Modern Homestead

Boulder, CO
5+ Acres

This landscape design melds contemporary architecture with the pasturelands beyond to create a homestead for modern living. Preserving existing amenities onsite, including ponds fed by historic irrigation ditches, stately trees, acres of pastureland for the owner’s livestock, and a magnificent view of the Front Range to the west, this landscape draws inspiration from the surrounding high-altitude prairie and its agricultural heritage. This drought-tolerant ecosystem of native and naturalized grasses and forbes mirrors prairie beyond. Native trees were planted and existing water features were enhanced with new stonework. A small orchard was added by the barn and a flower garden explodes with blooms in the Spring, providing a backdrop for family gatherings.

Prarie Boulder Garden

Boulder, CO
5+ Acres

This terraced rock garden sits on a large property with small areas of intensive use. The clients had imported over 900 tons of rock (some weighing over 13 tons) from Wyoming, so the garden was designed around the setting of these stones. Dakin engaged with nationally renowned Japanese garden designer Sadafumi Uchiyama for expertise and inspiration in the art rock placement. Resulting features included a three-tiered waterfall, pathways and rock placements that would create microcosms of interest and harmony within a large site. The garden explodes with the color from blooming groundcovers and boulder-hugging shrubs.

labyrinth Garden

Greenwood Village, CO
5+ Acres

Dakin has been working on this ongoing project since 2005. On this estate, landscape takes precedence. All architecture is oriented toward the garden. Avid gardeners, the clients are creating a park-like estate and permacultural paradise with multiple uses. Chickens, ducks, food crops and areas of restored native prairie merge with a walking labyrinth, patches of formal lawn for croquet, charred wood fences and an outdoor shower. A complex irrigation system was designed to draw alternately from wells and cisterns. Mature trees onsite were preserved and moved to new locations.

Michigan Garden

Boulder, CO

Having settled in a semi-arid Rocky Mountain location, the client wished to create a haven that would harken back to the farms and gardens of her Michigan childhood. Because the lot was large, the goal was to keep maintenance to a minimum and focus on a small, gem-like kitchen garden that was fenced from the hungry deer who pass through the wildlife corridor on which the property is located. While the majority of the space is simply planted with low-maintenance trees, shrubs and flowering perennials, the tool shed and fenced garden were considered with utmost care and provide important viewsheds from the house. Raised beds were made with stone from the same stone-mason who had worked on the house, and the shed was designed to be an armature for climbing vines. Complex water issues onsite required an irrigation system that switches between city water and ditch water. The end result is a Great Lakes paradise adapted for the climate of the Rockies.

Canyon House

ElDorado Springs, CO
1+ Acres

The garden for this contemporary estate (with music studio) includes a complex of trellises, sculpted screens and gates as well as a labyrinth and climate-adapted plantings. Like many of Dakin’s projects, it expanded as the owners expanded their estate. Permaculture and ancient Chinese garden philosophies are used to maximize the utility of each design element in relation to the overall aesthetics and ecology of the site. Paths double as drainage streams and knit adjoining lots together. Geometry and formal elements harmonize with the softness and color of flowers and grasses. Landscaping creates a bridge between lodge-like architecture and the backdrop of the mountains beyond.

Elkstone High-Altitude Permaculture Garden

Steamboat Springs, CO
50+ Acres


This demonstration garden, located 8,000 feet above sea level, was a way for the client to connect and give back to the surrounding agricultural community of Steamboat Springs. The challenge was to design a high-altitude food garden in a harsh climate. In collaboration with Evo Catalyst, architect Michael Thompson, and permaculture guru Jerome Osentowski, a working farm was created, cultivating heirloom apple and pear trees as well as climate-adapted berries, bush cherries, ground cherries, raspberries and blueberries. An innovative passive solar, climate battery greenhouse houses 20 varieties of lemons and limes. A cottage industry is run from the ranch house, producing preserves, flower essences and creating employment opportunities in this remote community. The permaculture approach to this project dictated that design decisions be made to serve both human desires and the needs of non-human organisms and soils on the site.

Elkstone Farm Website >>