Award-winning landscape designer Doug Myers has a knack for turning boring plots into stunning gardens. From Zen to Lush, his green fingers seem to work magic in each of his projects.
Landscape designer Doug Myers has over twenty years of hands-on experience creating beautiful landscapes for commercial and residential properties alike. After graduating from Shippensburg University, Myers studied Environmental Landscape Design and American Literature. He started his firm in 1994 and since then, has won several awards for his sensitive landscaping. His firm believes that “every job is a privilege and a responsibility and regardless of the size of the project, a well-crafted landscape is guaranteed.”
One of Myers’ acclaimed projects is the award-winning Sterling Residence project. This 1948 private residence is built in the modernist style with banks of tall windows overlooking an inner patio or courtyard. The patio, at the time, was “concrete and shaped like a kidney with mostly Juniper as groundcover,” says Myers.
The owners wanted the patio to reflect the period of the house and to complement the interiors. It also had to be calming and pleasant when viewed from inside the house. Additionally, the clients requested a water body in the new design.
Myers chose to create a garden that was both sculptural and sensory. The strategy was to use simple geometric forms with hardscape materials and a colour scheme that was subtle and not overpowering. To keep the modernist features in the forefront, he decided to emphasise form over colour. The redesigned courtyard works as an extension of the house. The edges are defined with stone and plants. The floor was reinstalled using rectangular slabs of teakwood flagstone with Mexican beach pebbles set within the joints to spice things up a bit. Concrete was used at the edge of the teakwood pads to “reduce migration of the stone and sand base.”
A concrete block covered with black stucco acts as a water body and also as a perch for a custom-made copper bowl that pours water into an L shaped water body that is under-lit with LED lights for night use. Both, the sound of water falling gently and the reflections in the water body create that elusive Zen-like atmosphere.
Around the water, the planting is kept simple with shades of green and white. Myers used long-lasting, geometrical and hardy plants to provide variety. “‘Justin Brouwer’ Boxwood, ‘Sum & Substance Hosta, white Anemones, black Bamboo and ornamental grasses were used to contrast dramatically with the clean lines of the hardscape elements. The black Bamboo was set in 30” diameter concrete containers to control the vigorous plant from spreading. All of these plants are able to thrive with minimal irrigation. The Mexican beach pebble joints allow for return of storm water from the teakwood pads.”
The sculptural nature of the garden fits with the design of the house and gives the clients something interesting and peaceful to look out at. A garden like this pleases the senses, with beauty, pleasant sounds, the smell of fresh herbs and flowers and for a home owner that is sheer bliss. The project won the 2003 Gold Award in APLD’s International Landscape Design Awards, in the category of Small Residential Design.
Another stunning project by Doug Myers was a residential garden in Landisville, where the clients wanted to convert their “small suburban backyard” into something more pleasant and useful. The original plot had a few white pines and some grass but little else. From Myers’ point of view, that was a good thing because the clients had a long list of wants – a place to cook, entertain, enjoy nature both outdoors and connected via the master bedroom, and a source of water.
Myers’ innovative solution was to break up the backyard into distinct outdoor ‘rooms’ that were separate yet connected. He created a large terrace which can be used for dining, cooking, sitting and all tied together in an elegant colour scheme with lush plants. Elegant travertine stone in shades of blond and beige were laid together to create an open canvas.
The backyard was divided into the dining area and the sitting area by a large arbour set within the wall. The arbour is planted with two kinds of vines – Crossvine and Akebia – and is made from “a combination of HB&G, a durable material made using recycled milk cartons and cedar wood.”
The plot is on a slight slope which Myers used to his advantage by placing a step leading to the next ‘room’. A low wall of sandstone and mountain fieldstone provides additional seating and follows the contours of the space. The old world style of craftsmanship is a favourite feature of both Myers and the clients.
Raised planting beds built into the wall make it easier for the homeowners to garden as it is easier to access – a thoughtful gesture, for sure.
Past the arbour is now a cosy space for eating, an outdoor dining area that comes with its own built-in grill. To integrate the grill seamlessly into the new design, he recessed it in another stone structure.
To make the sitting area accessible from the master bedroom, Myers added French doors and steps from the bedroom to the patio which gives the homeowners their own access to the space.
A fountain adds charm to the sitting area as do plantings of Douglas Fir, Butterfly Bushes (Buddleja davidii) and Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) with perennials for colour. “It’s become a very psychologically uplifting space to be in,” says Myers.
And for a designer, that is perhaps the ultimate compliment.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Doug Myers