The art and appreciation of retrofit continues to grow. Initially, its popularity was economically driven. Happy homeowners wanted to improve their outdoor living space, but tight wallets didn’t allow for draining the bank account or tapping home equity lines.
Now, after gobs of successful redone projectswhere original patios remained and added to, and society became comfortable with working with what we have, retrofits just seem both smart and fashionable. Lending credibility to the process is the burning trend of rescue/reuse/recycle where forgotten chandeliers in the attic are repurposed as cool hanging light effects infused with candles, and once ugly peeling iron fence sections become historic features for climbing vines (done them both).
Sure, our industry thrives on ripping out everything, designing bright and shiny ultimate backyard retreats and installing them as a blank slate. But, not everyone or every home needs that. There is something very satisfying about “solutioneering” the old to something completely new and livable.
The featured picture is a perfect retrofit example. Mature spruce trees and stately boxwood will remain in the landscape, but the tired creeping junipers and crimson pygmy barberries will be replaced, likely with something a little more refined for this elegant Carmel residence. I can imagine a stately bed of pachysandra with a variegatedhosta border for the shady area. A trio of pink hydrangea would offer prolonged flowering and nice fall color if we select the glowing embers variety.
Landscape retrofits are not always appropriate and can be more challenging than working with existing concrete patios, walks, porches, stone columns and other hardscape elements. Scale is a major issue. With mature trees and shrubs remaining, newly planted items often don’t look visually appealing and seem out of place, even after years of growth.
The art of retrofit is similar to the art of luxurious outdoor living. It takes consideration, moderation and imagination to be successful.