Water and Wonderment

Ryan Youngblood finds ways to blend optimal water views with creative landscaping // Photography by Jeff Garland
Sedum grows well among the stonework at this Goodrich home on Shinanguag Lake, says landscape designer Ryan Youngblood.

Growing up near Rochester, Ryan Youngblood, president of R. Youngblood
& Co. in Rochester, a landscape architecture and design/build firm, wasted no time going after his passion; in fact, he started his company when he was a junior in high school.

“I always had a love for plants, (and) that grew into a love for well-designed outdoor spaces,” says Youngblood, who has a degree in landscape horticulture from Oakland Community College.

Although he began on the garden care side of the business, he eventually followed his desire to pursue design — like the upscale residential projects he specializes in today. “We create a landscape at a much higher level that’s customized to the client, and we’re extremely passionate about what we do,” he says.

His firm, which has been in business for 24 years, handles everything from smaller lots and midsize properties to large estates. “It’s not about the size of the property, but how the client wants to interact with it by having a properly designed space to enhance their lifestyle,” Youngblood says.

“We get to know the lifestyle of each individual and understand the site, (so we can get to) the perfect blend of personality, lifestyle, and architecture to incorporate a landscape that becomes a true inside/out piece,” he adds.

With waterfront homes, Youngblood says the view is already there. “You need to understand every view from the inside out. In Michigan, we’re inside (a lot), so you need to find (outdoor perspectives from indoors) that offer magic, and then leverage that. We like to call them sweet spots,” he explains.

Key plants in his designs include hydrangeas, perennials, and grasses in mass.

“You can easily overdesign a lakefront property,” he says. “You have to know how to (determine) the best use of space in the right spots, so you enjoy every second of being out there, letting the lake be about what it already is, and enhancing those views.”

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“We try to work with blues, white, and purples with our lakefront homes,” R. Youngblood & Co. owner Ryan Youngblood says. “These color tones are calm enough to not distract the eye too much from the grand view — the lake itself.”

— JM

Waterfront landscaping by R. Youngblood & Co. of Rochester makes the most of great views at a home on a pond in Metamora (top two photos) and in Goodrich.


Ryan Youngblood’s favorite body of water is the Au Sable River, where he carries out his passion for fly fishing. “I’ve experienced my most favorite moments in the quietness and stillness of what a river brings,” Youngblood says. “It brings me mental pause.”

He also loves the Manistee River, where his family has a cabin, but says, “My favorite lake is Lake Michigan, where my family and I find quiet little beaches and enjoy the ocean-like views and big-water swims. It’s such a large body of water. You just can’t find that beauty anywhere else. I love how Lake Michigan makes you feel so small; it humbles you.”

— JM

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