Hawaii Home Remodeling, December 2002
At a little more than 1,000 square feet, a Hawaii Kai home's courtyard wasn't postage stamp-sized by any means. But a misplaced rock garden and poorly chosen plants and trees had turned the area into a tangled mess. Two Sago palms and several Bird of Paradise plants grew out of control while a stand of aptly named Monstera climbed up one of the home's walls, attracting a monstrous colony of ants. Visitors entered the home from an arching footpath that followed the contours of the ever growing landscape. The place felt cramped.
"The home sits right along the highway and the Hawaii Kai Marina, so it can get pretty noisy," says Gary Shinn of Hokuahi Lawns. "Outside near the water can get extremely windy so the homeowner, who is a writer, wanted a little retreat where he could entertain find a little peace and maybe do a little writing.
Shinn went to work clearing out the jumble of plants that lined the side of the home. In place of the little jungle, he installed a small fountain and a deck, which he matched with the existing semi-circular path. To make room for the new deck, Shinn moved three large boulders to the opposite side of the courtyard and made them the centerpieces of a two-waterfall water feature. He cut back on unruly hedge of Ixora as well as trimmed several Shower trees and a number of Areca palms. Shinn installed a stand of Rhapis palms to give the water feature a rich green backdrop as well as screen out the noise from the nearby highway.
At the edge of the pond nearest the house, Shinn planted a small lawn of El Torro zoysia , replete with stone bench and stepping stones. Around this lawn, he planted Ti plants, Dwarf Heliconia and Kupukupu ferns. Nearby, he put in a small Silver Buttonwood tree, which will eventually provide shade for the small corner of the landscape. It's a perfect little haven from which one can listen to falling water or write the great American novel.
"With wider open spaces, this area looks much bigger than it ever did," says Shinn.
In the landscaping business, sometimes size is a relative term. Clear out a tree or two, trim a few hedges and add a little grass, and suddenly that dark little corner of a landscape stats to look like the Ponderosa. As Gary Shinn's work in Hawaii Kai demonstrate, with good planning and plant selection, homeowners can maximize the space in their landscapes.