Tag Archives: Italian

Italian Garden Design

A client in the Heights contracted Exterior Worlds to create an Italian garden with a number of complimentary, classical elements to the front and rear of their home. Their house had a classic Old World appearance to it. It was a two-story structure with a porch and an upstairs balcony. Steps led up to the porch, and shuttered windows with arched tops lined both the porch and the balcony. A stately, old, and very large oak tree grew just next to the house, reaching up and over the top of the house. The architecture and indigenous landscape were an ideal setting to further develop a European look and feel to the property.

We began by installing lights in the trees next to the home in order to illuminate the roof and balcony, and we placed lights under the eaves of the porch and patio to illuminate the surfaces, walls, and windows. We planted a small Italian garden in the front near the trees. In it, we placed a variety of ground cover plant species, shrubbery, and smaller, ornamental trees. This lent an organic sense to a very symmetrical and elegant structure, and helped develop the Classical theme we were asked to create. We completed the design in the front with urns placed on either side of the stairs that led up to the front door. This worked to create a sense of grand entryway that alluded to a sense of Roman antiquity and classical design.

The home had been built toward the front of the lot, so the majority of the property lay behind the house. This provided a great deal of room to develop an Italian garden with a number of functional and aesthetic elements that fit the lifestyles of the owners. The first thing we designed for them was a planter, shaped like a small wall, which surrounded the rear perimeter of the home. This provided a casual seating area for the home owners that they use as an overlook point to appreciate the scenery beyond. In the morning they could sit outside and watch the sunrise while they drank coffee and talked, or comfortably recline while they read the paper.

Just a few feet from this planter, we built a water fountain. We designed it as a rectangle to continue the movement of the house, because all Italian gardens are intended to follow the linear movement of architecture and maintain a sense of order and proportion throughout their continuity. Although the fountain featured very simple and compact proportions, we made it look much more dramatic and prominent by installing four water jets and 4 underwater lights to draw attention to it in the dark.

Around the fountain we then laid down a paver patio using a blend of hardscape and softscape paving. This blended construction made the patio appear to be fading into the grass, and caused the patio and surrounding gardens to look more classically Italian. The patio was surrounded by bull nose coping and sloped slightly toward the planter walls, which were built with unseen, 1-inch drain channel to provide a convenient and unobtrusive means of water runoff. We then filled the space around the new patio and planter with an Italian garden featuring cypress and decorative handmade pottery.

At the far end of the property, we completed our project with an arbor that functioned as a destination for outdoor entertainment and a terminus for the Italian garden design. The garden arbor was built on a limestone patio, and was constructed out of Permacast columns and a cedar top. We installed a ceiling fan within the arbor, and decorated the patio with tables and chairs to provide a comfortable gathering place for visiting guests.

One very unique feature was also added to this arbor to complete its design. This final piece was a mirror built to look like a window. Because the property bordered a commercial lot that had a rather unattractive building on it, we wanted to create a sense of enclosure and provide a focal point that would draw the eye away from the eyesore behind the arbor. A mirror proved much more useful for this purpose, because it both blocked the view of the building, and it magnified the apparent size of the Italian garden, fountain, planter, and rear of the home.

Jeff Halper is passionate for Landscaping and wants to share infomation about that passion. At Exterior Worlds you can read more about Italian garden design or Landscape Design

River Oaks Italian Garden Design

A well-known resident of River Oaks contacted us and asked us if we could harmoniously blend the organic and inorganic components of her landscape into a design that would complement the classical architecture of her house and exterior masonry. We immediately noticed that the symmetry of her three-story house, and the fine linear designs of the yard and surrounding stonework, were also two very key elements used in Italian gardening. We shared this insight with the homeowner, who agreed that such a design would work very well for what she had in mind.

We began by working on the walkway that ran from the sidewalk up to the front of the house. This walkway curved in from the sidewalk between two small stone walls and converged in a series of very small, ascending steps reminiscent of those in a staircase. This gave us an opportunity to establish an immediate sense of formal entryway by framing the front of the walkway with Agapanthus and a number of other perennial and flowering plant species that bloom in seasonal cycles throughout the spring and summer. We framed the flowering plants with boxwoods to create an organic enclosure whose angular symmetry and self-containment speak to essence of an Italian garden.

At the other end of the walkway, where the steps ascended to the porch, the walkway widened symmetrically and intersected on one side with the motor court. This proportional stonework was almost like the design of a planter, and provided us with an additional opportunity for planting a number of colorful plant species. We deliberately used annuals such as snapdragons in order to create an entirely new set of floral patterns that would change colors with the coming of each new spring. As we had done in the front, we then framed the flowers with boxwoods that were planted in rows and intersecting right angles. This served to frame the flowers with an organic enclosure consistent with the balance and angular symmetry of Italian garden design.

The thee-story house itself was a classical element in its own right. It rose up from the landscape to a height nearly equivalent to its width. Its architecture featured both Renaissance and Roman elements that gave it a very old, stately European sensibility. Its windows were shaped like tall arches, and its third floor was ornamented by a balcony that geometrically complimented the entirety of the structure and the roof above it. We added pots and planters to this area to create an outdoor garden on the patio, along with an irrigation system that would minimize the need for constant maintenance. Then, to draw the eye upward to the patio garden, we planted two Italian cypress trees, one on either side of the house, whose height added a sense of continued vertical movement upward. We kept the vegetation in the very front of the house to a minimum. This was done both to maintain the aesthetic of the windows, and also to allow people within the home to better see out of the windows.

To make certain that both vegetation and architectural highlights were clearly visible at night, we installed Fa├žade lights and lit the Italian cypress trees with Mercury vapor lights. We also lit two very tall oak trees growing on either side of the walkway near the sidewalk. This maintained the sense of a grand entryway after sunset. We deliberately took a minimalist approach to lighting the front of the home, using illumination only to accent the Italian garden elements of the landscape, and letting the remainder of the light come through the windows from the interior of the home.

After we completed the front area, we turned our attention to the side of the house. This area was quite unique in that it was a yard that was completely covered by masonry. Its linear proportions and right angles framed the luxurious pool with an exquisitely formal sense of symmetry. The geometry was ideal to create a small Italian garden on the far side of the pool, and required only a few basic elements to add this organic aesthetic. We planted a row of Holly trees on the far side of the pool, and lit them with concealed fixtures. We mounted an Italian cherub in the center of the pool wall, lighting it with special sculpture lights, and balancing its presence as a center piece with handmade Italian pottery placed on either side of the pool wall.

This effectively turned what had been empty space on the far side of the pool into a mini-garden area that functioned as a decorative, living wall of green that enclosed the entire patio and provided complete seclusion and privacy to the homeowner and her guests.

Jeff Halper is passionate for Landscaping and wants to share infomation about that passion. At Exterior Worlds you can read more about Italian Garden Design or Landscape Design