Glen Ellyn Residence - Walkway

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Project Type: Walkway
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Services: Landscape Design

When I first pulled up to this Glen Ellyn residence, I thought to myself, “Their front looks pretty good.” Once I introduced myself to the homeowners, we started walking around the side of the house, and I immediately knew why I was there. The side yard sloped down to the walk-out basement. This area had been eroding for the last nine years since the house was originally built. We had a couple of problems to solve: a good amount of soil had washed away, and there was no safe access to the backyard.

After talking with the homeowners about the erosion and lack of access, they then addressed some additional requests on their side yard renovation project. The first issue was a fifty-two-inch caliper Sycamore tree the homeowners wanted to keep and ensure the roots did not damage. Another phase of the project was to account for the probable addition of a second air conditioning unit in the future. Finally, the couple wanted the new space to be low maintenance, and they wanted to complete the project while maintaining a set budget.

For this project, I decided on Eden outcropping stones to create the terraces in the sloped area. The outcropping stones were also staggered so we could design the steps for the walkway being installed next. The homeowners chose a tumbled Unilock paver for the walkway with similar color tones as the siding on the house. Now that we addressed the backyard access with terraces and a walkway, we next needed to handle the drainage.

After studying the water runoff patterns, I devised a plan to divert excess rainwater to the backyard, where it originally was planned to go. Previously, excess rainwater ran down the slope and onto the back porch, where soil deposits would collect. We achieved all of this by constructing a swale lined with cobblestone along the new sidewalk. While using a swale, we were able to control the direction of water flow, and the cobblestones were used to keep the water from washing away any more soil.

When designing the space, I was able to have the walkway and the swale curve towards the house, thus keeping them as far from the Sycamore tree as possible. By keeping our distance from the tree and using extra caution while digging, we were able to keep all vital roots intact. However, since the tree was so large, it would be virtually impossible to get a nice lawn established in this area. So, I specified the area with shade-loving shrubs and perennials.

The homeowners, with three small children, were determined to have this area be low maintenance. Therefore, I was careful to lightly plant it with plants that do not require much trimming or attention. By lightly planting around the area and putting in just enough plants, Bruss was able to keep the overall cost of the project in line with the homeowners' budget. To further achieve the budgetary goals, we re-purposed some materials into the planning, avoiding waste.

Another material we were able to recycle was their soil. The home had some low-lying areas in both the front and back yards, so we used the good topsoil that we excavated out for the walkway addition and filled these areas in. We then fine graded it and added some grass seed and establishment mulch, now the areas have filled in nicely.

All in all, the project turned out terrific. We were able to solve some problems, complete everything within the homeowner’s budget without sacrificing service or quality, and the homeowners will be able to enjoy it for years to come.