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Landscape Architect Visit: A Deck That Glows Like a Lightbox, by Joel Loblaw


Landscape Architect Visit: A Deck That Glows Like a Lightbox, by Joel Loblaw

April 28, 2014

Joel Loblaw, a landscape designer in Toronto, Canada is bringing outdoor living to the great white north.

Loblaw opened his own firm only two years ago and is already getting a lot of attention. Loblaw, who is also an accomplished painter, has a deep knowledge of plants and construction, having worked for years for construction and landscape companies which serves him well.

In a four-season climate, gardeners have to embrace each season to ensure there is something of interest at all times. As Loblaw says, “I’m against plants that die back to the ground, and high-maintenance gardens. In our climate you need plants that look good in winter and that doesn’t mean just evergreens.” Loblaw suggests using ornamental grasses and plants with interesting sead-heads like echinacea, and oakleaf hydrangeas. He explains that these kinds of plants “just need a to be cut back in early spring and then you’re up and running again.”

His style is more modern than traditional, and you can see the influences of some of the designers he admires in his work. The bold drifts of mass plantings remind one of Belgium designer and plantsman Piet Oudolf, and his minimalist and elegant approach to design both in laying out the garden and in his hardscaping takes some cues from another favorite of Loblaw, Italian landscape designer Lucian Giubbilei. Loblaw also has a love of lighting, evident in most of his projects. For Loblaw good illumination in a garden is what will draw the clients out into their spaces in the evening. He designed his own garden with an eye toward entertaining and it includes a sunken area with built-in outdoor seating.

For his garden “Lighting the Way,” he created a 12-by-12-foot light box out of frosted tempered glass panels and cedar timbers, used for dining on an existing deck.  When not in use, it acts like an art installation or architectural lantern, looking good through all seasons.

Photographs via Joel Loblaw.

Above: Green and red resin columns lead the way to the dining area.

Above: The play of light and reflections from the tress and plants on the glass was no accident. Loblaw saw this as adding to the intrigue of the intimate space.

Above: Ornamental grasses and four season perennials are used often in Loblaw’s projects.

Above: At night the space glows like a light box. It’s a much-used space by the owners, and when not in use doesn’t look lonely and forgotten like some outdoor dining areas. It takes on a new meaning as an installation or sculpture in the garden.

Looking for ways to light up your garden? Browse our collection of Outdoor Lighting posts.

Finally, learn how to successfully design a deck for any landscape or exterior home project with our Hardscaping 101: Decks & Patios guide.

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