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LANDSCAPE EDITION

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Dream it. Build it. LIVIT 4

livitsitestructure.com 651.755.4513 lake society magazine


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topollc.com | 612-929-2049

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Landscape Architecture and Urbanism www.tenxtenstudio.com LANDSCAPING

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ON THE COVER LANDSCAPE BY TOPO PHOTO BY COREY GAFFER PUBLISHER KAREN T. STOECKEL GRAPHIC DESIGN SHEBA CONCEPT & DESIGN, INC. ART DIRECTION KAREN T. STOECKEL MANAGING EDITOR ELLEN OLSON SOCIAL MEDIA JACOB PIERRE LOUIS III CONTRIBUTING WRITERS ANDREW J. RAMIREZ CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS COREY GAFFER AARON KESSLER PAUL CROSBY SCOTT ESTREM STEVE SILVERMAN TROY THIES WES PEDERSON

TONKABAYFOUNTAINS.COM | 952-820-5688 8

Lakesocietymagazine.com Lakesocietymagazine@gmail.com @lsm_magazine lake society magazine


tvlstudio.com | 612.345.2475 LANDSCAPING

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L AKESOCIETYMAGAZINE.COM

Publisher’s Letter

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Welcome to our first annual Landscape edition of LSM! Although we feature many beautiful homes and properties in our regular publication, we’ve always been fascinated by the outdoor living areas and landscapes that we see in our City Lakes neighborhoods and beyond. We’ve gathered an amazing collection of work by some of the region’s best landscape architects, designers, lighting resources, artists and design/build firms. Family stays at boutique hotels served as inspiration for the elegant pool, cabana and family friendly landscape designed by Topo. The design of the entire project takes its queues from the existing architecture of the home and the personal style of the family. When a new, more modern structure replaced a traditional 1950’s lake home, the landscape needed to be cleaner and more restrained. TVL Studio and Landscape Renovations moved the homeowner’s beautiful existing gardens, full of history, to viewing gardens in the greater part of the yard. The visual simplicity of the modern landscape design is the perfect complement to architecture of the home. Outdoor lighting can transform a home’s landscape and Scott Erickson has dedicated his business to designing outdoor lighting systems the create breathtaking effects. He stays abreast of the latest developments in lighting technology by attending conferences and connecting regularly with fellow lighting professionals across the country. When TEN x TEN was invited to design a landscape in Kenwood, they were asked to capture the feeling of overgrown wildness the homeowners loved, and to balance that against the tranquility of a Zen meditation garden. Landscape Renovations helped to create a result that looks as if the stone work and plantings were placed through natural occurrences. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Scott Estrem, Tonka Bay Fountains, has spent years perfecting his craft of carving and fabricating stone. Each of his stone fountains is unique and he has developed an avid following of homeowners who love his work. Tim Johnson, LIVIT Site + Structure, worked with his clients over several years to create a backyard oasis that features a beautiful pool, expansive deck, a pergola, and a sleek outdoor living room with a gas fire table. The homeowners love entertaining family and friends in the space; they find it elegant and comfortable, and they enjoy having different “rooms” where they can gather. Mom’s Design Build was charged with creating the feeling of a tropical vacation getaway in the backyard of a Lake Harriet home. The pool is the centerpiece and outdoor living areas have a modern coastal feel. It’s beautiful and romantic and the flexible spaces are well suited for celebrations large and small. My friend, Andrew J. Ramirez, of the Uptown Rotary Club of Minneapolis is serving as the co-chair of an initiative that will result in the planting of over 100 trees in the city of Brooklyn Park on Saturday, May 1st. The Rotary Peace forest is a story about environmental justice and improving public health – and creating a legacy of conservation. We checked out some fun gardening supplies at Tonkadale Greenhouse to get you moving. Many of us are still sticking pretty close to home and looking at our spaces, inside and out, with an eye towards change. We hope these beautiful images and our editorial will provide you with inspiration for your own outdoor living areas. Dream and enjoy! lake society magazine


DESIGNS | INSTALLATIONS | SERVICE ERICKSONLIGHTING.COM 952.474.4536

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CONTENTS SPRING 2021

10 A LETTER FROM the publisher 14 POOL COOL

A bold vision and meticulous details shaped the design of this elegant pool, cabana and family friendly landscape.

20 GARDEN GOODS

Get growing on the right foot with local and artisan-crafted goods.

