2019 Homestead Magazine

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Enhancing Our Exteriors

Mountainscapes


Story By
ELIZABETH CLAIR FLOOD
Twenty years ago, landscape designers remember giant, mowed lawns circling Jackson Hole’s residences, carpeting large expanses from homes to riverbanks, or unfurling to the base of impressive mountain views. But, with the decrease in available land and the evolution of a more sustainable consciousness, people today desire wilder exteriors, ones that require less maintenance.

“I’ve seen a lot more interest in smaller lawns, xeriscape plants and organic solutions for fertilizing, weeds and pests,” says Carrie Baysek, retail manager of MD Nursery & Landscaping for 22 years.

Sean Macauley, of Jackson’s Mountainscapes Inc., has observed similar trends. In recent years he has received more requests for smaller lawns softened with wild grasses around the edges. “We are seeing lawns shrink, less bluegrass and more native grasses,” he says. “We are seeing more sustainable designs, so taking into consideration more native plant material and drought-tolerant plants.” Thanks to the studies by environmental group Friends of Fish Creek, clients are also increasingly concerned about the detrimental effects of fertilizer running into local rivers. Now, Macauley and others install “trout lawns”: wide swaths of native grasses between lawns and water. This limits the amount of fertilizers seeping into and polluting our waterways.

Over the years, like home styles and fabric colors, flower tastes have also evolved. Historically, Jackson Hole clients with new log homes planted colorful gardens, a cheery respite from long, white winters. Limited by a short growing season, certain classics thrive here, like the old yellow homestead rose, columbine, wood’s rose and willows. “Native plants have always been popular throughout the year,” Baysek says. “We have risk of frost really any day, so it is good to stick with what works.”

Today, many valley residents, especially those living in more contemporary homes, desire more geometric gardens appointed with ornamental grasses and a muted color palette. “People want white flowers,” Baysek says. “It’s an interesting trend. They see white all winter, and then they want all white flowers in summer.” But styles will change, she adds. “So many ornamental grasses have been planted in the Jackson Hole landscape in the past five years. I predict in five more years everyone will be sick of them and want them all ripped out—kind of like the huge juniper shrubs used for foundation planting in the 1980s and ’90s that everyone got tired of looking at.”

Jed Mixter, of Two Ocean Builders, has also noticed an increased attention to exterior spaces. “We are running out of primo lots with massive mountain and river views,” he says, explaining that clients now focus their attention on how they will enjoy the outdoor spaces around their homes. How does the east side serve for morning coffee? How does the west side welcome guests for cocktails?

Macauley agrees: “We are definitely seeing more attention to outdoor living spaces—a covered porch, a patio with a built-in barbecue or pizza oven.”
Currently, garden shops around the valley are seeing a surge in interest in plants and gardening. This summer, in particular, people are looking forward to staying home and enjoying the beauty in their backyards.

LEFT Clearwater Restoration
MIDDLE MD Nursery + Landscaping
RIGHT Agrostis Inc. and Mountainscapes