A fresh start for a multi-use yard on Worcester Street  South End - Boston

After major sewer work required demolishing the existing landscape, the owner of this South End yard had the opportunity to start from scratch, having learned the shortcomings of the previous landscape design.

Serving as the dooryard for this garden-level unit, it leads directly into the living room.  The client wanted areas for grilling, eating and seating with a landscape that was easy to maintain.  The new design accomplishes all of that. Now, it feels like you are arriving home instead of sneaking through the back yard.

Design Challenge:

Originally, the landscape was perfectly lovely.  It was heavily landscaped, with a koi pond and natural field stone steps from the driveway level, leading to a fieldstone patio at the entry level of the home. Very nice and very high-maintenance.

Because the clients had lived with the original landscape for several years, they were fully aware of the yard's shortcomings and knew what they wanted from their new landscape design.

The existing landscape devoted entirely too much space to the upper-level planting and fish pond.  It left them very little by way of space for a table and chairs, and even less space for what they wanted:  a grill and a storage space for firewood.

What patio space they had by their door was further compromised by an air conditioning compressor and the final run of the back stairs, which serve as fire egress from the decks above.

Being their dooryard garden, the patio gets traversed a number of times a day.  The client realized that the dry-laid field stone steps and patio of the original landscape were impractical to shovel in winter and difficult to sweep clean in the summer. The fieldstone patio was too uneven to have a level table, much less  to pull a chair into the table to sit.

Fieldstone makes for lovely stepping stones through a garden or to a stationary bench, but doesn't lend itself to regular, active use as a paving material.

The irregularity of the stone work also made it difficult to walk without the utmost care.  The clients are retiring and plan on using this property as their Boston pied-a-terre.  It has everything they could want: direct access parking space, one-level living, outdoor space and a great South End location.  But, as they pointed-out, the irregular paving and stairs will not get easier as they get older.

Budget was a consideration so certain design elements needed to phased-in.