The challenge: Homeowner Tunie Munson-Benson continually battled water issues around the front entry of her 1970s Minnetonka home. When it rained, water puddled at the front entry and splashed and stained the siding, causing the cedar to rot. “The siding was always such a muddy mess,” she said. And because that part of the yard was shaded, plants struggled, leaving bare spots in her landscape. She wanted to improve rainwater drainage, redesign the landscaping and make the front entry more inviting.

The design team: Architect Jackie Millea and designer Beth Halstenson, Shelter Architecture, Minneapolis, 612-870-4081. With Ben Erickson, B.E. Landscape Designs.

The solution: In the front yard, Munson-Benson wanted to keep the “enormous” stone she had chosen with her late husband, Peter Benson. “The Zen stone was one of our last projects together,” she said.

The new plan by B.E. Landscape Design included layers of Mexican stones and river rock, which help with drainage around the Zen stone, as well as close to the house. The landscaper regraded the yard to create a slight slope so water would flow away from the foundation and siding.

Millea designed and extended the overhang out and across the front entry to better capture and redirect the rainwater, which eventually flows down an Asian-style rain chain. “The new flat overhang has a more inviting feeling,” she said.

Plants with purpose: Munson-Benson planted shade-loving hosta next to several hundred periwinkle plugs, spread as evergreen ground cover. “They’ve really flourished and at some point will become a dense blanket,” she said. 

Eye-catching walkway: Rotted railroad ties and rough concrete pavers were replaced with sleek New York bluestone and durable wood boards. “The wood feels like a bridge over the flagstone as you come up to the door,” said Munson-Benson. 

Asian influences: Munson-Benson painted the front door vivid red, believed to ensure positive energy, according to the Chinese philosophy of feng shui. “The bright color says, ‘Come on in,’ ” she said.

Rooftop rock garden: Millea designed a spot to place a little garden on top of the new overhang. It’s made of thick moss that resembles a stream flowing across river rock. Munson-Benson cranks open a window at the top of the stairs to mist the moss. “When we come up the stairs, there’s this lovely little garden out the window,” she said. “It’s a whimsical surprise.” 

The result: Not only were the home’s water drainage and splashing problems resolved, but the new entry is also more visually appealing. 

“The front entry is a calm and welcoming space that invites you in,” Millea said.