Working with Coastal Challenges: Coastal Connection by Jeffrey Gordon Smith

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This lovely scene is what the back yard of a two-story beachside home became, with assistance from the team at Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscaping. The predominant shape? Shells — as a unifying feature in the garden and a tie-in with the ocean beyond it. Since the primary use of this garden is sheer visual enjoyment, the spiral shapes provide definition for the patio — through flagstone shaping and a sparkling blue tumbled-beach-glass trim band. Note the central fire pit and rope lights: these provide mood lighting after dark, as well as a gathering place to relax the peaceful setting by the sea. And, to soften what the designers call a “boxy” look from the sea wall, the corners are graced by curved stone planters.

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This setting was not without its challenges, however, as the designer explains: “Because the property lies on a sensitive coastal site, all built elements have to be removable rather than permanent.” In addition, concrete footings and a sump pump near the home made ground planting impossible. So, instead of plantings to complement the yard, the designers devised a miniature “beach” in those spots, put together with various sizes of Mexican pebble and stone. See those “steps” going up the wall, next to the driftwood? Those are “dog steps” that help break up the solid mass of the wall, in neat counterpoint to the bed of succulents below. Completing the garden are native grasses and plants that provide color all year, making this garden a tranquil place to enjoy anytime.

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