22 LAKESIDE BEAUTY

The visual simplicity of this modern contemporary landscape design is the perfect complement to the architecture of this lakeside home.

28 LIGHT MOVES

Scott Erickson has dedicated his business to designing outdoor lighting systems that enhance landscape designs and create breathtaking effects.

30 QUIET MEDITATION 12

A feeling of overgrown wildness is balanced with the tranquility of a Zen meditation garden at this stunning residential property.

36 ART OF STONE

Artist Scott Estrem creates beautiful, one-of-akind, fountains and other art objects from natural stone.

38 BACKYARD OASIS

A lot of living gets packed into this outdoor living area; it’s inviting and comfortable and exudes a clean and modern vibe.

44 VACATION VIBES

Creating the feeling of a tropical vacation getaway was at the heart of this outdoor landscape design.

50 ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

The Rotary Peace Forest is a story about environmental justice and improving public health.

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POOL COOL

A bold vision and meticulous details shaped the design of this elegant pool, cabana and family friendly landscape. written by ellen olson, photography by corey gaffer

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project credits: landscape design: topo landscape construction: topo architect for cabana structure: charlie & co. design, ltd. builder for cabana structure: john kraemer & sons 16

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“The homeowner wanted the space to feel like a pool at a beautiful boutique hotel.” –SCOTT RITTER, OWNER, TOPO

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When the owner of this home wanted to recreate the feel and experience of their family stays at different boutique hotels they contacted Scott Ritter of Topo. They knew of Scott from the extensive amount of work he has done in the Rolling Green neighborhood of Edina. When Scott designs a project he starts by taking queues from three specific things: the vernacular of the architecture, the context within which the project resides, and the personality of the homeowner. It’s important to understand the architecture in order to design an appropriate landscape and the property should always feel like it belongs in the neighborhood. Most importantly, the project should be infused with the homeowner’s personality while meeting their specific needs. “The homeowner wanted the space to feel like a pool at a beautiful boutique hotel,” said Scott. “For the pool house I envisioned something that was not a direct offspring of the house but more of a third cousin that echoed some of the architectural detailing but was a less traditional building and looked more like poolside cabanas by separating the peaked roof structures. For this part of the project I recommended to the client that we ask Charlie Simmons of Charlie & Co to collaborate with us on the design of the cabana. On a project like this it’s important to know your limitations and when it’s time to add someone to the team that can help knock the project out of the park.” “Upon the first viewing of the site the topography read as very flat but we could see from the survey that we had some grade change we could take advantage of along the property lines,” said Scott. “We created a grand set of steps up to the pool that not only looked very interesting but also complemented the existing living space under the loggia of the house by expanding that space and giving it the feel of a sunken living room.” Large blocks of white Valders limestone, sourced from quarries in Wisconsin, surround the pool. A decorative block wall, painted white, runs the length of the pool. At dusk, it is washed with light and creates an ambient vibe for the space. The client wanted a plant palette that is “clean and green.” It includes Taylor Junipers, which resemble Italian Cypress but can withstand the Minnesota climate. Sculpted boxwood adds an element of green architecture, which keeps the landscape interesting but perfectly edited. When it came time to build Scott put together a team from his own in-house staff that had specific strengths that were particularly suited for this project. The unique thing about building with Topo is that Topo puts one group of guys on the site that will execute all the various tasks including masonry, paving, planting, lighting, irrigation, storm water management and anything else that might be required. A play lawn doubles as a putting green serving both children and adults. The green is a destination where the kids can lounge on the soft turf and the adults can entertain with a putter in one hand and a cocktail in the other. The lawn is surrounded by a mass of limelight hydrangea loaded with white blossoms to reflect the minimalist color palette of the house and landscape project. The design of the entire project takes all of its queues from the existing architecture and personal style of the family. The site makes good and efficient use of the space and creates living areas that reflect and support the homeowners’ lifestyle – one filled with family and friends, children, dogs and many joyful celebrations. topollc.com 18

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GARDEN GOODS Get growing on the right foot with local and artisan-crafted goods from Tonkadale Greenhouse tonkadale.com photography by aaron kessler

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1. 1. DeWit Locally Handcrafted Garden Tools. 2. Bare Bones Classic Work Glove — Natural 3. Monahan Black & White Attached Tray Pot / Horizontal & Vertical Stripe 4. Sandwich Column Accented Planters / Assorted Colors 5. Henri Watering Can — Gold 6. Bergs Kobenhavner Pot with Saucer — Rose

