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For The Garden

Renewed Gardenscape

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: February, 2014, Page 104
Photos by Richard Maack

The snaking limbs of an enormous ironwood tree frame the entry to this Paradise Valley, Arizona, home.



A Neglected Landscape Is Reworked With Fresh Plantings and the Addition of an Alfresco Kitchen

Homes with mature landscapes are often a big draw for house hunters. But when a previously maintained lot has sat vacant for years, its appeal can get lost with the ravages of time. This was the case with one such property in Paradise Valley, Arizona; so when its current owner purchased the hillside acreage in 2010, he brought in a team of professionals to perfect the setting.

As the interior of the home was being remodeled, plans for the grounds were coming into focus. “One of the best aspects of this job was that the homeowner allowed us to do what we wanted,” remarks landscape designer Peggy DeLaGarza of Trademark Landscape.

Strategic upgrades, fresh plantings and a smart use of natural materials changed the dynamics of the yard. “We brought in close to 85 tons of boulders to build up and define a natural wash in the front that was eroding away,” says DeLaGarza, who collaborated with her field foreman, Cleofas Gonzalez, on the project. Such trees as live oak, Texas ebony and a “gnarly” salvaged ironwood were brought in to create some much-needed privacy. In addition, many species of specimen cacti, agaves and yuccas were added to enhance the grounds.

Although the backyard had most of its hardscape elements already in place—including a pool fronted by a stepped water wall and a dramatic tiered water feature—it too went through changes. Empty garden beds were filled with plants in varying textures and shades of green, as the homeowner did not want too much color. The addition of night lighting, a new irrigation system and an outdoor kitchen completed the project.

Happy in its desert environs, a sprawling slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) shows off its striking shape. To create a natural look in the front yard, Peggy DeLaGarza brought in a mix of desert specimens and full-size trees. A raised patio is visible in the background.
“The client wanted a full outdoor kitchen protected from direct sunlight that could be used for cooking and entertaining, and it needed to be very user-friendly and masculine in nature,” says interior designer Teresa DeLellis, who worked on the home’s interiors and outdoor living spaces. The fully stocked kitchen includes dishware, stemware, a barbecue, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and a sink with a garbage disposal.

The exterior cabinets were wire brushed to be more forgiving, since they are located outdoors, notes the designer. As a partner in DeLellis Construction, the firm that remodeled the home and built the kitchen, DeLellis understood the importance of using durable materials. “All of the finishes we chose needed to be low maintenance and they had to be strong enough to hold up to the elements,” she remarks.

“The initial concept of the exterior was to be subtle but complementary to the interiors and all the existing surroundings,” she continues. “Earth tones and metallics—copper, pewter, bronze—were used, and color is provided by the beautiful landscaping and accessories. All of the exterior art is subtle but strong enough to withstand the harsh desert elements.”



A view from the newly constructed outdoor kitchen shows the connection to the existing poolscape. “We were able to purchase more of the original Turkish limestone that was used throughout the house, to complete the exterior addition,” says Teresa DeLellis. To soften the wall behind the pool, Peggy DeLaGarza added layers of evergreen vegetation.
The beehive-shaped water feature was existing when the outdoor dining area was constructed. In the background, a custom fireplace that is open on three sides boasts a steel and hammered-copper hood and a cantera hearth. It was designed by architect Craig Wickersham, who worked on the home’s renovation. The flooring is travertine.


Teresa DeLellis, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest, chose slab granite for the outdoor kitchen’s countertops, backsplashes and bar, and stainless steel for the appliances and sinks. The mantel over the barbecue hood is made of cantera.
Just off the front patio, a cantera fire pot filled with lava stone sits on a ledge overlooking the newly upgraded landscape.


Dating back more than 200 years, this enormous Pisco pot was once used to store brandy. One of two flanking the front door, it comes from a hacienda in the Andean region of Peru; its metal base was custom made. To divert the eye from an unsightly utility door, a commissioned metal artwork designed to look like a cactus in the desert was installed in the wall’s opening.
The landscape designer tucked a cluster of succulents at the base of a multi-headed yucca cane plant. In the background is a potted San Pedro cactus.

DESIGN TIPS
Avoid west-facing outdoor kitchens, as the sun is harsh on cabinetry and heats up the space too much. A southern exposure is preferred.

Select easy-to-maintain materials and appliances, as dust, dirt, sunlight and wind can cause problems, especially with gas burners and electrical appliances.

Ensure that barbecues and gas stoves are not placed under combustible materials, such as fabric awnings or shade screens. Stucco and brick are recommended for ceilings, walls and eaves.
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