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Midcentury makeover
Landscape redo marries yard and home

Photos courtesy of Ginkgo Leaf Studio

September  2015

Jim Drzewiecki of Ginkgo Leaf Studio credits homeowners Bob and Chrissy Gruendyke for their perfect selection of a modern midcentury-influenced patio set that complements his design of a gray-taupe color surface and a variety of ground cover extending from the front yard.

Houses, like paintings, need a frame that complements and completes the work.

So it is for the reconfigured midcentury-style Bayside home of Bob and Chrissy Gruendyke. After moving from Shorewood three years ago, the couple realized the landscaping needed to mirror their house; the structure was previously expanded from a one-story ranch to 3,500 square feet on two stories.

They researched their options and turned to Jim Drzewiecki, owner/designer at Cedarburg-based Ginkgo Leaf Studio.

A designer-recommended fire bowl and Adirondack chairs reproduced in plastic provide yet another entertainment center surrounded by Asian-style plantings and stone.

"We liked the photos Jim featured, and when we met him, we knew he was the right choice," Chrissy says. The Gruendykes now enjoy front and back yards that support their home’s clean lines and earth tones, with easily maintained, Asian-influenced plantings and hard surfaces that also reflect and enhance the family’s outdoor lifestyle.

Drzewiecki approached the front and back yards with similar objectives, to first follow the home’s character with long, linear plant beds and then eventually display plantings in more free form. He said he takes seriously — and pride in — his architecture degree background to stay true to any home’s design.

A walkway of floating full-range bluestone "piers" connect the driveway and front entrance. Asian-influenced foliage, including vinca minor ground cover and carefully sculpted boxwood, adorns beds of beach pebble and slate chips designed to add additional texture.

"We wanted to make the front entrance inviting," Drzewiecki says. He replaced a conventional curved sidewalk with full-range bluestone walkways edged with beach pebble and ground cover — bridges or piers between door and driveway.

The design, including the path lighting, extends to the back yard, which features a patio, grill and fire pit.

Drzewiecki purposely designs so that an entire landscape cannot be captured in one glance. Here, he uses a foreground of the hardy perennial Rozanne geranium and a summer wine ninebark shrub to create separation from a seating area and grill in the background.

This low-angle view across the front walkway emphasizes the landscape’s floral dexterity with a newer Twist–n–Shout variety of hydrangea added to ground cover and shrubs.

Left: Bluestone steps within a bed of slate chips connect the back and side yards while another shade-tolerant perennial, rocket ligularia, tosses a splash of yellow.

The foliage throughout was carefully selected for compatible subtle color and consistency with the desired Asian influence. Summer beauty allium provides a "flowering onion" of lavender and pink while Korean reed and skyracer grasses are tall, muted, feathered and textured wisps.

It’s all meant to be easily enjoyed by non-gardening homeowners, though the Gruendykes have learned to appreciate minor maintenance.

"We wanted to extend our living space outdoors," Chrissy says, "and this design does that."

This story ran in the September 2015 issue of: