Going Native

Although relatively new to the Denver scene, Kitchen Door Landscaping is making a major impact in terms of great design and sustainability.

RAISE THE ROOF A comfortable, shaded sitting area is a focal point of the livable outdoor space. Photo by Terri Fotheringham

The owners of this Broomfield property always dreamed of renovating the backyard, and 30 years after moving in, they finally realized their vision with the help of Kitchen Door Landscaping. What was once a relatively bare and ordinary space (a lot of grass and very few plants) is now poised to grow into a backyard oasis where they can entertain friends and family, grow food, and experience joy.

They selected a design the features elements of mid-century modern style that was inspired by vistas of the American West and invokes a sense of limitless space while also blending the home with its natural surroundings. The project included 150 new native perennial plants and shrubs, eight new trees, two vegetable boxes, and fruiting bushes—Kitchen Door aims to include edible elements in all its yard transformations. “Like in most of our renovations,” says Gwen Nahnsen, the project man- ager, “we keep some amount of lawn space for kids to play in, but we try and reduce the size of the lawn and replace it with plants, trees, and things to eat. Also, we built a beautiful deck with a gazebo cover and a firepit. Having a firepit and covered outdoor place to relax is always ideal for the hot Colorado sun.”

The finished yard features clean lines at every turn. Square concrete steppers mark a path from the back door (literally, the kitchen door!) to the new square gazebo and the shed. The lawn is cut into a square as well, and the vegetable planter boxes are square as well. “Obviously, the linear design is well complemented by the abundant colors and lush perennials,” says Nahnsen. Of course, the experience was not without its difficulties. “Our install team found a lot of garter snakes on the property,” she adds. “Everyone enjoyed a bunch of tough-guy landscapers running away, afraid of the harmless snakes.”

Nahnsen says, “An ideal outdoor living space should be a space that engages you, is designed to your style, and provides the comfort of home outdoors. It is an extension of your house and, thus, requires a keen eye for design as in any other room. It should bring you joy and be easy to care for so that gardening is an activity you look forward to. Lastly, it should be a space that is cohesive with the natural environment.”

Image by Terri Fotheringham

Kitchen Door’s mission is one that challenges long-held ideas about what a lush and luxurious space can and should be. “Typically, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the American yard is an immaculately trimmed lawn,” says Nahnsen. “Not only are they boring, but lawns require pesticides and fertilizers, constant mowing, and way too much water, especially in an arid climate like Colorado. The end result is a yard that costs a lot of money and time and brings you very little joy. We transform yards into spaces with color, texture, and diversity. Yes, we all want a lawn where kids can play, but the typical American yard has so much more space than that. We aim to cut the lawn space in half to allow room for entertaining guests, engaging native plants with colorful blooms, and growing fruits and vegetables.”

Nahnsen says that this was definitely not an inexpensive project; however, she says, “Yards like this pay off in the long term by lessening the time and maintenance your yard requires, reducing water use, and bringing food to the table.”

STEPPING STONES The geometric pavers add a little bit of a midcentury feel to the design, and the wide variety of fruits and vegetables ensure a bountiful table. Photo by Terri Fotheringham

Growing Smarter

A new partner for Kitchen Door Landscaping is Cambium Carbon, a company focused on building a circular economy for urban forests. Urban wood waste is reclaimed, turned into products such as cutting boards or furniture and accent walls, and sold to generate revenue, which is then used to plant and maintain new trees.

Cambium Carbon is creating reforestation hubs in seven cities, including Denver, to combat the enormous amount of waste discarded in landfills: 36 million trees are cut down in cities each year, and 12.2 million tons of wood goes unused.

Kitchen Door Landscaping is part of the Carbon-Smart Wood Alliance, which means the company prioritizes the use and development of the local urban wood market and works with Cambium Carbons network of millers, arborists, and woodworkers within its upcoming projects. To learn more or to find a fit for your home, go to cambiumcarbon.com.