May 17, 2013
May 20, 2013
The material you choose to landscape your yard really makes a huge impact on the final result. Our favorite is the jumbo river rock along with mulch or trap rock accents. It’s nice to you two different materials to add depth and interest!!
JUNE 30, 3013
AUGUST 26, 2013
We are so excited to be featured on the Landscaping Networks
website!! Go to the website and check out the article directly:
www.landscapingnetwork.com OR read it below……
St. Louis Backyard Transformed into a Private Resort
A non-descript landscape gets a resort-style pool, pergola, fireplace and more
When Artistic Group, Inc. first set foot on this property in Des Peres, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, there was a small patio and an abundance of grass. While tidy, the landscape was not living up to its potential. We caught up with Nicole Onstott with Artistic Group, Inc. for a Q&A on how they transformed this backyard into a resort-inspired landscape.
This backyard is really user-friendly through all seasons. How did you design it to be so accommodating and what were the client’s original goals for it?
In St. Louis, we have really hot, humid summers, and cold winters. This project has the pool for summer, fireplace area for fall/winter, and the kitchen can be used throughout all seasons. When the pool is closed, it still has the stone planter/water feature as a backdrop, and the fireplace area has a fan installed in the pergola for warm summer evenings. The pool is heated and could remain open year-round but most people choose to close them due to the additional costs incurred from running the heater all year.
The owners were pretty open-minded; they only knew they wanted a pool. They have two teenage daughters, and wanted an area for them to enjoy, as well as their friends and family. It was important to bring a vacation-feel to the area, as they wanted an area to impress friends and enjoy together as a family. The style of the backyard is mostly traditional, with a bit of an eclectic edge.
Starting with such a large, empty backyard, how did you determine where to put the pool and pergola?
The existing grade of the yard played a large role in the pool and pergola placement. The grade falls off significantly behind the fireplace and pergola area. We also took entertaining into consideration. Whether you enter from the driveway, or from inside the home through back door, it is comfortable for guests to get to each area and mingle throughout.
Tell us about the backyard patio and pool materials.
The patio is concrete with a SGM One-Step Spray Deck coating. We use this regularly around pool projects because it is specifically made to keep concrete surfaces cool and slip resistant. Not to mention, it really adds a nice finishing touch with the darker color variation around the pool coping and outside perimeter.
We were originally going to install a concrete pool at this residence, but after meeting a few times decided to do a custom liner pool instead for budget reasons. These customers decided it was more important to them to have all of the extra masonry features, rather than have a concrete pool with no extras. That factor drove up the cost further than the customers wanted, and we were confident we could customize it to stand out as much or more than a concrete pool with all the customized features.
How did you design the far planter with the waterfalls into the pool?
We designed the planter as a mood-setting backdrop, to provide a customized barrier for hiding the pool equipment pad (located behind the water feature) and to be a focal point that highlights the project. It is a custom masonry water feature/planter. The dimensions are 3’ tall x 4’ deep x 30’ long with two 3’ wide copper water troughs. The same stone was used on all masonry features, a lunar blue stone and E.W. Gold mix, with an Eden Stone Top Cap.
How was the fireplace built?
Our stonemasons built the fireplace from scratch. It is 6’ wide with two 3’ wide wood boxes on each side. The hearth goes the entire 12’ distance and is 2’ deep. It has a firebrick interior with a custom smoke shelf in the flue to direct the smoke away from the entertaining area. The same lunar blue stone and E.W. Gold stone mix was used. This stone mix complemented the home’s rear beige siding. It is a unique blend that we knew would really make these features standout and add the classy masonry feel to the backyard.
We typically make all of our fireplaces between 8-10’ tall. This home is quite large so we made this one 10’ tall. The fireplace is another major focal point to this project, and we designed it to stand out as an inviting area. It had to be large in order to balance the water feature and still make a statement.
How did you determine the lighting design?
We strategically placed lighting throughout this project. Lighting is very important and we placed Volt, low-voltage, solid brass lighting fixtures throughout. We installed light fixtures under the masonry caps to shine down and accent the stonework in the water feature, fireplace, and kitchen serving area. We used pathway lights to put off additional lighting throughout, along with the Pentair color changing pool light, and lighting on the stone entryway pillars. This project looks just as good or even better at night because the lighting really accents all of the custom work.
How did you design and build the pergola?
We chose to build the pergola out of cedar because it withstands the weather in St. Louis and does not warp like treated lumber. It also adds a rustic effect to go along with the fireplace. The pergola is 10’ deep x 14’ wide, and it is mounted on top of 2’ tall stone pillars. A Sunbrella outdoor fabric material was used for the curtains.
Describe the grilling and serving areas.
We typically build the grills into the kitchen areas; however, this customer has a passion for cooking and wanted to have a large smoker. He fell in love with the way the smoker cooked and it was too large to install in the serving area.
The serving area is custom stone with a 1” thick granite countertop and backsplash. They had the cabinets made custom for the area. They are a plastic, outdoor-rated cabinet system. Their kitchen is located right inside the back door, so the owners found it necessary to install the serving area between the doors for entertaining purposes.
The dining furniture was purchased from Seasonal Concepts in the St. Louis area. The owners had the cushions and other fabric custom made.
Artistic Group Inc.
St. Louis, MO
November 18, 2013 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Winter Interest in the Garden
Three ways to bring excitement and beauty to a winter garden
The brilliant foliage displays of autumn can make winter dormancy feel like a bit of a letdown. But winter needn’t be a boring time in the garden. In fact, the changing season gives you a chance to appreciate the details in your landscape that you often miss – the form of a beautiful shrub, the delicate variegation on an evergreen, or the playful flutter of birds that would usually be hidden among the foliage.
