This year more than others, a picture-perfect outdoor space is what we need
We haven’t been hit with the annual April snow yet, but we’re going to call it anyway: spring is here. Forward thinkers that we are, that means we already have thoughts of summer nights spent on patios, decks and terraces playing through our minds. And to make sure we get our spaces just right, we’re looking to some our favourite landscaping ideas from the past as inspiration. Read on to take a look.
No yard? No problem. With the city skyline as a backdrop, Eden Tree Design perched a lush rooftop patio atop this Midtown townhouse. In its centre, a linear 2.5-metre-long overflow fountain flows like a lazy creek into a bed of black stones, which is bookended by a pair of living walls that conceal vinyl siding. The undisputed highlight, though, is the Solicanada pergola, which adapts to sunshine, rain and wind with the push of a button.
Instead of flowerbeds or a vegetable garden, Fox Whyte and Arbordale Landscaping took a cue from nearby High Park, laying down thick clusters of ferns and shrubbery to mimic its forested ravines. It’s not all wild-ish growth, though. Limestone slabs mark the outdoor lounge, which features a long Corten element for cooking and storage along its length, while a half step and crushed black granite delineate an intimate dining space.
A semi-arid landscape has its own unique, spare appeal, so in lieu of lush greenery, Earth & Sole opted for pea gravel, river rock and drought-resistant succulents, including shrubbery and ornamental grasses like blue fescue and black mondo. To break up the desert, a wooden boardwalk provides structure and functionality, while raised Corten planters along the property line contain all manner of flora and provide a degree of privacy for the screened porch.
Piece of History
Rather than repair and refill the expired in-ground pool, landscape architect Joel Loblaw recast it as a picturesque ruin, filling it with serviceberry, dogwood, dwarf Korean lilac and small, irregular boulders. A cedar bridge leads to a semi-enclosed deck which, at its heart, features a glowing plinth – perfect for placing food and drink, and gently illuminating warm summer evenings.
Penthouses offer gorgeous views of the city, but rarely feature the kind of greenery us ground-bound types are used to. Not satisfied with that norm, Janet Rosenberg & Studio laid down a mat of hardy sedum between the home’s floor-to-ceiling window and stained-grey decking. Alongside its edges, charcoal-toned planters feature even more flora suitable for the altitude-driven environmental extremes, while a simple canvas sail provides some much-needed shade.
Despite the concrete and Corten planters and platforms, this Queen West yard by Plant Architect was inspired by 17th-century French topiary. On the surface, the one doesn’t have to do with the other, but the layering and spiralling arrangements of evergreens and perennials were de rigeur in the Versailles era. The pairing, set against the near-black facade of the Paul Symes-designed home, is as unlikely as it is striking.
Amid flora selected to encourage local biodiversity – an ecologically healthy idea whatever direction your landscaping project takes you in – a line of white birch trees leads past a terrace to the backyard of this Superkül-designed charred-wood-clad home, where a second ipe deck emerges almost without interruption from the living room. A lounge area and fire pit mean people can gather around in even chilly weather, while weathering steel panels, slat fence and powder-coated steel accents help delineate sections and usage. See the rest of the home here.