Case Study: Worst to Best in under 2 Days


Long story   short

When I first spoke with Rob and Lillian, they referred to their lawn as an “annual” — meaning that they had literally re-sodded it every second year for 6 years. It just baked in the sun, even with in-ground irrigation. They were incredibly frustrated!.

The Goal: create a natural looking design requiring zero maintenance.

The result 

In 2 days DVNC completely transformed their entire front landscape from “the worst yard on the street” to “the best yard on the street” and was featured in the 2016 Calgary Gardens Walk the following year. 

It “looked amazing” when we completed it and now 4 years later, it continues to look even better as all the foliage has grown in to fill their planters and groupings.

Transformation Video

Before/After Gallery

The highlight reel

  • Start-to-finish installation required only 2 days to complete!
  • Incredibly realistic dry riverbed design that looks like water actually flows seasonally through it
  • High efficiency LED lighting cored into real river rocks for awesome lighting that doesn’t stand out during the day
  • Zero-maintenance recycled rubber mulch groundcover that NEVER needs to be touched up
  • Self-watering in-ground planters make use of the existing irrigation converted to drip lines and shrub misters
  • Matched the rundle-stone of an existing stone pathway to create planters, perimeter edging and primary walkway
  • Discreet LED pathway ambient lighting under the rundlestone caps that can be seasonally changed color for various holidays or occasions. (i.e. orange for Halloween, green for St. Patricks Day, red for Valentines Day, any color desired for X-mas)

The process 

  1. Accurately measure and map out the property, taking stock of all existing assets already in place and in-ground irrigation points
  2. Generate a 3D model of the property and lay out the design to review from all angles for discussion purposes
  3. Utilize an existing rundle-stone pathway along with minor matching edge stones outlining the property lines
  4. Maximize in-ground irrigation heads by converting them from lawn sprinklers to drip lines and shrubbery misters
  5. Highly coordinated delivery of materials along with hiring their son + his friend to keep their labour cost “in the family”

The design


Turning a boring, bleak, flat plot of dusty grass into an inviting landscape with incredible curb appeal required an innovative design that created a dry river bed to “flow” believably from one corner of the yard, diagonally across it, then under the front walk before disappearing out the front corner through a clumpy “marsh” of grassy reeds. 

My biggest pet-peeve with most dry riverbed installs I see is how contrived they always look, so MY SECRET (from many years of personal experience damming and diverting stream flown by my house as a kid growing up) is to literally carve the stream bed out of the top soil/sod, then pile it strategically to create riverbanks that I sculpt to meander its flowing course in the most natural looking way possible. 

The mounds of dirt establish turning points of realistic stream flow that would deflect it to meander in another direction and are designed to coincide with each in-ground irrigation head pop up to water groupings filled with perennial decorative grasses, reeds, lilies etc. The goal is filling them with perennial plants that require no maintenance and natively grow in marshy areas where streams seasonally overflow their banks during spring run-off.

Now that we have a textured, realistic flow channel the essential touch to tie it all together at this point is to vary the size and mass of the river rock stones to reflect the capacity of streams to only move BIG rocks and overflow them at turning points during spring runoff, so placing them as key feature elements to grab the eye while anchoring the imaginary flow is the icing on the cake. Basically, use the big hefty stones along the edges where they get dropped by the big water, while gradually depositing smaller stones that roll along the river base towards the middle.  Each of the self-watering planters sprout grasses and lilies for color up through the smaller stones in the overflow areas.

The ground cover is an incredible product made from recycled tires, dyed to match natural bark with a color-fastness of over 12 years (that means it won’t fade even in intense UV) but best of all, it always remains springy to walk on and NEVER NEEDS TO BE RE-APPLIED LIKE CEDAR MULCH OR OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS, nor does it break down to provide a growing medium for weeds which defeats the purpose of applying bark mulch in the first place.  IN FACT, THIS MULCH LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME 4 YEARS AFTER THIS INSTALL AND IT HAS NEVER BEEN MAINTAINED AT ALL.

Finally, I played off what they already had in place which was some very minor rock work that included Rundle Stone pathway across the front of the house DVNC created in-ground planters and tre-rings along with perimeter edging and a low wall-stack along the walkway to tie it all together. Then, to take that up a level, I installed down-cast variable color LED lighting underneath the Rundle Stone caps along the walkway for a super cool ambient light that glows without being overbearing.

Similarly, to light up and accent the dry riverbed at night, I used a rock coring bit to drill holes through select river-stones, then installed incredibly effective LED lights that could be discretely positioned ANYWHERE to highlight feature stones, cast interesting shadows and illuminate the entire landscape in subtle ways that are simply not possible to do without having ugly, intrusive landscape lights sticking up everywhere.

So in closing, if you wand to turn your ugly boring into something INCREDIBLE that can be enjoyed without wasting endless hours of maintenance, drop us a line or click the button below.

LED Walkway Feature

(click to enlarge)

Two More Happy Clients!

“We knew of DVNC design from witnessing their previous amazing work so there was no question who to call when deciding to finally do something about our “annual” lawn that was fully irrigated, yet we had already re-sodded it multiple times and frustrated us to even venture towards the front of our house.

DVNC designed and installed the most amazing zero-maintenance landscaping in less than two days and we absolutely LOVE to look out our front windows or finally sit to enjoy our south-facing front veranda. The work was FABULOUS, the price was spectacular and I absolutely LOVE changing the color of the LED walkway lighting to suit my mood or seasonal festivity.

Simply put, we went from being frustrated and embarrassed of owning the WORST lawn in the neighbourhood to now being proud and overjoyed by what is now often referred to as THE BEST landscape in our neighbourhood!

We highly recommend DVNC design and were even featured in the YYC Garden Walk in 2016! Furthermore, a very important item to note is that our landscaping is now almost 3 years old but it still looks the same as when it was installed and has required absolutely no upkeep or maintenance since then!”

~ Rob & Lillian

Ready to upgrade your living space?

Let’s Talk.

Please provide a snap shot of your yard and your address below. I’ll look your property up on Google Maps and the snap shot let’s me see through your eyes (show me the areas that bother you the most) so that we can have a more efficient initial conversation.

Fill out the form to get the ball rolling.
I’ll respond within 24 hours.

Artistically Engineered Landscapes

Innovation // Creativity // Integrity

David Kunz, Owner/Operator

Kelowna: (250) 300 6688
Calgary: (587) 575 3569

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