Relax: to Rest, Release and Unwind

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Something amazing happened when just a sidewalk leading to a barn was given a new look in this relaxing backyard.

Story by Ann Butenas   |   Photos by Matt Kocourek

Give a talented and experienced landscape designer a fresh, open palette from which to work and watch her create inspiration. When the homeowner of this residence wanted to complete the look of her spacious backyard, she turned to the experts at Rosehill Gardens to deliver the product she desired. After seeing a previous project completed by experienced landscape designer Amanda White that was showcased in the pages of Kansas City Homes & Style magazine earlier this year, the homeowner fell in love with what she saw and knew she had to contact White to get her project underway. White then eagerly took to the task and created an entirely new look for this seemingly private retreat nestled on eight acres in an active suburban area. Even though there are neighbors within reasonable proximity, the varying landscape and insightful design of this outdoor space offer a sense of solitude and peace.

With a small footprint and a simple presence, this home doesn’t necessarily command a lot of attention at first blush, but it certainly boasts significant character, and White knew she had to draw upon that to create a relaxing and inviting presence. The home enjoys strong roots in the area and certainly deserves some bragging rights.

“The house was initially a 100-year-old stone house and has since had a couple of expansions over the years,” noted White.

With essentially just a sidewalk that leads to a barn and a small flagstone walk-around to the front of the house as its primary hardscape elements, White had her work cut out for her, but she embraced it with a cornucopia of thoughtful ideas.

The property itself rolls down to a pasture and a barn. The sidewalk behind the house leads directly to the barn, giving the homeowner a sense of continuing privacy as she enjoys her backyard life of leisure. It is also the perfect place for her two horses to roam in the adjoining pasture.

“The homeowner travels to Colorado and to Table Rock frequently and wanted to bring that ambiance to her home, which was fitting, as the original footprint of the house has massive two-foot thick stone walls,” noted White. “The homeowner wanted large trees for instant privacy, so we brought in several pine trees to achieve that goal, all of which were hand-selected and were the first installed on this project.”

Since Rosehill Gardens has 1,000 acres of growing tree fields, White was successfully able to spade these particular trees right out of those fields and bring them directly to the site. This was accomplished in the spring, an opportune time of year in which to do so, as it reduces the stress and injury to the trees during the transport and subsequent installation. Since that time, the trees have thrived in their new location. When they were initially brought in, they stood at about 16 feet to 18 feet tall. Now, they confidently reach for the sky at nearly 25 feet tall.

In addition to the trees, unique to the backyard area is the inviting spool, a small pool with spa functions that can be enjoyed year-round. The custom gunite kidney-shaped spool is 10 feet wide and 18 feet long. Heated, it is at the ready for year-round enjoyment.

“We custom-fit the bench in the spool for the client specifically based to her height and it wraps around the entire spool,” said White.

Framing the spool area is some Black Hills Rustic flagstone, a beautiful earth sandstone which was laid on top of a concrete base. This allowed for integrity of the area, keeping it from moving as the ground naturally shifts, thereby increasing the longevity of the patio. A gas fire pit adds to the relaxing ambiance.

Additional hardscape materials were brought in to complete the look of the spool area.

“I hand-selected and set the boulders on the coping of the pool with a large ledge to create the spillway,” explained White. “Heated water flows from that arrangement into the spool.”

And even though the spa area has been designed for relaxation and escape, the spool does enjoy the benefits of modern technology and its functions are all Wi-Fi based so the homeowner can remotely set the temperature of the spool, turn on the accent lighting and turn on the water features. The accent lighting throughout was designed and installed by Tech Electric.

Other key elements in the backyard design are strong players in this space, as White relied on copious plant life to create a visual masterpiece. Among the staple pieces she installed included Columnar White pine trees; Prairie Gold aspen trees; Columnar Blue Spruces; and a mix of grasses, such as Northwind Switchgrass, Dwarf Fountain grasses, coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans, hydrangeas, and catmint and various groundcovers.

Although there are neighbors within earshot, one would be hard-pressed to believe that when taking in the fresh air and beautiful scenery in this treasured garden spot. The homeowner loves to retreat to her backyard and is out there almost every day at some point.

“She absolutely loves it,” smiled White.


Landscaper & Designer: Rosehill Gardens 

Stone: Builders Stone

Lighting: Tech Electric

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