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LAKESIDE BEAUTY

The visual simplicity of this modern contemporary landscape design is the perfect complement to the architecture of this lakeside home. written by ellen olson, photography by paul crosby photography LANDSCAPING

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project credits: architect: snow kreilich (matt kreilich, karkeat chong) builder: welch forsman (don forsman) landscape architect: travis van liere studio (travis van liere, emma froh) interior design: martha dayton design landscape contractor: landscape renovations 24

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“This project is a perfect representation of a well designed and installed contemporary landscape.” –BOB PALMER, OWNER/SENIOR DESIGN, LANDSCAPE RENOVATIONS

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HOME

“We created a sinuous connection from the house, to the mature treed site, the gardens and the lake beyond.” –TRAVIS VAN LIERE, FOUNDER/PRINCIPAL, TVL STUDIO 26

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When a new, more modern structure replaced a traditional 1950’s lake home, it was important to preserve beautiful existing gardens but a more restrained landscape was necessary to complement the home’s architecture. The clients were empty nesters and avid sailors and they wanted to build a more contemporary home that would better connect to the landscape, bring more light into the home and maintain their beautiful views to Lake Minnetonka. The existing one acre site contained several mature trees and priority was given to preserving the healthy ones and to maintain privacy and screening from the roads and highway. A new, sleek design emerged for the home with walls of windows to frame the views of the lake and the landscape. “We wanted to blur the lines between the architecture and site,” said Travis Van Liere, founder of Travis Van Liere Studio. “We created a sinuous connection from the house, to the mature treed site, the gardens and the lake beyond.” The exterior siding is accoya, a thermally modified wood finished with an oil process. It’s a low maintenance selection that gives the home the “beach house” feeling the clients desired. The structure was repositioned on the lot in order to conform to setbacks and required flood plain elevations for the lake. The front entrance and entry courtyard choreograph the sequence of entry to the house. Concrete pavers transition to a porcelain tile, which resembles stone. The entry glass creates a clear view through the home and to the lake – one of those amazing “aha” moments. The precision of boxwood hedge planting contrasts with the white of the birch trees and becomes an art piece that complements the entry experience. Subtle in-ground lighting illuminates the plantings after dusk. The decks are an extension of the architecture into the landscape; the design was a collaborative process with Snow Kreilich. Porcelain tile pavers are placed over steel frame decks that are elevated. Metal planters outfitted with an irrigation system are planted with a series of ornamental grasses. Sedums and succulents fill out the base of the plantings. The clients love to entertain so careful thought was given to how the house fits on a micro scale for intimate family events, as well as large, festive gatherings. The clients’ desire to preserve as many of the existing gardens as possible was achieved by creating viewing gardens in the greater part of the yard. The client wanted every window in the house to have a specific view so the gardens became the “artwork” for the home. The gardens were carefully transplanted, including the generational peony plantings from the client’s original childhood home and a shade garden filled with ferns and hosta. Lighting allows the gardens to be enjoyed at night. “The overwhelming intent of modern contemporary landscape architecture is that of visual simplicity,” added Bob Palmer, Owner of Landscape Renovations, who was involved in several aspects of the project. “Although it may appear simple, it is most often difficult to achieve. All lines in plant rows, paving, bed edges, wall lines have to be spot on to achieve the desired results. The tolerance for any variance is highly visible and can skew the finished product. Grades also must carry long lines at consistent planes as to not alter the visual. Plantings although numerous, are limited to a small number of varieties. This project is a perfect representation of a well designed and installed contemporary landscape.” The final product is beautiful in its elegance and simplicity. “We simplified and edited the landscape down to its purest version,” said Travis. “Our clients embraced the more contemporary design but we were also able to preserve many existing elements that made the house their home for so many years.” tvlstudio.com • landscaperenovations.com • snowkreikich.com welchforsman.com SPRING 2021

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LIGHT MOVES Scott Erickson has dedicated his business to designing outdoor lighting systems that enhance landscape designs and create breathtaking effects. lighting by erickson outdoor lighting written by ellen olson, photography by wes pederson

