Hamstra Gardens Designer

Lawrence L. Hoyle   CEO and Senior Landscape Designer with 59 years of Landscape Design experience.

Welcome to Hamstra Estates and Gardens.  I'm  blessed to be the first Landscape Designer for this Estate starting in 1974.  When Wilbur Hamstra first called me, I had no idea that 40 years later, what I was about start would be a show place in 2014.

When I was first contacted, Mr. Hamstra wanted someone to design a lake on the adjacent land west of the home.  After talking about the possible lake design, he stated that he had spent a lot of money on the rest of the yard, but he knew from his travels that most of the landscape that had been done was not done correctly.

Lets look around the rest of the yard if you see things that you disagree with, please point them out.  I found a lot areas that had very poor design elements and needed to be redesigned.  One item was a big rose planting in front of a Japanese A frame structure.  Mr. Hamstra contracted me to design the lake and redesign the rest of the yard.

This area of Indiana is as flat as a pancake with a high water table.  The soil is a black sandy loam on top and plain sand underneath.  Most ponds and lakes are formed by damming up a stream or several under ground springs keep the water level at the desired level.

This lake design would be a water table lake which met that the water level would change with the seasons.  In early spring, the water level could be within 12 inches of the ground surface.  In the summer, the water could drop down to 36 inches below the surface.  In conclusion, the lake would always have water in it that was not going to be an issue.

The big challenge would be maintaining the slopes around the lake edge.  The existing sand slopes would erode away filling the lake back up.  In fact, we had a problem while digging the lake.  As we were digging the sand out, the side slopes had to be shaped.  

Next challenge was to solve the possible erosion problem as the water level changed during the year.  A small trench was dug around the lake edge about 2' up from the spring water level.  6 mil. Plastic Film was installed from the small trench up on the slope down into the water about a 6 feet.

12, 000 Cu. Yards. of sand was removed during the digging process.  Since the land was flat surrounding the new lake, approximately 3,000 yards. of sand was used to contour the lake property area.  1,800 yards. of landscape soil mix was installed on top the sand Contours for good plant growth.


Lake was dug during the fall of 1975. The gravel edge was installed in early spring of 1976.  The poles for the bridge was installed during digging the lake before the water fill the lake.

Two brick patios were constructed on the property as designed. One located near the bridge on your right and the the second patio is located across the lake where you can see the large area of gravel on your upper right.

This picture shows the grass and gravel mulch design with plants being installed.

An existing tree has been hand dug and burlapped and rope tied ready for relocating to another location on the site.

The barn in this picture was located in the middle of the largest area of the new lake.  It had to moved before the lake could be dug.  It was relocated to where you see it in this picture.

This picture was taken in 1978.  Plants continued to be added as you can see in this picture.  The big rock area at the end of the lake is a water fall.  The pump for the water fall was installed in the lake just below the falls.

This picture was taken in 1981 showing the plant growth that had taken place since the beginning.  The yellow

Here you can see a better view of the bridge and a new gazebo across the lake that was just built on the property.  The brownish area just above the water is Purpleleaf Wintercreeper. A ground cover used to cover the large areas of gravel around the lake edge.

Years later, after perennials became more popular several different varieties were incorporated into the design.

This picture was taken in 1996, twenty year after this project was started.

The trees and shrubs are reaching maturity .  This lake area is 10 feet deep.  Yiu can see the floating planter in the middle of the water.

This show a mowed grass path which continues around the entire lake.  As you walk the path, your view of the lake and the property is ever changing.

This is the front of the house with a granite gravel driveway which allows water move through it.  A Amelanchier tree is growing in the center of the driveway.  Amelanchier blooms whit in the spring with berries forming in the late summer.

This picture is looking at the edge of a 1 1/2 acres of the property with large mounds planted with trees and shrubs and a grass path thru the area.

Walking paths meet from different angles into a walk through wooden structures.  Walk and enjoy the looking at the different plants as they change colors at different times of the year.

This area is east of the house and the kitchen window looks out on to this area.  This picture was taken in 1978.

This the same area in 2004.  26 years later and the yard has had excellent maintenance for all of those years.

In 1977, this fence was built between the house area in a new Japanese Garden being installed to the left in this picture.

This is the beginning of the Japanese garden area.  A dry creek was installed and the walk over bridge.

First things first - As the name suggests, raised bed gardening involves planting your plants in a bed that is off the ground rather than planting directly into the soil. Raised beds come in all different sizes, and there are many different kinds of receptacles for raised beds, depending on the size and where you want to hang the beds.

The ability to manage the soil is one of the most significant benefits of using the raised bed. Because you choose and mix the ground yourself, you can create the perfect soil environment for the plants you want to grow. That means even if you're going to grow plants that don't typically thrive in your area because of your local soil composition, you can grow them in raised planters in which you have created the perfect soil for those plants.

There are other benefits to raised areas as well, even if the soil is not an issue in your area. Another significant advantage to consider is the way the raised beds let you target the use of things you put on your garden. Apply fertilizer and mulch where they are needed - and there only - so you end up using less and do not accidentally apply these things where they are not required. If you use chemical pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, you can use a smaller amount of them, and again, you can target their use. Because you apply them only to the raised bed, you don't have to worry about runoff or the effects these chemicals can have on your pets or kids who play in your yard. All in raised bed gardening makes for more efficient planting.

One great benefit of a raised gardening bed that is the fact that the planting area is, in fact, elevated. Since the garden is not ground level, it is much easier to tend. Garden enthusiasts with back problems will love being able to see their plants and manage them without bending over and dealing with hours of painful work. Raised areas are ideal for people with joint pain and injuries that make it difficult for them to garden traditionally.

Although raised garden beds have all of these benefits and make different kinds of gardening possible in areas where the soil is not ideal, the beds can't trump every problem a garden may face. You still need to consider the climate in your area and choose plants accordingly - raised planters or not, and tropical plants won't grow in snowy climates. Also, you will still need to pay attention to what level of sunlight your garden area gets and choose your plants with that in mind. Further, although most people with raised beds deal with less pest infestation, you will still need some way to deal plant-munching insects. Even though raised beds can't fix everything, however, they are still a great option when soil limits the way you garden.

Lawrence L. Hoyle, author, 57 years in the Landscape Profession. Check out his main website at: https://www.web-landscape-design-ideas.com. This website has free Landscape help for Do-It-Yourselves and a online Landscape Design Services for Homeowners, Landscape Contractors and Home Builders. Designing online since 2003 with designs in 40 states. Get Your Special Landscape Design today.!

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This shows the japanese Garden in 1996.  Notice the bridge now is complete and the plants have grown to make a great area to visit and relax.


This A frame structure was built before I started this project in the 1975.  It had a rose garden where the walking poles are now and that was  completely out of place.

The screen in porch included a complete outdoor kitchen years before outdoor kithcens became popular.  Built in 1974

The Pool area behind the house.

The beams that are part of this garden structure run through the house and across the driveway entrance to the garage.

Another view of the back side of the house near the screen in porch.

This is the back yard area of another home located across the lake from the main house on the property.

This a fly over view of the entire property which includes 6 1/2 acres. I design and installed what you see over a 9 year period from 1975 until 1984.  This picture was taken in 2008.

Now on DVD!!!

Hamstra Garden was started 40 years ago

Now it is on a 20 minute DVD showing what Hamstra Gardens looks like today.  I started this Landscape in 1975.  It is truly a show place today.  Many local wedding photographers use Hamstra Gardens every year for beautiful wedding pictures.

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