Designer puts landscapes in view

By: Gloria Young Home & Garden
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As Winchester residents Steve and Debbi Holden watched the progress of their new home’s construction last spring, they knew they wanted to make the most of the site’s spectacular views. Landscape designer Katrina Leonidov Fairchild made that happen. Fairchild, one of only a few Association of Professional Landscape Designers–certified landscapers in the Sacramento area, was selected as the association’s member of the month for December, she said recently. “In landscape design, you have to be an extra good listener and then apply what you’re hearing,” she said. “Sometimes it is a slight expression or a slight pause to something I’m proposing that tells me it’s not what clients want. So I give them some other options and wait for the excitement.” When she plans a project, Fairchild looks beyond trees, plants, shrubs and lawn. “It is the hardscape that sustains the beauty of the landscape,” she said. “Build the cake first, which is the hardscape, then the icing is the plants and the sprinkles are the garden decor — statues, pots, lighting.” The scope of her work ranges from raw land, to multi-million dollar homes, to condominium courtyards. One of Fairchild’s projects was creating an outdoor space for a client renting a condo, where budget was a major consideration. “I gave the space a focal point with a free-standing arbor and incorporated a very large urn that was a bold, stunning cobalt color,” she said. “I then incorporated some pots next to it and added ornamental pebbles and flagstone. The rest was embellished with softscape. It wasn’t too expensive, it was stunning upon entry and it could easily be changed with a new homeowner coming in.” The project for the Holdens was on a whole different scale. “Winchester requires landscaping to be in before the house is completed,” Fairchild said. “But I wanted it to be something they were going to be happy with for a long time. It’s a special house that they’re not going to turn around and sell in a couple of years. The Tuscan-style home needed a hardscape design to complement the interesting architectural elements. There was already a back patio planned by the architect. “It needed a second seating area and a garden that was less formal, and something to take full advantage of the view,” Fairchild said. She came up with a “garden room” featuring half-circular stone seating, a fire pit and a small space of lawn. Fairchild also wanted to create a focal point to draw the eye to the scenery in the back. Her answer was a curved arch. “That is the arbor that introduces the mountains and the trees,” she said. For the softscape landscaping she opted for very young plants and trees. “Most designers will choose something that is mature — three to five years old minimum,” she explained. “I chose the very young landscaping to demonstrate why hardscape is more important than the softscaping. It is the hardscape that sustains the beauty of the landscape when all else fails, especially in winter.” The Holdens are pleased with the results. “I love the arbor idea,” Debbi Holden said. “I probably wouldn’t have thought of it on my own. It’s just the way it creates a second entrance to the backyard. It’s a combination along with the area where the fire pit is located.” The couple chose Fairchild for the job in part because of her familiarity with the area. “She also lives in Meadow Vista and we felt the stuff she was going to pick for our yard would be the right plants for our area,” Debbi added. “She’s passionate about what she does and she seemed like she was going to get things done in a timely manner, and her prices were very fair,” Steve Holden added. The Holdens, who moved into the house in late summer, used the circular seating area for their Christmas card photo and said they look forward to enjoying the spot even more when good weather arrives. Fairchild plans the design for her clients. But she doesn’t do the installation. However, she monitors the job through completion, making changes as needed to stay within the design intent, she said. Fairchild discovered her flair for design about eight years ago when she returned to school and began taking horticulture courses at Sierra College. While she was taking a landscape design course she got an offer to actually do one. “I was thrown into it cold turkey,” she said. “That was the beginning of my career and the passion for it.” For homeowners considering new landscaping, she suggests they do some homework before making any decisions. “Pick up some magazines and tear out some pages,” she said. “They should take pictures of neighborhoods and landscapes they like, or places they’ve visited.” And look for ways to incorporate special things. “That is what makes a garden truly unique and truly special,” she said. ---------- For more information on Leonidov Landscape Designs, see Web site: www TheGarden or phone (530) 305-4337