People are definitely getting outside and making the most of summer, and as a result, we have two awesome backyard renovations to share today. Landscape designer Nick McCullough recently completed this garden for a client, and it is quite an impressive transformation. I love the multiple levels and the dark, dramatic plants, not to mention the dreamy outdoor seating surrounding the cozy stone fireplace. Great work, Nick! — Kate
Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)
See more of both Nick and Jess’ backyard renovations after the jump!
Time: 4 months
Basic Steps: The client wanted to modernize his Georgian home’s backyard (1500 sq ft) and add some much-needed privacy. I started with a design of modern rectangular/diagonal lines to elongate the space and achieve an outdoor-room feel. I added a modern pleached hedge of Frans Fontaine European Hornbean (Carpinus betulus “Frans Fontiane”) and selected classic materials like bluestone and split-face limestone to achieve a modern look but blend with the brick of the home. My advice is to use inspirational images to start — if there is a stone or plant you like in the image, your local garden center or stone provider can identify it and let you know if it will work in your area. Get a master plan and then decide what to do first and what to add to over time. Remember, plants are living things and will only look better in the following years as they mature. — Nick
It’s so fun to see the projects that come in when the weather warms up and people head outdoors! While this second backyard renovation from Jess in Portland is a smaller production than Nick’s big-budget redesign above, it boasts many enviable elements. I’m particularly drawn to the vegetable gardens that border the dining area and the mix of bright green and sage-gray tones in both the plants and the furniture. Wonderful work, Jess!
Time: 2 years
Basic Steps: The first summer, we rented a sod cutter and spent the rest of the summer leveling the middle area with a flat shovel and building up the surrounding plant beds. We installed a French drain to take care of a downspout that was in the way and covered the neighbors’ fence with inexpensive reed fencing. Once we decided the middle area looked level enough (it’s actually subtly graded away from the house), we spread the gravel. For the rock borders, we bought extremely inexpensive tumbled rocks called rustic basalt. They were a fraction of the cost of most wall rocks, but they still have a lot of angles and a bit of color. Devising a little wall from them was like working on a big puzzle. After that we were on the hunt for plants and bushes.
Our advice: Get started! You will be thanking yourself in a couple years when you have the joy of seeing your plants start to mature and fill in. They say to buy all your plants and bushes at once and plant them at the same time so you will space them well. We didn’t do that, but that certainly makes sense to us now, as we have had to move some plants around and lost a couple in the process.