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large backyard need major help
lfoster23434
December 29, 2012 in Design Dilemma
We have a very large backyard with existing small wood deck (estimated 13 years old) that is in desperate need of updating with landscaping & deck reno. We like the idea of adding a fireplace,entertaining area and possible type of covering over the area where the existing deck is only for the fact that the water drains from the roof off onto the deck every time it rains & completely soaks & ruins everything.I would like to keep as much natural light into the house as possible. We are very unsure where to start and what materials are best for investment,cost, & the style of our home (traditional southern). We are ok with doing the work that we can and possibly getting a contractor for whatever else needed.I also included a picture of the front of the house in hopes to match to the back patio.Any advice would be much appreciated.
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PRO
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
It sounds like you need an architect or an architectural designer to work up a plan for you. Then you can either do the work yourselves or hire a contractor. Below are pictures of a couple of possibilities for your outdoor living area.
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID Atherton Residence Pool and Patio Seattle Exterior Renovations By Fine Construction
0 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 1:34PM
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mpoulsom
I agree with carolyn...sounds like you need to talk to an architect for this. I would do a white columned traditional pergola built out from the house with the newer decking boards, then steps down from that onto a stone patio area where you could incorporate a built in chimney/grill....table and chairs out on the patio area with an umbrella for shade.

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2 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 1:43PM
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PRO
Interiors International, Inc.
Love the ideas above. That is a good start and is the most expensive part of the project. All the yards I see on here where people want to know what to do are a flat. You need to add topography to the site. Mounds, berms and depressions that all add the interest needed to attract the eye. Large boulders, trees, and shrubs are all inexpensive. Light them and bingo instant personality. A pond and fountain are icing on the cake. A folly is always a perfect thing to do when you have all that space. Sculpture is another thing everyone forgets. Life isn't worth living without art. Make sure it is original and not just some concrete thing from a garden center. Look for local artists and you will be amazed at the wealth of talent you will find.
3 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 1:54PM
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cyn222
pic
0 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 3:35PM
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Elyn's Library
Lovely ideas above.

You might want to spend some time here (Caution: it's addicting and you may find that you'll lose many hours just dreaming.... ;)) - http://www.houzz.com/outdoor-space
It's a great place to start creating your own Ideabook for what you would like to do.

Whoever you talk to - architect and/or landscape designer - the first thing you should talk about is an appropriate / updated gutter system. If all the rainwater is pouring onto your current deck, you should have that problem resolved before you go any further.

If you do end up with a solid roof over your new deck, a great way to keep things as light and bright as possible is to paint or stain the underside (the "ceiling" of this outdoor space) white or light/sky blue.

You have a beautiful home with a wonderful blank slate in that back yard to create your own kind of sanctuary. Have fun and we'd love to see pictures as you go.
3 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 4:05PM
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cohoek
Hi, I'm wondering if you should lose the deck altogether, no more maintenance and make a small stone patio under your porch, that will be the first wide stair of 2 or 3 to a lower much bigger patio with the whole nine yards.
2 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Judy M
I think a patio is the answer, a small landing patio as you exit the door where the deck is now that extends out to a larger patio ( covered if you prefer), will allow light to flow into the house.
I agree, a discussion with a landscape architect that can design a plan that you can implement in stages as your budget allows. Patio first, cover over patio second, landscaping around patio last.

It will be a beautiful yard when you're done.
0 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 6:33PM
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houssaon
If I were you I would replace the wood deck with a brick and stone patio that extends off to one side way out into the yard. Adding to the roofline to incorporate the new area is going to be the trickiest part of the design, since you have three steeply pitched slopes converging on the deck. I'll leave that to the designer.

I would make sure that gutters can handle a heavy rainfall. The new standard is 5 inch and with the pitch of your roof, you should have that size.

Look for native plantings and don't foget along the fence for privacy.