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Outdoor lighting can transform a home’s landscape and can elevate it from nice to spectacular. Beautiful effects can be achieved with layering and a variety of treatments. Architectural details and plantings can be accented and areas used for entertaining illuminated. Scott Erickson has dedicated his company to outdoor lighting. Most of his business is from referrals; his expertise, integrity and attention to detail delight his customers. He and his team at Erickson Outdoor Lighting handle the design, installation, service and maintenance of high quality lighting systems. “A lot of people think that lighting is lighting,” said Scott. “So many installations are flat and they only utilize one or two types of fixtures. The more variety of effects you can create, the more customized the look and the more dramatic, or subtle, the effect. It’s actually a very creative process. I like to use a variety of products and brands, as well as different types of lighting and bulbs, and integrate them into a quality system that will last for years.” There are so many elements that go into good lighting design. Fixtures are the most obvious. But many lighting effects can inform an installation: pathway, undercap, moonlights, uplights, downlights, underwater lights, and bollards are just a few of the options to consider. Little firefly lights that twinkle in the branches of trees have also become very popular. Color is another important aspect of lighting. With LED technology, the spectrum and consistency of color is essential, especially if you are seeking a natural effect. The proper lighting temperature is necessary to bring out the natural beauty in the stone or in the trees. “One of the challenges with some of the new technology is that there is a big swing in quality,” said Scott. “There are so many cheap LED bulbs and poorly manufactured integrated fixtures, it can be very frustrating to a homeowner. We can help you navigate those challenges and design a reliable system that fits your budget. We can stage installations over time, to make high quality lighting affordable. In the long run, it’s worth it.” Lighting installations involve transformers and clocks, connections and wires, photocells and astronomical timers. Dusk to dawn lighting is a popular request. With LEDs energy consumption and bulb life are no longer big considerations so it becomes more practical. “Overall the new LED technology is more versatile and you can do a lot more with different beam spreads and color temperatures,” said Scott. “The quality still needs to improve, but these newer installations should last longer and be more resilient. Transformers are smaller and you need a lot less wire and the systems require low energy. The technology is still evolving, but it is changing our business.” Scott began his career as an electrician, but after attending lighting seminar in California in 1998, he made that his focus. In 2004 he went out on his own. He keeps his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry by annually attending lighting conferences and networking with other lighting professionals. Scott has completed thousands of projects in over 10 states. He takes a lot of nighttime pictures, which really help him to understand what works and what doesn’t. His background as an electrician gives him an advantage: he understands wiring and that makes troubleshooting more efficient. Customer service is a huge part of his business and is part of what keeps him afloat during the lean years. He has six trucks on the road; two of them are full-time service trucks. “If someone is having a party and the patio lights don’t work, that is going to be a problem,” said Scott. “We are there to make sure that everything works as it should.” Read his customer testimonials. They tell the story. ericksonlighting.com LANDSCAPING

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QUIET MEDITATION A feeling of overgrown wildness is balanced with the tranquility of a Zen meditation garden in this stunning residential garden. written by ellen olson, photography by corey gaffer photography

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Stepping into this residential garden in Kenwood is like being transported into another dimension. It’s peaceful and calm and the city of Minneapolis seems far, far away. Most visitors will arrive through the home, where they will get to fully experience the layered sequencing of the interior and exterior rooms: each is distinct, yet connected. The transition to the outdoor spaces is almost imperceptible, as even the thresholds for the doors are smooth and unobtrusive. The outdoor spaces reflect the beauty and textures of Minnesota landscapes: slabs of granite, a weathered walkway, a grove of birch trees, and a prairie and woodland garden. The result is mesmerizing and stunning in its simplicity. TEN x TEN, a landscape architecture and urbanism practice, was invited to join this project by MSR Design, an architectural firm with whom they have done much collaboration. “Generally our work is focused on cultural and public projects,” said Maura Rockcastle, Principal and Cofounder of TEN x TEN, “but we love residential work, as the scale allows us to move through projects a little bit more quickly. We take an art forward approach to our design process and we create immersive and experiential landscapes.” MSR Design worked on a previous home with the homeowners and there were elements of that landscape they wanted expressed in their new space. “There was an overgrown wildness of the planting area that they really wanted us to experience and capture,” said Maura. “They loved the thicket of birch trees and woodland ground cover; our starting point for the design was their old home.” The new home was a little bit bigger with a typical rectangular shaped lot. The lawn was patchy, shady and underutilized and the maple trees were in decline. There wasn’t much that could be saved, except for a couple of trees where the side-yard transitions to the back yard. They were so precious that the fence line actually was altered to preserve their location. The homeowners envisioned a wild, Zen-like respite for their outdoor living areas. They were drawn to images of Japanese meditation gardens and a modern aesthetic, but it was important to carefully integrate these different styles in a way that respected the traditional character of the home. “We started collaging as a way to pull these different styles together,” said Maura. “A deck and outdoor terrace were added to the back of the home and we decided to wrap it with a veil of aluminum bars to create an elegant, modern view. The collages tested the idea of layering and experiencing the wild landscape through a series of portals.” A series of rooms were envisioned: the porch, the exterior deck, a sunken quarry with a fire pit, and outdoor kitchen. The outdoor areas an easy extension to the home and they feel connected to the home’s interiors. The first floor of the house is about three feet above the outside grade, so the deck sends a floating walkway out to the sunken quarry and transitions the space and the move from domestic to wild. The walkway is made from black locust, a sustainable, locally sourced material. It is not chemically or heat treated, and takes a lot less energy to produce. It grows very quickly and is a dense high quality wood with a long life span that will continue to weather into a silvery grey that blends with color of the aluminum slats and complements the dark granite wedge at the end of the walkway. The granite for the project is all from Coldspring Quarry continued on page 34

