An Intimate But Expansive Highland Park Landscape


The owners of this North Shore residence were looking for a way to expand their family room into the backyard and take advantage of the view from the large windows and French doors. The homeowners wanted to transform their intimate rear yard into a wonderful garden patio space with enough room for entertaining but also keeping as much lawn as possible for their kids.

It was decided to create a multi-leveled entertaining space. There was still need for some steps from the family room deck to the patio, and from the new patio to the driveway on the west side. Our landscape designers opted to design the deck for an old fashioned “porch” that features larger, wider steps that can be used for extra seating. The porch was designed to be large enough for the BBQ to be set out of sight, and for a small bistro table and chairs. Screening from the driveway is provided by large upright Hornbeam trees.

As one comes down the steps the space opens up to a bluestone patio. The patio needed to be designed with a large enough area for entertaining yet also provide an intimate seating area for two. A stone seat wall was placed not just for a practical seating area but also to become the focal point of the patio. The homeowner enjoys using the wall to display their flower pots of seasonal color. The patio is surrounded by Hydrangea, Viburnums, Japanese Red Maple, colorful perennials and lush groundcovers which creates a garden like setting that the homeowner so wanted.

To handle the grade change between the driveway and patio, outcropping stones and natural stone steps were used to create access to the patio and retain the soil and sub base on the west side of the patio. This area is plush with Cotoneaster, Ivy groundcover and flowering perennials. Colorful pots of annual flowers greet family and friends who come to visit.

A few stone steppers create a transitional path from the patio onto the lush green lawn. The existing evergreens and small deciduous trees were allowed to remain along the fence line to obscure the views into neighboring yards. Some of the existing evergreen trees were limbed up to allow new flowering shrubs, perennials, and groundcovers to be planted underneath and to reinforce the garden feel.