Lake Wylie Living Fall 2007
Curb Appeal, Landscaping around the lake
Planning Pays Off
Story by Leigh Pressley
Some people look at an empty home site and see a blank canvas. But John and Lisa Morris saw a masterpiece when they found their waterfront lot at Misty Waters.
“It’s on a point with the main part of the lake on one side and a cove on the other with a view to kill,” says Lisa Morris. “There’s a niche slope with such a diverse tree stand that shows a little bit of everything native to this area from evergreens to hardwood maples to cypress trees to regular pines. It had the shade we wanted and all the soul and spirit we wanted. As we walked around, we both thought this is it.”
The Morris’s, both attorneys who own a home health service called Interim HealthCare, hired Lake Wylie builder Doug McSpadden to create their 10,000 square-foot stacked stone and stucco home. As construction of the house, guesthouse, six-car garage and attached greenhouse progressed, the couple also worked with two landscape architects to design the yard.
“One designer had a very creative vision and a really unique plant selection,” says Lisa, A hobby gardener whose grandmother owned a small commercial nursery in Florida. “The other designer had better ideas for the hardscapes. We took a bit of both plans and had Henry DeBoer at DeSignia install it for us. Having an overall design plan also allowed us to finish the yard in two phases.”
Extra-wide cobblestone pathways were installed on the cove side of the yard to accommodate Lisa’s motorized gardening cart and wheelchairs of elderly relatives. Each pathway intersection features a big circle area to avoid the look of zigzag lines running through the yard. On the lake side, walkways of compacted natural material are disguised by ground cover. Out near a weeping willow tree behind the guesthouse, a hammock pad serves as a nice spot to relax.
Landscapers amended all the dirt in the yard, turning in mulch as they tilled the land. By amending the soil early, future plantings won’t require spot amendments and plants can be easily relocated to similar soil. Amending the ground also improves drainage and allows young plants to better thrive.
Instead of planting a high-maintenance grass lawn, the Morris’s chose mazus, a fast-growing green ground cover that tolerates sun, heat, drought and moderate traffic. The groundcover also grows under trees.
Lisa designed and planted two large perennial beds that serve as a cutting garden. One holds shade plants such as miniature hostas, jack-in-the-pulpit, columbine, astilbe and Solomon’s seal. The other camouflages the opening to the septic tank with dozens of daisies, salvia, coreopsis, Echinacea and rebeccia.
Lisa also has a kitchen garden where she grows tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pickling cucumbers and string beans. To make an attractive greenhouse, she had McSpadden put a sunroom on a stone base and attached it to one end of the house.
Although the Morris’s spent $120,000 on landscaping for their yard with 600 feet of water front, folks on a smaller budget can benefit from some of the same choices. “I would tell anyone, whether the landscape is raw or mature, to spend the money for a design plan,” says Lisa. “It costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for a professional to walk you lot and give you a recommendation of where to put what plants. That’s your road map. Then you’re not walking around helter-skelter, buying trees and plants that won’t work in certain spots and aren’t part of a cohesive look. It plans the whole yard, but allows you to start in one corner or one bed.”