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“All of the stonework and plantings were carefully placed so that it appears that they were left in that exact place by natural occurrences.” –BOB –BOB PALMER, PALMER, OWNER/SENIOR OWNER/SENIOR DESIGN, DESIGN, LANDSCAPE RENOVATIONS LANDSCAPE RENOVATIONS

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continued from page 32 in St. Cloud. “Early on in the project, we did a quarry visit to tour the fabrication facilities and better understand the options for customizing granite,” said Maura. “On the tour, we drove through a field of roughback granite slabs and blocks scattered across a hillside. It was an incredibly beautiful and mysterious landscape with volunteer plants slowly taking over the ground between the discarded stone. We were told that these were all unwanted, abandoned pieces of granite. At that moment we decided that rather than customizing and designing with new slabs of stone, we were going to select and recycle unique pieces from this field. It was the best design limitation we put on ourselves.” The team selected slabs with a range of different finishes to work with, including cut, roughback and vertical striations that are created when the quarry extracts the stone from the earth using vertical holes drilled into the rock bench. “The only cutting that was done is where the pieces come together,” said John Rasmussen, an Associate at TEN x TEN. “It was like working with a massive box of Legos, trying to fit the stones together and to coordinate the different finishes. We didn’t want things to look overdesigned; and we worked with what we had.” Maura and her team continued to use their collage process to create a live cause and effect in the assemblage. Each stone had its own unique quality that they wanted to highlight. Granite lines the stone quarry and the seating area around the fire pit, as well as the stairs into the sunken rooms. Some of the slabs in the installation are massive. The wedge at the end of the walkway is about 4 feet at the base and tapers to 1 foot at the top. It’s about 6 feet tall and weighs over 8000 pounds. The largest piece of stone is the 2’x2’x12’ base that anchors the bench and weighs 11,000 pounds. A grove of hemlock and birch creates a stand of woodland forest. The trees are varied in size, some are multi-stem and some are single stem; nearly 40 trees were added to the landscape. “The homeowners really responded to the textured vertical aesthetic,” said John. “The cedar fence surrounding the property was finished with a water based black stain to further enhance the contrast to the bark of the birch trees.” Great care was taken to understand the proper soil type and depth, as well as the spacing, to support this stand of trees. It mimics a healthy forest in a natural setting. Irrigation of the site was essential to establishing the landscape, especially the woodland garden. Landscape Renovations helped to design an irrigation system that allows each area of the yard to be controlled separately in order to minimize the watering requirements. Once plant material is established, less irrigation will be required. Over time, the trees will create more shade, and the soil will retain more moisture. “The visual from the street is far different from the reality that lies behind the home,” said Bob Palmer, Owner of Landscape Renovations. “You get an instant feeling that you are in are remote area and you feel at ease, distanced from the hustle of the city. All of the stonework and plantings were carefully placed so that it appears that they were left in that exact place by natural occurrences. It is hard to believe that stones of that size were placed by small machines and a lot of man power.” “I am constantly surprised at how beautifully everything came together,” said Maura. “The materials speak to one another – there’s light, movement and shadow. It’s so quiet and meditative — yet so incredibly powerful.” 34 tenxtenstudio.com • landscaperenovations.com • msrdesign.com

