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Summer 2023

Woodland Retreat

Words by Andrea Darr  |  Photo by Matthew Anderson


casual conversation between strangers on a plane was how landscape designer Laura Stack, owner of Creative Outdoor Spaces, first learned about what would become one of her favorite client projects. The couple she sat next to told her their woes of a hedge row of pines dying in their Kansas City, Missouri, backyard. Their large family often gathered at their home, so they wanted to salvage some privacy for their pool.

Laura had a larger vision for the space than just replacing some trees. Between the pool fence and the line of pines was a 10-foot-wide patch of grass that presented itself as an opportunity to become an entire setting, offering an exploration of nature beyond the confines of their fenced yard.

“The whole space is meant to allow kids to run and discover or to saunter and stroll, looking at this and that,” Laura describes, “as well as to expand gardens to enhance views.”

Fortunately, death came slowly to the existing pines, giving Laura’s plan of understory growth a few years to fill in. “When one tree gets a disease, they all get it,” Laura says. “Using diversity is part of that and also creates different textures.”

She severely pruned the pines and added evergreens and shrubs under the canopy. Holly, arborvitae, blue spruce, yew, columnar white pine, juniper and bayberry create a wonderland of variation, texture and color. Large-scale feather reeds and fountain grasses help with screening, too.

Intermittently placed supreme-sized flagstones were intentionally used only
at transitional points, leaving a mulched trail in between landings to emulate a more natural path.

Quiet moments of pause can be found at a sitting wall along the way, while a fire pit area presents an invitation to gather in one corner of the property.

“The pool is not the dominant feature of the yard anymore,” Laura says. “It’s there. It was the centerpiece; now it’s nestled in.” 


Click Here to see before photos.

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