Revising the Landscaping Plan

Bob talks with landscape architect Rick Lamb about revisions to the plan. Bob points out the redesigned parking area and the plan for magically melting the snow.

Clip Summary

Bob talks with Rick Lamb, landscape architect, about revisions to the landscape plan, necessary due to the denial of a zoning variance. Rick discusses the trees and the importance of choosing plants for all seasons. Bob points out the rigid insulation in the redesigned parking area as well as the tubing for hot water that will magically melt the snow.
Hi, I'm Bob Vila. Welcome home again.

It's another beautiful fall day in New England, and today we are working on the landscape.

Rick and Nancy Lamm are going to be here, and we're going to discuss some changes to the front garden, that were caused by the denial of a zoning variance.

Inside the house, we have a visit from Kim Sweet, who's in the master bedroom and she is adding a final flourish with some faux finishes,
and also we have carpenter David Ives, who's working in the dressing room, putting in some very unusual paneling.

Stick around, it's good to have you home again.

Bob Vila's Home Again.

Well, we're going to get started today talking landscape. When we began this project months and months ago, it was our intention to redesign the whole front of the house, including the approach to the kitchen door.

And Rick Lamm, our landscape architect, had come up with a very good solution. Here's the street, and here's basically the corner of the house where the kitchen door and the kitchen entrance is. We had planned a double car parking tray right there, since this house doesn't have a garage, that would allow us to walk right into the kitchen. Now, in order to do that you have to go before the zoning board and get a variance.

And we had trouble. We had to wait three months before we could actually get a hearing in.

And when we did finally get a hearing about a month ago we were turned down. So, what we have done is totally redesigned the front of the house and Rick Lamb is here to describe a little bit of what we've done here.

Hi Rick.

Hi Bob, how are you.

You got a different plan but, we're standing in front of a little kind of New England jungle here. Why don't you tell us little bit about this?

Well, to give the back of the house and particularly the kitchen area some real interest, so that as you look out of the windows in the summer and spring and fall, you get the nice shimmering leaves of the birch.

But, in the wintertime, you get this nice exfoliating bark of this black birch that will then contrast to the neighboring white birches.

It's like peeling paper.

And it's got a nice pink color that goes with, picks up some of the plum of the house.

But, it doesn't screen the house from the road, but it gives you a sense of separation.

Yeah. How tall will they get, Rick?

They'll probably get to 25 feet tall and they will fill out together and one thing not to worry about, if you look at birch growing naturally in the wild, birch grow very close together and so trying to keep them apart so branches don't rub and things like that.

It's not an issue it's really a very natural condition for them to take.

And let me give you one little surprise question here , are they a healthy tree?

Yes, yes. And they're reasonably drought tolerant, they're not as long lived tree as the always your oak and things like that, but it's certainly for our considerations, it's fine.

And then you've mixed in a lot of this red twiggy material under it.

This is part of the dogwood family it is the red stem dogwood so that again you have very nice interest in the winter time.

But its a bush .

It is a bush, it does get if you leave it alone, it will get to be in the eight foot height.

But it's a great bush to trim for flower arrangements and things during the summer with this very gated leaf.

And it will basically fill in. and so this a kind of a wonderful secret, private, sort of fun entrance to the kitchen door which you couldn't change your kitchen when you changed your parking.


There's no doubt these are lot prettier than having two cars parked in front of the house, but we still have the issue of approaching. And there we go.

We're standing right in this area here.

The kitchen door is here.


And so these are your birch trees that we just looked at.


With the red-stem dogwood underneath.


And then and as we move across, with the side-walk and street here, this will be some hosta right off in front of us, that's dies back in the winter entirely and then comes up. And it's a great plant to use with bulbs because as the bulbs grow up and finish, the hosta is now coming up and you don't need to go treat the leaves and things before fall.

And that has been the main challenge in the assignment here, was to design a low maintenance garden, that would be very pretty in this spring in the fall. But that would never see a lawn mower.

That's right.

Or here one.Or here.

And so, this is ground cover and if we go over here, what we've done is we've massed rhododendrons and azaleas.

We have combined different colors between this Abigail Adams which has this nice russet leaf in the fall. Nice pink flower.

That's an azalea?

That's an azalea, this is an azalea and this is a Delaware White that will be white.

So these guys don't loose their leaves in the wintertime, right?

They're semi-evergreen, so they lose some. And then, you move to your rhododendrons, which don't lose their leaves either.

But, because rhododendrons are plants that are evergreen, do transpire moisture when it gets really cold, they curl so that they reduce the amount of surface area.

Exposed, yeah.

And these, there's a quick rule of thumb. The smaller the leaf, the smaller the rhododendron, the larger the leaf, the higher they get.

So, these will get about so big?

Well they will get up towards your windows.

Now, whats the pallet, because this will all grow up. Into one big mass.

This will be a sort of a knobby mass.

And what will the colors of the bloom be?

It's white to pink with little salmony pink in the avocado adams.

Sounds charming.

And the flowers are pink and then this is all pinker. Here, our myrtle, a dark green cover, stays green all year. A blue flower in the spring, but will be, this will be filled with bobs.

But we still have a couple of big trees going in here.

You are starting at the middle here and here.
And over there, there'll be three.

Crab apples.

Aand the purpose of putting in there next to the house where more normally seen creating an outside room for the house, and defining the street edge.

So that the views from the house will really be defined by the location of these trees as well as of course by the picket fence.

I have seen them interests barrier something in. And speaking of berries, we have lined your standing in the front walk.

The front walk is lined on each side with this Blue Princess Holly, and in order for the Blue Princess to have berries we need a Blue Prince over here too.

So this is the prince.

That's the prince. The prince never has fairies, but the princess does.

So we've got Holly at the front door, but the main thing is you've redesigned the whole approach both for people and for cars off the street, right?

Right, and trying to get it so that the cars aren't riding in your front walk.


So, we have a blue stone front walk leading up to stairs that are being built.


The bushes that come to define an apron to the cars.

This is what you call the apron?

This is the apron. That will have blue stone. And then you have a parking place for one car with additional space as weather your family requires to be able to pull up further down in toward the garden.

Right. We'll be able to tandem park a couple of cars. And the blue stone, which is a native stone here in New England will dress all of this area that approaches the house.

Yes, and that will be the front door entrance.

But this is just concrete. But the matrix of the concrete will be dressed with this local crushed stone aggregate which is called rosestone which has this purple cast to it, again to build on the house.

Nice job. Thanks for the redesign. Now, the construction of this is interesting. You notice I'm standing on all this blue stuff. This is rigid insulation, and of course, I'm stepping in between the reinforcing rods. That's to make sure that our six inches of concrete for this parking area never crack on us.

But see these orange lines here between John and Frank, that they're stringing out? These are tubing for hot water from the furnace inside the house, which will magically make sure that the snows melt in the winter time.

Won't that be neat?

Got to break for messages. Don't go away.