Total Landscapes Project Designed and Installed for Clients with Special Needs

Total Landscape, Inc. recently received the “Environmental Improvement Award” from the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) for a landscape project specially designed and installed for access by the disabled. The comprehensive project was designed and installed for Jim and Audrey Yarbrough of Lake St. Louis, Mo., and incorporates unique landscaping solutions, which accommodate the needs of those persons who are mobility-challenged.

The extensive design from Landscape Technologies, Inc. includes a series of sloping ramps, landings and patios, which can be reached by a wheelchair or scooter, and in the Yarbrough’s case, a golf cart. Using engineering principles, the ingenious design allows both motorized vehicles and pedestrians to easily access the same path. The skid resistant surface and building materials specified in the design and installation allows vehicles to maneuver safely up and down the series of ramps. For those who choose to walk, the gradual incline and side-to-side direction of the path enables pedestrians to move down the steep grade without the usual exertion of climbing steps.

Each of the Yarbrough have elderly parents who would come and visit their lakeside home, but were not able to enjoy the outdoor activities and natural setting of the lake due to their age and health issues. “Until we envisioned the possibilities of the project, we were skeptical that the dock and lake would be accessible to people with mobility issues,” commented Audrey Yarbrough. “Before, our parents were limited in their activity while visiting. Now that the project has been completed our parents can enjoy the amenities of lakeside living without the worry and concern of getting to and from the lake from the top of the hillside,” Yarbrough added.

Landscape architect Randall W. Mardis, ASLA, designer of the Yarbrough project commented, “The overall design and the choice of planting and installation materials had to be low-maintenance, due to the nature of the hillside and to ensure safe passage along the ramps. We had to be sure that functionality and form co-existed in order to make the project successful yet livable.”

Total Landscape’s Founder and Present Bob Franey, and Design/Build Director Rob Kruse took great pains to ensure that the environment would not only be functional but also attractive. Kruse noted, “The overall look of the project mirrors the serenity of the lakeside environment. The construction materials and the plantings enhance both the inside and outdoor 'décor' of the Yarbrough residence, while providing erosion control for the ramps and the slope.”

“This project was one of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered in my almost 20 years as a landscape professional”, Franey concurred. “The steep slope and the difficult terrain really made the entire Total Landscape team reach beyond ourselves and our comfort zones, and the end result is a beautifully landscaped and easily accessible outdoor environment.”

Franey, a special inspector for the Public Works department of St. Louis County, understood the particular difficulties of the Yarbrough property, the unique setting and Landscape Technologies’ overall design goals. Franey commented, “This wasn’t a ‘run-of-the-mill project’, and our construction team had to constantly consider the environmental challenges and the best options for each phase of the installation process.” Franey is a professional landscape contractor by trade, and he has had extensive training with land disturbance projects throughout the St. Louis Metro area with Total Landscape, Inc.

The fact that the entire project was designed for persons with disabilities is not lost on the Yarbroughs. Audrey Yarbrough is the executive director of the non-profit group Family Advocacy & Community Training organization, or FACT. “The over-riding priority in my professional and personal life is making the world an easier place for those with disabilities,” noted Yarbrough. She added, “The mission of FACT is to enhance the opportunities and quality of life for children and youth with disabilities. This priority extends beyond my professional interests into my personal life.”

The Yarbrough’s reaction to the end result was nothing short of amazement. “Although we had a vision of how the project would materialize from Landscape Technologies’ design, the end result was beyond our anticipation. Bob Franey, Rob Kruse and the entire Total Landscape team came through and not only met but exceeded our expectations,” marveled Audrey Yarbrough. “The best part of the project is that our parents can now enjoy the beauty of Lake St. Louis again,” added Jim Yarbrough.

Franey added, “While we were happy that the Yarbroughs were so pleased with the results of their landscaping project, the recognition from PLANET for the excellence of the execution was the icing on the cake. To be recognized by your peers for outstanding work makes it all worthwhile.” Both Franey and Kruse hold the professional designation of Certified Landscape Professional (CLP) from the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) national landscape contractor’s organization.

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