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Walloon Lake Shore Residence
''Where the light shines through the clouds''

By Maureen Parker, Landscape Architect, Common Ground Landscapes




As you approach this northern Michigan residence on the shores of Walloon Lake, drifts of perennials along the driveway provide full seasonal color--catmint, pinks, daisy, astilbe and yarrow. A paver border defines the driveway circle entry court. The oak in the center island is a focal point with a mix of yellow roses and annual flowers. The maple and birch (left) frame and soften the house.

Rain bird
Monarch Stone Int'l Came America

A Challenging Site
The client requested the home be placed as close to the lake as possible, while being able to access the lakeside from the driveway with a golf cart. The grade drops 36 ft. from the upper terrace to the lake level. The upper terrace is 66 feet from the lake, which makes for a 54.5 percent grade (about 28 degrees). Due to the severity of the grade and to get the cart path down to the lake, Common Ground Landscapes designed a series of retaining walls that needed to be relatively vertical.




The pond to the left of the entry door flows into a stream that runs under the bridge connector between the garage and the house. Plantings left include river birch, catmint, ajuga, 'Knock Out' roses, gooseneck loosestrife and daylilies. There are weeping white pines (right) and 'Britt-Marie Crawford' ligularia under the bridge, and plantings of Japanese silver grass, daylilies and more ligularia (inset right).


"We wanted to use a material that could be dry stacked to save the cost of excavating out and pouring frost footings," explains landscape architect Maureen Parker. "We chose Mesabi black granite from Minnesota in random sizes, which the landscape contractor fit artistically together.




The owners wanted to access the lakeside from the driveway via a golf cart. "We wanted to use a material that could be dry stacked to save the cost of excavating and pouring frost footings," explains landscape architect Maureen Parker. The rugged and attractive retaining walls are "Mesabi" Minnesota granite. Tumbled concrete in a greystone color runs down the 28-degree grade, which was sloped toward the inside curve, with a concrete curb poured on the outside for safety. The pavers are on a concrete base and glued down every few of feet to prevent slippage. Trench drains were installed along the path for surface water collection. Plantings are Joe-Pye, ridbeckia, 'Karl Foerster' reed grass, with 'Unique' hydrangea and 'Star Dust' sedum at left.


Not only was the site steep, but there were many springs coming out of the slope. This difficult location for a residential home on a steep slope in proximity to the lake made the site conditions a high priority for soil stabilization and erosion prevention. Landscape contractor Bob Drost met the challenge by constructing a backer wall out of concrete bin blocks that provided the infrastructure and a hydrological restraint (load bearing wall) to properly maintain the subsoil. A granite wall was then constructed in front of the backer wall with a subsurface drainage system at the top and base of the walls.

The first order of importance was to implement storm water control measures and install temporary erosion control. From the beginning of construction, silt fences, drain tiles, catch basins, detention basins and site grading provided managed collection and diversion of all storm water. To make a safe passage via the cart path, the landscape archtiect sloped the grade toward the inside curve and poured a concrete curb on the outside for safety. Trench drains were installed along the path for surface water collection. The pavers on the cart path were installed on a concrete base and glued down every few of feet to prevent slippage.




The stream and pond encircle the spa like an island. The stream that comes from under the house connector bridge flows over a waterfall into a stream that splits to surround the spa. The terrace is New York green flagstone mortared to a concrete base. Plantings here are 'Knock Out' roses, Ligularia, daylilies, hydrangea, reed grass and Japanese silver grass.


Another example of creative design collaboration was requesting the architect design a bridge out of the connector between the garage and house, to allow a stream to flow from the front entry, under the bridge and to the lakeside of the home. The water feature not only provides beauty and soothing sounds, but functions to capture excess storm water from the site.




A black granite slab bridges the stream. Cast solid bronze large China Hat area path lights (Cast Lighting) with 25-watt krypton halogen lamps guide the way at night. 'Knock Out' roses, coreopsis and hardy geraniums complement the hardscape.

Wish List
The homeowner's desired a cottage retreat from city life for them, their extended family and friends.

"We envisioned a site that would provide multiple functions for the homeowners by creating spaces for accessibility, entrainment and leisure by incorporating a creative plan that would incorporate the client's wish list of a fire pit, cart path, patios, retaining walls, perennial gardens, custom designed spa, water feature, sand beach and dock to accentuate and complement the natural surroundings," said the landscape architect.




The spa's infinity edge gives the illusion of being one with the pond and lake. The spa construction is gunite with Michigan fieldstone boulder interior, custom boulder and black-pebbled lounge seats (each with multiple jets) and fiber optic lighting. The placement of boulders and attention to detail crafted into this spa creates a one of a kind work of art. The skimmer, jets, floor drains, and returns are all placed in locations that optimize the spa experience without jeopardizing the quality of the product. All the mechanical equipment and plumbing for the spa and the water feature are buried behind the spa. "Standing at the edge of the spa looking into the water it's hard to restrain from putting a finger or hand into the water just to experience the warmth," notes Maureen Parker, RLA.


