Designing A Down-Sized Dream Garden – Part 1

Several years ago, I was asked to design a garden by a couple moving to a smaller house in order to “down-size” after their children left home. Creating the back-yard garden proved to be an especially challenging project: the lot was minuscule, sloped steeply in two different directions, and needed to include a significant -sized “wish list” of plants and other items requested by the wife (all in less than 600 square feet of planting space). To say I was taken aback when I first saw the area is an understatement.

landscape design, Silver maples, back yard

Two large Norway maples flanked a deck area. Fortunately, we were able to remove them without needing special permission from the District of Columbia.

The view from the opposite side of the lot, towards the alley, wasn’t any more appealing.

landscape design, back yard, narrow lot

The former owners' concrete-edged parking pad shows part of the grading issues we faced. The car shown is on the adjacent property, not my clients'.

Then, of course, there was the charming “under-deck screening” installed by the contractor. (For a look at how this particular piece of the garden was ultimately transformed, click here).

Under deck lattice screening

The contractor's version of under-deck screening

The view from the deck itself matched the rest of the existing landscape – somewhat nondescript, to say the least.

landscape design, deck views, urban back yards

From the steps to the elevated deck, the main view was of the alley and neighbors' parking spaces.

As the client put it, she wanted me to “make this mess into a beautiful garden” where she could enjoy favorite plants, have a water feature (she wanted a koi pond at the outset), and watch the seasons change. Stop by next week to see the solutions , via some pretty dramatic “after” photos.

Explore posts in the same categories: landscape, Landscape design solutions, photography

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2 Comments on “Designing A Down-Sized Dream Garden – Part 1”

  1. Liz Reed Says:

    Oh, this is excitng. Just my kind of suspense story!


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