Charles Haertling Home Revision

Boulder, CO


K. Dakin Design won the 2018 CARE award from the Custom Builder and Remodeler Council of Denver for the reimagination of the landscape around this classic organic-modernist home designed by Charles Haertling. The landscape design is inspired by the original home and it’s materials, especially the distinct, clean lines of the architecture and the natural, stone veneer found on the house and landscape walls. The outlines of garden beds, a small patio and a water feature reiterate the home’s straight walls juxtaposed against rough, irregular stone facades and details. This sensitivity to the architecture is clearly seen in the triangular shapes balanced with curved forms.

The clients, a couple with busy lives, wanted a simple landscape with lawn for their dogs to fetch balls. The amenities they desired were a spa, vegetable beds, fire pit, and a water feature. They wanted to soften the tall, site walls with plant material. All the material, such as the discarded, stone veneer and left-over, flagstone paving was recycled into new edging around garden areas, new flagstone paths, and a water feature. The front entry walk was inspired by a walkway at Gunnar Asplund’s cemetary in Sweden. All plant material, aside from the turf, was low water, native or climate appropriate.

Sonoma Ridge House

Sebastopol, CA

This second home outside of Sebastopol, CA is perched on a ridge with sweeping views of Bodega Bay. The stunning scale of this environment also provides challenges to creating the feeling of shelter - making the house a home. Dakin approached this project with sight lines in mind, placing a large boulder so that it anchors a “near” view from inside the home to balance vastness of the ridge and ocean beyond.

This attention to the owner’s perspective is also expressed through a layering of climate appropriate plants and California natives seen through the kitchen window. California evergreens such as camellias, silk tassels and madrones harmonize with existing sequoias, redwood groves and a wildflower meadow on site. The diversity of this climate zone is on display in this project, which also features succulents, Douglas fir and an olive grove. In addition to ocean weather, populations of gopher and deer on site made it necessary for Dakin to protect plant roots with baskets and select plant species resistant to deer.

High Plains Flower Garden

Denver, CO

This terraced flower garden in Boulder was designed to convey the blooming liveliness of a traditional English garden for the climate of Colorado. Flowers take center stage in a garden designed so that plants are in bloom year-round. A series of patios provide ample sites for outdoor entertaining and showcase the owner’s collection of antique outdoor objects. Subterranean rain gardens and water collection systems ensure efficient drainage on this multi-level site.

Japanese Sculpture Garden

Boulder County, CO

Dakin was hired to transform this garden into a Japanese sculpture garden that contrasts geometric formality with sweeping views of mountain wilderness beyond. Dakin worked with a master bonsai arborist to sculpt existing dwarf pine trees on the site. She selected and placed a large boulder that serves as both a pedestal to a stone sculpture and a natural bird bath. Though the formal inspiration for the project was the traditional Japanese garden, the arid mountain climate of Colorado made it necessary to select plants that were both visually harmonious and drought tolerant. The result is a formally resonant but resilient outdoor space that balances human and ecological needs.

More Projects

Suburban Fern Forest

Marin County, CA

K. Dakin Design transformed this shaded walkway into a lush fern garden inspired by the renowned 20th Century California landscape architect Thomas Church. This project demonstrates how small spaces can become the highlight of the garden. Although this home is located in drought-prone California, this shaded area was friendly to the plants of the forest floor, such as tree ferns and hydrangea. Dakin centered the design around Himalayan flowering dogwood, the owner’s favorite tree.

Garden for Entertaining

Denver, CO

The owners of this modern home in Denver, Colorado wanted beautiful, drought tolerant native plants in a xeriscape front yard combined with a backyard garden perfect for entertaining. Dakin used her deep knowledge of plants to guarantee low-maintenance splendor in the front yard. Her background in art served to create a design that would showcase the owner’s collection of fascinating outdoor objects and art from around the world. Blooming, feathery native plants in front contrast with the sophistication of a backyard that accommodates both food production and outdoor living.

Outdoor Living Room

Denver, CO

Rock walls and flagstone patio create a sheltered outdoor living room in this lush fairy garden. Graceful Japanese maples combine with soft groundcovers and the unexpected spikes of an agave. A window-well view is transformed into a painterly scene backed by a stone wall that extends into the rest of the garden. A special sump-pump enables drainage from the window well.

Elegant Food Garden

Boulder, CO

Initially, the owners of this garden wanted food-producing beds and greenhouse relegated to the back corner of the garden. However, Dakin designed beds and sourced a greenhouse so elegant that vegetable production ended up taking center stage, showcasing beauty and abundance. Soils for the vegetable beds were sourced from urban compost from Denver, providing a productive and sustainable base for a thriving and decorative garden

Syncline Garden

Boulder, CO

Using onsite drainage as inspiration and guidance for design, this garden of gray greens and hot-colored blossoms incorporates a sculptural fountain as well as a green roof prairie that melds with dramatic views of the syncline mountain beyond. Excess bluestone paving was turned on its side to create an undulating, sculptural rain garden planted with moisture-loving plants. Dakin created special compositions of plants and stones at ground-level window-wells: “paintings” for the home’s occupants, accentuating an architecture that brings the outside in.

Sculpted Space

Foothills of Boulder, CO

This garden for a Midcentury home includes a berm that wraps around the house, screening the front of the home from the street and serving as seating for an amphitheater in the back, where owners host gatherings and project movies. Tufted native grasses contrast with geometric hardscape and lush moments of floral growth.

Rattlesnake Canyon

Lyons, CO

This garden mirrored the rugged landscape of the site, located in the rain shadow of Long’s Peak. All stonework for walls and patios made use of rocks collected onsite, while native plantings mirrored the natural growth, collected and identified by Mark Fusco, Senior Horticulturist at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Striking modernist lines and climate-adapted, drought tolerant plantings pay homage to the stark beauty of the arid foothills.

Fire & Water

Denver, CO

This project centers on the elemental forces of water and fire. Both fountain and fire pit are outdoor sculptures with built-in seating. The fountain spills water on rocks at its base, providing a soundtrack for garden-dwellers.