Experience
Along the driveway, drifts of perennials lead into the entry court. Catmint, pinks, daisy, astilbe and yarrow, among other plantings, provide a full season of color.

A paver border defines the driveway circle entry court. The large oak in the center island is a focal point with a mix of yellow roses and annual flowers. The front walk is New York green flagstone mortared to concrete. Guest are greeted by a pond and stream, which flows under the house. Plantings around the front entry include river birch, catmint, ajuga, 'Knock OUT' roses, gooseneck loosestrife, daylilies and a weeping white pine. A paver cart path leads to the lake winding through retaining walls of Minnesota granite. Plantings include Joe Pye, ridbeckia, 'Karl Foerster' reed grass, 'Unique' hydrangea and 'Star Dust' sedum.




The patio overlooking the lake has a hardscape of 'Oaks Arcadia' tumbled pavers. The fire pit is black granite with a fire-brick interior. Morning light Japanese silver grass and coneflowers are the plantings.


The home has several New York green flagstone terraces around the lakeside. The upper-level terrace is for dining and sitting around an outdoor fireplace. There is a mid-level terrace for barbequing. The steps between the levels are Mesabi black granite slabs from Minnesota. The lower terrace overlooks the spa and water feature. The stream and pond encircle the spa like an island. The bridges across the stream and to the spa are also Mesabi black granite.

Plantings include 'Knock Out' roses, ligularia, daylilies, hydrangea, reed grass and Japanese silver grass.




The slab steps and retaining walls here are also black granite.


Spa construction is gunite with custom boulder and pebble interior. The mechanical room is buried behind the spa and contains all of the plumbing and mechanical for the spa and the water feature. The spa has an infinitive edge, so while relaxing in the spa one has the illusion of being one with the pond and lake. Stone steps enter into the spa with custom black pebble lounge seats. Each seat contains multiple jets that provide soothing back massage. The boulder placements and attention to detail that is crafted into this spa creates a one of a kind work of art. The skimmer, jets, floor drains, and returns are all placed in locations that optimize the spa experience without jeopardizing the quality of the product. Standing at the edge of the spa looking into the water it's hard to restrain from putting a finger or hand into the water just to experience the warmth.




The grade drops 36 feet from the upper terrace to the lake level and the upper terrace is 66 feet from the lake; that makes for a 54.5 percent grade. The contractor met that challenge by constructing a backer wall out of interlocking concrete bin blocks to handle the lateral pressures generated by soil and water. The granite walls were constructed with drainage at the bases. The plantings on the hill include rudbeckia, daylily, ornamental grass, hydrangea, Joe Pye, nepeta, sedum, juniper and river birch.


The residents walk down the steps to go to the lakeside fire pit patio, the dock or the sand beach. Mesabi black granite is used for the fire pit with firebrick in the interior. The patio hardscape overlooking the lake is in 'Oaks Arcadia' tumbled pavers in a greystone color. The paver walk leads from the fire pit patio to the dock, the sand beach and lake. Plantings here include 'Morning Light' Japanese silver grass and coneflowers, Joe Pye, Russian sage, river birch trees and 'Star Dust' sedum.




The granite path to the patio overlook is bordered on the left by Joe Pye (Eupatorium purpureum), coneflowers, Russian sage and 'Morning Light' Japanese silver grass. Rivers birch trees and 'Star Dust' sedum flank the right side of the path. Once at the fire pit patio, the path continues down to a dock and a sandy beach.


"Not only did our design team meet the challenges of fitting all of the client's wishes onto this challenging site, but the true measure of success is the homeowner's enjoyment and use of these fantastic outdoor spaces in a truly unique and beautiful setting," concluded landscape architect Maureen Parker.

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Walloon Lake
The clear, blue waters of Walloon Lake in far northern Michigan, just south of Petoskey (pop. 6,080), is a popular summer resort and fishing area. One of Walloon's better-known fishermen was a fellow by the name of Ernest Hemingway, who spent 22 summers here at the family cottage along the lake's shore. The area was the backdrop for several of his Nick Adams stories.

The name "Walloon" apparently was randomly picked by a local butcher from a railroad map.

"Petoskey" is the state stone, a fossilized coral that is plentiful here.

The name Petoskey has Odawa Indian origins, a poetic "where the light shines through the clouds."

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Walloon Lake Residence Design Team

  • House Architect: H. Jack Begrow, Charlevoix, Mich.
  • House Builder: Ray Wallick, Charlevoix, Mich.
  • Landscape Architect: Maureen Parker, RLA, Common Ground Landscapes, Boyne City, Michigan. Maureen Parker is a registered landscape architect in Michigan. After graduating from Michigan State University, Maureen worked for a small architectural office in Harbor Springs, Mich., and in 1989 opened her own landscape architectural office. Her projects have been published in many local and national publications.
  • Landscape/Site Contractor: Drost Landscapes, Petoskey, Mich.
  • Grading, drainage, retaining, pavers, water feature, custom spa, plantings, landscape lighting, fire pit, irrigation
  • General Contractor: Ray Wallick
  • Interior Designer: Tim Fisher, InDesign, Charlevoix, Mich.

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November 20, 2019, 3:10 pm PDT

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