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Joys of Spring

Get a peek at three gorgeous landscapes.

Angelo and Judy Iantosca’s back yard is thriving proof that a little TLC goes a long way. When the couple and their son, David, moved into their Russell Township Tudor six years ago, the garden had clearly seen better days: the landscaping was overgrown and choked with weeds. The wooden deck overlooking the swimming pool had splintered, and the roots of a pair of maple trees were growing through it.

“It was,” Angelo remembers, “a disaster.”

But the Iantoscas could also see the potential, which included lush groves of existing hemlocks and a perennial garden. So, they enlisted the services of The Pattie Group Inc., a landscape development firm based in Novelty, to design a master plan for their property. Their main must-have: A waterfall that would serve as a relaxing focal point, and be easily visible from the kitchen, which served as the year-round hub of the house. Angelo also asked that the pattern in the brick surrounding the swimming pool be replicated throughout the design.

To honor those requests, project director Nick Marrali replaced the deck with a patio made of low-maintenance bluestone and used red clay brick as a border to match what was used poolside. He punched up the look with splashes of heuchera and pachysandra.

The water feature comprises a 2-1/2-foot-high fall that cascades into a pond that’s 3 feet deep. Marrali mixed rhododendrons with Japanese maples, roses and English ivy to provide seasonal interest.

The Iantoscas are entranced by the results.

“It’s magnificent,” Angelo says.

“It feels,” Judy adds, “as though we live at a resort.”


For Lou Ann Ransom, it was love at first sight. She knew that the cottage-style Tudor she purchased six years ago in Marble Cliff would be the perfect place to entertain friends and hold family reunions with her five children and 15 grandchildren. But the landscaping, she recalls, definitely needed a facelift.

“There was no flow to the yard and it lacked color,” Ransom recalls. Not to mention the fact that a deck of gargantuan proportions detracted from the home’s charm.

Ransom consulted Tom Wood, president of Columbus-based Wood Landscape Services Ltd., for ideas on how to transform her yard into a satisfying greenscape.

“A crucial rule of thumb,” Wood explains, “is to make sure the landscape harmonizes with the architecture. A good landscaper always takes rooflines, colors and house materials into account.”

As he gazed at the grove of oak trees and sugar maples edging the back yard and pruned the pair of sweetbay magnolias flanking the front stoop, Wood easily saw all that the terrain could be.

The first order of business: Replace the deck with a series of six connecting terraces that allow easy access to all points of the house. To add to the ambiance and provide an arresting focal point, Wood created a recirculating stream that wends its way through each level.

Next, he designed a latticed wisteria arbor along the east side of the house, which extends to the back yard. It provides privacy, as well as a glimpse into the world of bloom that awaits beyond: Tri-color beech trees of cream, green and pink are paired with American Triumph crabapple trees. For added visual interest, Wood interspersed Canadian redbuds and flowering dogwoods with the existing hardwood trees.

A warm welcome is assured via the mix of oak leaf, Annabelle and climbing hydrangeas that shade the front door. Flats of red, pink and white impatiens meander along a flagstone path, adding to the atmosphere of elegance.

The result: an English country garden a la Jane Austen.

Ransom and her husband, Buss, agree. “ We love all of it,” she says. “It’s a dream.”


Jay Schwartz certainly knows how to make an entrance.

When Wayne and Debbie Brassell, owners of Forever Green Spruce Farms, asked him to create a one-of-a-kind water feature adjacent to the driveway of their Columbia Station ranch home, he was up for the challenge.

Schwartz, vice president of sales and operation for the Chagrin Falls-based Ohio Valley Group Inc., created what Wayne Brassell calls “a wow factor”: a pair of 4-foot-high waterfalls cascading over sandstone into a pond that’s 16 feet long and 3 feet deep.

“I told Jay I wanted something with a lot of water so that we’d be able to hear it next to our swimming pool, which is 60 yards away,” Wayne Brassell says.

“When it comes to design,” he adds, “Jay has a very natural creativity about him.”

And Brassell should know. Ever since the couple built their home in 1979, he has enjoyed beautifying his 13-1/2-acre property. It’s part of a 110-acre plot farmed by his grandfather in the 1940s.

“There wasn’t a single tree on the lawn when we moved in,” Brassell says. He quickly set to work, planting blue spruces that are now 30 feet tall, as well as Scotch pines that make the home a quiet retreat from everyday cares.

However, the waterfall was a project he was reluctant to tackle. Brassell shared his vision with Schwartz. The result: a stunning naturescape that’s made a big splash with members of local garden clubs who often stop by for a look.

To complement the setting, Schwartz selected Japanese maples, spruce holly, shrub roses, coneflowers, lavender and water lilies — foliage that, together, provides year-round color.

“My rule of thumb is a 50-50 mix of deciduous to evergreen,” Schwartz says. “And of that, 15 to 20 percent are perennials.”
Brassell couldn’t be happier.

“Jay made sure the design blended into the existing landscape,” he says.