When we were asked to develop this garden we approached the task with anticipation, for our client promised us a clean slate from which to work. The existing garden, set on a standard Chicago lot, simply did not meet the new owner’s need for sanctuary, security and entertainment space. The squeezed wooden stairs, porch and decking suffered from dry rot and were in immediate danger of failing. Patio stones had settled irregularly, fencing was rotted and overgrown with Boston ivy, and drainage issues left everything feeling damp.

The solution we developed involved clearing out virtually the entire yard to the legal lot line – gaining us crucial square footage – leaving only a mature Donald Wyman crabapple to embrace the garden with its shady coolness. The three-story, sealed cedar deck features an invisible fastener system and acts as a multi-level transition between the home and garden space. Heavy custom-built planter boxes hang from the outside of the upper level decks, softening angles and creating the vertical garden. Sealed cedar fencing provides privacy. The full-range patterned bluestone patio and rustic Eden Weather-edge raised walls pull together several dominant color hues within the garden.

A hydrotherapy spa with attached bar features ivy growing through the overhead pergola, enhancing privacy. Arts & Crafts-inspired trellises break up fence expanses and serve as doors, gates, skirting and screening devices. Plantings were selected for structure, color and fragrance.

Lastly, our client’s travel schedule mandated installation of a micro-irrigation system, which waters all planting beds and boxes on a set schedule. Landscape illumination — down-lighting, up-lighting, deck-lighting and path-lights — provides a magical ambience and enhances safety, security and nighttime enjoyment of the garden.

Photography ©2006 Linda Oyama Bryan. Used by permission.