Landscape Designers Dream Home in Bristol Wisconsin

The Before

With a whole career spent preparing for his own landscape, this Van Zelst landscape designer and his architect wife were excited to put their ideas to work at home. The family purchased a small house on 13 acres of wooded land just north of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, with plans to create their dream home.

First, they got to work redesigning and expanding the existing house. A barn and garage were removed, opening up some of the property’s best views, and the house grew from about 1,600 to 3,000 square feet.

The Hardscape Takes Shape

As the house drew to completion, it was time to turn their attention outdoors. Hardscape, including a new circular driveway, flagstone and bluestone walkways, and bluestone and fieldstone patios were created to anchor the landscape. The existing design included nearly an acre of turf grass, which required extensive maintenance. In the new plan, most of the lawn has been converted to prairie or planting beds.

The Parterre Vegetable Garden

As avid gardeners, the owners also wanted a vegetable plot. A parterre vegetable garden was added behind the home. Framed by boxwoods, the parterre style offers a nice contrast to the looser, more undefined feel of the perennial beds.

Narrowing the Plant List

The next challenge was to narrow down their extensive wish list of plants. Working with beautiful flowers and foliage day in and day out, it was tempting to bring in everything they loved. The couple settled on a New American-style theme, featuring abundant sweeps of perennial flowers and grasses. Not wanting to be too limited by a style, they gave themselves permission to stray from the rules whenever they saw fit.

Starting with long lists of potential plants, they began the process of elimination, honing the list to incorporate an ideal variety of colors, textures and sizes. Beds on all sides of the home were filled with bountiful plantings of hardy, colorful perennials, leafy groundcover and native grasses. Containers change from season to season and year to year with the owners’ moods, often incorporating tropical plants that reflect their love of the islands.

The finished landscape is exactly the private, serene retreat the owners had envisioned. In the warmer months, they spend most of their time at home on the bluestone patio, taking in views of wildlife and flowers at the end of the day.

The Results