We always have an intention in mind for our designed spaces: To create a sublime, all-encompassing outdoor experience. If we do our job right, you are enjoying this experience so much that you aren’t thinking about how it was put together. But as you spend more time in a space you may start to notice details, and if there is an Architect’s intention behind every detail, it can be a wonderful exploration into another layer of your landscape. This week’s blog zooms way in to focus on carpentry in the landscape; The form, function, and detailed construction that goes into some of our favorite built landscape elements.
At J.Montgomery, we specialize in construction drawing details in addition to landscape layout plans – The reason being that we care so much about how our designs turn out. In fact, whenever we include a wooden fence, trellis or arbor in our plans, we like to be able to design it to a T! This way, we know that the contractor has everything they need to bring the vision to life. We source specific woods, fasteners, stain and paint colors… even the angle of a saw cut. Good thing our contractor connections don’t mind us being a little obsessive. No seriously, thanks you guys!
It’s true that every detail is considered, literally down to the nuts and bolts. The way structures are built is important. Of course they need to be as structurally stable as they are aesthetic. Sometimes, the connections between wooden elements are reinforced visibly, and other times they’re hidden. We use these styles each very intentionally for their effects:
Hardware can have the effect of a decorative or stylistic element, giving visual weight to a structure while of course also keeping everything together. When we want hardware to show, we make sure to use fasteners that enhance the structures we’re building. Powder-coated or rust-resistant hardware is a must for all carpentry that will stand the test of time.
Sometimes, you don’t want to see the hardware at all. Such is the case with this arbor, which relies on carpentry joints to achieve a flawless and airy effect. Mortise-and-tenon is one of the strongest methods for construction, and when done with precision, it offers an amazing aesthetic. Of course, there are some screws and bolts in there somewhere, but nobody needs to know about them. Top-secret.
One of the best parts of our job is the constant opportunity to be creative. On this project, 8×8” posts were replaced by 4×4” posts, which were then strapped four-together with wood ties and capped with a sturdy powder-coated post-cap. The solution offers a unique look that makes the posts into sculptural elements, rather than just supports. The matching of the black wood ties to the house trim adds another element of continuity. In fact, we liked this effect so much that we have used it many times sense. It’s kind of become a signature touch for the right space!
The way that elements integrate into the landscape is a crucial part of the landscape’s cohesive effect. We love the play of stone and metal with wood, and enjoy bringing those materials together whenever we can. This same wooden pergola with the wood ties meets stone pillars a couple feet above the matching stone patio, making it feel like an extension of the patio itself.
The history and culture behind different styles allows us to play with the way we match design with intention. The “cottage” or “storybook” landscape style, shown above, is one that we always delight in detailing. The detailing on this gazebo was just one way of bringing an old-world charm that matched perfectly with our clients’ vision. Whether we’re creating something ultra-modern or Victorian dreamy, every project is a new opportunity to try something new or to combine some favorite techniques for a fresh approach.
Maybe it’s because we started out as a design & construction company, but the real-life landscape has always been the most important to us. Our designs are meant for the real world. Structures are meant to be used, to be lived in, and to maintain their integrity. We find that when the time is taken to design and build it right, the results are incomparable!
J.Montgomery is honored to be named Best Landscape Architecture Firm in Northern California by BUILD Magazine. A heartfelt thank you to all of our clients and fans, we couldn’t have built this without you.