Dawson – Prelim, explained (2)

The full design again for you:

Dawson Preliminary Design title 2

The back is pretty long and full of cool stuff, so we’ll tackle it in three sections.

Dawson Preliminary Design crop 5

Let’s start with the patio/deck in section 1. Here’s what the architect drew up for that area.

Architects Plan View crop 2

It was slated to be a poured concrete patio, but the Dawson’s weren’t keen on a plain, large concrete slab. They also wanted something a little bigger with outdoor rooms (i.e. distinct areas for specific purposes) for eating, relaxing, entertaining. I also knew the main floor of the house was above grade, so there needed to be stairs somewhere – either right off the house going down to the patio or off the patio going down to the ground. And E of course wanted pea gravel as part of the equation.

Dawson Preliminary Design crop 7.

The first thing I did was change the concrete patio to be a raised wooden deck with a pergola and integrated stairs leading down to the yard (arrow 1). To the left of arrow 1, there’s a single deck chair with a small side table/garden stool on one side and a tall flower pot on the other side. To the right of arrow 1, there’s another seating area for two with a stool/table in between. Next to that (arrow 2) is a long, narrow, rectangular planter box for succulents and grasses/annuals – a specific idea that E was hoping to work into the design somehow. Something like this:

narbonne 65 inch long fiberglass planter
via potsplantersandmore.com

(p.s. I love that website. Their products are so chic!)

It’s placed right by the kitchen window so that, depending on the height of the box and what they plant, they could see the flowers and plants when they look out. Opposite the seating and planter box was the perfect spot for an outdoor kitchen with cabinets and built-in grill (arrow 3).

Leaving the deck area takes you to several distinct entertaining areas. Hexagon 4 indicates a transition area made of the same large slab stone/concrete with pea gravel “grouting” that was in the front side yard. Hex 5 is the main outdoor dining area – close to the grill and deck – with W-block pavers under foot, like those seen in the front yard as well. (Check out the first post here for a reminder of what both those hardscape materials would look like.) Hopping over to hex 6 are more W-block pavers for a lounge area with an outdoor sectional, some chairs, side tables, and tall flower pots. The area at hex 7 is for lounging by a tall, chimney’ed fireplace set on the diagonal with an elevated hearth surrounding it for extra seating.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?

In between each of those sections is a pea gravel walkway (arrow 8) leading you to other areas of the yard. *Crunch, crunch, crunch.*

Dawson Preliminary Design crop 9

To the left is the vegetable garden (arrow 1). Placing it near the house means you’re more likely to see it and take care of it and even eat what you grow since it’s also near the outdoor eating areas! It’s fenced for a cleaner, more sophisticated look with a bench for resting and room in the center for the kids to play while J&E garden. In front of the fence are trimmed hedges to screen it a bit from view of the entertaining areas. And back to center, at hex/arrow 2, is access to the rest of the backyard via a few steps down and flanked by mini columns with flower pots. To the right of center is the formal garden – a few rows of fragrant rose bushes with pea gravel walkways in between (arrow 3). They lead you to a wheel of flowers with a fountain (arrow 4) at their center. A.k.a. Europetown. Or Little Europe. Or Castleville?

Dawson Preliminary Design crop 11

And that’s just the 1st Little Europe spot in the backyard. Now let’s take a stroll through section 2 going clockwise. Down those two steps takes you to a wide concrete pathway (arrow 1), with each rectangle being separated by a little strip of grass. So sophisticated and fancy! Arrow 2 points to the garden shed, strategically placed near the vegetable garden so you can easily put away the fertilizer when you’re done. Again the shed (and actually most everything in this design) is bordered by trimmed hedges for a clean look and an intimate, leave-something-to-the-imagination sort of feel.

The next spot, right next to the shed, is for fruit trees. A path lined with boxwoods and lavender (and with a bird bath in the center) lead your eyes to a half-domed arbor-and-bench (arrow 3). The inspiration for that came from a little place called Chateau de Villandry. Villandry is a palace in France, most famous for its gardens. Here are my cute parents snuggling in one of the domed, rose-covered arbors:

ZZZ 029

The one for J&E would be scaled down to probably half that size. But isn’t it lovely! On either side of the path are six fruit trees (arrow 4) that almost form an arrow guiding your eye to the arbor enclave, too. I also want to point out that around this area are a couple informal mulched pathways, shortcuts, between the arbor and the shed, and between the arbor and the side yard beyond.

But if you take the formal path back out to the main yard, arrow 5 would invisibly point you to a slightly larger concrete block with a cut-out down the center containing a Paul’s Scarlet Hawthorn. A beautiful focal-point tree with bright reddish pink flowers in the spring, then clusters of red berries that often last into the winter.

plant habit, flowering
via oregonstate.edu

Now let’s explore the right side of section 2.

