Building a Garden for Privacy in Avilla Valley by Jeffrey Gordon Smith

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What happens when they “raise the road” near your property — and literally wipe out much of the privacy in your home and yard? You call for help, and that’s what these homeowners in Avila Valley did when this unexpected complication happened to them: they called in Jeffrey Gordon Smith. A look at the first image here shows just how close the road is to the property in terms of sight lines — not what these homeowners planned for when they laid out their garden. The first thing the designers did, then, was incorporate elements that would disrupt those highway sight lines: garden walls, berms, and plant buffers, to be exact. The front driveway was also reconfigured to include a new motor court for parking, and higher walls were installed to block views of the garage.

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Once the parking and other visibility issues were addressed, it was time to bring in plantings strategically placed to harmonize with the new wall additions. Since, as Smith relates, “The owners love the ability to have their own cutting garden,” that’s what the designers gave them: a mass of euphorbia, penstemons, yarrow, and kniphofia, among other native flora. Newly installed pathways of stone and bark create plenty of places for pleasant strolls through the two-acre estate, with no loss of entertaining space for al fresco meals, games, or simply quiet conversation with friends around the pool. Finally, it’s a comfortable climb up natural stone steps to the top of the hill, which is a perfect vantage point from which to watch a sunset…and never have to deal with traffic below.

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