Five Under Forty: Ashley Stevens
Evoke Landscape | Boulder
Working with the land comes naturally to Ashley Stevens, co-founder of EVOKE Landscape in Boulder. Growing up in verdant Minnesota, Stevens would spend much of her time outdoors with her mom in the garden, surrounded by lush greenery. “I grew up around gorgeous gardens, which definitely planted the seed,” Stevens says. “I’m a true believer that spending time outside and connecting with nature makes us all better humans.”
An enthusiasm for spending time outdoors intermixed with Stevens’ strong interest in art. She graduated from CU Boulder with a degree in art history in 2009. But she later discerned landscape design to be her life’s calling.
After working as a landscape designer at Marpa, a top local landscape design firm, Stevens felt it was time to venture into her own landscaping business. She teamed up with her husband (whom she met at Marpa) and founded EVOKE, a landscape design firm specializing in outdoor living in the Denver and Boulder area. “When my husband and I first started dating, we would spend afternoons driving around Denver looking for inspiration and talking design,” Stevens says. “As they say, the rest is history.”
Two children later, Stevens hopes the love of creating modern, lush outdoor spaces runs in the family. “Our two young boys are into trucks and construction,” Stevens says. “It’s become a family affair.”
“At EVOKE, we do our best not to create “trendy” landscapes. Rather, we aim to create work that feels timeless, transcends style, and perfectly supports our clients’ lifestyle.”
WORKING WITH FAMILY
“Of course, there can be challenges associated with working with your partner, but it helps that our roles are distinct. I work on the front end of the design, and my husband sees it through to fruition in the field.”
LANDSCAPE DESIGN TREND
“The industry is working to design landscapes that are more responsive to climate change. Xeriscaping, minimizing lawn, reducing fire risk, attracting pollinators and wildlife, and incorporating hardier species to withstand weather extremes are a few of the ways we can encourage healthy, enduring climate-resilient landscapes.”
FAVORITE TYPE OF PROJECT
“I find designing for small spaces to be exceedingly rewarding because it requires you to really maximize value on a tight footprint and come up with creative solutions.”
“One of my favorite landscape moments is the glorified garbage pathway. The homeowners needed to traverse an awkward corner of the garden to get to the trash cans. Since this space was the focal point from the lounge terrace, we thought, why not make an incredibly engaging pathway? It’s always fun when you have “yes” clients, the ones that totally trust your expertise. What we ended up with were oxidized steel stepping stones that float above a lush, green garden complete with a fountain. They couldn’t be happier with the result.”
See the rest of the 2022 Five Under Forty design award winners.