Tropical Landscaping Design and Ideas

Landscaping a Hawaiian Paradise

A Minnesota-based homeowner purchased this glorious property for the home of his dreams. It is the furthermost point on a rocky lava-flow peninsula, with spectacular, 270-degree views of the world’s best surf and sunsets.

This was a landscape designer’s dream project.

Once the home itself was under construction, designer David Sonka of Bever Landscaping in Forest Lake created a plan that would be sensitive to the natural surroundings and the forces of nature that the landscape would have to endure. Sonka’s design replicates the freeform and rhythmic character of the waves and rock. A mix of materials reflects the color and character of the volcanic rock and the golden-brown beaches. The finished landscape enhances the site’s breathtaking coastal views of the coast, while offering protection from the wind, water, and elements. 

Pool Design

One of the site’s highlights is a pool landscape with custom-cut and hand-tooled Chinese quartzite coping and pool decking, meticulously installed by Sonka’s colleague, Tom Bever. The previous owner’s lava rock sea walls and planter walls were disassembled and rebuilt in a rhythmic, serpentine form with travertine coping. Lava boulders echo the forms of the nearby mountains. An intimate pavilion, built by Busker Masonry from indigenous wood, serves as a sheltered overlook for enjoying the property’s surf and sunset views. 

Sonka and Bever finalized the pool landscape with a blend of salt and wind-tolerant plants. Waves of tradescantia, crinum, beach vitex, and tricolor hau delight the eye with a variety of tropical foliage and flower. Other plants were chosen for more practical reasons, to serve as wind barriers, or to provide privacy and security

For the entryway, quartzite flagstone transitions into cobble pavers bordered by quartzite tiles. Segmental concrete pavers were shipped from Borgert Products in Minnesota, to complement the Arkansas stone of the house.

Where the driveway meets the corridors leading toward the ocean and pool landscape, David Sonka scribed large hibiscus flower patterns that were carefully cut by Tom Bever into travertine forms and laid into the stone mosaic. This topical flower accent mimics the flowers in the surrounding landscape. 

Tropical Plants and Trees

Lava rock walls separate the entrance and driveways from the adjacent lots. Salt-tolerant, traditional Pacific island plants were incorporated into the setting to give it a sense of place. Native palms preside over Tahitian gardenias, portulaca rose, illima papa, lemon bromeliads, and rows of hibiscus. A screen of Madagascar olive trees, planted in a tall masonry planter, provides privacy. 

The lava rock walls that line the driveways, constructed by Luke Busker and color-stained by Tom Bever’s crew, contain columns of Arkansas stone and light fixtures capped with travertine to match the stonework on the house. Automated entrance gates were incorporated into the masonry walls. 

Of course, the completed landscape is an everyday delight for the homeowner. But it’s also a treasured memory for all the professionals who designed and installed it.

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