Luxurious Landscapes

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Attention to detail outside the home is just as important as what goes inside

By Ken Muellers

In the world of high-end properties, what surrounds the house should be an extension of the richness inside the home. That luxury is defined by the amenities brought into the landscape, the scale and scope of those elements, and the minute details that make it all special.

In today’s luxury landscapes, homeowners are looking to take the features they have seen while on vacation at resorts and bring them into their own backyard. Not only are they looking for a swimming pool, they are looking for one with an in-pool sun deck, an infinity edge and a built-in spa. Instead of a wide-open lawn for play, they are looking for sport specific play areas such as game courts, bocce courts, and putting greens complete with sand traps and rough. A simple barbecue grill is replaced with a complete outdoor kitchen offering all the amenities of an indoor kitchen, along with some additions such as pizza ovens, and ceramic egg grills.

Many landscape luxuries are designed to provide the homeowner with convenience. Radiant heated pavements provide snow-free driveways and walks in the winter months. Refrigerators and icemakers in the outdoor kitchen mean not having to go inside to freshen a drink on a hot summer day.

Outdoor lighting throughout the landscape can allow the festivities to continue into the night unimpeded. Do you think Jay Gatsby would have let the party be called on account of darkness?

And of course, as with any extravagance, the devil is in the detail. Selections of rich materials such as natural stone and exotic hardwoods not only provide attractive solutions, they are also durable and offer a timeless look. Paving patterns, material combinations, border treatments, and other details can be the difference between an ordinary patio and an elegant entertaining space.

The scale of these landscape features needs to be spacious enough to accommodate large gatherings without seeming overcrowded, while still feeling cozy. This can be achieved by separating large spaces into individual ‘garden rooms’ that make the space more intimate.
When it comes to plantings, luxury can mean installing larger plants that provide the instant gratification of a full-grown landscape. Mature plant material is more expensive to purchase because of the many years a grower has to care for the plant in their nursery, and they cost more to plant due to the machinery and manpower needed to move them. In some cases, luxury plantings can be the opposite of convenience, i.e. high maintenance perennial gardens or extensive annual plantings that require a full-time gardener or a team of them for installing and maintaining the plants.

Bringing all these elements together in a cohesive manner is the difference between a well-designed landscape and a disjointed batch of stuff in the yard. This is where the skills of a professional landscape designer or architect come into play. Not only do designers have to fit all these amenities, they need to make sure they function well and look great together. Design professionals also need to be well versed in the local codes and know what is allowable in a particular village or town, as many municipalities have restrictions on setbacks from property lines and limits on percentage of lot occupied by development.

So, be sure to do your homework before starting your homework. Your luxurious garden and backyard oasis awaits.

Ken Muellers is the senior landscape designer for Hicks Nurseries. The landscape department recently won a 2019 gold award for design from the Long Island Nursery and Landscape Association.

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