Good luck.
0 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 6:47PM
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PRO
Ross NW Watergardens
I agree with many of the suggestions above. The current deck location should be redone more as a landing than main outdoor living space. Move the covered area w fireplace out away from the house a bit. Also consider- could it be located where you could see it from some of those large windows? Done properly, a patio like that could be quite a focal point.
1 Like   December 29, 2012 at 9:10PM
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PRO
Adrian Ramsay Design House
Hey there,
As a architectural designer, here's a couple of suggestions, as I have no idea of your budget ill just put it out there,
Patio yes sounds great, in stone and wide right down the side of the house as well as in the current deck space,
columns to match front of house as well, I would cover the whole patio with a roof pergola style at a low pitch and I would use a clear material, making it waterproof as well as not stopping light
I'd look to remove as many windows along the side of the house and replace with French doors and open all the rooms to the outside.
The patio I would build as close to interior floor height as regs allow and then I would create wide deep stairs into the garden. ideally you would remove any need for balustrade

Get help with the garden contours etc and create strong focal points with art and plantings

Good luck looks like fun
Cheers Adrian
ARDH
1 Like   December 29, 2012 at 10:00PM
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ocram16
Expand the deck and have some steps surrounding a patio with a fire pit , you could also have a Outside kitchen and/ or have a covered area, wether it be the deck, the kitchen or its own little area
0 Likes   December 29, 2012 at 10:10PM
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lfoster23434
Thank you all so very much for your time & advice. I agree that the existing deck needs to go & really like the idea of having small stone patio leading to a floating larger area with the fire pit/outdoor entertaining area as a focal point. I landscaping last will tie everything together. The gutters are a great idea & I'm unsure why no one seems to have them on their houses in this area.I will look I to that first & also consult with a architect on the major designs. Anyone have a rough idea of how much a undertaking like this could cost? Mostly curious about the hard patio, landscaping we can do on our own.Has anyone tried to DIY a project like this & if so what are your thoughts on DIY? Again we appreciate the advice.
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 6:17AM
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lfoster23434
Thank you all so very much for your time & advice. I agree that the existing deck needs to go & really like the idea of having small stone patio leading to a floating larger area with the fire pit/outdoor entertaining area as a focal point. I landscaping last will tie everything together. The gutters are a great idea & I'm unsure why no one seems to have them on their houses in this area.I will look I to that first & also consult with a architect on the major designs. Anyone have a rough idea of how much a undertaking like this could cost? Mostly curious about the hard patio, landscaping we can do on our own.Has anyone tried to DIY a project like this & if so what are your thoughts on DIY? Again we appreciate the advice.
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 6:18AM
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kitasei
A simple design can be the most striking and will be possible to do yourself. The trickiest part of a patio is drainage, so don't neglect that part of the job. It's not expensive, just a step. To plan the footprint of the patio and location and shape of the trellis, make prints of the area from various angles as you've done. Make another aerial from google earth's view of your property. Then sketch out shapes - with a compass try a symmetrical curve from the backdoor, try a variety of sweeps and rectangles, Lay out the shape with a hose or ropes and walk around in the space to see how it feels for your intended purpose. Is there enough room to exit the door gracefully? It may take you a few seasons of tweaking to get the shape just right. You will by then know where the "desire lines" of your property are -- do people walk around the house to reach the back? Cut across the yard from the street or driveway? That will be a natural path to incorporate into the design. The patio is presumably the gateway to the rest of the yard. Do you want that interface to be broad or narrow? You may want to turn the perimeter of the patio or parts of it into a raised wall for definition, seating, privacy. The trellis is secondary, and because its purpose is to support vines, which grow fast, you don't need to feel pressured to rush. By that time you'll know where you want to add shade. You can make a beautiful trellis yourself, out of timber to match the trim of your house or black steel to match your perimeter fence. You could make footings for either from brick to match the house or stones to match the patio -- or neither. Unlike some other comments here, I would not defer planting of landscaping that takes time to grow or fill in -- trees and hedges. Where do you want to create privacy - if anywhere? Around the perimeter of your property? Around the patio? Or so you want to selectively screen certain views, like cars in a driveway, a utility feature, the street or neighboring house? Make sure you evaluate your project's impact on the INSIDE of the house. The view of it - of the plants, the activity, the lighting and screening - should be an amenity for the interior. Study it from the view of the street and the driveway too. It should be an amenity from all of these perspectives.

