The most novel thing about our new home is the backyard – something that’s pretty hard to come by in NYC. So, after we moved in we were excited to get started on transforming it into an oasis for those long summer days. The yard was a clean slate. Nothing but a concrete slab, a patch of dirt, weeds and a chain link fence. Our biggest priority was getting a new fence to replace the chain link to provide more privacy from our neighbors. We weren’t looking for anything fussy or exotic for the plantings. In fact, I prefer a more structured architectural garden that’s symmetric and restrained. I love the look of modern gardens, but also wanted something not so extremely contemporary. Then I remembered parks and gardens that I saw while in Paris. So simple and elegant.
I had no illusions about the fact that the backyard project would be a big job and in order to complete it correctly I would need to call in a professional. So, I interviewed a few landscapers and finally found Cara White from Elevations. Working with Cara made the project a breeze. First, I walked her through my inspiration (the appeal of a modern garden and French gardens), my concerns (the fence, limited gardening skills and limited time to maintain the garden) and budget. Then, she developed a plan that I instantly loved. I call it ‘New York Brownstone French Parterre’. Her plan didn’t call for any grass in the yard, but we convinced her that we wanted grass, so instead of a pea gravel backyard we opted for sod.
Unfortunately, the grass didn’t stay as beautiful as it was during those first couple of months. We now realize that we don’t want the grass and the headaches that come with maintaining it. This spring we will remove the dead grass and install pea gravel in its place which will be, in fact, Cara’s original design! We’ve learned the tough lesson that it’s important to be realistic about the investment of time and resources that you’re willing to make into maintaining a backyard. Funny enough, our backyard was the first “entertainment ready” space in our home! And it worked out perfectly because it was right in time for summer. We spent that summer hosting ad hoc cook outs and late nights lounging outside – the backyard has served its precise purpose. It has been the perfect place for my husband and me to rediscover the simple pleasures of being at home and relishing lazy days and long nights enjoying each other’s company and entertaining the ones we love.
We are always looking to feature inspired spaces, so please contact Ashley if you’d like a&o to consider showcasing your home project or a complete photo tour of your home!