projects, all award-winning designs by Embassy Landscape Group, are some of my favorite examples of the range that sustainable landscapes can take. Two are residential designs and two are commercial properties; all four feature native plant material and are not only low maintenance, but also help contribute to the health of our fragile environment. Each has its own singular beauty. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.
If you would like more information on creating a sustainable landscape on your property, please contact the experts at Embassy Landscape Group.
Traditional Neighborhood Residence
This traditional home is located in an upscale community in Kansas City, Missouri. While renovating the existing landscape, one of the owners’ top priorities was easy maintenance.
The shaded stone patio looks out onto a colorful, but low maintenance garden comprised of native plants and natural materials and includes a unique water feature.
Catmint and coneflowers surround the stone water feature. The gentle sound of the bubbling boulder gives tranquility to the scene.
Contemporary Lakeside Home
This contemporary lakeside home was built atop a hill overlooking a large lake. During construction, excavators left tons of limestone rock on the crest of the hill. Rather than face the expense of removing it from the site, Embassy designer Dan Nelson found a way to utilize it in the design. The stone was used to cover the slope and a native prairie mix was sown on the poor soil on the hillside.
Native plants thrive on the hot, sunny hillside with minimal maintenance. As a further benefit, the stone provides a pathway for rooftop water flow to reach the lake without creating erosion issues or lake contamination. Since native plants rarely need chemical applications, there is little chance of water pollution from run-off.
The finished hillside retreat is a relaxing oasis in the midst of native beauty. The rusty corten steel fire pit, although contemporary in design, is in perfect harmony with its surroundings.
When Comet Industries, a railroad supply company, purchased a former bank building, the owners requested a naturalistic landscape that would define their mission and set them apart from the surrounding offices and buildings. Using materials that would mimic what is found along the railroad lines of the Great Plains, designer Dan Nelson created a unique landscape suitable for the difficult conditions adherent in a parking lot.
Using native plants such as asters, prairie drop seed and sumac give interesting fall alternatives to the more commonly used chrysanthemum. Native species also tend to be more reliable and require less routine care,
The limestone post rocks are harvested from Kansas prairie and add a sculptured element to the design. The Little Bluestem and native prairie wildflowers serve to soften the view of the parking lot, adding beauty for employees and well as passers-by.
The National – A Golf Community
Dan Nelson, Senior Designer at Embassy consulting with a landscape architectural firm, created a signature landscape which captured the golf community’s commitment to preserving the natural environment while still maintaining the exacting standards of a world-class golf course. The next four images, shot at various points on the property, show a few of the outstanding results of their collaboration.
Plant materials native to tallgrass prairies and woodlands of Missouri and Kansas were incorporated throughout the design, providing seasonal interest, color and pollinator habitat. Rocky outcroppings and exposed stone, typical for the region, were included to enhance the design.
In an effort to reduce water run-off from golf course turf to the adjoining highway, both a dry stream bed and a rain garden were installed.
Rocky outcropping reminiscent of the region.
Beds of native plants in full bloom bring a sense of Place to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Rain gardens help control excess water run off.
The soft movement of the grasses add to the peace of the setting.