Terraced Retreat: Use Multilevel Patios to Create a Series of Backyard Destinations

By Chai, Julie | Sunset, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Terraced Retreat: Use Multilevel Patios to Create a Series of Backyard Destinations


Chai, Julie, Sunset


OUTDOOR LIVING SPACES on several levels can make the most of a challenging site. Because Phillip and Phyllis Barkowsky's Folsom backyard is bordered on two sides by a driveway, and electrical poles and lines are visible beyond their back fence, landscape architects Mike and Annette Heacox decided to draw the focus of the garden inward. To do that, they placed a pool in the center of the backyard and added three patios on three levels around it.

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Hugging the home's main level, the top patio--and the pool beside it--sits 3 feet above the bottom patio, creating a seamless transition from indoors. A midlevel patio provides space for dining and grilling; while the lowest patio, at ground level, features a fireplace with built-in storage for firewood. "Each level has a point of interest, so there's always something to draw you forward," Mike says.

Three billowy blond ornamental grass plants--Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'--are thoughtfully placed to soften the terraces' hard edges and add a seasonal touch visible from all levels. The grasses also create a subtle separation between the patio levels while simultaneously connecting them visually. When soft breezes waft through the garden, "there's a lot of movement, and you can hear the rustling," Phillip says. …

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