Sunday, May 8, 2011

Small Back Yard made functional and spacious!

This back yard is a well loved space which had reached a critical point of deterioration with its old deck and old concrete patio. The homeowner wanted us to rebuild the deck, using gravel path trex for the treads and facias, but keeping it in harmony with the older Bolton Hill neighborhood by installing painted wood railings and trellis. We retained the ivy covered fences, but removed the concrete patio and installed recycled brick pavers in a basket weave pattern, creating new planting spaces that will be perfect for an array of shade loving plants.

This photo shows a "Before" view of the patio and deck. We suggested extending the deck by about 2 feet to create a slightly larger deck that would more easily house a small table and chairs. There was very little planting space in the existing garden, so we designed 18" wide beds on 3 sides of the patio, and as an afterthought put in a small planting bed on one corner of the deck so a climbing plant could be trained to climb up the deck.

This "After" view shows the new deck and patio. The trellis doors open to allow items such as trash receptacles or other tools and items to be stored under the deck, as well as to allow access to the basement.

The existing deck had pressure treated pine treads which over time deteriorate and become slippery when wet, especially in this heavily shaded area. The substructure had been built using 2"x6" joists and 4"x4" posts that lacked footer. We built a replacement substructure using 2"x8" joists and 6"x6" posts that have the requisite 30" deep footers. The result is a much stronger structure that together with the trex treads will last many years.

The new deck perfectly accommodates this tasteful small table and chairs, the result is a clean and bright effect, inviting one to enjoy the urban woodland surroundings.

The patio was cracked and very old. Old concrete blocks lined the edges, providing the only planting space in the yard. We retained the basic design of the blocks by replacing the with slightly larger planting beds and angling corners to open the patio space more. Below: In a small space, a simple brick pattern creates a greater sense of spaciousness than a more intricate pattern, which are better used to add interest and definition to larger spaces. The simple basket weave pattern and border perfectly define the space. The recycled or recovered old brick are very heavy, solid, well made bricks that contain a wonderful blend of colors and textures that make this patio harmonize with the local historic neighborhood.

One benefit of a smaller yard is that landscaping and hardscaping (utilizing stone to landscape) are able to create a huge effect with a much smaller financial outlay than would be required in a larger space. With careful design that considers homeowner's priorities and budget, a little used "yard" can become a welcoming second "living room"!

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