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En plein air, Wisconsin style
Backyard designs celebrate the indigenous landscape


April 2007

Countryside Shangri-la

Set in the Cedarburg countryside, the backyard of the Tice family residence was designed to be a backyard vacation spot. And thatís pretty much what it has become for Tom and Judy Tice, their children and friends. "When my children say they want to have a couple of kids over, I look out and there are 30," Judy Tice says. "It rocks."

The home is located on two lots totalling 11 1/2 acres. Special features of the yard include an outdoor kitchen, an elaborate pergola, multiple-level terraces, custom-shaped swimming pool, hot tub with a natural waterfall and bonfire pit.

The challenge for the landscape architect with David J. Frank Landscape Contracting was "making all these outdoor spaces work together so itís a cohesive design," says DJF landscape designer Jim Drzewiecki.

The pool is cut into a hillside and surrounded by natural stone. The use of natural stone throughout the yard is one of the signature design elements of the landscape firm.

The Tices are the second owners of the property. When they bought the house three years ago in March, the yard was covered with snow. "We had no idea what was back there," Tice says.

Besides the pool that cleans itself with the touch of a button, Ticeís favorite feature of the design is the naturalness of the property. "It doesnít look planted, it looks natural," she says, noting that the design is very respectful of the Wisconsin setting. She enjoys watching the landscape develop from spring to fall. "There isnít a period of time throughout the summer that something isnít happening."

The couple have donated their property for fund-raising events, in addition to enjoying it with their family. "When you have an outdoor space like that it extends your home," she says. "Itís another opportunity to be a family.


"The owners of this Grafton home near Lake Michigan commissioned LaRosa Landscape Co. to create an outdoor area that is kid-friendly yet inviting for entertaining. The natural stone used in the wall and fireplace match the faÁade of the house. The wall and pillars are a combination Chilton, Windsor and Lannon stones. It is topped with an Eden stone. The patio surface is a modular concrete paver called Antique Colonial.

Entertainment central

Landscape architect Brad Devorkin designed the backyard of his Bayside home for entertaining. The outdoor kitchen includes all major appliances and a counter with seating for guests to gather. In another of the outdoor "rooms," a fireplace is the focal point. Water features, including a 10-foot reflecting pool, are additional highlights of the landscape design.

City escape

The yard of the house on Lake Drive in Whitefish Bay was so overgrown, it nearly deterred current owners Giovanni and Therese Luna from buying the house.

A landscape architect from David J. Frank Landscape Contracting translated Teriís European garden concept into a welcoming and usable space.

The landscape architect gave the flower beds a curvilinear shape to make the yard appear larger, says DJF landscape designer Jim Drzewiecki. A low stone wall gives definition to one side of the yard. The design includes an outdoor fireplace and patio area tucked into a far corner of the yard, a comfy seating area adjacent to the house and a grill area behind the house.

Teri Luna says the family, which includes two young sons, enjoys eating on the patio and the ambiance created by the outdoor fireplace. "At night when all the torches are lit up it feels like weíre at a resort," Luna says. The seating area is the perfect spot for the couple to soak up the morning sun and have coffee.

Though the landscape design is contemporary, cobbled-edge stone, blue stone brick pavers and patterned flagstone complement the traditional architecture of the house.

The formal boxwoods, magnolia tree and roses in the front of the house give way to informal varieties, such as black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, and Heavy Metal and Dallas Blues switch grasses in the side yard.