Longboat Key’s Newest Landmark Home Landscaped, and Irrigated By Grants Gardens

Grants Gardens was part of an all-star team of contractors and designers tapped to build one of Longboat Key's most striking homes - Ohana.

The homeowners had a deep appreciation of Polynesian and African architecture and locations and wanted the home to reflect the culture, materials and design themes of those rich cultures. Together with the home builder, Michael K Walker & Associates, they decided to open the home design up by means of a contest. Guy Peterson OFA, was selected with the winning design, that featured a series of connected pavilions utilized design cues that drew from both the Polynesian and African cultures but also incorporated the highly functional and clean lines of modern architecture. Additionally the home utilizes many of the latest green-technologies to have a minimal impact on the local environment.

Grants Gardens was selected to install the landscaping and irrigation system on this amazing home, working with renown landscape architect Raymond Jungles, FASLA to bring the vision of this remarkable home to life. Because the site is directly on the Gulf Of Mexico many considerations had been made to ensure the home would maintain a minimal impact on the environment yet be dramatic enough to create the enchanting atmosphere of Polynesia.

Grants Gardens worked closely with Raymond Jungles, and installed many hardy species that would be able to thrive in the arid sandy micro-climate of the shore along Longboat Key. Plant species to be installed along the shore included many native Florida plants such as Sea Oats, Flowering Dune Sunflower, Purple-Blossomed Railroad Vine and Spartinia. Away from the dunes, many large trees were selected both native and non-natives including Gumbo Limbo, Buttonwood, Moreton Bay Fig, Bizmark Palms as well as mainstays such as Cabbage Palms and Coconut Palms.

At Grants Gardens installing large trees in difficult locations is something we have years of experience with and the Ohana house was no exception. With a busy job site a hub of activity and multiple construction projects going on at the same time hoisting 20 foot tall+ trees over structures to be installed in tight quarters can add challenges. Grants Gardens installed dozens of large trees on the property as well as the irrigation and water management to support them.

Longboat Key like the rest of Sarasota, often faces periods of drought and tough water restrictions. While the selected plant species are very drought tolerant even these hardy plants need to have regular irrigation to be at their best. Grant Beatt, who has a personal passion for ensuring the sustainability and quality of water not just in landscapes but in the larger environment, brought years of experience in highly efficient irrigation design and storm-water runoff management to the project.

“Because this property is located directly on the Gulf , we were particularly sensitive to having a nominal impact on the surrounding environment.” said Beatt, “Grants Gardens designed both an irrigation system that would meet the needs of the various micro-climates on the property, and a drainage network that prevents storm-water runoff from flowing into the Gulf Of Mexico. The system includes the most advanced irrigation equipment available and can provide even large trees, and more delicate plants, with plenty of water while staying under the usage limits of water the area's frequent water restrictions.” Beatt added, “ while less predictable of a problem excessive rain is also an issue when building along Florida's pristine beaches. The buildup of months airborne pollutants on the roof and other hard services on a property can be quickly swept into the Gulf if runoff is not accounted for. When the thousands of waterfront homes and roads in the Sarasota area are taken into account the extent of the problem on marine water quality in our local community is more obvious. As such we made sure that runoff and the pollutants it carries, are channeled away from natural bodies of water.”

For Grants Gardens it has been a genuine pleasure to be apart of the exceptional team of designers, architects and contractors that took the homeowners concept from vision to reality. Collaborating with many of the area's best to bring such an amazing home to life has been rewarding. As time goes by and the newly installed landscape fills out and comes into it's own, the resulting work of a dedicated team will be noted by laymen and professionals alike as one of the Florida Gulf Coasts defining architectural achievements.

Waterfront Landscaping Presents Challenges And Opportunities

Projects on Siesta Key, Longboat Key and other Sarasota area properties that are directly on the waterfront require a well-planned design that takes in account several factors.

First and foremost the design has to look great, but because the property is directly on the water extra care is needed to make sure any water that runs off the roof, and hard surfaces of the property is reduced to trapped to keep pollutants and excess fertilizer from washing into the bay.

Having a home directly on the water also some other issues that landlocked properties do not have to address. The side of the home that faces to water will need to maintain an open view, have functional access to the seawall and any dockage, but also have some degree of privacy for homeowners who want to enjoy the outdoors.

During late summer as hurricanes frequently pass by the Sarasota area on their way into the Gulf, they can cause the canals to jump their banks and flood the yard with saltwater. If your landscaper has not planned for this with salt tolerant plants, a large portion of the landscape could be damaged or even destroyed as too much salt will kill many plants.

Hardscape features like porous patios mad from brick rather than concrete will allow some run off water to seep through to the ground and give the homeowner a wonderful patio to use. Water features can help soften the feel of the area and add to sound of splashing water for the senses to enjoy.