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These creative landscape designs will inspire the backyard of your dreams

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Jennifer Turner Architect transforms a plain yard into a dynamic outdoor retreat with unique landscape design

Photography by Riley Snelling

The weathered-steel water feature, which runs the length of the garden, has integrated seating and connects two bilateral ponds. Structural engineer, Faet Lab.

With soothing sounds from the tiered water feature, this Whitby, Ontario, garden bubbles with life. Architect Jennifer Turner has mastered the art of balancing natural and built environments in her 30-plus years of landscape design for luxurious gardens and homes. “I’m an avid gardener and wanted to create a modern, structured garden with an appropriate sense of scale to elongate the space and make it feel larger than it did previously,” she says. The vision ­– a unique cottage alternative for a retired couple located just an hour outside the city.

Two hydrangeas preserved from the old garden now drape over a powder-coated aluminum pergola.

The water feature adds to the ambiance with its soundscape of rushing water to the yard.

Modular granite pavers are set on sand to be easily reset if tree roots become an issue.

Along with Turner, landscape architect Elise Shelley, opted for a mix of plants, trees and bulbs including Japanese Maple, Lily of the Valley and multiple types of Clematis to achieve a serene cottage vibe throughout the seasons. By blending materials and creating three distinct zones — for cooking, lounging and dining ­— the garden was completely overhauled while cautiously preserving the lot’s mature trees. A warm palette of weathered steel, granite, dark bronze aluminum and Brazilian wood fencing will age beautifully as the garden matures.

In Full Bloom

PLANT Architect conjures a lush, established garden in this contemporary reno

Photography by Jeff McNeill

Using a mix of new and established trees and flora, PLANT architecture created a landscape that integrates flawlessly with the house. Contractor, Oriole Landscaping; landscape design by Mary Tremain, Eric Klaver, Niloufar Makaremi, Margot Shafran

You’d never know that the unique landscape design for this midtown home came after a major home renovation. The original dwelling designed by architect Tim Wickens had undergone a major rebuild, but the owners had not tackled the back garden yet, so hired PLANT Architect, experts at gracefully responding to existing environments, to optimize views and create a multi-purpose outdoor space. Spearheaded by partner Mary Tremain, the design nestles into the house with ease both visually and physically — resulting in a multi-tiered layout that cascades down from the back of the house into a series of living and dining areas.

Hardscaping includes flagstone and Ipe-wood decking that extends out from the house.

Cozy seating areas and a meandering path through the various levels instantly invite you to slow down and relax. Outdoor furniture by Casualife Outdoor Living

The lush backyard invites the family in from the home, integrating itself as an additional living space.

First, an Ipe-wood deck with integrated benches and planters creates ample seating areas, then steps down to a flagstone patio, which then extends out to a children’s play zone. With native woodland plantings and lush perennials, the garden has the visual softness of a wild meadow. Colours and tones play off each other as they would in a natural environment adding to the established look of this new landscape. At the back of the property, a path of birch trees, lush ferns and pavers create a magical walkout to a kid’s play area covered in hard-wearing artificial turf. Other elements from the original landscape were retained including a cherry tree and six white cedars. The design and the sentiment engage with the original home, including an homage to the previous owner, artist Leonhard Oesterle, whose sculptures take pride of presence in the new oasis.

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A classic Danish Sommerhus is a vehicle for enjoying nature.

The concept was introduced to Wanda Ely and her team when a longtime client of theirs entrusted the Toronto architecture firm with the design of their new family retreat north of the city in Mulmur, Ontario. “The tradition dates back to the 19th century,” says Ely. “It’s a small summer house surrounded by nature where a family can escape the hustle and stress of city life.”

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