DeWolde Residence

Season 5 | Episode 1 | Home Away from Home Garden Maintenance

Esther's house is a traditional southern home built in 1906. She purchased the home in 2015  and completely renovated it to bring it back to it's original glory inside and out. When we installed the garden during the house renovation, Esther underestimated how much work a garden might need if she wasn't going to be living in the home full time.  So, four years later, we came back together to revise the garden plan into something that would be easier for her to handle in her short but frequent trips to Mobile.  Sticking to her strict purple-white-green color scheme, we were able to come up with a suitable plant list and install a drip irrigation system that will make her garden almost maintenance free so she can enjoy the view from her beautiful back porch.

Digital design board for DeWolde Residence raised planters. Hydrangea (center) surrounded by white impatiens and Dichondra 'Silver Falls' spilling over the edges.

Design Inspiration

Esther's original garden was a formal style. She loves straight lines, the sound of water, and neatly trimmed boxwood shrubs. As for the color inspiration, Esther was specific: purple, green, and white. Since it was a shady garden, finding the right plants that fit the sun requirments as well as the color scheme honed the design to the plant list we ended up using.

It's always a lot of fun to get to come up with new ideas for an existing landscape. Gardens are always a work in progress and a great learning experience too! Every design comes with challenges, but that helps hone the countless possibilities down to the one that works for each client, their site requirements, and how they live their lives. I think we were able to come up with a suitable color scheme and watering method to assure Esther will get to come back and immediately enjoy her garden on her next trip to Mobile.


Homeowner Interview

Q: What made you choose this house?

A: For a multitude of reasons which might seem silly to some. First off – why a house 3000 miles away from home and in an another country to boot and why specifically Mobile, Alabama? I had my dream, to restore a Southern home. I don’t know why, I just did and when I shared my idea with our TV spokesperson, Danny Lipford of Today’s Homeowner, and would his construction crew help me out if it were in Savannah or Charleston, he challenged me to consider Mobile. To which I naively replied “where the sam is Mobile? Once in Mobile, all I had to do was find a historical treasure that matched up with my 10 must-have’s. Everything from must be from the turn of the century, un-renovated to no stucco and filled with antiques!

And the real clincher? It was for sale privately by the owner. When he, Mr. Ford, answered the door, the aroma of his cigar slammed me into memory lane and missing my own Dad who had just passed away.  Good thing the house matched up to my wish list. I was SOLD!

Q:  Could you always envision a garden here? If so what did you envision?

A: Being that the current backyard was overgrown with an abandoned car in the middle of the brush pile, it certainly wasn’t the most obvious at first. But one just had to close their eyes and picture the rectangle shaped lot which was perfectly conducive to the symmetrical English Garden I had designed in my head.  Not to mention, how many antique treasures I found buried in the yard, from marble stepping stones, old Mobile bricks to slabs of slate and old window wrought iron security bars.

Q:  Did you consider maintenance when you dreamed your garden plan?

A: I sure did. Being that 80% of the year, I wouldn’t be present sadly, I had to ensure the yard was as low maintenance as possible without losing character.  Thus a lot of low maintenance blooming trees and shrubs native to the area like azaleas and crepe myrtles, stepping stones checkered with mondo grass which doesn’t need mowing as well as the four rectangle raised flower boxes which we’ve just added an automatic sprinkling system to for being able to keep colour alive even in the hot and humid summers of Alabama.

Q: What's your favorite part of the garden?

A: Ooh. That’s a toss-up but if you make me choose I’d have to say it’s the main square garden design in front of the reclaimed brick wall. It has so many precious little features and designs, it just makes my heart sing!  And all thanks to Catherine of SHD who could take the design in my head and commit it to paper and ensure the plan was executed flawlessly.


Special thanks to Esther DeWolde and Phantom Screens for their contribution of labor and materials to this project. If you would like more information on where to find phantom screens in your area, please visit