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  • A black privacy fence creates privacy and emphasizes the Asian-theme of the garden.
  • Along the back fence, black bamboo provides additional privacy for the patio.
  • The garden’s paths are paved with slices of stone cut from granite boulders.
  • For the patio in the backyard, cut granite pavers were set on a bias.
  • Reclaimed wood decking was used near the master to serve as a softer counterpart to the stone paving.
  • In the front garden, a waterfall and pond are the focal point and generate ambient sound.
  • Outside the master bedroom stone columns were grouped and plumbed to create an Asian-inspired water feature.
  • A massive stone was carved to create this spiraling water feature on the back patio.
  • Designed by the home’s architect, this covered patio with a fireplace is great for enjoying cooler evenings.
  • This grassy knoll, intended for the family dog, proudly displays a black pine.

For centuries the Japanese have been creating gardens that serve as a place of refuge and renewal. The owner of this property in the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle wanted to recreate this atmosphere at home. Stock and Hill Landscapes helped achieve this goal by artfully combining stone, water and plants, while addressing a need for privacy and the family’s desire for outdoor living space.

Project Highlights:

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Property size: approximately 7,500 sq. ft.
  • Style: Japanese

When the owners purchased this property they replaced the existing home with one custom designed to suit their needs. Barbara Stock, designer and co-owner of Stock & Hill Landscapes, describes the style of the new home as a contemporary take on Japanese architecture. “The exterior of the home has natural siding that is such a dark brown that it is almost black,” she explains. Luckily, the home was designed with the garden in mind, ensuring that the two would have a strong sense of unity.

Practical Privacy Solutions

"The main goal for this garden was to create a contemplative space in which to reflect and feel serenity," says Barbara. In order to achieve this, privacy had to be created. A two-fold approach was taken: installing privacy fencing and screening with plants. The fence, designed by the architect, is a completely solid barrier that encloses both the front and back portions of the garden. Behind the home, the height of the fence was extended with open lattice work and a densely planted line of black bamboo enhances the privacy further. In the front yard, and along the side of the property, specimen Japanese maples and a weeping cherry also add to the sense of enclosure and serve as focal points from within the garden and the house.

Working on this garden taught Barbara an important lesson about color. “We discovered that the black fence made the yard look bigger. The dark color acts as negative space, creating depth and the illusion of expansiveness,” she explains. Barbara was also pleased with how elegant the black fence looked and the way it made the plants and hardscapes within the garden stand out. Keeping with the Japanese theme, the use of color in the rest of the garden was fairly restrained, allowing form and texture to take center stage. “Using subdued colors meant the garden would be able to handle the drama generated by the large quantities of stone and beautiful specimen trees,” says Barbara.

The Art of Stone & Water

Natural stone is a very prominent material in this landscape. The hardscaping consists of two different forms of granite. The back patio was paved with cut granite pavers set on a bias, while the paths were laid with slices cut from granite boulders. “For the paths, I went and selected boulders then had them cut to our desired thickness,” recalls Barbara. She says this type of paving is rare, but for the homeowners was worth the effort and cost to achieve a timeless appearance. The portion of the garden just outside the master bedroom is the only space not paved with granite. “We opted for a reclaimed wood deck to provide access from the master to the hot tub,” Barbara says. The boards used are unique because of their size and smooth surface. According to Barbara, each board is 12” wide and 2.5” thick, making them the perfect choice for softening a garden full of stone.

With three water features, this garden stays true to the Japanese style, which uses water symbolically and for cleansing. When you enter the front gate you are greeted by a rock waterfall and small pond, which provides a focal point and ambient sound. As you follow the path past the waterfall and around the corner of the house you will find a column water feature made from stones quarried in Eastern Washington. “We drilled and plumbed the columns so that water would gather in the basins, gently spill over the face of the stones and return to a nearly invisble rock-filled pond,” explains Barbara. The third water feature is an upright stone sculpture found in the center of the granite patio. The homeowners had purchased this piece and asked Stock & Hill to incorporate it into the garden. The twisting shape of the massive stone reveals ridges over which the water slowly flows. This is a disappearing water feature, with the reservoir hidden beneath the patio. At night, lights integrated into the paving dramatically illuminate the feature.

Plants for this garden were selected to thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate as well as tie in with the Japanese theme. Many specimen trees gave the garden a full and mature feeling from the beginning. The most noteworthy of these are the Japanese black pines, one of which was planted atop a grassy knoll behind the home that was designed specifically for the family dog. Other plants used include: evergreen magnolias, white azaleas, dwarf pines, moss, ferns and more. “We selected simple groundcovers and shrubs because the trees make such a bold statement and we didn’t want to overcomplicate the garden visually,” states Barbara.

Providing privacy and ample outdoor living space while enhancing the style of a home all on a small city lot, is not an easy task. But Stock and Hill has successfully done just that for this family. “I know a project was successful when I get other homeowners calling and asking for something similar,” says Barbara. A beautiful garden with unique elements and quality materials speaks for itself.

Stock & Hill Landscapes
Seattle, WA

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