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Trees fall and boulders move during landscape project

Summerfield residents and guests can enjoy the new area
by: Barbara Sherman ENJOYING THE RESULTS – The Summerfield project includes a circular patio, and seated on a new bench are (from left) Bob Van Vlack, Evelyn Yardley, Edward Stern, Mary Kerns, Sharon Hughes and Paul Ochs.

Some Summerfield residents have referred to their community as a "hidden gem," and now another hidden gem has been unveiled at the northeast end of the Clubhouse.

The area, which lies between the parking lot and golf cart path, was overgrown with huge shrubs and an invasive weed, not to mention that poor drainage caused flooding outside the Pro Shop below.

Fast forward a few months: New irrigation and drainage systems are in place, while above ground, dozens of new plants, trees and shrubs flourish around a circular patio and walkway from the parking lot to the Pro Shop level. In addition, a new set of stairs from the Clubhouse second-floor deck to the circular patio has been added along with a more gradually sloped golf cart path and retaining wall at the bottom.

And this was only phase one!

"We started looking for registered, licensed landscape architects at the end of March," said Sharon Hughes, who serves on the Summerfield Common Areas Landscape Team along with Bob Van Vlack, Paul Ochs and Georgina Allen.

In mid-April, four landscape architects were interviewed and presented proposals; and in late April, one was chosen - Jeff Froeber, who just happens to be the husband of Summerfield Civic Association Administrator Cari Froeber.

"I was told I should make the area usable and inviting, but the scope was ever-changing," said Froeber, owner of FroeberLand Landscape Architects. "We made the walkway more gradual and took out half the steepness, and added the mid-deck access to the lower area. We also moved the steps closer to the Pro Shop so people will be able to get undercover sooner when it's raining.

"By adding the retaining wall at the edge of the golf cart parking lot outside the Pro Shop, we created more parking space. As for the poor drainage, the cheapest-possible pipes had been used, and tree roots had grown into them. We added new drainage pipes with multiple clean-outs and brought in compost for the plants.

"We moved a few of the existing plants around as well. Two years from now, there will be more contrast with the different height levels of the plants. We also moved some of the boulders around."

"Ever-browning" grasses, plants with fall interest, rose bushes and other shrubs have transformed the area, which includes built-in benches along the perimeter of the patio, where people can sit and enjoy the new scenery.

"Originally the seating area was closer to the golf course, but then we decided somebody might be hit by a stray ball," Froeber said. "Then we had to move it 2 more feet because of a boulder. Everything works on the computer but not always on the ground. There's always some give and take when you're doing a project."

Froeber hired Viewscapes and Design owner Jeremy Herr for the construction part of the job, and the actual shovel-in-the-ground work started May 25. Because of relentless rain, the site was often a sea of mud as workers removed most of the existing foliage and laid the new irrigation and drainage pipes.

Often the only visible sign of work underway was the top of someone's head in a deep hole in the ground.

"We started by digging out the slopes and removing the trees and shrubs," Herr said. "We removed the invasive weeds and sprayed to make sure they wouldn't come back"

Herr knows about hard work first hand - he served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Oregon National Guard in 2009 and 2010, retiring in mid-June. He got in the landscape "biz" at age 18 when he started mowing lawns and then worked for a few large landscape companies before starting his own, later selling it and opening Viewscapes and Design.

"This is a three-year project," said Hughes, who acted as the project manager and liaison between the landscapers and the Summerfield Board of Directors. "A woman who lives across the street from the Clubhouse commented that she never realized how big the Clubhouse was with all the overgrown shrubbery around it.

"Phase two includes taking out the old shrubs beside the tennis courts and adding a Portuguese laurel hedge and more golf cart parking. Lighting will be placed along the new paths and to up-light the trees, and a paver entry will be added at the start of the golf cart path from the Clubhouse parking lot. Phase three will be touch-up."

In the meantime, residents have expressed interest in setting up a barbecue or bar on the new patio, which is a perfect place to enjoy summer evenings.