« Feature Project » Lakeside Tranquility

In search of a new home to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, our homeowners found their perfect lakeside home in the southwest suburbs of Minneapolis.

Though enough of their checkboxes were marked off to call it the perfect place to call home, there was still some adjustments needed. The one large item the home was missing was an outdoor space that matched their lifestyle. The previous backyard did not have any spaces to gather and socialize —something our Minnetonka district homeowners love to do. Selecting Tabor Group Landscape to give their backyard a fresh start was most necessary in creating the outdoor living space that fit their lifestyle and their dreams.

Jeff Gaffney of Tabor Group Landscape met with the homeowners to get an understanding of what their needs and desires were and also to view the outer parameter for ideas. With the homeowners emphasis and value in natural elements and desiring subtle elements of surprise, Tabor Group’s goal was to make sure to capture the impressive overall landscape which includes an elevated view of the lake.

Steps from the deck, the meandering walkway was constructed of small 3/8” dresser trap stone chips to provide soft access that creates the impression of hiking the beautiful trails of the northern lakeshore. Tabor Group used varying widths and material that was reflected in the stream and boulder selection nearby. As the path breaks off to a circular patio overlooking the wooded hillside, the winding path continues on to the beautiful centerpiece of the backyard, the stone gas fireplace and custom stone bench seat.

Jeff Gaffney designed the sloped backyard to provide different views of the surrounding landscape. With several elevations, the dresser trap paths offers the feeling of transitioning from one outdoor room to another. Working with the grade of the upper yard to create a leveled area that previously was not a gathering point or offered any seating was the largest accomplishment. In addition, utilizing the elevation of the fire pit provides a special view to a lower distant lake. Tabor Group ensured the subtle grade changes throughout the entire outdoor space, and installed an adjacent grass area, a prime spot for a game of badminton with friends or family.


Collectively the decision to use a full range (also known as off-color due to the blend of surface colors) bluestone for the it’s aesthetic versatility in addition to its clean lines. The bluestone pavers provided a large outdoor gathering area the homeowners desired with a memorable gas fire pit as the centerpiece of the patio.


The most fascinating and calming element of the backyard design is none other than the water feature. The bubbling and light splash from a well-incorporated basalt stone flows and meanders through various sized dresser trap stones, recycling the water through underground pumps. Across the pathway and concrete steps, a secondary stream flows through various dresser trap stones with two strategically placed sheer descents for optimal poetic bubbling of water sounds on multiple levels.

In keeping with the natural look and feel, the use of Scotch and Irish mosses were added as a soft organic infill at outcropping boulders and strategic points along the small dresser trap chipped walkways, as well as near the water features. As a natural contrast to the bold moss, Tabor Group used shredded, dark brown wood mulch for optimal plant care and maintenance. The low-maintenance plants visible between the water feature and bluestone patio were chosen to have an emphasis on vivid and vibrant colors that appeared in clusters of same varieties for an impactful visual appeal.


Tabor Group maintained the theme of a natural “up north” feel with the use of open and airy filtering pines. The installation of shrubs with a key focus of color, texture, bloom time as well as seasonal interest were incorporated into the outdoor space. Endless Summer and Twist-n-Shout hydrangeas and shrub roses were utilized for their color and continuous blooms. Prairie Fire Dogwoods and Blue Muffin Viburnum were used for accent throughout the outdoors.  The pines and shrubs, along with the installation of flowering crabs and several spring bloom plants, gave way to great visual appeal and interest to this stunning backyard.

The result of this magnificent landscape was a functional, yet non-conforming outdoor space filled with brilliant details that appease the eyes, mind and soul. Tabor Group Landscape was thrilled to have recently won a MNLA award for this project. 

After working with Tabor Group and reconstructing the backyard living space, the checklist for our homeowners was fulfilled, making this fresh start to their new lakeside home fit their lifestyle and their dreams.

Photography by Tammy Brice Photography.