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“The materials speak to one another – there’s light, movement and shadow.” –MAURA ROCKCASTLE, PRINCIPAL AND COFOUNDER, TEN X TEN

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ART OF STONE

Artist Scott Estrem creates beautiful, one-of-a kind, fountains and other art objects from natural stone. fountains by tonka bay fountains written by ellen olson photography by scott estrem

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Scott Estrem’s stone fountains are passionate expressions of his artistic vision. He has spent years perfecting his craft of carving and fabricating stone. Each fountain is unique, as no two stones are alike. His customers share his passion for the art form – they love their pieces as much, if not more, than he does. Scott was in the technology contracting business for 25 years. He laid copper and fiber to create the web of connectivity that is so essential to our lives today. He had a couple of companies that he sold and restarted, but by 2011 he was ready for a change. In 1996 he lost a very large tree in his back yard and he decided to replace it with a large stone fountain. “I’d always been interested in art, so when I was visiting my dad’s property up at Lake Mille Lacs, I located beautiful granite boulders that were full of character,” said Scott. “I brought them home and began to teach myself this craft of carving the stones so they would fit together.” After that first project, he made several stone fountains for friends. “I finally decided to see if I could make these stone fountains into a real business,” he remarked. Minnesota is blessed with huge amounts of glacial stones – hard stones like granite that will not degrade over time. Scott sources most of his stone from local landscape supply places. About 30% of his business is the fountains that he creates and offers for purchase on his website, art fairs or farmers markets. He also creates tiki torches, stone vases and wine chillers. About 60% of his business is generated from custom commissions. He begins that process in a customer’s home and they share their preferences – colors, texture, size, shape. Size, scale and budget are factors in the conversation. Customers really enjoy the creative and collaborative process. Some of the fountains sit above ground; larger projects involve setting them into the ground, with a special structure to house electrical, pumps and lighting. All of his fountains are secured through the middle with a section of galvanized steel pipe, which keeps them stable and solidly in place. A Tonka Bay Fountain will last for generations. Each stone is carved and fitted to the stone above it and below it. The stones are marked with the proper orientation, so that if the fountain is ever moved it can be easily reassembled. Most of the fountains feature a bottom stone that is carved out to allow the pooling of water. The pool mitigates splash, softens the acoustics and the light that emanates from the bottom of the fountain. “Carving the stone is pretty resource intensive,” said Scott. “I use some high tech drills and tools but nothing beats a good oldfashioned hammer and chisel. My stone fabrications and carvings look as though they occurred naturally after years of wear and weather – smooth but not polished.” The fountains require regular servicing: they are prepared for the winter, opened back up in the spring, and cleaned during the summer months. Most of Scott’s installations are found within the ten country metro area of Minneapolis. But customers with second homes in other locations – Arizona, Mexico, Costa Rica – commission his works and are avid supporters. His Instagram presence is giving his work exposure across the country. Scott’s full portfolio and work currently for sale is on his website. His creations can be seen at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market and at the Jeweler of the North Shore Gallery in Lutsen. He’s been accepted into the Ely Blueberry Art Festival in late July and hopes to be invited to the Grand Marias Art Festival again this year. He looks forward to speaking with customers about his love for stone, and his art. tonkabayfountains.com • @tonkabayfountains LANDSCAPING

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BACKYARD OASIS A lot of living gets packed into this modern and sleek outdoor landscape. written by ellen olson, photography by troy thies photography

