While we’re continuing to practice physical distancing as we meet and work with landscape design clients in Knoxville, I’m feeling nostalgic for that long-ago time (two months ago!) when vacation provided inspiration for our landscape architecture work. Julie and I were in Florida in early March and found many cool landscaping ideas. Here are my favorites:
Gateway to Your Backyard (or Anywhere, Really)
St. Augustine has an old Spanish charm that takes you to another world and this iron gate that we came across while walking to breakfast is in keeping with that vibe. Decorative gates as a landscape architectural element invite inherent curiosity, which makes them a fun garden feature. Iron gates are especially noteworthy because they not only have often intricate designs (like this one), but because in addition to sparking curiosity, they allow you to peek into another outdoor area, subtly connecting two spaces. A garden gate — whether metal or wood — can be functional or purely decorative. If you’re looking to include this artistic touch in your Knoxville landscape design, I’ll give you a word of caution … a vinyl gate or out-of-the-box wooden or metal gate won’t likely give you the aesthetic you’re looking for. This might be one area to splurge for just the right focal point.
Just Face It. You Need a Water Feature.
When Julie and I came across this interesting fountain, we felt like we were back in Spain where we came across one known as the Fountain of Dogs. While that fountain was historically used to clean animals for market, this one was a gift to St. Augustine from the hometown of the city’s founder. The masks are reproductions of the six faces that served as water spouts for that city’s municipal fountain. Julie says that’s too much history, so I’ll get to the point.
As I’ve shared, this type of wall-mounted fountain or water feature is a beautiful touch for urban or small spaces because you get the relaxing sound of running water without taking up much space. If you have a small courtyard, small patio, or just a secluded nook near your house, this may be a good option for incorporating a water element into your landscape design.
Let There Be Landscape Lights, and Drinks
This courtyard topped with string lights reminded me of a recent project for which we designed a partial pergola tied by string lights into the adjacent pavilion. While this one in St. Augustine is formal with tile floor and tables for dining, ours was casual with grass-jointed pavers and a fire feature. What they have in common is that the string lights create a sense of space and coziness that invites you to relax and have a coffee or cocktail. When it comes to where to get these lights, there are two schools of thought. You can buy cafe lights at a big box store, but you’ll likely need to replace them frequently, or you can pay a more expensive price tag for professional-grade string lights without the need to replace them as often.
Most people would ooh and aah at the beautiful St. Augustine Lighthouse (which we did), but what really struck me about the surrounding area was the beautiful Live Oak trees with their squirrely branches and delicate foliage. While this species won’t grow in Knoxville, we have plenty of funky-looking flora options available to draw attention to your Knoxville landscaping. One of my favorites is Contorted Filbert (pictured first below in winter), but I also love Big Twister Juncus, which is a small plant commonly known as Horsetail that grows in aquatic areas or transitions from water to land (pictured second below). Another fun tree that has a similar twisted nature is the Corkscrew Willow. It still weeps like a more common Weeping Willow but the Corkscrew Willow has the added craziness of branches that grow every which way.
Get a Vacation Feeling at Home
When there’s nowhere to go during quarantine, it may be time to send a little love to your landscaping. Fill out our contact form or call me at 865-765-5550 for help creating a landscape design that will make you want to stay home.