Simply Grand

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A stunning collaboration between art and nature provide a captivating setting 

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photography by Matt Kocourek


The first thing visitors see upon approaching any home is typically the front yard. This particular Lee’s Summit residence and its stunning grounds offer quite the visual display upon first glance. Ironically, however, it stemmed from a rather fuzzy background.

“When we began this project, we had no vision for it whatsoever,” said the homeowner. “The whole project began from a water issue we were having in our basement. Every time we had a heavy rain, water would accumulate in our basement and it was becoming an issue.”

After confirming with her husband this problem had to be fixed, the owners then placed a call to Maverick Pickering, owner of Maverick Landscaping, Inc., with whom they have worked in the past on other projects and brought him up to speed on the issue. With 20+ years of experience, they knew Maverick would bring that experience, vision and knowledge to the project.

“Maverick is my go-to guy, and when we told him about our situation, he immediately had the idea for the portico,” noted the homeowner. “He took something simple and made it grand and beautiful. The space is absolutely marvelous.”

As the homeowners now enjoy the resort-like setting that was born from Maverick’s creative mind, there is an inspiring back story that tells the tale of how all these functional and aesthetically pleasing elements came together. Maverick, who completed a significant Kansas City landscaping project for the homeowners’ backyard a few years ago, took to this task with equal enthusiasm. To initiate the work, there were certain structural issues to tackle. The original front porch was much shorter, and, of the original three columns that previously stood in front of the home, the center column actually hid the front door.

“The homeowner wanted a bigger, grander front door and a new, bigger front window that would allow more light to flow into the living room,” expressed Maverick. “Because the front of the home faces south, that positioning offers lots of opportunity for added light, which is good for the entry.”

In deference to the homeowner’s request for a bigger door, Maverick removed the old columns, enlarged the front porch and installed the portico, which is a masterpiece in and of itself.

“This is a hybrid with a six-inch steel frame, designed in collaboration with architect Barrett Kroll of Urban Prairie Architectural Collaborative, which allows for the openness of the structure and the ability to see the amazing light fixture without a cross beam blocking the view,” noted Maverick. 

The vaulted gable ceiling of the portico consists of tongue and groove cedar and shares the spotlight with the eye-catching light fixture. Another work of art, this custom-made light is definitely a conversation starter.

“The owner of the lighting company worked from some drawings I gave him and he had it built specifically for this space,” indicated Maverick. “He also designed the sconces that are on the stone pillars.”

The stonework stands as yet another testament to the uniqueness of the projects on which Maverick works. A veneer stone, this is a true dry stack stone that was brought in special for this project.

“Unique to this stonework is that no mortar joints are showing,” indicated Maverick.

The Pennsylvania bluestone patio material offers the perfect complement to the stonework. Supplied by Sturgis Materials, it is a dense, strong and fine-grained sandstone, resists cracking and discoloration and as a multi-use material, it was a good stone for this type of project.

“This material, at two inches thick, was not only used as paving for this project but also as coping on the benches and around the fountain and also for the stair treads,” said Maverick. 

A small custom-built fountain installed prior to this particular project adds to the ambiance of the area and has a rather unique feature that adds yet another layer of individuality to this home.

“The fountain was designed to have a certain sound, like a whisper-quiet pouring sound, so it is not so loud that it will block conversation,” explained Maverick. “The owners enjoy relaxing in this area with a glass of wine with the evening sun at their backs while looking at the fountain.”

The added landscaping, designed by landscape architect Rick Barrett and installed by Maverick, flows perfectly into everything around it, and the plant life adds to the overall personality. Maverick installed copious boxwoods and a bounty of seasonal color with the incorporation of a variety of annuals and sun-loving perennials. Additional landscaping highlights the driveway, and large shrubs between the homeowner’s property and the neighbor’s property provide added detail and structure.

“We like to push the creative envelope on all of our projects at all times,” expressed Maverick. “This one was no exception. It is quite bold, especially when all the lights are on.”


  • Project Design Build: Maverick Landscaping, Inc.
  • Architect: Urban Prairie Architectural Collaborative
  • Landscape Architect: Richard Clayton Barrett, ASLA
  • Structural Engineer: Stand Structural Engineers
  • Stone: Sturgis Materials
  • Masonry: Stout Masonry
  • Roofing: Buckley Stucco and Roofing
  • Night Lighting: NiteLites of Kansas City
  • Custom Light Fixtures: Meyda Tiffany Lighting, New York
  • Landscape Install: Midwest Lawn and Landscape
  • Framing: DSC Construction 

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