Home Court(yard) Advantage

Kerry and Brian’s family’s waterfront property is perfect for entertaining in style. It has a spacious, beautifully landscaped back yard, a large, covered outdoor kitchen and a sunny patio overlooking Lake Lanier. But sometimes, the family wished for a small, more intimate outdoor area for reading, having quiet conversations or contemplating the universe. The home already had such a space, but it was drab, uninviting and unused.

We were excited to work with Kerry and Brian to create a private garden that would take full advantage of the existing U-shaped courtyard layout and tie in with the rest of the property.

Enclosed on three sides and open to the sky, the space had all the makings of a charming courtyard, but it was barren and unattractive.

We got started by removing or relocating almost all of the existing plants in the space. Rock was essential to the project. It would unify the courtyard garden with the home—notice the column bases and door frames—and with the back yard and surrounding property, where rock and stone were used generously.

We used pavers to edge a clean pathway from the door to a circular pad that would contain the courtyard’s focal point. An outer stone border on one side of the circular pad would delineate the sod from a planting bed. The gorgeous Japanese Maple to the right was one of the plants we kept in place and incorporated into the new design.

The elephant in the courtyard, so to speak, was a massive brick wall directly opposite the covered porch side of the garden. Brick can be an attractive material in a courtyard, but this wall was definitely too much of a good thing. And we had big plans for it!

A wooden trellis structure was extended from around the corner into the courtyard to become an integral part of the garden space. It broke up and softened the expanse of brick, created shade and offered a cozy niche for sitting and relaxing.

As the trellis was nearing completion, we were busy planting the garden. Since the garden enjoyed both sun and shade, we were able to bring in a variety of plants. Among the must-haves were the yellow/chartreuse bushes to the right. Kelly loves them, and since we used them liberally in other areas of the back yard, they helped tie together the courtyard with other parts of the property.

The pathway from the door to and around the focal point of the courtyard is crisp and clean, but the stone and pebble keep the feeling informal and natural. Another walkway, to the right, leads to the shaded porch, a peaceful place for reading or just sitting. A relocated hydrangea bursts with blooms on the back wall, and tall, teal blue pedestals topped with bushy ferns flank the door to provide height and contrast.

And now for the focal point of the new courtyard garden:  a perfectly-scaled pond fountain. It’s a striking statement piece in its own right. Plus, the fountain and surrounding materials tie together the courtyard and the rest of the property, where stone is a unifying feature.

Like the rest of the lakefront property, the fountain is impressive but unpretentious. It features flower petal ornamentation reflecting its connection with the garden and rustic iron spouts that complement the rustic, natural elements seen in the outdoor kitchen, beyond.

The well-established Japanese Maple in the foreground is a highlight of the garden. It’s joined in the garden bed by a new, evergreen specimen tree known as a weeping deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara ‘Pendula’). Since Brian is especially fond of conifers, this is one of several dotting the property.

Now, the family has a lovely, private garden area that takes full advantage of the courtyard!

We combined expert architecture, stonework and garden design to create a unified, multi-functional lakefront property that allows a private family sanctuary space to be right at home in the middle of an area made for entertaining.







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