Tampa Bay Memorial Garden

CUSTOM MEMORIAL GARDEN IN TAMPA BAY

The Memorial Garden outdoor living space project was designed as a meditation and memorial garden for my customers Ron and Kay. Ron, Kay and their daughter Laura came to me with a request to design and build a multi-medium outdoor living space in memory of their only son, Kevin, whose life was tragically lost in an automobile accident. I was very moved and honored to take on a project that had such meaning to an entire family. Being such a personal project, I had several meetings with the family until I felt the design not only met with all three family members’ physical and spiritual needs (as well as Laura’s two Siberian Huskies’ needs), but also incorporated what I had learned of Kevin’s likes and personality through my meetings and conversations with the family.

Starting off, the area we had to work with was approximately 65 feet in length by 18’ feet in width. The width of the area had a drop-off of approximately 3 feet in elevation, rendering it basically unusable as living space. To correct this we constructed two retaining walls made of stone and an additional retaining wall made of wooden timbers. This allowed us to turn a previously unusable space into a usable space, which is one of the main benefits of using retaining walls in an outdoor living space.

The project consisted of three different outdoor living spaces. The first, a large custom wooden deck, was skinned with composite decking. The deck is completely covered by a custom wood pergola. The composite decking is laid in a multi-directional outward pattern, with an Asian symbol composed of composite decking inlaid in the center of the deck. This idea was inspired by Kevin’s time spent in the Orient during his years in the military, as well as his passion for the Eastern culture and lifestyle. The custom deck also has two styles of custom composite benches as well as outdoor lighting. Finally, the custom deck has three large Pennsylvania antique boulders that rise up through the composite decking that tie the stone from the pondless water feature into this area of the space.

The second space is a bluestone patio inset between two stone retaining walls. This area abuts the pondless stone waterfall with a composite decked Oriental bridge spanning its rock bed.

The third space is an interlocking paver terraced walkway and patio which becomes the flooring for a custom wood kennel built for Laura’s two Huskies. Just like the deck, the kennel has a custom pergola for a roof, with a plexi-glass cover for complete protection from all of the elements. In the process of designing the kennel, I asked Ron and Kay to make a short list of words that would describe Kevin. These words were translated into their corresponding Japanese symbols, which were then cut into the two custom wood doors built for the kennel.

The project has outdoor lighting throughout, has been completely landscaped, and an irrigation zone was added to maintain the landscaping.

All of the work for this outdoor living space was completely done in-house by the Exterior Concepts team, including myself and two of my top employees. Thank you Andrew and Ryan for your muscle, motivation and enthusiasm, and thank you to Ron, Kay and Laura for the opportunity to work with you on such an important personal space in your lives.

“Being such a personal project, I had several meetings with the family until I felt the design not only met with all three family members’ physical and spiritual needs, but also incorporated what I had learned of Kevin’s likes and personality through my meetings and conversations with the family.”