Dawson Preliminary Design crop 12

I haven’t explained that line running horizontally through the yard yet (between the figurative sections 1 & 2). At about that point, the yard slopes downward slightly. So that line is a 3-foot retaining wall (arrow 1) made out of the same stacked, weathered stone like the stone fence that separates the front yard from the back yard (last seen here). And the plants on either side of the stairs, against the short stone wall are some tall, slender evergreens (Malonyana Arborvitae – the closest thing to those awesome Italian cypress that will survive in Utah’s climate).

More W-block pavers at arrow 2 for an invitation to sit under the arbor on the left or to discover what’s beyond the hedges to the right. A pea gravel path is lined with pink-flowering cherry trees (arrow 3) to walk under, taking you to a slab-stone/concrete patio for a pleasant picnic. Within the patio is a shallow reflecting pool, long and narrow (arrow 4). And just beyond that at arrow 5 is an incredible weeping Camperdown Elm. I seriously love those trees.

File:Camperdown Elm Prospect Park Brooklyn.jpg
via Wikimedia.org

One of the coolest features about this tree – of course it weeps and looks beautiful, but it’s also possible to prune it so that you have an entrance to go inside, underneath the tree. Every kid should have this tree in their yard! (And by kid, I mean little kids and grown-ups.) Oh how I wish I had room in my yard for one!

Funny story about weeping trees. One of my professors would take us around campus and i.d. the trees, explaining features of the leaves, bark, etc., and we’d frantically write everything down and take leaf samples because we had to memorize what each tree was – common name, botanical name (genus & species), and their family name. (I think it came to like 400 scientific and common names. It was intense memorization packed into a half-semester class, and my friends still remember that I made them quiz me with those flash cards all the time.) Anyway, when we came to some weeping tree in the heart of campus, he mentioned that it made a good spooning nook…  Uh…come again? It was like a record scratch. Our eyes got wide and we all snickered. He was old. And we were obviously immature. But I still get a kick out of it every time I put in a weeping tree. Especially a Camperdown Elm.

Moving on!

Dawson Preliminary Design crop 14

Section three. Phew! Almost done.

The hawthorn breaks up the walkway (arrows at 1), so you get to choose which side you want to take to get to the huge swath of grass out back. It looks like a medium-small area relative to the entire yard, but it’s a 50×100 foot span. Despite it being about a quarter of the size of a real soccer field like J had kind of requested, I thought it would suffice for practice purposes with the kidlets. The quarter field is also trimmed with boxed hedges for that intriguing, what’s-behind-hedge-number-three effect.

Past the private picnic patio, at arrow 2, we have what I call “arbor tunnels”. Each section would have a different vine climbing over it. The first – honeysuckle. It smells heavenly, reblooms throughout the summer and comes in white to yellow to red colors (my favorite is a bright pink and yellow variety called Gold Flame). Then wisteria, which gets long clusters of flowers and comes in purple, pink, and white. And lastly, climbing roses, which come in almost any color and can also be fragrant and rebloom. How yummy smelling and gorgeous would it be to take a walk under all those flowers! This idea came from the gardens at Schloss Linderhof in Germany. Some in this picture may not be happy with it up here for anyone to see, so just keep in mind that it was hot and humid and one among us was pregnant and hot and humid.

AAA 792

Having that in my backyard, covered in fragrant, pretty flowers might make me want to skip and spin through there singing “The hills are alive!” like Julie Andrews (aka “The must amazing person of all time”). And you know what? The Dawsons probably should, especially since taking the gravel path (arrow 3) leads them to their very own glass Sound of Music gazebo! Arrow 4. (p.s. It’s pretty hard to write this while singing along to the music!)

AAA 926

In the design, the gazebo is sitting atop a concrete platform with a curved step up to the gazebo door. It’s surrounded by flowers and large evergreens to screen it from view of any future neighbors. Secluded and stunning. An informal pathway at arrow 5 leads you under more flowering trees to another Camperdown Elm. Because if you have the Sound of Music Gazebo, you have to have a Camperdown Elm next to it. You just have to. Then through the elm, following the mulched path, imaginary arrow 6 takes you under some sweet smelling linden trees and other pretty shade trees, down past the sweeping lawn, and back out by the fruit trees.

Ah, wasn’t that refreshing? I feel like I just stepped out of a Jane Austen book. J&E could definitely host a few ($$$$) wedding receptions here I think. How did you like your tour of Little Europe?


For the introduction to the J&E residence: here. And for the explanation of the preliminary design, part 1: here.

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