"In the city, you always have to think vertically,” says landscape designer Doug Hoerr. It’s a principle that became doubly important when imagining the gardens surrounding a new Irish Georgian–style manse in downtown Chicago.
“We needed to age the grounds to keep the home from feeling too new or jarring in this neighborhood,” notes the designer, who did this by choosing mature trees for the courtyard and parkway.
But along the side, where columnar red maples rise up from a parterre garden, and in the living area in the rear, the design hinged in large part on what Hoerr says many urban landscapes rely upon: the intense microclimates of city lots.
“Sharp differences in exposures can make it difficult to achieve symmetry,” he says. “So I’ll often create balance in the hardscape, and simply choose plants that are going to help me win.” An allée of maples, boxwood, and impatiens borders the lawn, and an adjacent living area is separated by raised beds.
“I like to position living spaces toward the back of the property,” he says. “When you can look back at the scale of the house, it creates a feeling of being in your own secret garden, which is powerful in the middle of a city.”
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