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Yard of the Week: Outdoor Rooms With a Golf Course View

Before: The existing backyard had a basic patio, a small deck located off the homeowners’ bedroom on the left and a brick patio that was in bad shape on the right side of the house.

After: The scope of the project included a light makeover of the home’s exterior along with the landscape renovation. The exterior work included applying fresh paint that matched the walls in the landscape and installing new railings, gutters and downspouts in black. King had his clients use Houzz ideabooks to share inspirations for both the overall feel they were trying to accomplish and specific elements they wanted to incorporate.

He created a series of outdoor rooms across the back of the house. On the left is a private deck off the homeowners’ bedroom. On the right is a dining area. A large outdoor lounge with a fire pit is in the center. In the side yard around the corner is a deck with a convenient bar, a shaded TV lounge area and a hot tub. The French doors in the center of the house lead to the kitchen, dining and family room areas, which are all part of one open space.

“When it comes to plantings, we like to plant in masses. Otherwise it can look like a hodgepodge. The homeowners were open to it,” King says. For example, a massing of coral bells (Heuchera ‘Obsidian’) softens the edges of the lounge patio and brings in a big splash of deep purple color.

Before: There was a small deck with a railing located off the homeowners’ bedroom. It was disconnected from the rest of the yard.

After: Now the sitting area is larger and has a strong connection to the yard, thanks to the steps and the path. Cobblestone-like pavers lead to the other outdoor rooms. King used pavers in light to medium gray tones throughout the yard.

He used Trex Transcend decking in other areas around the yard to protect mature trees. Decking was the least disruptive type of covering to their roots. Here he cut the deck around an existing eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis). He allowed for potential growth when cutting the holes for the trees.

Saving the mature trees and working around them was a top priority in the design. “The ash tree in the center serves as the heart of the yard, and it was important to protect it,” King says. The trees were one of the most important assets in the backyard — they provide beautiful forms, foliage and shade.

King designed brick walls around the ash tree to highlight it. The trick was doing this in a way that protected its root systems. In this region, the standard practice is to build masonry walls with footings that extend down below the frost line. “If we had dug a 30-inch trench around this tree we would have severely compromised the health and stability of the tree,” he says.

Instead, they placed a pier footing in each of the corners of the walls seen here. “From each pier footing, a steel beam suspends over the root system, allowing the brick wall to float over the existing roots. This greatly reduced disturbance and overall damage,” he says. The wall anchors the tree within the design and provides seating. To highlight the tree even further, King filled the area with a mass of ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’). “These create a very low grassy ground plane and hold the yellow bloom throughout the summer,” he says.

King matched the brick profiles on these walls to those on the house and then used the same white paint on both. He capped them in 3-inch rough-cut limestone. They also installed electrical outlets and lights in the brick walls around the landscape. The outlets were installed so Christmas lights could be set up in the trees.

A paved walkway off the French doors makes it easy to bring food from the kitchen to the outdoor dining area. A large umbrella provides extra shade. The umbrella is built in and has a large footing. It’s adjustable, so the homeowners can move it to block the sun as the light crosses the yard.

Beyond the dining area is a lower lounge that makes the most of the golf course views.

To center the lounge patio off the tree and its walled surround, King added a wide pathway of pavers on the right side. “This broke up the patio a bit,” he says.

The trees along the fence are Firebird Sargent crabapple trees (Malus Sargentii ‘Select A’). They will add white blooms and red berries to the yard as the seasons change.

“This fire pit is really cool. The company that makes it, Nisho, is a Colorado company,” King says. “It is an all-concrete unit that has a clean look and fits into this design very well.”

Just around the corner from the dining area is another deck that extends along the side yard. A bar is convenient to the dining area, a second lounge area and the spa.

Before: The French doors lead to the kitchen, dining and family room area. “On the south side of the house, the roots from two mature linden trees had destroyed the brick patio. It was like a rollercoaster out here,” King says.

After: Kingused decking in this area to protect the trees’ roots and prevent another rollercoaster scenario. “If we had used pavers, we would have destroyed the roots, or the roots would eventually have destroyed the patio,” he says. He left extra room in the holes for any potential growth.

The space contains a bar, a lounge and a hot tub. At the time this photo was taken, the homeowners planned to install a TV across from the outdoor sofa.

The walls around this private side patio are original to the home. The team repaired and painted them to match the house and the other brick walls in the landscape.

Before: The scope of the project included the entire property and the home’s exterior. King made sure the design from the street to the back end of the property was cohesive. “We are site architects who look at the entire property as a whole,” he says. In front, this included the driveway, the entry courtyard, the exterior of the home and the rest of the landscape.

One problem was the driveway. When anyone else parked in it, the homeowners couldn’t drive into or pull out of the garage.

After: King reconfigured the driveway to include a parking area along the right side that didn’t block the garage. Using concrete instead of pavers for most of the driveway kept him within the budget. He was able to add a paver border and apron in the same cobblestone-like pavers he used out back. For a more attractive look on the concrete portion of the driveway, he recommended a sandscape finish, which creates a sand texture.

King took care to preserve another spectacular mature tree, a multistemmed beech. A mix of spreading English yews (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’) and creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) adds color beneath it.

Before: The home had a charming existing courtyard. But it looked a bit tired and didn’t have any space for sitting and interacting with neighbors.

After: King spiffed up the courtyard with a new, more streamlined brick and limestone wall that matches the walls in the back. He used the cobblestone-like pavers to create a patio with a sitting area.

The new large shrubin the courtyard is a ‘Limelight’ panicled hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’). He used the massing strategy inside the courtyard patio with ‘All Gold’ Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’). The yellow flowers are the same ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies he used in the backyard.

Before, there had been no connections between the front yard and backyard. In addition to repeating materials and plants, King physically connected front to back with a path. He used bands of the cobble pavers to draw a line between the two. Note the way he centered the bands off the driveway’s paver border.

The pavers lead to a focal point — a wind sculpture that entices visitors toward the back. King planted coral bells (Heuchera sp.) along the path to enhance that connection.

The trees along the right side are Crimson Spire oaks (Quercus robur x alba ‘Crimschmidt’). They are tall and narrow trees that hold onto their leaves until spring, providing year-round interest.

These homeowners had a beautiful view of an adjacent golf course from their backyard and some fantastic mature existing trees. But their outdoor spaces were uninviting. “This was an old, tired backyard with a basic little patio and no real space for outdoor living,” says landscape designer Jayson King. He created a series of thoughtful outdoor rooms in their backyard while preserving the mature trees. In front, he reconfigured the driveway, renovated the entry courtyard and planted shrubs, trees and ground covers to create connections between the house and the yards. By looking at the site as a whole, King developed a cohesive design for the property.

This content was originally published here.

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