A new ipe fence along the patio’s far wall provides a clean, bright backdrop and also shields the side garden from the street.
2. Family-Friendly in Washington, D.C.
Location: Cathedral Heights neighborhood
Designer: Mark White of GardenWise
BEFORE: A family in Washington, D.C.’s, Cathedral Heights neighborhood already had an expansive backyard, including a patio between their house and detached garage, but its slope and poor space-planning didn’t make it all that usable or inviting.
AFTER: The homeowners worked with landscape architect Mark White, who graded the backyard into two flat, usable levels. He expanded the patio next to the house, adding a fireplace, an elegant seat wall and new perimeter landscaping.
A new patio features a crisscrossing paving pattern of brick and bluestone, anchoring the space and contrasting the light-colored patio furniture and fireplace.
The fireplace was designed as a focal point, built in between two garage windows and along the new raised planter. (You can see plants to the sides if you look closely.) The fireplace surround pops against the gray stone of the chimney, tying in with the house and garage.
The mostly evergreen plants frame the space, creating a green backdrop for outdoor dining and lounging.
Dining furniture: Kingsley-Bate; chimney: Chocolate Gray stone; fireplace surround: capstone; paving: brick and bluestone
3. Lush Living on a San Francisco Parking Space
Location: Mission District
Designer: Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design
BEFORE: An unused concrete parking spot in the backyard of a couple’s first-floor home in San Francisco’s Mission District was the perfect opportunity for a new outdoor living space, especially since they already had underground parking.
AFTER: Landscape designer Beth Mullins worked a near garden miracle, transforming the cracked concrete pad into a lush back patio with a new upper-level ipe deck. With the two distinct areas she created, the space appears larger and less sunken. The raised deck also allowed Mullins to avoid demolishing the existing concrete underneath.
Related: Patio Details: Seattle Townhouse Gets a Taste of Outdoor Living
Built-in planters filled with Bay Area-friendly succulents, grasses and other low-water plants frame the deck and also function as a guardrail.
Poured-in-place concrete pavers form a solid base for outdoor dining and entertaining, and the couple’s young daughter enjoys playing hopscotch on them. Dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’, USDA zones 6 to 11), a slow-growing, clumping grasslike perennial, grows in between the pavers. It is easy to grow, doesn’t require too much soil and can handle foot traffic.
Sectional: Ikea; white dining set: vintage
4. Enhanced Outdoor Living in the Pacific Northwest
Location: South Seattle
Designer: Mark S. Garff
Related: Open Up Your Deck With a Paved Path
BEFORE: The owners of this traditional Seattle townhouse had an outdoor deck, but the scale didn’t feel right in the compact backyard, and the deck didn’t have the contemporary industrial style they liked. Additionally, to reach the deck’s stairs to the lower part of the garden, visitors had to cut through any activity or gathering happening on the deck.
AFTER: Landscape architect Mark S. Garff maintained the existing deck, but he removed the railings and moved the staircase closer to the house, opening up the deck to the rest of the yard and rerouting the circulation to the edge of the deck.
New extra-wide steps framed with steel lead down to the new patio, a combination of bluestone pavers and gravel. By spacing out the pavers and filling in the gaps with gravel, Garff created a permeable patio that also made the more expensive bluestone go further.
Built-in cedar planters hold perennial flowers and edible plants, and also function as a railing, a barrier and extra seating.