Landscape Architect & Specifier News

JAN 2016

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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78 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Mirror Lake Designs of Spring, Texas, serves The Woodlands and greater Houston area. Its scope of work encompasses building site analysis; swimming pool design; planting design; patios and courtyards; outdoor kitchens; driveways and entryways; landscape lighting; gazebos and arbors; fountains; ponds; waterfalls; retaining walls and grading and drainage. When Mirror Lake was first called onto this project, the Houston homeowner was looking for a patio extension. She had recently moved in, and although she liked the view to the lake, when she sat outside on the patio to enjoy her morning coffee and the lake view, she felt cramped by the confines of the 260 square foot patio. The patio was next to a large lawn space, so there was plenty of room to extend the patio, but she didn't know how to take advantage of the design potential. "The real genius of any design is not simply listening to the client, but understanding the root cause of their dissatisfaction, whether or not they know it themselves," says Michael Shawn Kelly, ASLA, of Mirror Lake Designs. "Most homeowners can't articulate all of the circumstances that impact how their outdoor space is perceived and used, and how this affects the way they live." After the first consultation, Kelly knew the best way to meet the client's goal would not be merely to enlarge the patio, but to transform the back yard into a series of spaces that would draw the owner into the garden and keep her from being tethered to the backdoor. While it may seem counterintuitive, the vast expanse of sloping lawn between the large house and the small dock on the lake was quite a design challenge. The sidewalk that led to the lake seemed more of a lonely trail than any sort of connection to the lake. The homeowner's perception of these spaces kept her "trapped" on her patio. In developing the plan, Kelly set five main goals the landscape architectural design would accomplish. I. To develop a more personal, intimate scale, while keeping the grandeur of the space. This was accomplished by producing a series of terraces. When viewed as a whole, the grand scale of the property was preserved, with each area allowing a more personal intimacy to be enjoyed alone or shared with friends. II. To place the visual focus on the garden, rather than allowing wandering sightlines. Each area of the garden has interesting plant combinations that, Patio Extension Becomes Terraced Landscape to Lake Landscape Architecture by Michael Shawn Kelly, ASLA, Mirror Lake Designs, Spring, Texas

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