Businesses + Events

Io LandArch | Healy House

9/29/2022 | Kelly Carper
Lauren Kerr | Kerri Fukui

We focus a lot on interiors around here, but we also know that cultivating a creative home isn’t limited to interior design or even architectural elements. Our exterior landscapes and gardens are equally important aspects of our home and offer endless opportunities for expression, creation, and most importantly, connection with nature and the environment in which we live.

It's more than just curb appeal:

For Shalae Larsen, residential landscape design is not only about creating a beautiful first impression, but also considers functionality, water conservation, the local ecosystem, and historic context of your home. The latter is a bit of a specialty for Shalae’s Ogden-based Landscape Architecture and Urban Design studio, Io LandArch, and was the focus of my recent visit to one of their signature projects.

The Healy House, built in 1920, is located in the Eccles Historic District of Ogden. Its Old English (cottage style) architecture is reminiscent of the English Art Nouveau era with a high-pitched roof, stucco exterior, arched entryways and exposed brick chimney. The home has quite the presence as it sits stoically on the corner of Eccles Avenue and 26th Street - when Shalae first visited the home, it was hidden behind giant hedges and a weedy lawn. To revamp the space, the new homeowner enlisted Io for a period-appropriate, yet modern design that was also pollinator and drought friendly.

According to Shalae, the first step in landscape design is to define the space, which in this case included a retaining wall and clipped boxwood hedges for boundary and definition. Once they had a flat plane to work with, perennials were planned in the homeowner’s preferred palette of yellow and purple (lavender, salvia, hyssops, yellow yarrow and black eyed susans, to name a few) and arranged in flowing bands that rhythmically wrap the corner yard. A red hibiscus flower accents the front entry, which features a curved archway intentionally framed by a boxwood bush.

The compositional planning is strikingly similar to that of an abstract painting or musical score.

“It looks natural and randomized, but there is a very specific choreography of color,” says Shalae, who made sure that no matter the time of year, something would always be flowering. “It’s like an orchestra,” she says of the layered blooms. 

The result: a whimsical, meadow-style front yard with a mix of English and native plants that softly surround a meandering brick walkway – designed by Io with the original bricks. Beyond the iron fence line (also designed by Io, in an Arts & Crafts style) is phase two of the project, which includes a shade garden with fountain, custom vegetable garden boxes, a pergola that frames the pool, and an intentionally placed greenhouse. (Pro tip from Shalae: greenhouses should typically be aligned on an east-west axis for optimal winter sun.)

Even with such complexity, the Healy House landscape design has a cohesive flow that draws you from one space to the next, as if you’re walking through a series of outdoor rooms. “Our number one job as landscape architects is to define outdoor space,” says Shalae, who creates “rooms” using pergolas, fences or grade changes, and designs those spaces with intentional color, texture, and composition through her choice of plants and blooms. With the Healy House, the aesthetic of the Old English home had a direct influence on the design, as all of Io’s residential projects do – particularly the historic ones. No matter the style of your home, Io offers a range of options to begin planning a landscape, starting with a “seed plan” that will help you define your space and ballpark a budget. Word to the water-wise: excess gravel won’t help our bees and butterflies (or your neighborhood aesthetic) so get creative with your planning! Hiring a designer amounts to a small percentage of the overall cost of your plants, so why not use a professional to optimize the outcome? Check out Io LandArch’s services and templated residential designs on their website.

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