Out of the Wild
Hokuahi Lawns clears an overgrown yard.
Article by Lance Tominaga, Photos by David Croxford, Featured Landscape Designer: Gary Shinn, of Hokuahi Lawns
Issue Date: (Wed) May 27, 2009
It was a prime example of a yard that had simply grown out of control due to lack of maintenance. When the homeowner passed away last fall, her son returned from San Francisco to oversee the property’s renovation. Taking a three-month leave of absence, the son handled a lot of the interior improvements, including installing new carpeting and repainting the house, but he entrusted the landscaping work to Shinn and his staff at Hokuahi Lawns.
First, the crew worked to clear the large yard. “It’s easily 10,000 square feet,” says Shinn. They removed an unruly tangle of trees, including a mango tree and a banyan tree.
With the excess vegetation cleared away, he began adding alluring, subtle details to transform the yard into a tropical-themed oasis. He replaced the old, rectangular deck area with an attractive freeform deck, crafted from Fireplace, a natural stone offered at Marblehaus Hawaii. “I like to work with curves,” Shinn says, “just to break up some of the straight angles that become monotonous at times.”
In addition, the grass that crept up against the house gave way to a 1-foot gravel border installed around most of the structure. “This is something every homeowner should do,” Shinn advises. “The border keeps the vegetation and water off the house.”
Shinn originally planned to install Saint Augustine grass in the yard, but was pleased when the new homeowner professed his dislike of the coarseness of the grass. Instead, the Hokuahi crew hydro-mulched El Toro zoysia, a sturdy-yet-soft grass with a deep-root structure. “All the way around, this is the best grass to go with,” offers Shinn. “It’s hardy and chokes out the weeds. If you have a big dog that likes to run around the yard, this is perfect for it.”
“We’re known for these borders,” Shinn explains. “The stepping stones are also made right on site; we can custom make them to any size and shape. Here, the stones were done to tie the entrance area to the outside lanai.”
Though they removed much of the original landscaping, the homeowner opted to salvage one very important Staghorn fern.
“Evidently, this was something that he fondly remembered as a kid growing up here,” says Shinn. “He asked us if we could save it somehow, so we took it and strapped it to this date palm. We had originally tossed it aside, so I wasn’t sure if it would come back. But it has grown back nicely.”
An automatic sprinkler system was also installed, along with high-grade lighting fixtures that create a dramatic setting at night.
Hokuahi Lawns also addressed the front entry area, once populated by overgrown octopus plants that had damaged the driveway. Shinn replaced the octopus plants with less intrusive Manila palms. He even fashioned a new mailbox for the homeowner, replacing the termite-eaten wooden structure with a hollow-tile block set in concrete and a molding skin. “We stained it to give it a more natural look,” says Shinn.
The result? The new owner’s yard is designed just the way he wanted it.
“He was extremely happy,” says Shinn. “The yard is more open, yet privacy is still maintained. We took a property that was a little bit different, and we turned it into something that the homeowner can take full advantage of.”