A striking arrival, yet a comfortable spot to in which to linger in the South End - Boston

Initially, this extremely narrow urban space was nothing more than a patheway to this condominium's parking spot, leading directly from the parking area to the living room of the home.  It was a poorly designed entry garden.

The client required a landscape design which would provide a more welcoming space for their arrival, a cafe table for an after work glass of wine, and a more attractive view from their garden-level living room.



Design Challenge:

Actually, this property was probably our greatest design challenge to date!

The space is very narrow in order to accommodate the parking space, which is roughly 5' above the patio.  While understanding the limitations of the space, the client requested a landscape design that could accommodate a small table at which to enjoy a morning coffee or evening cocktail, and a comfortable corner in the sunniest part of the yard to relax and read.

The original patio was surrounded by a 4' high grey concrete block retaining wall topped by a 6' high stockade fence on one side and a 6' cinder block wall on the other. This gave the yard a sense of being in a pit with almost prison-like confinement.  Not only was it not inviting, it was the unfortunate view from the living room and dining room.

The client needed a creative landscape design to give horizontal scale to the space and accommodate some basic storage for gardening supplies, broom and snow shovel.

Design solution and installation:

We raised the main area of this small, urban yard 10" above the patio block paving by installing steps from the house to the new mahogany decking.  This dramatically lowered the impact of the retaining walls and added almost 15" of width by decking over one of the post footings for the decks above, which had before been unusable space. Mahogany deck boards are run across the yard, further widening the space visually.

We replaced the stockade fencing with double-sided fencing that provides a finished side facing into the yard.  The creative use of different fencing heights and materials further diminishes the verticality of the landscape.  At the back of the yard, a 6' fence provides privacy from the alley and ties into the height of the neighbor's cinder block retaining wall.  We designed floating mahogany grids that front the retaining wall and break up the verticality of the landscape.  Along the parking area, where privacy wasn't really an issue, we used a lower fence that blocked the view of the cars, but allowed far more western light and a sense of openness to the courtyard.  Nearer the home, a slightly higher azek fence blocks head lights from shining into the living room and just blocks the view of telephone wires from the living room and yard.

We designed a "tower" at the back of the yard that is actually a storage shed that opens into the parking area.  The use of random spacing on horizontal banding creatively lowers the planters and storage shed visually.