Monday, August 30, 2010

North Metro Pool Layout, and Initial Landscape Design

Sitting here working like a CAD monkey, sweating in the 88-degree heat while I work in the 3-season room that I have converted into my summer home studio.  Meanwhile, the Minnesota State Fair is going on, and my wife has returned for her first day of school with kids in the classroom today.  The final days of summer are upon us.  But, of course, there are still plenty of days to get your project started and completed, easily before the fall is over.  In fact, the fall is about the best time to do a project and have it ready to be enjoyed all of next year, if not for a few of the last beautiful fall weekends yet this year. 

Here is a design for a space-conscious swimming pool landscape that I just finished, where there are building setbacks to comply with, and the desire to have additional "useable space" in addition to the pool deck.  The pool size is to be 20 x 40, or at least 18 x 36, as a rectangle with an auto-cover.  There are to be places to sit and sun around the pool deck.  The circular fire pit in the design is existing, and has been integrated into the pool landscape as a "lower terrace" as there is about 23" of grade from the back sliding door to the fire pit.  So this allows the pool deck to step down to another terrace with the fire pit patio as a secondary area. Having this recessed terrace makes the space feel more open and improves the views from the around the pool out to the lake.

Here are existing views of the back yard:

Here are the design graphics for the pool, as the design is in-progress and waiting for the next round of discussions with the client. 
Once we discuss and implement the feedback, I will begin to flush out more and more detail into the plan, including the full plant selection, the hardscape details, and a grading plan in the set of drawings. These drawings will then be used to get approval from the city for the permit process, and then I will set out to gather competitive bids on their behalf. This will be a fun project, as it will be a major transformation of their back yard and give them lots of enjoyment for years to come. It's pretty exciting!.... And I sure could use a large 20 x 40' pool to do a large "cannon ball" into right now. That would feel pretty good... right... about... NOW!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some current design graphics and project highlights...

One last thing regarding the last post. ... Vacations are a lot of work!  Wow, is it difficult to drive so much and in so little time, packing and unpacking, making the most of your day by getting around to different places that you want to visit, and then driving the long 8-10 hour stretches in between.  Always try to plan some rest, relaxation, and recovery time in there!

Here are some design graphics that I have completed lately:

Here are some installed projects that were completed recently.  Hoping to do a few more of these before the season is over!  Thanks to the crews of our Associated Contractors for their great work.  It was hot out there, but at least I saved you from having to jockey all of the plants around the property.

August Adventures

August... Oh, August.  August can be a bit of a painful time for a landscaper, or more especially, a landscape designer hoping for the phone to ring.  While it can be a time of relative piece and quiet from the phone ringing as much as it had during other times of the summer, it is a bit stressful feeling like there is still much more to do, or needs to be done, and plenty of time to do it in yet this year.  Much of this, of course, can be attributed to the month of August being the prime time for that last family vacation before summer is over and the kids are whisked away back to school.

Well, I am happy to say that for the very first time in the history of my profession, and in my time since becoming a father, we took a bona fide summer family vacation this year.  Not a three day weekend, or three-and-a-half day trip over a holiday weekend (which are hard to come come by).  No.  This was the family road trip to see some extended family and see lots of countryside on a bit of a shoestring budget.  It was awesome!

The one thing I have always loved going back my days of being a kid crammed into a little blue station wagon, is looking out and panning over the landscape along the way.  Now, as a dad and being almost a full-time driver, I thoroughly enjoy stretching out on the highway and seeing what's over every hill and around every bend.  I love seeing the landscape change.

As we drive west from Minnesota and into the less-glaciated regions beyond the South Dakota plains, it is so nice to see the scenery change with the spaces becoming much more vast, the horizon extending so much further into the distance, and the landscape growing increasingly more dramatic.  (A large glacier called the Laurentide Ice Sheet had extended down the central plains from Canada and then receded about 20 times throughout the earth's history, the last time receding from 12-18,000 years ago and creating the Missouri River out of the Dakotas, sculpting the terrain and eroding the sharp watersheds and landforms that you see today.)  Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin is beautiful country, but my eyes have seen it so much.  It is refreshing to have a new setting and feel like you are really "going somewhere", even if just though South Dakota and north central Wyoming.

Sometimes, as the landscape becomes more of a wide-open and gentle rolling monoculture grassland (like in the Buffalo Gap Grassland) it seems that the sky becomes more dramatic and takes over the role of the painter's canvas in the landscape.  Other times, when the landscape gets more dramatic with hills, valleys, mountains, and rock, the sky falls off into the backdrop just like the curtain in a portrait studio.  

Here are some photos of the landscapes along the ride, which can really be an inspiration to a guy like me. (Please note:  Many of these photos were taken "on the fly" while driving somewhere between 5 and 70 mph.  I had my little "point and shoot" camera, and took a lot of photos as we drove.  Who has time to stop and perfectly set up every photo, anyway?  That would be like getting your fast food at the drive-through, and then parking your car and eating it all slowly and carefully in the parking lot.... who does that???  Plus, I had 2 kids me.)

Family vacations are important!  Our children will only be young and impressionable once, and our elder relatives won't be around forever.  It is amazing to see the joy that young, familiar faces can bring to the elder members of the family.