Designing to control flow

Creating recreation spaces that address water runoff.

The client’s goal for this project was to rehab a dilapidated portion of the property into a casual, highly-usable entertaining and recreation area with a low maintenance landscape to surround. The spaces, architectural feel, and overall design needed to mesh with the existing property, located in a historic district of the City, while also functioning technically to properly divert and handle stormwater run-off on property. Proper scale and proportion were also required to fit the lot’s long and narrow “shoe-box” dimensions.


The largest challenges of this project were due to the natural topography of the lot; the design was to utilize the shell of an existing pool, work within an existing garage area, and fully connect the front and far rear of the property, all while working with a 10-foot drop in grade between these spaces.

Due to the existing conditions of the topography, the property naturally funneled all stormwater through the property from front to rear, creating high volumes of water flows, little infiltration, and extensive erosion. This issue was the main driver of the design layout; to create areas that would function for the client’s recreation goals, but also function technically to slow and control water runoff.

The existing rear landscape offered a 10-foot grade change, a failing pool, overgrown plant material, an abandoned structure, and unusable landscape areas. Additionally, a rear terrace in disrepair and poor transitions between existing outdoor spaces rendered this rear property mostly unused.


Our design terraced the connection between the garage and pool area with a run of lawn steps, added a level lawn panel at the side of the pool with focal accent, provided an open-air pool house structure, with glimpses to rear yard terrace steps and a lower level fire pit. A new clear gray crab orchard pool terrace was added along with a series of stucco walls, pea gravel accent areas, new privacy fencing, and landscape plantings to provide an updated, fresh look.

A mix of flowering Limelight Hydrangea masses and evergreen backdrop material was added to the spaces; adding greenery to soften the hard lines of the hardscapes, but also to provide a sense of separation between outdoor spaces. Outdoor lighting was renovated to accent the new architectural elements, and the landscape irrigation system was redone to provide coverage to all new planting additions.

The main aesthetic difficulty of this project was the goal to pair the landscape with the historic architecture of the home while preserving the goal of highly usable and versatile outdoor spaces. The client wanted a mostly-green-and-white-landscape with limited change year-round and a very strong evergreen structure. Architectural elements and landscape materials were chosen that would pair well together and that would provide a timeless, and classic design. With such a narrow lot and a mix of grade changes, simplicity was the name of the game. Simple, evergreen landscape components and groupings frame and focus the architecture to complement and balance.


Completed view looking across the pool, as viewed from the pool house, with a seating bench on the right side on axis with the focal Agave container and lawn panel on the left side.


Completed view of rear terracing and fire pit area as viewed from the pool house. Terracing is created with natural steps: granite cobblestone curbs with Dwarf Mondo Grass planted treads.

About Floralis Garden Design

The goal of Floralis will always be to create environments representing creative, fresh ideas, recognized for their quality and unparalleled attention to detail.

At Floralis, our passion for detailed execution is reflected in a wide range of garden installation and project management services. Specimen plant and site furnishing selection, container compositions, and seasonal color coupled with transparent communication ensure each project achieves the highest quality standard.