This show-stopping landscape redefines what it mean to have head-turning curb appeal.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photography by Matt Kocourek
What once just hosted a single sidewalk that led to the front door of this Lakewood home in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, has since enjoyed a complete transformation in design and appearance.
When Amanda White, Landscape Architect with Rosehill Gardens, was first contracted to create this design for a returning customer, she understood this was an immense project that required appreciable thought and creativity. Using her innovative mindset and talent for taking a blank slate and turning it into a veritable masterpiece, White produced a jaw-dropping presentation that checks all the boxes in terms of style, textures, materials, and all the elements necessary to complete the intended vision.
With a focus on the front door, White developed her plans from that point forward.
“The home is perched up high on a hill, and prior to this project, it felt somewhat disconnected from the street, as well as a bit cold and uninviting,” noted White, who indicated the priority was to bring the eye to the front door and create a strong axis that would enforce this.
“I added formal balance and alignment, which brings the eye to the front door,” explained White. “I wanted everything to build up to that, including the walls that sweep up to frame the front door.”
And that was just the beginning.
“This project involved multiple levels and a lot of grading,” said White, who also created a secret garden with paths and pottery to one side of the home, which is what the homeowner desired for something unique to add to their spaces. White was able to transplant much of the existing plants from the front and back to fill out this garden, repurposing it in a more privately viewed space.
The first phase of this endeavor involved terracing, creating levels, and cutting into the expansive slope. Because the owners entertain frequently, White opted to incorporate a circle drive. This allows for more parking, but it also creates a visual statement.
“The driveway required a lot of concrete,” said White, who added decorative rumble strips into the drive. These add not only an aesthetic appeal breaking up a sea of concrete but also help delineate parking spaces when company arrives. White also added a circular design of bricks into the center of the driveway at the ‘landing zone’ to again enhance the axis and attention to the entry.
“This was important to the owner and to me,” she indicated. “Our intention throughout this project was to think of the smallest details. You can add character and personalization by thinking things through, as we did with this driveway.”
As for the plant materials used throughout the spaces, White added ample color and relied on layering for added effect as desired by the owners.
Roughly 200 green gem boxwood were planted around the property. These accent the fountain, flank the drive, and stand along the house. For White, these represent the bones of the landscape.
“These will grow together and hedge quickly,” she emphasized.
White also incorporated Bobo hydrangeas all along the drive against the second wall at the driveway level. Then, she added a mix of Annabelle hydrangeas on the upper level, some red drift rose, and touches of purple with allium and catmint for a finishing touch. The tall hornbeams add a touch of traditional European style as they proudly frame the entry.
Lighting was not overlooked in this project, either. White incorporated this feature along the stairs, on the walls, around the trees, and around the tiered fountain.
All in all, White captured the desired vision of the homeowner without following one particular style or theme.
“I feel like we created our own set of rules, as there were none to follow before and the house architecture had none to lend,” explained White. “There was no primary style to the existing house, so we also brought in both texture and defined form to create more of a transitional vibe. The brick and stone add warmth, elegance, and texture, and both additions are classic medias that will stand the test of time.”
White did use, however, the French arc over the front door as her starting point for everything, She wanted to pay homage to an important feature of the home. She then used it to mirror the stairs and the wall, adding arcs and curves into those structures.
Another element of White’s creative genius resulted in yet another beautiful statement piece. When the city rejected a sidewalk connection to the home, White designed a fountain wall with three weirs. These pour into a lower trough and recirculate the water from there. This addressed the owners’ request for a unique way to pump up the curb appeal, and White found it with this artistic element. In short, she had to dig deep and roll up her sleeves to really get a feel for how this entire front yard transformation would take place.
When all of this was pulled together, the end result just speaks for itself. You can never underestimate the power and beauty of curb appeal.