There is an office building across the street from Merrell, where Diana is doing some contract apparel design work, and every time we drive by the landscaping catches my eye. So, I took some photos for reference.

With a distinct Japanese motif, it has some of my favorite grasses (Black Mondo, luv ‘em!), bamboo and cute little azaleas.

Plus, it incorporates a low-to-the-ground deck like we’re planning to build. Notice how the softer shaped, rounded rocks imply a stream with the larger, more angular boulders nestled along the bank. I love the combination of materials and textures in this shot, rock, wood, flora and earth. That’s really something I hope to achieve in our backyard design.

Imagine that business happening right about here:

I think the implied stream is probably functional as roof runoff water management as well, because they have a bamboo water feature at the source which is fed by a rain chain from the roof. Roof runoff is definitely something we have to be concerned with in a couple areas of our yard.

There are also several little vignettes, places for pause and contemplation…or a smoke break…around a couple corners. This idea of surprise or delight around a corner or bend in the path is an element in Japanese gardens I really like. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to replicate it in our small space.

Another thing I like is the play between hard, man-made lines and organic shapes. In the photo below, notice how the organic rock shape cuts into the hard edge of the concrete paving square and then the bike stand brings in an overtly man-made shape and shiny texture. Great stuff.

So, there you have it. Lot’s of elements we like and a good source of hardscaping and planting inspiration.