Kentucky landscapers turn a backyard into a thriving ecosystem.

There are countless benefits to planting native species. One of the big selling points though, they create a natural ecosystem where wildlife can thrive. Native plant species were the key factor in a Kentucky project that transformed an unruly 8 acre field into a bustling prairie. It is now a certified wildlife habitat with national recognition. 

Inside Out Landscape Design redeveloped the property near Frankfort, Kentucky about a decade ago, for a couple who relocated from Fairbanks, Alaska.

The couple asked for an outdoor oasis, filled with animals, insects, blooming flowers, and bubbling water features.

Andrea Wilson Mueller and her team completed the project in several phases, taking roughly 5 months. In the first phase, they build natural stone walls to outline the lawn area.

Then they developed the front and back landscapes, installed a native pollinator garden, and planted more than 80 native and evergreen trees.

A deer fence also went up, and many bed islands were placed to improve aesthetics around the home’s entryway and electrical boxes.

They also ripped out invasive species creeping throughout the wood line, and replaced them with natives.

The team developed an outdoor living space during phase 2.

They installed an outdoor kitchen with granite countertops, a fish pond, natural limestone fireplace, and paved stone walkways.

Andrea even designed a unique water feature that meshed into a wall.

The expansive patio morphs into the field, providing a beautiful view and connection to the visiting wildlife.

The team dedicated the next phase to laying more vegetation, placing more than 100 native tree whips and 6000 prairie grasses, groundcovers, and perennials throughout the property.

The final phase shifted gears from planting to paving, as hardscapers laid a circular driveway, several walkways, and a stepping stone path.

Inside Out continues to maintain the property, and the team loves seeing animals and insects visit the home. 

“Every time I go to the prairie, there’s multiple butterflies, moths, beneficial wasps, bees and so many other insects,” said Andrea Mueller. “It’s really neat to watch it grow and fill.”  

Andrea and her team say their love clients who value sustainability, natives and wildlife, so the homeowners were ideal.

They were fairly removed from the process though, as they were moving across the continent.

They had to trust the team, and give them support and creative freedom to design what fit the property and goals.

The architects developed the majority of the ideas on their own, including the water feature and circle driveway.

“As long as a client is communicating their goals clearly, then they can trust me and know that I’m going to do what’s best for them.“

One of the biggest challenges Andrea faced in this project was the grades.She says measuring and responding to grades is always tough, but her team never had to compact a patio as much as this one.

She says they typically use stone to fill in uneven spaces, but they used clay this time.

Andrea also struggled to design the wall water feature. It was unlike anything she had built before, and the idea sparked as she brainstormed how to fit a water feature into the design. 

“It actually ended up way cooler than the original design. At first, the water was just kind of like part of the pond and the wall was separate. Later we realized that wouldn’t work, so this idea was just an effort to correct the initial plan.”

A project this size, with this many phases, took a large crew. Inside Out Landscape have skilled landscaping, hardscaping, and maintenance specialists on staff, who each played their own key role in the build. Andrea and her husband have led the team since launching the company in 2007.

The two met as teenagers when he began working for Andrea’s father’s landscaping company. It certainly is a family business. 

About 80% of Inside Out’s projects focus on residential properties, but the prairie sanctuary is one of their biggest builds.

Their work will continue to pay off for years to come, as the ecosystem they helped create continues to blossom and thrive. 

Project Value ($): about $400,000 

Build Time (time): 5 months (2 months for front phases, 3 months for back phases) 

Size of Project (area): 2 acres 

Supplier information and materials:

Vista Lighting 

Copper Moon lighting in front lighting by Red Oak Outdoor Lighting

Deck posts & underdecking by Basinger Construction (no website)

Custom Kitchen Cabinets by RF Cabinetry 

Railings by Maynard Studios

Paving for front walkway and back patio by Techo-Bloc

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