For landscape designer and certified professional horticulturist Heidi Skievaski of Sublime Garden Design, an unsightly curtain drain that skirted a newly constructed high-bank waterfront home was a design challenge turned opportunity.

Because of the home’s location on a coastal bluff, the curtain drain was there to stay. Picture an 18-inch swath of drain rock marring the backyard and access to the property’s exceptional views. Skievaski transformed the curtain drain into a meandering dry-stream bed with boulders, river cobble in a variety of sizes, and native ferns and grasses.

“It ended up being a really nice feature; you’d never guess that it was a drain,” Skievaski said. “It’s simple, yet stunning.”

Curtain drain aside, the property was a blank slate. Two acres of the 6.5-acre property needed landscaping. According to Skievaski, the homeowners requested ample lawn space for kids and the family dog, an edible garden protected from deer, and a low-maintenance design featuring drought-tolerant native plants and modern, clean lines.

She focused on native plantings along the edges of the property to soften the transition from native landscape to designed landscape. She incorporated luecothoe, hellebores, ferns, nandina, pieris, Japanese maples, and viburnum. Closer to the home, she chose cephalotaxus and Little Lime hydrangeas. Boulders, many which were sourced from the property, interrupt straight lines and architectural pavers in order to add character and warmth to the space.

Skievaski says her goal when working with homeowners is to “create something my clients would create themselves, if they knew how.”

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"Skievaski says her goal when working with homeowners is to “create something my clients would create themselves, if they knew how.”"