Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Outdoor Living...Hoboken Style

A friend of mind forwarded me a great NYTimes article about the jobless plight of many architects right now. 

A lot of us are taking on any small projects we can get during these tough economic times... like the deck design I'm working at the moment. Which has got me thinking about our own backyard....

Yes, it's time to start planning so you can enjoy your outdoor space at the first sign of spring!   It's really an outdoor room, right? Why shouldn't it get just as much attention and design focus as the inside of your home.  Especially for those of us who live in cramped quarters and are lucky enough to have a patch of grass to enjoy. 

When we moved in over 4 years ago (oh my, it's been that long?)... I decided that the plan would be to establish a 'green' base and then we'd add the colorful flowering stuff later.  As you can see from this photo, our greenery is now well established...

This was the set up for our daughter's birthday party last summer.  We had a beautiful day and it is was a wonderful way to get use of our outdoor space.

This is what our backyard looked like when we moved in. 

It was very damp, didn't get much sun, and the permanent configuration wasn't usuable for us.  With kids we wanted a place for them play and to maximize the square footage.  To open it up, we cut down all the bushes, removed the bench and all the pavers.  Here's a shot from almost two years ago.   

What we kept were a few mature rose bushes on the right and some standard stockade fencing... that's about it.  My husband seeded for our patch of grass, which I have to admit I was skeptical about. But hey look at it now... it looks like sod!  We bought new bluestone in a size that we could manage to carry and lay out ourselves.  I'll never forget the morning the big flatbed crane lowered that heavy palette of stone on our front sidewalk... 'We have to carry all this way back there?!'    Another project was installing the horizontal slats at the back fence to promote the climbing greenery.  And lastly we planned to replace the chain link on the left side with a wood fence. 

In a previous post, Outdoor Living...Italian Style, someone commented about their own chainlink.  Well as you can see in this photo, our chainlink has since disappeared thanks to some crazy ivy! 

I actually like the ivy better than another wood wall.  It keeps us more open to our neighbor so the space feels less closed in.  If we were going to do some fencing though I'd want something with a fresh look, like this redwood fence.  I came upon the photo as I was working on the deck project I mentioned earlier.

That's the great thing about architecture and the details,  even small projects can provide for some inspiration!

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