Rounded details of a project by
Landscape Solutions of Iowa help
bring people together.
Eric Cowling’s lovely home in West Des Moines has long been a gathering spot for his friends. But ever since he had his backyard enhanced by Landscape Solutions of Iowa (LSI) last fall, it has been a virtual magnet.
“The two-level deck was already here,” he explains. “And since it’s on the east, by late afternoon and evening it has been a nice shady spot to relax and entertain.” He enjoys doing that often.
He explains that the yard slopes. “It’s an awkward lay of the land, so I wasn’t sure what could be done.” But after a referral from his friends up the street to contact LSI, he soon found out the possibilities. Working with Rob Owen, partner with Nathan Tackett, Eric soon learned what his yard could become—an even better place to entertain.
“Eric decided he wanted a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen, and seating space to host gatherings,” says Owen. “With the natural slope of the land, we were able to create a multilevel spot in the parklike yard that is open to other properties. We think it really shows what you can do with so-called ‘regular’ backyards.”
The change of topography, says Owen, is not a detriment but an opportunity for an interesting stairway. Curved, short walls on both levels define the space and also act as seating spots, thus cutting down on the need for extra chairs. The ledges/walls add to the coziness of the space, particularly nice on evenings when the fire pit takes center stage. Eric can start the gas fire easily because it is regulated by remote control. Its height and setting make it just right for making s’mores, those ooey-gooey graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate bar treats that are must-haves
whenever a fun-loving crowd gathers around a fire.
Owen says the lower level around the fire pit area has a slightly rustic look with outcropping stones intermingled among stone pavers. Guests can be seated on the low walls and the square stones, and there’s room for good-size occasional lawn chairs around the fire pit. Stones on the tricolor slate floor radiate around the pit, repeating the circular design.
“The upper level, where the outdoor kitchen is located, is a little more refined with smoother textures,” designer Owen
explains. The sleeker look is in keeping with the oversize stainless-steel built-in grill, the door for the built-in beverage refrigerator, and drawers for utensils. The custom-cut smooth stone counter is good for food preparation and serving. There, too, low ledges offer more seating around a tall bistro, or pub, table. Small boulders edge the stairs between the two levels.
For more ambiance, a low-voltage lighting system located at various spots in the wall structure creates a soft glow when the sun goes down. To add a bit of shine and sparkle, Owen added a clear protective sealer to the floor and stone structure for a slightly
To soften the look of the boulders, stones, and pavers in the hardscape, Owen planted roses, butterfly bush with tall purple spikes, and ornamental grasses around the perimeter of the entertaining area. For height and for wonderful soft background noise, he planted three tall quaking aspen trees. Eric also added a tall copper-tone arty sculpture as a
For a recent party that Eric was hosting, Sue Amosson, who provides the Finishing Touches service to Landscape Solutions clients if they desire it, added punches of color to the new entertaining area. “With the stones and boulders, everything is pretty neutral, so it’s fun to add pops of color all over,” she says. “Bright pillows and pots of colorful flowers and plants add so much detail to make the party scene more festive.” Colorful accent serving pieces also add to the overall look, she says.
Amosson brought in colorful pots of bright red geraniums, yellow hibiscus, and
ornamental grasses to add height.
In addition to the metro area, Landscape Solutions of Iowa has completed projects around the state in spots such as Sun Valley Lake in southern Iowa and the Algona, Creston, and Okoboji areas. Owen says the company mantra is “Connecting People
Eric has been pleased with how often that has happened. “With the fire pit, it has been fun to use this area for three seasons. And with our mild winter this year, it’s actually all year. We actually lit the fire pit in February. It was great.”