Joel Smith and Pamela Roberts never could have foreseen the impact that their teenage children would have on their yard just by getting their driver’s licenses.
Pamela Roberts and Joel Smith with their children, Rob and Grace, and their Golden Retriever, Sequoia
“Remodeling our yard all started when Rob and then Grace turned 15,” explains Pamela. “Our single narrow driveway made it very difficult to back out onto a busy curve on Kilbourne Road.
So we decided to redo the layout of the front yard.”
However, the renovations did not stop with a circular driveway. Their older son, Ned, is a Clemson graduate with a degree in landscape architecture, and Pamela and Joel were only too pleased to have an opportunity to take advantage of his talent in reworking the back yard too.
“I went to the library and spent hours going through books with pictures of the look I wanted, and I subsequently sent them to Ned,” says Pamela. “I was ultimately going for a tailored look and an Italian atmosphere — a balance between varying shades of green accented by pops of color, with straight edges to create a symmetrical, clean feeling.”
“Ned designed the look we wanted, and then Trent Hutchinson fit it to the yard, made a few adjustments, and picked a lot of the colors,” Joel explains.
Trent, a landscaper for the past 25 years and owner of Blue Moon Landscaping, was essential in making their dream a practical reality by blending their desires with plants and flowers that would thrive in the different areas of their yard.
“Trent really knows the agronomic aspect of gardening — he knows how to make it all come together aesthetically while ensuring that each plant is suited for its individual environment,” says Joel.
One example of this is in their front yard, which receives the full, merciless force of our famous Columbia afternoon summer sun. Trent used Portulaca, a flower suited for a desert climate that blooms in many radiant colors.
Because the front yard receives the full merciless force of the summer sun, Trent Hutchinson of Blue Moon Landscaping planted Portulaca, a flower suited for a desert climate that blooms in many radiant colors.
“Trent has a good ear and really listens to everyone’s thoughts and to any hesitations. He is very flexible and will offer several different options for a given area. While he is respectful of everyone’s ideas, he also speaks up if something just isn’t going to work,” says Pamela.
For Trent, the most stimulating and yet the most challenging aspect of this particular garden was tying in all the different elements.
“This garden is different from any other that I have done because I was able to incorporate so many different components and have them flow together for a complete whole — the structures, lighting, the lawn, annual colors, containers, flowers for cutting, the vegetable garden and the herb garden. I wanted to create a relaxed, resort-feel in the back yard with a Mediterranean influence so that they feel as though they are on vacation without leaving home.”
The yearlong project was completed this past April, and Joel and Pamela now truly have a coherent blend of everything in their back yard. Immediately out the back door is a patio with comfortable outdoor furniture, a fire pit and, most importantly, a swimming pool with a waterfall overflowing from the hot tub just above it on the far end. It is also heated which adds two months to the swimming season each year. Stereo speakers unobtrusively surround the pool in the form of rocks.
Top: A patio with comfortable outdoor furniture invites the family to spend time together outside. Bottom:A heated swimming pool, featuring a waterfall that overflows from the hot tub above, stretches down the left side of the yard.
To the right of the back door is a beautiful grassy lawn which is perfect for just about anything — from entertaining and hosting parties, to kicking around a soccer ball or playing with their Golden Retriever, Sequoia. Down the middle, in between the grassy lawn and the pool and leading to the end of the yard, is a walk lined with three containers of Bottlebrush surrounded in the base by Peach Verbena, Creeping Jenny and Rosemary. A retaining wall with steps running down the center leads to a smaller, more intimate level of the yard. To the right are four patches of garden space with pebble walks between them. One is for roses, one is for herbs, one is for vegetable, and one is devoted purely to tomatoes.
A retaining wall with steps running down the center leads to a smaller, more intimate level of the yard.
“I check on my tomatoes like people check on their children,” Joel admits.
Pamela and Joel both have strong memories of gardening with their parents and had grandmothers who were quite influential in their love of gardening. Gardenias are nestled into every flowerbed in honor of Pamela’s grandmother, and a fig tree and several tea olives stand in recognition of Joel’s grandmother.
Pamela and Joel wanted to have a place where they could escape as well as an environment where their teenage children would want to hang out with friends. “We wanted to have a place where our home and living space could be expanded beyond the structure of the house, and we now spend just as much time outside as inside when we are home.”
They say that they were not anticipating quite the haven that their yard has become, and that it is now such a wonderful place to enjoy God’s handiwork and appreciate the natural beauty of the world.
Pamela admits that there are many things that you just can’t plan for, but in their case, all were pleasant surprises. Joel says he never expected to enjoy herb gardening so much (his pleasure in caring for the tomatoes was no surprise). Pamela has been thrilled at how the Italian cypresses, which will grow to be over 40 feet tall, add such a dramatic touch and are yet so practical in creating a sense of privacy around the yard.
Pamela says that her favorite aspect of gardening is the satisfaction of nurturing, of putting in the time and seeing results for something you truly care about.
The hardest part? Not being able to be a full time gardener.
“We can’t wait to get out into the yard every morning and when we get home in the evening, and often we will spend all day Saturday in it. It is just impossible to tear ourselves away!”
Be very attentive, especially in the beginning, if you want a significant change in your yard or garden. Joel spent four hours a day in the beginning, waking up at the crack of dawn. They now each spend an average of two hours per day working in it during the week and more on the weekends.
You must truly be engaged.
Remember that you can overdo it, especially with water and fertilizer. The tendency is to want to do, do, do, but there is a time to stop with some things.
Water the ground, not the plant. It is much more effective.
Have PATIENCE! You can’t control everything.
Trent’s mushroom compost is wonderful for tomatoes. It makes anything just shoot out of the ground.