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Vision with a View
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured gardens

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PLEASE NOTE: Photo download times will vary based on connection speed. Thank you for your patience.

The original lot, full of brambles, was transformed.

The old saying “can’t see the forest for the trees” in no way applies to a Waukee couple, who fell in love with an overgrown rural lot a few years ago.

“It was an absolute jungle,” the husband says. “The numbers tell the story. There were 50 semi loads of debris hauled away. About 200 trees were cut down. And, because of a slope in the property, there were 500 truckloads of soil hauled in before the house could be built. For an entire week, trucks just kept coming and leaving.”

Somehow, beyond all that, they persevered. From October 2013 to January 2015, Donnie Acheson and crews from Acheson Construction created a beautiful contemporary home with Prairie-style overtones. The property is just under three acres.

Beautiful backdrop

The couple collaborated with Ted Lare of Ted Lare Design + Build to create a whole new landscape plan. “There were no evergreen trees on the property, and now there are lots of them, which creates a beautiful backdrop,” Lare explains. “The homeowners like color and lots of natural materials, both for plants and for stone.”

At the front of the home, a welcoming curved slate walkway leads from the driveway to the front entry. Boulders define the property line on the west side of the home, setting up a natural border.

In the back of the home, a walk-out ranch, Lare created a sunken patio, perfect for the entertaining the homeowners enjoy. With stone steps leading down to ground level, he built a protected and inviting area. A tall stone fireplace in the corner lends light, warmth, and ambiance and becomes a focal point. On the upper level a screened porch also offers a shady, bug-free dining and relaxing spot to survey the pretty landscape.

Variety of trees

There were lots of locust and hickory trees on the property. Now there are pin oaks and bur oaks, along with sugar maples for fall color.

“We love flowering shrubs for their color and aroma,” says the husband. “There’s a lovely progression of hydrangeas, lilacs, azaleas, and rhododendrons in multiple species and sizes.” The couple loves to cut bouquets for use inside the home.

In addition, in the area in front of a stand of evergreen trees, a huge bed of French lavender “smells divine.”

Lare planted dwarf Japanese maples for their color and to add interest in the front of the home.

Purple, pink plantings

The homeowners like to plant urns and pots of other colorful plantings. In addition to creamy white buttercups for accent, they enjoy a colorful mix of pink and purple plantings for the overall color scheme.

Through Lare, they order pink mandevilla, which like to climb trellises and vine upward, and also the mandevilla relative pink dipladenias, which have a bush form. Both are tropical vines that like full sun and hot summers. They tend to bloom until frost in the fall and attract hummingbirds.

And, in spite of efforts to deerproof the plantings, it’s not uncommon for a dozen or more deer to saunter through for a daily visit.

“It took lots of vision for the homeowners to see how this property could turn out, but it’s really beautiful,” Lare says.


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