This newly built home by Shelter Architects fits into an existing urban lot one block from the Mississippi River in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. After house construction was complete, the site provided a blank landscaping canvas for us to replicate the historical ecology of the area. With two mature trees on site, most notably a massive Burr oak, a modern yet rustic savanna planting scheme took shape.
Oak savannas were historically one of the most common landscapes in the Midwest, but today are very rare due to development replacing this habitat. They are characterized by a low density of oak trees which allow for grasses and other vegetation that thrive in scattered light and shade, and often appear between prairie and woodland. Inspired by the Burr oak, this was a great opportunity to restore this urban lot to the oak savanna which has historically dominated the region.
We softened the clean lines of this modern architectural design by planting 1,300 native plants for a 100% reduction of traditional lawn. We installed a raised boardwalk from the side of the home to the back yard suspended above the plantings. This created the feeling of walking in a park and made the structure of the plantings and the pollinators they attract visible from a different vantage point. In addition, the yard includes spaces for gathering with a small veggie area, cooking area and dining space, and a “rustic” fire pit to balance the modern aesthetic.