A bluestone patio creates a classic outdoor entertainment space in the South End – Boston.

During a complete renovation of this home, the client needed to remove the existing patio and garden to install a groundwater recharge and drainage system for the run-off from the building. They required that an entirely new landscape be designed and installed. 

The client wanted a flexible space for cocktails and lounging.  Because a large dining table is located right inside the door to the yard, the landscape design did not need to accommodate an eating area. The client also wanted a low maintenance landscape with easy to care-for plantings and as much usable patio space as this urban, South End yard could allow.

Design Challenge:

The clients felt strongly about re-using the existing cobblestone from the original patio. They have a commitment to working with existing landscape material and not being wasteful or contributing to additional landfill. Blackstone Urban Landscapes respects this but cobblestone is extremely impractical for patio paving due to its irregular surface. We needed to find a creative design solution which accommodated the stone into the new landscape.

The landscape design needed to be flexible. The budget for the landscape project required phasing.  Because the client had gone so long without a yard during the renovations to their home, they wanted to prioritize the outdoor living space.  Therefore, the patio was installed first and the removal of a large tree, installation of a new fence, lighting, irrigation, etc. are planned for a later date.  The planting design had to be creative, easily transplanted and relatively inexpensive to accommodate these later improvements -- but still look good until then.

This urban yard gets little light, but the design needed ample plant material to soften the hard edges of the extensive bluestone patio the client required.

Design solution and Installation:

Instead of re-installing the cobblestone patio, we designed a landscape that uses the stone sculpturally to define planting areas and provides unexpected visual interest and texture to the hard clean lines of the bluestone patio.

The renovation contract specified bluestone stair treads leading from the family room to the yard.  We installed the bluestone patio to give the entire space a sense of continuity and provide a smooth, level surface that requires only occasional sweeping. This is a low-maintenance feature that the client desired. 

We used durable, shade-tolerant plant material to soften the yard beyond the seating area of the outdoor living space.  We selected inexpensive ivy because it will be destroyed when the fence is replaced at a later date. A more elegant ground cover will be planted once we install the new fencing and a custom screen.