On a picturesque hill nestled in the Dayton neighborhood of Oakwood sits an elegant, historic home that retains all its 1920s architectural interest and charm. The rear terrace, however, didn’t age quite as gracefully.
A rickety wooden deck with outdated railings closed off the outdoor space and obstructed the view of the otherwise aesthetically pleasing back yard. Not only that, the home’s circular drive meanders around to the garage and back door, meaning the deck set the tone for most people who visited. So the homeowners, Michael and Elizabeth, decided to give the entire space new life.
They partnered with The Site Group, a landscape design and architecture firm that was able to create a stunning outdoor sanctuary that mirrors the aesthetics of the home and brings nature back in focus.
“The homeowners have a woodsy arboretum at the lower part of their lawn,” explains Ben Bayer, sales manager for the project. “We wanted to create a nice, functional space that would give them an open view into the back yard and provide a retreat right out their patio door. We added containers for good color and cover for the summertime.”
Sitting in style
Now, an elevated patio and a series of limestone steps overlooks the lawn and makes it easily accessible. Boulders along the perimeter add visual interest without blocking the view. Multiple seating areas punctuate the space, creating cozy gathering places for dining and conversation.
“It’s an open space but also has multiple nooks so you can be with a few guests and feel connected,” explains Michael. The furnishings are substantial in size to match the expansiveness of the new terrace but they are modular, allowing the family to create different arrangements as they please.
Other amenities include the firepit and a hot tub that beckons from the corner of the terrace. Everything is illuminated by mood lighting in the trees and soft moon lighting around the perimeter and down the driveway. The homeowners use an app on their phones to adjust how bright they want their nighttime landscape to be.
In blooming color
By far, the backyard’s container gardens steal the show. Eye-catching blooms and trailing greenery spill over from multiple series of pots that were part of the overall design concept.
“We wanted large overflowing pots with vegetation that had a soft feel,” explains Elizabeth, “and we wanted their height to be the centerpiece and give us some soft screening, since we sit up on a hill and look down into our back yard.”
The Site Group rotates the plantings every year, but they typically include a colorful canvas of petunias, sunpatiens, vinca and some kind of center focal piece such as a mini palm or hibiscus. “The thriller is the centerpiece, the filler is around the centerpiece, and then the spiller is sweet potato vine or creeping jenny vine to come over top of the container,” adds Ben.
The scatterings of vivid pinks, reds, yellows and oranges create a gardener’s paradise that is on trend with what the latest (outdoor) looks are for 2022. There’s a trend now toward flowing evergreen shrubs in the yard with color pulled in through containers on patios and annuals in beds. People are moving away from perennials, which can wither as the season goes on.
“We are planting more ground cover such as liriope and groundcover sedum,” says Ben. “We put it up against boxwood or juniper and layer in flowering shrubs such as Hydrangeas, Viburnums or Itea. We do a lot of Hydrangeas as a backdrop.”
Other trends? Incorporating slender, upright trees, such as Silhouette Sweetgums, which don’t get branchy or overpower a space. Ben also says water elements are always on trend for outdoor spaces—if not a traditional pool then a plunge pool or water alternative—as are pavilion structures and other types of shaded spaces.
For Michael and Elizabeth, their favorite part of their new backyard oasis is the openness of it all. “It’s clean and you can just sit out there and enjoy the large canopy of trees,” says Michael. “You can hear the city sounds but you don’t see them at all because of all the screening that we have.”
The couple also adds that, with projects such as these, planning is everything. (Case in point: It took three iterations to get the hot tub to fit into the overall landscape in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing and correct.) Find someone who is willing to listen, willing to work with you and also willing to be patient, advises Michael. “It took us a few months to really finalize what we wanted and The Site Group was very patient and very accommodating,” he concludes. “It was a great experience overall!”
Landscape and hardscape design and installation The Site Group; Pavers JB Pavers; Stone steps Gregory Stone
Article by Lee Rhodes | Photos by Daniel Feldkamp
Article originally appeared in May 2022