Garden varietyPublished on May 10, 2013

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  • Before

  • Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • pool and spa by DX pools


  • Teak chaise lounge, Hauser


  • flowers cut from the garden enhance exterior décor


  • Coco the Golden Doodle finds a shady spot by the pool


  • Bassi Construction created the outdoor kitchen


He is considered to be one of Ottawa's top landscape architects, and genuine passion for his work is likely the root of John Szczepaniak's well-earned reputation. With a clear affection for the natural world, John shares his own garden with Ottawa At Home as well as a grand client project that showcases his ability to create unique landscape solutions that work for each individual setting.

Personal Touch

In his own Mediterranean inspired garden at his Alta Vista area home, John experiments with new plant varieties before using them for clients. He relishes in the success he has had with tropical container gardens and his garden garners attention throughout the growing season. But, spring offers his neighbours the most spectacular show with a range of blooming bulbs.

When asked if there is one plant that every garden should have, he offers a dose of sentiment that illustrates the stem of his passion. "Every garden needs a plant that reminds the owner of their family roots and traditions. My maternal grandmother was an avid indoor and outdoor gardener. The oleanders I have in pots remind me of her since she always had them."

With a variety of containers and elaborate gardens, both front and back, John's home showcases his zeal for a garden that has character and style in a city that has a limited growing season. He maintains that the use of garden architectural features, along with plants that have extended seasonal interest, is an important part of the solution. He optimistically points out how good we have it here in Ottawa with the explanation: "We are zone 4b/5a, which still allows for a lot of plant choices, compared to most of Canada."

Fantasy, Adventure and Inspiration

Inspiration comes from clients and their setting, which often includes children playing in the yard. These are appealing projects as a child's sense of fantasy and adventure must be incorporated into the plan.

In a recent backyard renovation for a family of six, John incorporated the request for a casually elegant design that allowed for ball tossing, dog chasing and alfresco dining. This was achieved by maximizing a side yard with a grand pool and an elevated spa, while reserving a grassy area, and creating a high style low-maintenance patio with natural stone laid on a concrete base.

The design is a fusion of traditional and contemporary, in keeping with the West Wellington Village's Georgian home. While the yard has an elegant charm, there are many practicalities incorporated with an irrigation system that ensures plant health. The use of containers within the design maintains a balanced ratio of hard to soft surfaces and keeps maintenance low. Planting boxwood, which does not quickly grow out of bounds, provides extended interest throughout most of the year. The added use of spring bulbs and annuals in parts of the garden adds seasonal punch and, periodically, allows the garden to have a refreshed feel. 

Contact John Szczepaniak at 613-731-2777




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