Magazine article Sunset

Intimate Retreat; How to Make Every Detail Count in a Tiny Urban Backyard

Magazine article Sunset

Intimate Retreat; How to Make Every Detail Count in a Tiny Urban Backyard

Article excerpt

PRIVACY ON A SMALL CITY LOT is an all-too-elusive concept. But in a neighborhood of compact lots, this San Jose backyard--which sits right up against two-story houses--includes a pergola-sheltered hot tub for long, slow soaks behind a curtain of vines. Landscape designer Cathy Drees managed to create a tranquil outdoor room thanks to a sophisticated color palette, a screen of greenery around the perimeter, and a few artfully chosen accents.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Drees's first step was to heighten the garden's sense of enclosure. Along the fence, she planted an evergreen screen of Tristaniopsis laurina 'Elegant' and Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald', both of which grow tall but not wide. Then at one end of the backyard, she designed a cozy relaxation area with a hot tub and a vine-covered pergola; at the other end, she added aC-shaped bench with an arbor. To make the yard appear larger, she set the bench and pergola at angles to the house. A recirculating fountain in a rock-filled channel marks the transition between the two areas.

To further enhance the illusion of space, Drees layered the plantings'--short ones in front, taller ones behind. Evergreen foliage plants (including Carex oshimensis 'Evergold', dwarf mondo grass, loropetalum, nandina, pieris, and pittosporum 'Cream de Mint') keep the garden looking good year-round. …

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