The owners of this well-preserved Frank Lloyd Wright home in suburban Oak Park wanted to update the site design and landscaping but avoid too many distracting new elements. Central to the design concept was maintaining the openness of the site while using materials and design approaches which would maintain the integrity of Wright’s master plan.

One key concession to the native materials mantra was the use of ipê, an exotic hardwood, for the rear deck structure. The beauty, density, strength and sheer weight of the wood, along with its tight grain, were key factors in its selection. A “blind” fastener system insures that no screws or nails mar the continuity of the decking. The deck complements Wright’s work and serves as a transition point between the home and the garden.

A simple plant palette was also key. Following Wright’s philosophy of using native plant materials, the plantings were restrained and relied on form, texture and structure more than bloom. Native grasses, shrubs and trees included oak, sumac, sand cherry, serviceberry, fothergilla, sedum and red twig dogwood.

Lastly, night lighting – featuring Prairie-style fixtures – lends a warm glow to the evening garden.