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After a typical ranch home in a suburban Minneapolis neighborhood was completely remodeled and transformed into a more modern family home, the homeowners turned their attention to the outdoor living areas. They wanted a pool and comfortable inviting spaces for entertaining family and friends. Their plan was ambitious so they took a multi-year, staggered approach to the project. Landscape designer Tim Johnson, the Founder/President/Lead Designer of LIVIT Site + Structure LLC, designed the vision for the backyard oasis and began the project construction while he was working with another landscape firm. “The homeowners wanted to accomplish a lot in a very small space,” said Tim. “We were able to develop a plan that could be implemented over time, but would be cohesive and complement the architecture of the home.” The deck, the pool and a pergola for outdoor dining were given the first priority. Before any building could be done, the lot had to be graded and drainage systems installed to successfully manage storm water as well any runoff from the pool. The expansive, curved deck is made from a composite decking material. Plantings of tall ornamental grasses soften the deck’s edge and create a casual, whimsical feel when blowing in the wind. A raised planter creates a division from the utility area, so that it is kept from view. A simple colored concrete surrounds the pool and provides clean lines to give the area a simple feeling. The pergola introduces some shade space and architecture into the outdoor areas. The pergola is raised to create a little extra privacy; and the New York bluestone helps to define the space. “By changing the surface material and the threshold, it’s like stepping into a different room,” said Tim. A cedar privacy fence was built around the property and the plan is to let those materials weather and silver in order to minimize maintenance. The fence line is softened with plantings, although the plant palette is minimal. Ornamental pines bring some winter interest to the landscape and the columnar shape helps to keep the space clean. Coreopsis, sedum and a wonderful cadence of white hydrangea that turns pink in autumn, add texture. Planters provide some seasonal color; they are designed, planted and maintained by LIVIT. Areas of grass are installed throughout the landscape to accommodate room for a trampoline and places for the children to play catch. Recently the homeowners reached back out to Tim to add a gas fire table and patio to create a small intimate space for lounging. “We continued the use of the New York blue stone as the surface material,” he said. “It borders the pool in a very clean way but introduces another ‘room’ into the landscape.” The gas fire table is capped with blue stone and the bottom of the table mimics the siding of the house. LED lighting under the cap illuminates the feature and echoes the lighting treatment used under the pergola bench. A beautiful rock garden filled with polished beach pebble borders the patio and houses speakers and a subwoofer. “We like to provide audio options for our clients’ outdoor living areas,” said Tim. “These systems, when well-planned, can provide a quality sound that fills the outdoor living rooms without interrupting the neighbors and allows everyone in the space to have the same sound experience.” Together, Tim and his client made the outdoor furniture selections. It is all custom-made and features the same clean, sleek lines as the rest of the space. It helps to pull everything together. “One of the things that distinguishes my firm is that we do everything from start to finish. We are outdoor living experts and we create landscapes that give our clients what they want – so they can live and enjoy the space.” livitsitestructure.com 40

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“We create landscapes that give our clients what they want — so they can live and enjoy the space.” –TIM JOHNSON, FOUNDER/PRESIDENT/LEAD DESIGNER, LIVIT SITE + STRUCTURE

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project credits: landscape design: tim johnson, livit site + structure llc landscape construction: livit site + structure llc SPRING 2021

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VACATION VIBES Creating the feeling of a tropical vacation getaway was at the heart of this outdoor landscape design. written by ellen olson, photography by steve silverman

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project credits: landscape design: mom’s design build architect: dfp planning & design builder: great neighborhood homes 46

lake society magazine


“The use of warm stones, tropical wood and modern plantings make you feel as if you have stepped into another world.” –HEATHER SWEENEY, SENIOR DESIGNER, MOM’S DESIGN BUILD

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The design of this landscape started with a blank slate. The home had just undergone a major remodel and transformation and there was little in the back yard, except for a big beautiful oak, that remained. The homeowners knew they wanted a space that felt like there were on a tropical vacation, without leaving the back yard. The pool was going to be the main attraction and the other features were designed and built around it. The homeowners love to entertain so they wanted to create flexible spaces, which could accommodate groups large and small. The house was designed with a strong sight line from the front door, which is largely glass, through the back door. “We wanted to create that ‘wow’ factor as you enter the home, so we lined up the pool with that front door axis,” said Heather Sweeney, Senior Designer, Mom’s Design Build. “Two jets flow into the pool to create additional drama and you can see all the way to the swing and large oak at the back of the lot.” Tupelo limestone patterned with Cortona sandstone coping surrounds the pool and complements the stone choices on the house. It’s lighter in color and won’t get too warm in the hot summer sun. These same materials are used at the front entrance; the Tupelo limestone walkway ends with a Bluestone and Cortona inlay at the front door. On the far end of the pool a swinging bed pergola anchors the space, as well as providing a fun place to hang out and relax. As you step into the landscape from the interior of the home, you arrive on a spacious tropical hardwood deck that mimics the front porch design. It’s a welcoming space that is easily accessed from the home and is a wonderful place to catch a minute of respite during a busy day. The deck is spacious enough to accommodate comfortable seating that complements the main furniture in the living room. Most of the interior rooms in the home relate to the outdoor spaces so all of the outdoor fabrics, furniture and finishes were chosen with that in mind. Coastal colors and fun patterns keep the space vibrant and interesting. The transition and view from indoor to outdoor spaces feels very cohesive. A stone outdoor kitchen is equipped with a grill, refrigerator and trash, was installed nearby. It was oriented so that the view from the open loggia is stone, not appliances. “The children played a big factor in the design,” said Heather. “They love to run and play, and they are both gymnasts. We created a built in trampoline for them, as well as a synthetic turf area where they can play and perform their gymnastics. We installed a tree swing in the large oak that is simple and playful.” The turf area is especially useful when large events are hosted on the property; as it serves as a drainage field, and is the perfect place to place a tent in inclement weather. The swing can be taken down and that space used for a band during a party. Bistro lights finish the space and make it feel romantic and beautiful. All of the lighting is on a timer so it comes on automatically at dusk. The home was the 2015 ASID showcase home, so the timelines for the project were tight – just a matter of a couple of months. “Overall this is a fun design that has a modern coastal feel,” said Heather. “The use of warm stones, tropical wood and modern plantings make you feel as if you have stepped into another world.” momsdesignbuild.com • dfpdesign.com • 48 greatneighborhoodhomes.com

