Southview Design Wins Two MNLA Awards for Landscape Design

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Vadnais Heights and Edina Backyard Designs Win Excellence in Landscape Design

Backyard pool design by Southview Design

Backyard pool design by Southview Design

Southview Design won two awards for Excellence in Landscape Design from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) this month.

Southview Design landscape designer Tim Johnson won the award for the swimming pool landscape design he created for a Vadnais Heights couple; landscape designer Colleen Moran won the award for her suburban backyard design for an Edina family.

Adjacent to natural wetlands, the Vadnais Heights backyard had serious drainage issues. The homeowners’ pool wasn’t installed correctly, causing groundwater to seep into the pool. Runoff from the owner’s house and the neighbor’s yard created puddles in the backyard, rendering it nearly unusable.

Southview’s first order of business was to turn a soggy backyard into a livable area. They re-graded the yard and installed drain tile to redirect the runoff. Building a concrete base and decorative drain tile in the pool deck also helped solve the drainage issue. Finally, Southview put in a drip irrigation system with multiple drip areas that redirects water to the gardens.

Johnson’s design also included creating an outdoor living room under the deck. Bluestone pavers accent the living space under the deck and line the pool deck, while an outdoor lighting system provides ambiance. Colorful perennial gardens and mature trees line the outer edge of the property, which is accented with boulders.

While the Vadnais Heights couple had rarely ventured beyond their deck, they are now enjoying their new backyard, swimming in the lap pool in the summer and soaking in the hot tub in the winter. Their new favorite pastime is relaxing in the new outdoor living room space overlooking the pool, gardens and wetlands, teeming with wildlife.

For photos of the award-winning Vadnais Heights backyard design, visit:

The Edina property offers views and access to Lake Cornelia. Although the home was on a higher elevation – the drop from the sliding glass doors to the ground is about eight feet – the one stipulation was that they didn’t want a deck. This required thinking outside the box, said Moran.

Moran’s design combined tiered paver patios and a modular block retaining wall, built to fit the scale of the home. The tiered walls were sized and constructed to create livable spaces, including a dining area, fire pit, and areas for plants and flowers.

One key issue was that if the retaining walls jutted too far out from the house, they would block their neighbor’s view of the lake. So Moran and the Edina homeowners sat in the neighbor’s lower level family room and determined just where the walls had to turn the corner.

Southview also had to replace an existing wall on the property line, which required them to work from the neighbor’s property. As a courtesy, Southview offered the neighbors a free perennial garden design to their satisfaction and delight.

The family is now enjoying morning coffee, family dinners and roasting s’mores in the fire pit from their lakeside perch. Best of all, throughout the construction, they remained friends with their neighbors.

Tim Johnson and Colleen Moran accepted their awards at the MNLA Awards Gala on Jan. 14, 2015.

For photos of the award-winning Edina backyard design, visit:

For more landscaping and backyard design ideas, visit

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Maria Verven
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