A new life for a front yard garden on West Springfield Street in the South End - Boston

This South End front yard was in total disrepair. The clients needed a landscape design that created a beautiful space with multiple uses.

Not only did the front yard need to be completely overhauled, it needed to accommodate a sitting area for an adult and some room for small children to play quietly. All of these requirements were met discretely and the space still looks like a thoughtfully-designed South End front yard garden.

Design Challenge:

The unit with this South End front yard garden has no outdoor space behind the building. The clients use the space to sit out reading, to occasionally grill, and to regularly allow their children to play and draw with chalk -- all while still being inside of a gated space.

A creative landscape design was needed to accommodate all of these needs. However, it still needed to retain the feel of a front yard garden and not stand-out conspicuously from the neighboring buildings.

This is an excellent example of the difference between good urban gardening and great urban landscape design & construction.

A very narrow brick walkway terminated at a very wide set of granite stairs which stepped down to the front door of the unit. This was visually jarring; on top of it, the stairs themselves had settled irregularly and needed to be reset. The landing at the base of the stairs was too narrow to accommodate the gate swing. The clients needed to unlock the gate, step back up the granite stairs, open the gate and then enter the doorway. The landing at the doorway had a thin bluestone "retaining wall" which had shifted-out with soil pressure.

The unit has two front windows. At some point, the one in the pathway site line had been converted into a door; at some later time, it had been restored to a window. The replacement brickwork was the wrong size and color brick, so that mortar joints did not align and the patch work was obvious. This substandard work needed to be appropriately restored so that the eyesore would not diminish the elegance of the final landscape design.

The landscape design needed to accommodate multiple needs listed above while not looking like a patio in the end.

From a practical, construction standpoint, there were leaks into the basement through the light well at one of the windows which needed to be addressed while the landscaping was installed.