As a landscape designer, I am brought in to help a new owner deal with the existing landscaping that they inherit in the process of buying their new home. Sometimes the landscaping really helps convince buyers to go ahead and purchase the property as they would not have to put a lot of work into making changes.  Other people are not concerned about the landscape or consider it a low priority to address soon after the purchase.

I recently completed a project where the new owner purchased a property and had no intention of keeping the existing courtyard as is.  The landscaping needs much work as the past owners did little to fix some of the inherent problems that the original owner created. Apparently they were do it yourself types and created some issues that from a design standpoint, are difficult to deal with without costly improvements.

The front courtyard had a rather bold structure that the original owner had built himself — a koi pond built of concrete that was about 7 feet deep and a very large biological filter that was about 4 feet above the pond. My clients had no intention of assuming maintenance of the pond and the 36 koi still living in the pond.

They found a new home for all of the koi, but were left with a huge concrete shell that they felt was out of scale for the courtyard. It dominated the space and so it had to be removed.  Sometimes, a homeowner who has a passion for gardening, or in this case raising koi, can lose sight of the impact of creating such a structure. But who knows, they may have had the intention to live there forever. But things change.

My client called me in to help them transform the courtyard into a more low maintenance, useable and pleasant sitting space so they could view the magnificent red rocks to the north. They did want a ‘water feature’ but were not sure about what it would look like. They did want a naturalistic feel and perhaps a hint of Asian influence if that was possible. They also had a set budget and so designing this new courtyard with a fixed amount was easy for me to accommodate their desire for a unique design that they could afford.

Fortunately, the infrastructure of the courtyard was decent. There was a wide expansive walkway leading to the front door and wooden deck as well as a river rock swale that handled most of the drainage from the rear of the property that had to remain.

After we completed the project, we stood out in the courtyard and realized they could have an even better space if the walls forming the courtyard were moved out or modified in some way. Maybe after a few years, they will see the benefit, and want a follow up transformation. But for now, they have what they wanted within budget and are very pleased with the outcome. I hope they find the time to enjoy it as often as they can.

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