Pacific Northwest Landscaping Ideas
This Sammamish, Washington family had outgrown their backyard. Their old landscaping included a swing set and large expanse of lawn, which they no longer used. Heidi Skievaski, owner of Sublime Garden Design, a company based north of Seattle, came up with a plan for turning their unused backyard into a nature-inspired retreat that would suit the needs of the whole family.
Homeowner Requests The homeowners wanted their yard updated so that it would better accommodate their teenage children. They also wanted an inviting space to spend time entertaining and relaxing outdoors. Specific requests included separate areas for teens and adults, a covered barbecue area and low-maintenance plants and materials.
"Originally, there was not a single plant in their backyard - it was entirely grass, " remembers Skievaski. The homeowners wanted to add color and texture to the yard, but didn't want anything high-maintenance. They also requested that the yard have a natural, rustic style.
Design Solutions In order to create separate areas for the teenagers and adults Skievaski opted to include two fire pits in her design. The fire pit for the adults is close to the house and burns gas, making it convenient and easy to light. The fire pit for the teenagers is farther out in the yard where the playset used to be. This fire pit is wood-burning, giving it a campfire atmosphere and making it the perfect spot for roasting marshmallows.
"To form a more natural terrain around the wood-burning fire pit, we used the dirt that had been excavated from the adult fire pit and outdoor kitchen area, " explains Skievaski, "It is always a goal of mine to reuse resources on site." To complete the natural look, large, blocky boulders were used for seating. The gas fire pit has a more refined look, surrounded by seat walls made of ledgestone and capped with flagstone.
Fixing a Soggy Lawn:
Because this neighborhood's soil is compacted clay it does not drain well. To avoid having a soggy lawn sub-surface drainage was installed. A full French drain in a herring bone pattern carries excess water away from the lawn area.
Landscaping with Boulders
Designing outdoor spaces in the Northwest often requires a great deal of planning for wet weather. For this project, Skievaski designed an outdoor kitchen with a solid roof. "The homeowner wanted something that would keep him dry while grilling, " she explains. The patio cover features a sloped roof and rain chain to deal with frequent precipitation.