Birch Grove Residence

Birch Grove Residence

Fox Whyte Landscape

Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Project Year
Private Houses
Tom Arban

Birch Grove Residence

Fox Whyte Landscape as Architects

The lush planting and unique design details in this contemporary residential garden offer a fresh, bold aesthetic within a suburban neighbourhood. When embarking on the design of their new home, the clients knew they wanted the outdoor spaces to be fully integrated with the indoor spaces, that they wanted to enjoy gardens with lush plantings that framed functional spaces in which to entertain and relax, and that they wanted a strong, contemporary aesthetic approach to both the house and the garden design.


The firm, Fox Whyte Landscape Architecture and Design (FWLA) was brought into the design process early on, to collaborate with Superkül Architects on how to make efficient use of the limited outdoor space available, provide strong connections between the indoor and outdoor spaces, frame certain views from within the house, and create thoughtful transitions from one outdoor space to the next. A deck located off the kitchen in the side garden provides an outdoor dining area, while another deck in the back garden off the living room provides a space for less formal entertaining and relaxing. From within the main floor of the house, these two large outdoor spaces are always visible and close by.


The materials and colours used were selected to provide a strong integration with the design language of the house and unique details were tailored to provide a bold contemporary aesthetic. A metal mesh guardrail surrounding the side deck provides a light, transparent screen which allows borrowed views from a neighbour's heavily wooded garden beyond. Low weathering steel retaining walls create a strong visual frame around a lawn area. Custom weathering metal mesh screens with integrated lighting provide syncopated structural elements along the front walkway, contrasted against the soft, lush plantings.


FWLA also collaborated with the civil engineer on how best to incorporate storm water infrastructure required to manage difficult site conditions. An existing catch basin and open drainage channel located on the property captured storm water drainage from neighbouring properties as well as from the owner's property. This catch basin was relocated and the channel was redesigned to alleviate chronic drainage issues.


Instead of a more traditional block planting scheme, the planting plan incorporates a matrix planting approach, inspired by Thomas Rainer's recent book, 'Planting in a Post Wild World' which mimics the way in which plant communities behave in nature. A mix of ground covers and mid-height plants provide a layered base with taller plants occasionally poking through to add interest and punctuation. This approach creates a plant palette that is more resilient, dense and biodiverse, and eliminates the need for mulch. Different mixes of plants and bulbs were selected based on the varying light conditions and microclimates within the site. The mixes were also selected to provide a range of seasonal interest.


The overall effect of the lush plantings, contrasted with clean lines of wood, concrete and metal elements is a design that is at once bold and innovative, but – as clusters of daisies graze the metal screens - also delicate and at times playful.


Material Used :
1. Cast-in-place Sandblasted Concrete
2. Pre-cast Concrete
3. Ipe
4. Powder Coated Stainless Steel
5. Weathering Steel
6. Black Decorative Gravel

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Product Spec Sheet

ManufacturersRenaissance Fabrication
Product Spec Sheet
by Ipe
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