A Year-Round Exterior Meditation & Relaxation Space
Tree of Life Backyard
Incorporating art, lighting, a water feature, and curated planting to create seasonal interest.
With no need for the existing lawn, and with the yard as a whole feeling too exposed from the sidewalk, these clients sought a way to transform their outdoor space into something they would actually use. Now, their outdoor oasis is designed both for calm activities — such as meditation, contemplation, and relaxation — and for livelier ones, like entertaining friends and family.
A new fence would help with the privacy issue, but the last thing this family wanted was to feel completely cut off from the world by a tall fence on all sides. Instead, the new fence steps down with the slope of the hill, turning the corner at the end of the property at a low enough height to offer views out into the neighborhood beyond, and clear sightlines for pedestrians and cars turning the corner.
Custom-designed and fabricated metal art screens provide an additional sense of visual privacy, with intermittent peeks in and out of the property through their staggered placement and perforations. At the gate from the sidewalk, the grade of the yard naturally falls down before rising up again to the level of the backyard deck. Instead of the footpath following the slope, we introduced a natural bridge spanning a dry riverbed of decorative stones and plants, linking the side and back yards.
Anchored by a Tree of Life concept — represented also in the decorative detail in the gate — the art screens feature the gently arching boughs of a tree moving in the wind with some local birds: a hummingbird, a flicker, a pair of chickadees, and an eagle. As it turned out, the very first day the homeowners sat out in their new patio, a hummingbird flew in to drink from the new water feature and explore the lush planting. Much to their delight, hummingbirds are now regular visitors to this backyard oasis.
Years later, these homeowners reconnected with Board & Vellum to compete their vision for their yard, creating a Backyard Artist Studio to enliven a corner of these tranquil exterior spaces.
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Our design services encompass architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture, with teams specializing in projects across the spectrum, from single-family homes to multifamily and mixed-use buildings, and from boutique commercial spaces to civic spaces, like parks. We love designing the integrated fabric of structures, spaces, and places that create vibrant neighborhoods.
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