Take a tip from New York City's bold experiment with making plazas in the middle of busy commercial thoroughfares like Broadway. Our cutting edge transportation commissioner, Janet Sadik-Kahn, got Mayor Bloomberg to let her stake the claim to the space by painting the asphalt green, installing a few pots of plants, and setting out cheap folding tables and chairs (even chaises on Broadway). It was a brilliant way to tweak the spaces and concept to find out if, when, and where people wanted to sit in the middle of Times Square. Have fun!
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Dar Eckert


Yes, get a designer. They will lay it out and offer options for DIY work. Above all do a site plan that notes the views, prevailing wind, existing trees, house & structures, shade. Yes that to place patio & new structures, and landscaping.
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 8:50AM
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PRO
Karen Tiede Art Rugs
In addition to the above: consider doing a rainwater collection system when you add the gutters; if you're somewhere that has watering restrictions in the summer it can make a big difference.

I'm pretty surprised that much water is running into a space that appears to be draining into the left side of the house. Before I spent any more money, I'd make sure I knew where that water was leaving. I lost half a house (flooring) once because the previous owners didn't answer that question.

Finally, I'd be getting a hedge started along the back line, regardless of what I decided to do on the interior of the yard. My own home was an open lot when I bought it, and now it's almost completely hedged and nobody remembers when it happened because I started small and let everything grow. If you have money, you can start bigger. Makes the back yard much more comfortable to use.
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 9:53AM
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lfoster23434
I really appreciate all this wonderful advice and we've been pretty unsure what do,but now I think we have some great starts with all the help you've all given. I included a side shot from the corner of the house. We have a fenced in yard that wraps around to the driveway with a iron gate. I've tried growing some things here and there,but have just gotten overwhelmed by the massive yard. It seems like all the things I plant just look lost in the yard. I don't mind doing the work & maintenance of flower beds,but didn't know where to start
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 11:39AM
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kitasei
Don't lose flower beds in the yard. Enjoy the unbroken greensward and plant a border garden. Your property looks very shaded with all of those trees. If you haven't done so already, ask an arborist to come and identify all the trees and make recommendations about pruning, thinning, etc.and what can be planted as an understory or groundcover. As it looks now, you are being shaded but not screened. The way to be economical is to gather all of your intelligence and proceed carefully. If you had more sun, I would suggest forsythia as the most economical, fast growing border hedge. You can root cuttings in water in your house and just stick them in the ground! The other tip for economical gardening is to be an appreciative student of other people's gardens. Admire what's thriving in them, and chances are they'll share cuttings and divisions.
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 12:00PM
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lfoster23434
Yes,we have a good bit of shade with the pine trees & the are frustrating to grow around. This is a photo taken during the summer last year, just to give a better idea- we've been hating our yard for a while!
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 12:59PM
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kitasei
You will never be able to create an understory screen beneath the closely spaced pines, and they will never fill out below their high green tops. Your choice is thus to take them down (using them for neat rustic fencing perhaps, to make you feel better - pine is not good wood for burning) and replace with trees and shrubbery that accomplish what you want. Please don't be frustrated. You have some great assets waiting to be revealed. Just by removing the deck and at least some of the pine sticks, you will have a great flat swath of lawn, something people struggle to achieve!
0 Likes   December 30, 2012 at 1:56PM
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lfoster23434
Thank you so much, it does have a lot of potential. Now to convince my husband to let me cut them down!
0 Likes   December 31, 2012 at 7:17AM
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PRO
Ross NW Watergardens
As far as DIY landscaping: If the new patio is stone, I would not recommend attempting that. However, you could probably do a paver patio (check out Belgard.com). A fireplace could be done yourself- if you are pretty handy. There are manufacturers (we like Isokern) who make a modular interior that you can face with stone or cultured stone.
0 Likes   December 31, 2012 at 7:28AM
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jahrkid2
A pond.
Like the one below.
1 Like   January 4, 2013 at 10:31PM
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lfoster23434
Thanks to everyone for the wonderful advice...we ripped out the existing deck & added this stained concert patio(we had a pro come in).Now for clean up,,gutters,& landscape!!!! thanks again to everyone's advice it was all appreciated very much!
0 Likes   March 3, 2013 at 7:21AM
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lfoster23434
We also have to add a ring stackable stones around the fire-pit. A interesting fact: the guy that built the fire area used our trampoline as the template.We were worried when we came home and he had the kids trampoline laying on the ground,but he did a awesome job.
0 Likes   March 3, 2013 at 7:31AM
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