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Designed For Family Fun
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured gardens

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An elaborate landscape plan offers lots of choices for making good memories.

The fastest way for a West Des Moines family to get from the front yard down to the backyard is easy: Hop on the water slide and whoosh down the steep hill.

From the time their home-building plans started to take shape in Glen Oaks, the family knew the no-brainer goal for the finished product was to create an environment where their immediate and extended family members could gather for good times.

The stunning results show they succeeded. The steep water slide into the shimmery pool, the pergola with a fire pit table, and the outdoor fireplace and the outdoor kitchen make it a gathering spot extraordinaire. And that doesn’t even begin to take into account the colorful, showy plantings, which look as though they have been in place for years.

Parklike oasis

The traditional-style home, a pleasing blend of stone and brick with copper accents, has a huge yard of 3.8 acres. The family purchased an adjoining lot, tore down the old farmhouse on it, and created an intimate parklike oasis. Existing big pine trees at the back of the property offer a mature look and a canopy of privacy to the scene.

Kevin DePhillips of Homes by DePhillips was the builder. His company’s landscape consultant, Richard Arland, originally created the overall landscape plan for the property. “We then turned the project over to Ted Lare Design Build. Ted tweaked the plan and came up with alterations. It has turned out beautifully. With all the LED lighting and speakers everywhere, it is state of the art. Plus, I do believe this is the only geothermally heated and cooled swimming pool around here. Ted’s whole project is just a masterpiece.”

For pure fun

The homeowner knew he wanted Japanese maples and redbud trees for accents. He also knew he wanted a whimsical touch that would be fun for kids of all ages—a dramatic water slide. With two daughters in the family, to say nothing of their dad, it was a must-have component. “It’s just fun and unique,” he says.

Ted Lare chose ornamental grasses that sway in the breeze, along with colorful daylilies, to camouflage the steep water slide and help it blend into the hillside. It goes into a 25×50-foot sparkling pool by Elite Pools and Spas of Des Moines. A cool feature of the pool is the laminar flow jets, which shoot arcs of water for a dramatic and artistic effect.

No maintenance

Along one side of the pool is a pergola with four colorful Adirondack chairs and a gas-fueled fire pit table to add an evening glow. Artificial turf around the activity deck of the yard means no maintenance, always a plus. On the other side of the pool is a hot tub.

Lare used a retaining wall around the pool area for both definition and extra seating. “To trim out the wall, we used a Unilock product, which is a natural and light veneer stone,” he explains. “It’s a thin veneer that fits over concrete for a really nice look.” He also used it on the steps that go up the side of the slide.

A focal point away from the pool area is a tall, freestanding gas-fueled fireplace that makes a dramatic statement in the yard’s layout. What’s more, there’s a putting green for practicing strokes.

Nearby, on the patio level under the deck is an outdoor kitchen and cabana area, perfect for grilling and serving meals. It features a two-level granite counter and chair-stools for sitting.

The homeowner explains that rainwater from the deck area is funneled down to the lower level through columns holding up the deck. The cabana area’s ceiling is lined in cedar for a pleasing look. A spiral staircase leads from the deck to the outdoor kitchen area.

Colorful plantings

For a color punch, huge and tall urns over 6 feet tall hold showy ‘Tropicana’ cannas, coleus, petunias, and crotons.

Lare’s crews also created a large area of two-level retaining walls that are filled with colorful annual and perennial plantings. Making a bright statement are geraniums, calibrachoa, sweet potato vines, coneflowers, coreopsis, and hydrangeas.

On side yards are ornamental grasses, including the popular ‘Karl Foerster’.

“The project took a long time, but it has come together so beautifully. We love it,” says the wife.


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