HGTV Dream Home 2004: Landscape Design
The house is magnificent - a three-story Victorian-inspired home complete with a tower that soars to 45 feet. From there you can see storied Cumberland Island. From the back deck and much of the house, there's a sweeping view of the Georgia salt marshes. The marsh is everything you'd want it to be - a seemingly endless sea of grasses waving in the gentle winds, birds floating on the ribbons of water. A boat dock, topped with a screen room, caps the scene. This is HGTV's 2004 Dream Home.
One might think with a view that beautiful plus water access, it almost wouldn't matter what the landscaping looks like. But landscape architect Peter Langham found a way to give this house the setting it deserves, tying the house into the landscape and providing a seamless transition from landscape to marsh. He improved the view by slightly angling the lot so as to give full view of Point Peter Creek. He also raised the front yard to strengthen the view to the marsh beyond the home.
Although he infused drama into the landscape with three large pindo palms at the driveway entrance and an expansive lawn of St. Augustine grass flowing beneath live oaks, Peter's design is simple, intended to blur the line between the yard and the neighboring marsh. Black-needle rush and ornamental grasses such as miscanthus and crown grass harmonize with the multi-hued marsh grasses. Wax myrtles, 'Nellie R. Stevens' hollies, tea olives, Japanese yews and pineapple guava provide a buffer for the adjacent lot.
"What we tried to create here is very simple," Peter says. "It's a simplicity that carries from the marsh up to the house - the use of grasses, the lawn area. In the backyard we used grass to link the back porch to the dock and create a sense of space. It's very casual and elegant. The ornamental grasses in the backyard complement the grasses in the marsh. When you look at the horizon, it's very simple, and we wanted to recreate the horizontal look." The dream landscape includes more than 4,000 plants (including 23 different varieties), 375 bales of pine straw and more than 15,000 square feet of St. Augustine sod. It took 200-plus hours to design and supervise the project, and 20 truckloads of soil to raise the front yard.
"This is a place I could live in," says Peter. "You get the breezes, the salt from the marsh, the spectacular views, and this wonderful architecture that's been carefully positioned on the site to maximize the views."
With the simple, natural landscaping, the house, lawn and marsh come together as one. "The most important thing we try to do in our designs is create a sense of space and a place for the architecture. In this site, we have this beautiful marsh and beautiful house, so we wanted everything to blend together, to feel comfortable. It has the character and warmth a Dream Home should have."