On its website, HGTV is showcasing the 2012 “Green Home”, the eco-friendly, LEED-certified hippie sibling of their regular “Dream House.” This year’s Green Home is located in the “sustainable community” of Serenbe, outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
Like all of HGTV’s giveaway homes, this one is beautifully and thoughtfully appointed on the inside, but the landscaping is pretty much a snooze-fest. Here’s a shot of the front.
I guess they didn’t have much space to work with in the front, so I really don’t get why they filled the whole area up with evergreens. I mean, it looks like they’ve used the evergreens (gardenias, mahonia, abelia, holly) as a standard foundation planting, when what they’re covering up is actually a very attractive stone facade.
Now, instead of a conventional backyard, the Green Home boasts a central barbecue courtyard:
The website explained that a traditional backyard “would have required excess soil displacement and construction of retaining walls.” Well…..you wouldn’t HAVE to make retaining walls, there is such a thing as a planted slope, but okay.
Actually, I was ready to criticize this courtyard for its lack of greenery but then I stumbled upon some additional photos of it that make it look pretty sweet:
Love the folding glass doors! I do think a courtyard could be more useful to many people than a backyard and certainly more useful than a front yard, especially in warm climates. The composite decking is beautiful. With a few potted plants, this courtyard would be gorgeous, so thumbs up on this outdoor feature.
Next, here is the “living room courtyard” which looks to be adjacent to the back of the house, presumably the living room. (Up the slope is a detached garage, so I guess you would enter the house from the back? Not much fun to tote your groceries or your sleeping two-year old down those steps, but maybe part of the design is to make you more fit.)
Anyway, this little courtyard/terrace is boring as hell, don’t you think?
I admire that they used a porous surface, but what else is there to love? Certainly not those weird table-cubes made from shredded tires. Those are gardenias behind the little sofa, which I know smell nice, but given there are so many other evergreens all around, they just seem kinda dull to me. Click here to see a 360 degree tour of this courtyard, which really reveals its mundanity.
Here is a shot of the stairs leading up to the garage:
Let’s see what we’ve got. Sweetbay Magnolias, which I LOVE, and something called “black myrtle” which I’ve never heard of. Not a fan of the striped effect running parallel to the stairs. But at least the website actually identifies particular species, which means they’re directing some of our attention to the landscape and not just to the Sherwin Williams paint or the Sub Zero appliances or the GMC parked in the drive.
Here’s another shot — a “bioswale” that runs along the side of the house:
The website does say that Pink Muhly Grass, purple coneflower, and Black-Eyed Susan’s are planted in this area, but right now it is certainly more “swale” than “bio”.
The swale terminates in this “rain pond” out front:
Would have been nice if they’d actually planted this out as a rain garden. I kinda like that folly-like stone archway, though.
Soooooo….some missed opportunities here for sure, a less-than imaginative planting plan, but at least HGTV pays at least some attention to the landscape of the Green Home. They’ve thought beyond the traditional lawn, no doubt. No mention of the new SITES guidelines or anything, but maybe those are too new and aren’t on HGTV’s radar yet.
Next I am going to post about Serenbe, this so-called “sustainable community” in which the Green Home resides. Even as I’m typing this, I’ve got some thoughts brewing about it. Or maybe fermenting.