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Nestled in Nature
At Home in Arkansas: Your firm has been involved in landscaping some of the state’s most prestigious sites, including the Clinton Presidential Center, Heifer International’s headquarters and most recently Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Did you begin your own home’s landscape with a similar approach?
Landscape designer Frank Sharum: Those were very large-scale projects, but many of the same principles apply. My wife, Jana, and I built this home about eight years ago, and we considered the lot and what was preexisting from the beginning of our design, as I would with any project. There were large oak trees that we wanted to preserve, and we nestled our house among them rather than clearing the lot to build. In the backyard, there was a second group of trees, including a Savannah holly and a weeping Japanese maple; we placed the pool with preserving those trees and providing some shade in mind.
Do you and Jana spend a lot of time by the pool?
We do, but we really built it for our children, Layton and Lynley Grace, who have always loved to play volleyball and practice their dives. Although we wanted a pool, we once again wanted it to work with the existing landscaping and not seem like a destination, but more of a natural progression of the house. You’ll notice there’s very little concrete around the pool’s edge and a good deal of natural-looking greenery and flowering shrubs. We also used Foster hollies to build a natural privacy screen around the pool area.
What prompted the raised beds along the back wall of the pool?
I wanted as much greenery as possible around the pool, and building a custom raised bed along the pool’s edge allowed us to do that. Raised beds can be a great solution for growing flowering plants or even vegetables, because you can control the soil and they retain moisture. We added a fountain for a constant serene, calming sound in the background.
You also have some unique planters around the pool area.
Yes, I’ve always liked to mix dwarf trees with sweet potato vine or flowering annuals. It’s a bit unexpected, and you can always transplant the trees if they begin to outgrow the container.
The backyard contains lush evergreens with refreshing pops of pink throughout the landscape. What inspired these colors?
My wife has always loved pink and wanted to use some flowering plants with pink blooms around the pool. I am a big fan of Knock Out roses, so we added several in different shades of pink. We also planted crepe myrtles to add color a little higher in the vision line. And, of course, azaleas and hydrangeas both grow well in our region, so they were a natural choice.
What about your plant selections for the front of the home? When guests approach the house, they are welcomed by a stately façade.
The entrance to the home does have a more formal feel. As with the backyard and the way we built the home in general, we intentionally situated the entrance in the landscaping. There’s very little concrete and the home is almost disguised by trees and shrubs. We built on a raised foundation because elevating the home can create a more formal look. This also allowed the lot to slope in front to aid drainage, which is something that must always be considered for any landscape plan.
Are there any plants in particular that helped create your elegant entrance?
We tried to match all of the landscape here with the home’s exterior. For instance, the drive is lined with 3-foot-6-inch boxwoods. When you drive past the home in your car, you are almost in the same vision line as the boxwoods, which disguise the home. We also used a twisty locust and pair of Blue Point juniper spirals for a look that is similar to a well-maintained English garden. As with any landscape design, it was really about taking a good look at what we had and how we could add to that to create appeal.
Landscape design Frank Sharum Landscape Design, Inc., Fort Smith, (479) 646-6517, sharums.com
Furnishings, fountain Sharum’s Garden Center, Fort Smith, (479) 649-0662; Springdale, (479) 361-9180; sharums.com
Pool Burton Pools & Spas, Fort Smith, (479) 648-3483; Springdale, (479) 756-5511; burtonpools.com
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At Home in Arkansas offers your first look inside the state's most inspiring homes in a range of styles. The magazine features monthly advice from the experts to help you plan your next remodel or redesign, entertain at home or find Arkansas' best kept secrets. It is your definitive guide to the state's finest homes and gardens, design professionals, fashion and entertaining essentials, and premier shops and showrooms.