Terry Wong

Guest Blogger

Terry Wong

Terry Wong is a lifestyle content producer, photographer, fashion expert, pop culture enthusiast and cool hunter. Follow Terry @coogi2g

Backyard Makeover: Tranquil Zen Garden

Posted by Terry Wong Thursday, August 13, 2009 2:41 PM EST



If you're like me and you haven't got a clue about transforming your outdoor space then you are not alone. Fortunately for us, there are many landscaping design businesses out there for those of us who are a little challenged when it comes to transforming our ugly duckling of a backyard into a gorgeous and pristine swan-like outdoor space.

Today's makeover shows what can be achieved with a little planning and getting some professional help. Sander Freedman, of Sander Design, specializes in creating outdoor environments that allow homeowners to introduce a calming sense of tranquility into their spaces and at the same time, allows them to be at one with their natural environments. The before and after pictures clearly speak for themselves, but I had the oppurtuntity to meet Sander and to pick the designer's brain in order to learn about this fabulous Zen backyard makeover and more...

Tell us about Sander Design?
Sander Design creates quality outdoor architectural spaces that act as a lifestyle extension to the home, which includes a garden but not limited to planting alone. This is true for all year. For example, Winter views are just as important to the feel of the home and in enjoying the surroundings as any other time of the year even when the space isn't physically or actively being used.

What were some of the challenges involved in this project?
  • The yard was completely overgrown with an invasive weed which had to be removed.
  • The yard was long and thin, boxy and linear and felt restricted and tight.
  • There needed to be a place for parking 1 car with out disturbing the flow of the design.
  • The yard is bound on one side by a lane way with a chain link perimeter fence which offered no privacy.
  • The garage at the back end of the property felt disconnected to the house.
  • The small mud room off the house to the rear of the yard also had no connection to the property.
  • The owner enjoys hosting large outdoor entertainment functions, but wanted a low maintenance backyard.
  • The owner wanted a minimal contemporary look that was relaxed, yet still had a simple sophistication.
What were your solutions to these challenges that you were faced with?
  • The invasive weeds were cleared from the site and either filter cloth was used or planting that would establish well like ivy to hold back the invasive weeds that may have not been fully eradicated.
  • An oval gravel sitting area was designed in the middle section of the yard in order to break up the yard's linear box shape and it helped to make the space look bigger. The large oval space provides a large dining area for entertaining.
  • A wood fence was built around the perimeter of the yard to give privacy. The fence has a jog in it closest to the house creating a nook for the car to park on the outside of the fence. This separates the car visually from the yard design and also breaks up the box shape of the fence surround.
  • Small stone patios at each end of the oval gravel sitting areas help to balance the yard and tie the shed/garage to the house so they don’t seem like disconnected parts. The small stone sitting area off the back of the house ties the mud room into the yard and it also creates a series of rooms which further breaks up the yards linearity.
  • The use of gravel, river rock  and minimal stone patios surrounded by plating kept costs down and allows for good water infiltration.

What materials were used and how did these materials conrtibute to the overall aesthetic of the space?
The yard is more about texture and green verdant space than colour. The use of grey gravel, blue gray tumbled pavers for edging of the oval and perimeter border planting, plus the addition of four honey locusts at each end of the oval helped to create a contemporary mood with a pleasing sense of geometrical balance. Ornamental grasses around the perimeter of the oval, honey locusts and hydrangea perimeter planting adds a simple elegance to the contemporary minimal space.

How long does a residential project normally take?
The design takes 4-8 weeks or more to deliver the initial design and complete the changes depending on the complexity of the design and if there is a need to do customized detailing for fabrication. The actual build itself can vary greatly and depends on the size of the project and the availability of contractors.

How much client involvement was needed for this project?
The process involved a 3 hour initial consultation with the client in order to ensure that their needs and sense of style were fully understood and addressed, as well as, limitations of the yard were also assessed during this initial meeting. The yard was then measured in order to prepare the base plan for the property and to undertake the design. This was followed by an initial design review meeting and then a final meeting to incorporate and revisions or changes. After the initial design completion, the project then went into the post design phase of project management. This involved tendering the project to contractors for quotes and helping the client to choose the appropriate contractor based on budget and experience. We then supervised the build to ensure the landscape contractor met the intentions of the design.

Do you have any tips for our users that are considering having some landscape architecture done to their residential spaces?
The sooner one gets an overall vision for their yard, the faster the design can be achieved and in the most cost effective way. An overall vision ensures that funds are carefully directed and can be done in phases in an affordable and practical way.

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What do you think? Would you hire a professional landscape architect?

Topics: Makeovers, Summer, Real Estate, Gardening, Decor


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