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written by andrew j ramirez

The Rotary Peace Forest is a story about environmental justice and improving public health. 50

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As a young boy, growing up in an inner-city neighborhood in Minnesota, trees seemed like a novelty. In the urban jungle, concrete sidewalks, walls, and asphalt roads surrounded small homes on postage stamp-sized lots. In my neighborhood, trees were few and far between. I did not realize at the time, that abundant tree coverage had become a luxury, reserved for more prosperous neighborhoods. Once a year, while I was growing up, my family would pile into our van and drive north into the pristine wilderness of Northern Minnesota for a summer vacation. As a city boy, I can remember being completely awestruck by the natural and wonderous beauty of the towering Boreal white pines around the Mississippi River Headwaters at the Itasca State Forest. As I grow older and reflect, I feel that it is our shared responsibility to protect these precious natural resources for future generations to enjoy. We can also bring these trees into neighborhoods where they are needed most. In researching urban forestry, I learned that more affluent neighborhoods in my community had homes situated on larger lots with mature and well cared for trees. Homeowners in these neighborhoods long realized the benefits that trees provide and had the means to plant and maintain them. They were also able to successfully advocate for trees to be planted in their local parks and along boulevards. This dichotomy of tree coverage between affluent and historically under-resourced communities has led to negative outcomes in the areas with fewer trees. The statistics suggest drastically different realities for residents in the communities. Areas with lower tree canopy coverage often have higher air pollution, poorer water quality and higher rates of asthma. Rotarians are people of action and taking steps to provide all communities with ecological benefits is a practice known as Environmental Justice. Our goal with this project was to plant trees in an area that was identified by Hennepin County as a High Priority Area. “It is truly an inspiring cause!” says Tom Gump, Rotary’s District Governor. As Rotarians, we wanted to do the right thing, in the right way. So, we enlisted the help of Tree Trust. They helped us analyze and identify a location that would benefit the most from more trees. We utilized a data-driven model incorporating complex demographic and geographic information laid out over maps including tree canopy cover, air quality, water quality, population density, median income, poverty rates and asthma related hospitalization rates. This scientific approach led us to select the city of Brooklyn Park for our project. As we continued to plan the project, it was crucial to make sure that we were planting the right kinds of trees. To achieve long-term sustainability of the trees planted, we needed to carefully select tree species that would be resistant to diseases that had devastated urban tree canopies in the state over the past fifty years. We avoided elm and ash tree varieties since we knew that they were susceptible to insects and diseases. On Saturday, May 1st, 2021, a Rotary Peace Forest will be planted. The effort will be co-led by Bill Sierks of Twin Cities Rotary Eco Club and up to 100 trees will be placed in the earth. The generosity of Rotarians with their time and financial resources made this project possible. Through teamwork, we were able to create meaningful and positive change in our community. Protecting the Environment is our shared responsibility and trees are part of our conservation legacy. Together, we can leave this planet better than we found it. lake society magazine minneapolisuptownrotary.org


so•ci•e •ty: companionship or association with one’s fellows: a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory

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ature always wears the color of the spirit.

–ralph waldo emerson 52

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Lake Society Magazine - LandScape Issue - Spring 2021  

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