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Highland Park Residence II

Highland Park, Illinois / 2018 - Present

This client’s site occasionally flooded in the past, but now they see ponded water in low pockets regularly and for longer periods of time. The primary goal in reconsidering the site’s traditional landscaping was to create new native plant gardens paired to the current ponded hydrology, relying on the plants’ ability to thrive in specific ecological conditions that traditional landscape treatments cannot handle.

Another option that was briefly considered was adding storm drainage to remove the ponded water from the site, if only to understand that potential cost to addressing the rear yard flooding. The costs for grey infrastructure (underground pipes) is significant in both dollars and in compounding flooding problems downstream of the pipe outlet. This client was clear that they wanted to be part of the flooding solution instead of contributing to the problem, thus adding native plants to the property was an easy choice instead of investing large sums into underground pipes that did little to enhance their landscape.

A native plant palette that likes wet feet was developed with a plan to cloak the wet pockets and surround them with turf walking paths. The ponded yard areas do dry down on occasion, so a plant’s ability to withstand long periods of dryness was also important. In this intimate setting, the native plants selected also have to demonstrate ornamental qualities and be able to be managed like a garden such that the plantings are not only functional, but also beautiful and relatable.

There were also hardscape updates included in the new plan that provided a more modern interface between home and site, with a walk-out bluestone patio in back, a large terraced front porch in front and new pervious pavers for the driveway. These outdoor updates offer the client special places to relax and entertain.

One of the many benefits to us as professionals is to share in the joy of a creating a new living habitat, one that includes frogs and birds and butterflies that enrich our lives in countless ways. This client looks forward to enjoying their new native landscape for years to come and is thrilled to be a model for the potential of native plants to be performative in our home landscapes.

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