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Design Ideas from 10 Fresh, Real Life Backyards

From Mimico to Yorkville, here are ten of the city’s most inspiring outdoor retreats


1 Balance raw and order. Landscape designer Joel Loblaw is known for creating urban gardens that are simultaneously loose and structured. In the backyard of this reinvented Rosedale Georgian, he uses cedar, polished concrete, steel and river stones to complement neatly contained shrubs and other greenery.


2 Highlight the natural landscape. Built on an exceptional ravine site, this mid-century bungalow’s flagstone patio overlooks Mimico Creek. As part of the home’s recent renovation by LGA Architectural Partners, an old deck was pulled off the back of the building to give the rec room a leafy ravine view, too.


3 Throw some shade. With expansive windows at either end, this Hillcrest Village home by Kohn Shnier Architects makes efficient use of natural light. Here, retractable orange canopies from Rolltec shade the back deck to provide a respite from late summer heat. A tiered rock garden carved out of the yard brings southern light down to a lower level and provides space for a below-grade patio.


4 Put everything in its place. Williamson Chong’s design for this multigenerational family home in the Annex includes plenty of places to stash kids’ toys. Here, the kitchen’s oak panelling transitions seamlessly into ipe decking, which folds up to form seating, a storage trunk, a barbecue surround and a garden fence. A narrow alley serves as bike parking.



5 Add all-weather amenities. The centrepiece of dentist-slash-curator Kenneth Montague‘s rooftop garden is this limestone-clad elevator shaft. At one end of the structure is the kitchen and dining area seen above, while at the other, a sauna provides a place to warm up on chillier nights.


6 Take cues from cottage country. Part of a home designed by Alison Milne for a vintage-loving Bay Streeter, this downtown backyard is the next best thing to a rustic Muskoka getaway. An industrial fireplace stands in for a firepit, while the adjacent garage’s rustic reclaimed wood (from Canadian Salvaged Timber) adds to the outdoor space’s warm, cabin-like feel.


7 Keep it simple. Don’t have a green thumb? Opt for low-maintenance, high-impact modern landscaping. Audax Architecture designed this boxy Yorkville home‘s yard using poured concrete and stained cedar. The strikingly sparse result nicely complements the building’s airy interiors.


8 Use dense greenery to block the city from view. Part of a laneway home designed by Taylor_Smyth, this ipe-clad patio is planted with English ivy that crawls up the walls and winds itself along telephone wires. Sitting in the space, it’s easy to imagine being in some enchanted Yorkshire garden.


9 Create connections between indoors and out. The owners of Stylegarage transformed this Mimico property from a dry goods store into a sunshine-filled family home. Here, a stone pathway in their lush, breezy backyard leads to an industrial garage door that rolls up to link the garden to the house’s kitchen area.


10 Make friends with the neighbours. Shortly after Jennifer and Jill moved into the townhouse across from their friends Rob and Daryn, the two couples had the wall that separates their yards customized with a sliding door that connects the outdoor spaces, taking over-the-fence conversations to a cozier level.

Looking for more great ideas for outdoor spaces? Read our guides to creating a patio paradise, blissful backyard and condo balcony oasis. For even more inspiration, check out our Beautiful Backyards Pinterest board.

Categories: Spaces