Landscape follows the family’s needs.
Story by Carol McGarvey
Photography by Melissa Peterson, courtesy of Ted Lare Design Build
Featured in March/April 2021
When Lori and Dan McDowell built their Urbandale home in 2005, the goal for their backyard was to have a great open play place for their three children. “We needed an open area where they could enjoy the outdoors,” Dan says. The partially wooded lot was the gathering and play space they needed for their family.
But as they do, the kids outgrew the play area that had been a drawing card. “Our next goal was to develop a more adult spot and to create some privacy on the corner lot,” explains Lori. They contacted Ted Lare Design Build and worked with landscape architect Dustin Goering on a multiphase plan.
“I first met Lori and Dan in 2015. They had a concrete patio but wanted a larger and more interesting one, along with a slightly formal look that included a dining spot and seating for larger groups. They also wanted a firepit area for a more relaxed spot,” he says.
Goering created a feeling of movement with curvilinear lines, such as the rounded area for the firepit and the curved seating wall behind the dining area.
The overall plan included berms to add privacy and to define the space on the corner property. The large berm at the corner was built with dry stacked stone, which requires no mortar, in multiple colors. Plantings include blue spruce trees that deer don’t like to eat, a key factor in this wooded part of Urbandale.
Another berm, which creates privacy from the side street, is edged in a variety of stones and boulders and showcases coreopsis, daisies, Stachys ‘Hummelo’ (like lamb’s ears), and Russian sage plantings.
“For the patio, we used large pavers with texture, which gives a pleasing cottage feel,” Goering explains. The curved seating wall was made with Rivercrest Unilock stones. The wall sets off the dining and gathering area, but it also is low enough that it offers seating. It is backed with flowering hydrangeas, ninebark, and two flowering lilac trees.
Goering used large flagstone slabs around the firepit. A mix of ground covers surrounds the area.
Lori says, “Since the phases were completed, it seems we have people over all the time. It’s wonderful. We have had big parties, such as graduation parties for our son and older daughter, both now out of college. All three kids have hosted parties for school events and various groups.” Their younger daughter will graduate from high school next year, so another party is already in planning. Plus, say the McDowells, both Urbandale natives, they love to have family and longtime friends over.
A bank of white pine trees stands at the back of the property, where the play area was located. The couple added three blue spruce trees there. Every holiday season the McDowells light those trees and other spots around the yard with white lights for a bit of neighborhood seasonal glow.
Brightly colored Adirondack chairs placed around the firepit add comfort to the pleasant area. A large iron dining table and chairs on the patio work nicely for sit-down and buffet meals. All furnishings are from the Fireplace Superstore.
“It has just been a blessing to work with Lori and Dan to create this comfortable setting for their home,” Goering says.
They agree. “We simply didn’t realize how much we would use this beautiful outdoor space as much as we do from April through October. It has been an amazing addition to our home.” •
- Landscaper Ted Lare Design + Build