Backyards
May 14, 2015

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

By: Jennifer Hughes
Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

An urban yard transforms into a lush retreat Author: Angus McRitchie

Backyards
May 14, 2015

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

By: Jennifer Hughes

Landscape architect Myke Hodgins turns a yard in the city into a low-maintenance hangout dressed up for entertaining.

As this Montreal family grew and matured, the sounds of kids splashing in the backyard gave way to silence. The pool was definitely underused, and on a relatively small 1,200-square-foot lot, it had become a labour-intensive waste of space. The owners called in landscape architect Myke Hodgins to come up with some alternative designs that would turn their yard into a more grown-up outdoor retreat. “The couple initially wondered if they should keep the vinyl kidney-shaped pool or fill it in. My team presented them with several options, and this is the one they loved the most,” explains Myke.

To avoid having to fill in so much of the ground when the pool was removed, Myke designed a multi-level plan with the lowest part at the centre of the yard where the pool had been. Now a cross-shaped fountain is an entirely more sophisticated water feature. Building on its shape, Myke laid out the space in a cross design with two axes: one from the house to the trellis at the back of the yard, and the second a raised sitting area at one end and a lounge at the other. “We aimed for a European courtyard feel,” says Myke.

Photo Gallery

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Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Lower terrace

The four corners of the lower terrace are defined by Japanese tree lilacs, which fill the backyard with fragrance in late spring.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Covered terrace

A large covered terrace with an outdoor dining area allows for pleasing views into the garden during dinner parties. The huge leaves of 'Frances Williams' and 'Sum and Substance' hostas provide lush division along a low wall.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Water feature

The cross-shaped water feature is anchored by clipped boxwood at each corner with vibrant chartreuse lysimachia at their feet. The orb-shaped fountain is modern and sculptural in this backyard design.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

A place to rest

Landscape architect Myke Hodgins suggests planning a place for the eye to rest in small spaces. Here, it's the bench. "You may not sit there, but your eye will!" he says.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Raised seating area

The raised outdoor seating area is a destination for lingering on warm evenings or finding shelter from the hot afternoon sun.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Stocked bar cart

A stocked bar cart is ready for entertaining.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Outdoor lanterns

An outdoor lantern with a battery-operated candle casts a gentle glow in the evening.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard

Flowerbeds

'Frances Williams' and 'Sum and Substance' hostas in raised flowerbeds.

By: Jennifer Hughes Source: Angus McRitchie Credits: Style at Home

 

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Backyards

Outdoor design: Urban courtyard