My wife Julie and I just got back from attending the U.S. Open at Erin Hills golf course in Hartford, Wisconsin (outside of Milwaukee). The trip was not only a fun family celebration to support my father-in-law Ron Whitten who co-designed the golf course, but it was also a good source of inspiration from a landscape design perspective. Here’s what we saw:

Stone and Planting Combinations

Erin Hills Landscape Design - Rocks and Planting

This beautiful planting bed has a few things going for it. What I love most about this design is the combination of hard a soft elements. The boulders help hold back a somewhat drastic slope without the need of a full retaining wall, while the selection of wispy, delicate plants soften the space to create a nice balance. The color choice is also fantastic with the purple lavender striking a lovely compliment to the rustic barn wood and sage green of the building shutters.

Walkways With Landscape Lighting

Erin Hills Lighted Walkway
Although this may look like a pretty run-of-the-mill walkway with landscape lighting, it has a couple cool things you can consider for your next landscape design project. First, the intersecting walkways in two different materials create a great look and add some interest. Although the asphalt material used here is more functional than beautiful, imagine the same brick walkway with a striking color or paver shape change intersecting through it instead of the asphalt. The other interesting aspect of this walkway is the tall grass alongside it. It’s sometimes hard to imagine not maintaining a manicured lawn, but this is a great example of the beauty that can be added when grass is left to its most natural state. In addition, the long grass highlighted by the path lights will create a cool texture along the path at night.

Giant Bean Bag Yard Chairs

Giant Bean Bag Yard Chairs
What I love about this space is the playfulness of the seating selection. Although in this set up, the bean bags were used to provide additional seating around the tournament leader board, this concept could easily be used for a lawn area surrounding a fireplace or outdoor movie screen. These bags are movable, which provides versatility, and they’re a fun take on classic yard games.

Targeted Turf

Erin Hills Targeted Turf
Whether you’re defining a lawn space with a gradual change in grass height, as they’ve done here surrounding a putting green at Erin Hills, or surrounding your targeted lawn space with planting beds (see that application here), targeted turf provides an incredibly clean look for fantastic curb appeal on a budget.

Artwork in Landscape Design

Erin Hills Landscape Artwork
Landscape architects and designers often use spectacular plants as showpieces in a landscape design. However, it’s also fun to highlight more traditional art pieces in a landscape design. In this case, the Erin Hills logo serves as a focal point for folks walking into the tournament space. This could easily be adapted to smaller scale artwork near a patio or walk way to add some extra awe to a residential outdoor space. Check out a smaller application of this idea on the patchwork patio we designed and wrote about in this blog post.

More Information and Free Consultation

To learn more about my background in landscape design for the golf course industry, check out the Carex Design Group story. And if you’re ready to talk about whether or not these ideas will work for your outdoor space in Knoxville, Tenn., call me at 865-765-5550 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free conversation.