But if your garden’s got the winter “blahs”, just a little attention in one of these three areas can bring plenty of excitement and beauty to this coldest season.
Plant some winter-interest superstarsWhile most plants are going dormant, a few winter stars are preparing to take center stage. Lenten roses, colored-twig dogwoods, and conifers with foliage that becomes more brilliant in winter can all help your garden shine among the bare stems.
Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is a flowering perennial which begins blooming in January and continues though March, fading slowly as other plants begin to grow. They thrive in dappled shade, and seem to light up the perennial border with their multi-colored blooms. New and cool varieties include ‘Amber Gem’, a ruffled golden Lenten rose blushed with magenta, ‘Onyx Odyssey’, a rich black that looks striking in pots, and ‘Amethyst Gem’, a cherry-red looker which pops against a snowy backdrop. Lenten roses can even be used as cutting flowers for an indoor vase. Simply cauterize the cut stem tip with a lighter to stop the sap flow, and your flower stalks should stay looking fresh for two weeks or more.
Colored-twig dogwoods (Cornus sericea) are also a fantastic choice for winter color. When they lose their leaves, they reveal bright red, yellow, or orange stems that show off well against a backdrop of dormant grasses or evergreen shrubs. And the display’s not limited to outdoors, either, since the cut stems last a long time in a vase or a holiday wreath. Colored-twig dogwoods grow in full sun to part shade and reach about 4-10′ tall and wide, depending on the variety. Check out ‘Midwinter Fire’ for sunset-colored stems and a dwarf growth habit, ‘Elegantissima’ for cream-variegated leaves in summer and blood red stems in winter, or ‘Hedgerows Gold’ which lights up the garden with golden-edged leaves in summer and yellow stems in winter.
There are also some neat types of conifer that look particularly good in the winter garden. I can hear you all groaning now, but hear me out: These quirky varieties bear little resemblance to the regular green conifers so overused in commercial parking lots. Consider Thuja occidentalis ‘Techny Gold’, a new type of arborvitae with brilliant golden foliage which intensifies in the winter cold. It’s hardy to a whopping -40 degrees Fahrenheit, so can be used in nearly any climate. In a small-space garden, Pinus mugo ‘Zundert’ is a dwarf variety of Japanese black pine which grows to only 2′ tall and wide. Yet this unassuming little chameleon goes from a sedate green in summer to a vibrant yellow-gold in winter. Is golden foliage not your thing? Many Japanese plume cedars (Cryptomeria spp. and cvs.) turn an attractive purple-bronze color in winter. ‘Mushroom’ is a dwarf version which reaches 2-3′ tall, while ‘Elegans’ rocks the other end of the size spectrum, topping out at 25′ in time.
Colorful containers add immediate cheerPots are a perfect way to bring fast color to any area of the garden. You can nestle them into a bare spot within your garden beds, place them by the door to greet visitors, or use them to draw the eye to a focal point and get that immediate “wow” factor even in winter.
Ornamental grasses make a great centerpiece for a winter container planting, and not only the evergreen varieties. Many grasses go dormant gracefully, leaving a fluffy mass of brown strands that look surprisingly at home among winter annuals and other color. Evergreen grasses include sedges like Carex ‘Toffee Twist’, variegated sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Variegata’), and silver spear (Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear’), while fountain grass (Pennisetum) and dwarf varieties of maiden grass (Miscanthus) make a great show in dormancy.
Conifers like arborvitae, false cypress and juniper can also add structure to a winter-interest container. Dwarf arborvitae like Thuja ‘Degroot’s Spire’ stay small indefinitely in a pot and act as an exclamation point in the garden. Or there’s the petite blue Port Orford cedar, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’, with a glowing blue tone to its foliage. The aptly-named pancake juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Pancake’) is a delicate trailing plant which softens the edges of a container.
You can fill the bare spots in containers with winter-growing annuals like pansies and violas, cyclamen, paludosum daisies, primroses, calendula, or flowering ornamental cabbage. Edible leafy greens can also add interest. Try ‘Redbor’ kale, curly parsley, or ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard for foliage color that’s as beautiful as it is tasty. Of course, you don’t have to plant living things in a pot for it to look attractive. A gorgeous pot can hold its own with a display of cut stems from the garden, evergreen boughs, and a simple ribbon or holiday bow to tie it all together.
Birds bring life and activity to the gardenBirds are the unsung heroes of the winter garden. While their antics are normally obscured by lushly-growing plants, in winter the bare stems let us watch their pecking and play. Here are a few things you can do to encourage them to frequent your garden.
First, leave dormant perennials such as ornamental grasses, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, and others to stand over the winter. Not only do their seed heads provide structural interest, but birds can enjoy scratching for the seeds all winter long. If you tidy up too soon, the birds will miss out on this great source of winter food.
Next, provide a winter water source for birds. In areas where it snows all winter, all the available water can freeze, which makes finding drinking water a challenge for birds. You can ensure regular visits from a variety of birds by using a bird bath with a warmer, or even a simple heated dog bowl to provide a steady source of water. However, it’s important to put a layer of sticks or stones over the dish so birds can drink from the water but not take a bath, which can be dangerous when temps go below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (for more information read How to Provide Water for Birds When the Birdbath Freezes).
By far the best way to attract birds is by planting shrubs and trees that grow native in your area. Because birds are used to finding food and shelter in the plants that grow naturally in a region, you’ll find that planting natives will attract them in greater numbers as they produce food at just the right times of year for your local birds. The best resources for finding out more about native plants for your area are local nurseries and landscapers, who will be used to using plants from your region (to learn more read Ecosystem Gardening Essentials: Provide Food for Wildlife).
You can see from these suggestions that winter has plenty of its own seasonal joys. By planting for winter interest, using pots as focal points, and attracting your local birds, you can fill the season with beauty and life.