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Details of an Urban Yard – Board & Vellum

Landscape Architecture

Landscape Details in an Urban Yard

Just like interior spaces, beautiful details are what help exterior spaces shine. To help illustrate, this post is a narrated tour of a project near and dear to us — just imagine it as if you are over for a summer party, and getting your first tour of this urban yard.

April 18, 2019

Getting the details right in a project is key to making it personalized and special. Just as that applies to interior spaces, it applies to exterior spaces.

I thought I'd walk you through some of my favorite details of a large landscape project at my house to show you a little about what I mean.

Front gate with cut steel pattern. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

I love this gate. I wanted something that helped bridge the two main vertical elements of the yard (the corten steel planter and the wood and concrete fence wall) and this gate made that happen. It is just slightly lower than the metal planter and perfectly lines up with a gap at the fence boards. We tucked a three-point lock in there so there’s no visible locking mechanism on the metal planter when it is open. And creating it as a shadow box allowed for the bright green in the house to pop through the custom artwork.

Corten steel planters with a wood deck. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

Corten steel is beautiful stuff and takes up almost no space. It is also heavy as all hell and hard to install, so this one was a crazy move to make, as it had to be craned in. Still, it provided a space for plants (we lined the interior with rigid insulation so it doesn’t overheat), and forms a beautiful backdrop for draping plants.

Wood banquette at corner. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

The upper bench is cantilevered and tucks over the top of the steel wall. Sitting here with my arm draped over the edge is one of my favorite spots in the world and the spot where my oldest son got the courage to say hello to people as they pass by.

Bamboo along a fence. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

Bamboo is a great plant that has great architectural lines. We stripped the leaves here below the top of the fence so you can see the fence beyond and have a spot for light to shine up.

Planters on the deck. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

I actually picked the plants here and potted these pots myself. The real story, though, is a flush deck that aligns with the interior floor of the cottage and the adjacent stone pathway. We dug out an area to frame it over so while it looks seamless it took some careful coordination to get it to work so well.

Paver details along a meandering garden path. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

This was a special surprise by the team at Withey Price. This stone pathway incorporates these stone slabs that can function as a bridge. We imagine our kids making a little pond out here at some point. While beautiful, we also wanted to plan for plenty of play opportunities for our kids.

Grilling area with a work surface. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

This is an area of the yard that would have otherwise been wasted space, as it wasn’t very wide. I had just enough room here for a grill and some narrow tables from IKEA. It creates the perfect outdoor prep area and coupling it with some adjacent planters for vegetables and herbs worked perfectly. You don’t need a lot of space to make something feel perfect.

A stone garden path with large accent boulders. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

This large rock (I believe the name was “Big Green”) creates a focal point in the yard. It also creates seating for a portable wood firepit that sits on the adjacent concrete driveway/patio. Our kids also love climbing over here and positioning their trucks and little figures around. The little rock adjacent to it is also the perfect height for a kids seat.

Ferns next to a paved path. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

Throughout the yard, the combination of hard materials with lush planting helps create the contrast of textures that I love so much about this space. Here are some of my favorites.

Gas fire pit in yard with comfortable seating. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

Just as picking the plants is key to an outdoor space, so is finding appropriate furniture that makes these spaces actually feel like home. As we have a bright green house, I wanted to go with a neutral palette of exterior furniture but with pops of bright blue which worked well with the green of the house. We mixed in tables and chairs from Room and Board with Adirondack chairs and an outdoor sofa we found on Amazon. Accents from Cost Plus World Market and some lanterns from IKEA help tie the whole space together.

Perforated metal lanterns hang on wood fence. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

Simple and cheap, these IKEA lanterns help break up a large expanse of fence.

Paper lanterns hang in a tree over the driveway. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Urban Yard at the Seattle Box

Urban Yard at the Seattle Box | Photo by Derek Reeves.

One of the most important details in this yard to get right was the lighting. From the acrylic globe lanterns in the tree (with some IKEA cords and sockets) to lighting under the bench, getting this space to shine at night was critical to giving it that cozy feel.

There is a myriad of other details I could point out but suffice it to say, this one was a fun one to sweat the details on. When you’re looking at your yard, remember that it can be so much more than simple space. Getting the space designed is Step 1, but then making it feel like your space is the key to making it all come together.

P.S. – Want to know more about this urban yard?

Read more about how to maximize a small urban yard. And, visit all the details and more, over on the portfolio page for this project, the Urban Yard at the Seattle Box.

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