Phoenix, Arizona based landscape architect Chad Robert creates magic in the desert. His firm turned this private garden into a conversation starter with lots of local flavour.
The best gardens incorporate three things into their design – native plants, living space and space for contemplation. Award-winning landscape architect Chad Robert uses all three elements with great success in his designs. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, Robert’s designs consistently reflect local history, tradition and climatic conditions.
The Spanish Mediterranean style of architecture is prominent in Arizona. White stucco walls, red-tiled roofs, adobe bricks, Moorish-influenced tiles and stone work appear throughout the region. Because the climate of the Spanish Mediterranean and Arizona are similar, plants that grow in Spain also do well in Arizona.
You will find all of these in Robert’s projects, with an increasing emphasis on sustainable and environmentally-aware landscaping. For this project spanning 2.4 acres, the architects were faced with a complete remodel of the gardens of this private property.
Only a small portion of the original garden remained. 90% of all existing trees and specimen plants were retained or were relocated on the site. The entry to the house was revamped with two large Canary Island Date Palms flanking the carved main door. The Palms are surrounded by cheerful red Germaniums, purple Petunias and Lamb’s-Ears making the entry a welcoming space.
More palms regally line up in the driveway, creating an impressive first impression. The simple but classic tile and mosaic pebbled paths were inspired by the streets of Cordoba, Spain and along with the large antique accent earthenware, set the tone for the rest of the house.
The entrance to the residence leads off to two private courtyards, one on each side. Each courtyard is decorated in a distinct style, with a distinct purpose. One has a strong Moorish theme, with a white stone Moorish fireplace lined with adobe bricks, a fountain and covered dining terrace to enjoy the spectacular Arizonan sunsets.
The second one is the master bathroom courtyard with its own outdoor shower, fireplace and cosy seating. The flooring is a ‘carpet’ of hand-set black and white pebbles in designs created on site. The rear garden was completely remodelled to include a new swimming pool and spa with Moroccan accents.
The addition of a ‘ramada’ (a covered terrace or porch) created a dramatic focal point for the backyard. The stone roof of the ramada is surrounded by customised wrought-iron railings and includes a fire-pit and seating to take in the stunning mountain views.
Below, the swimming pool with its diving board spills under the ramada, into the large patio where armchairs and stone flooring promise relief from the hot sun so typical of Arizona. Swimmers can stay in the pool and have a chat with those outside, leading to an impromptu conversation area. A fireplace and television increase opportunities for socialising by the pool. Potted plants in large containers sourced add drama and a charming touch of green.
Three new outdoor fireplaces were included in the renovation and a new BBQ bar sets the stage to show off the chef-homeowner’s gourmet cooking.
With their focus on sustainable and economical landscaping, the team filled the gardens with hardy, native plants. Citrus plants, Date palms, Mediterranean fan palms and other plants from the Spanish Mediterranean region are paired with native plants of the Sonoran desert. The team also made significant changes to the original gardens to make the new design sustainable.
These included removing 20% of the lawn to conserve water, but still keeping enough lawn space for an active family. Existing water features were also modified to reduce water usage .
What was once a functional space is now a remarkable multi-purpose green space that blurs the distinction between the indoors and the outdoors. With the clever and careful inclusion of several conversation areas throughout the landscape, one may choose to be close to the hubbub or to escape to a quiet corner. Thoughtful planning weaved a gentle path through this garden and instead of giving it a beginning, middle and end, a circle of sorts was created where all paths lead everywhere and yet you go exactly where you want.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Todor Spasov