The back story: Joyce and Dick McFarland had just completed a major renovation of their late 1880s farmhouse in Excelsior so that they could continue living there for many more years as they aged. The couple added on an accessible main-floor master suite and mudroom, and relocated and rebuilt the attached garage. “They had to do excavation for the addition, and it was a big mess on that side of the house,” said Joyce.


The challenge: The next step was to create an easy walkway from the driveway to the newly elevated front entry. At the same time, the plan would intermingle stairs and pretty landscaped plantings to create an inviting front stoop.

Joyce had one more request — to use bluestone somewhere in the landscape project. “I really like the texture and sparkles,” she said.


The landscape designer: John Stadelman, Bachman’s, 612-861-7646,


Easy does it: Stadelman designed a front bluestone sidewalk and a gradually ascending staircase leading from the driveway to the door. “We separated the stairs into two sections, with shorter risers to make it easier to climb,” he said. A continuous wrought-iron railing offers extra support.


Limestone landscaped beds: A new retaining wall softens the height of the staircase, said Stadelman. The bed at the bottom of the staircase is planted with shade-tolerant perennial coralbells and annuals including impatiens and begonias, to deliver summerlong color.

At the top, the raised planter also holds impatiens and begonias. Next to the home, Stadelman chose low-growing evergreen yews. A flowering hydrangea was planted in front of the dryer vent because “the hot air won’t affect it in the winter,” he said. The hue of the Fond du Lac limestone in the wall and planter complements the bluestone hardscape.


Curved appeal: Stadelman’s curvy design for the limestone wall, planter and staircase creates a softer aesthetic. “We really love the curved shape,” said Joyce. “And it blends with the casual character of the house.”


The result: The McFarlands have a well-supported walkway from the driveway to the door, and the colorful landscaped plantings create a pleasing transition from the sidewalk to the elevated entry.



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