Project Description

Our clients, Tom and Judith, travelled extensively and spent little time in their Wilmette garden. Now they were ready to enjoy their home again and wished to reclaim their backyard.

A dramatic wood sculpture, built by Tom, greets one upon entering the space, imparting that it is no ordinary backyard. Four 100+ year-old Oak trees at the corners, and a large Mulberry located by the back gate, created shady conditions that could not support grass. The owners planted shade-tolerant wildflowers to green the space, but these quickly grew out of control, making trips to the garage an ordeal. Off the back corner of the house, vestiges of a small pond lay hidden behind a large, robust Yew. A worn, concrete square patio sat along the rear foundation, accessed by a ground level back door.

We were selected to create a unique space to meet their needs, one that still looked natural yet would also radiate calmness and provide relaxation.

Patio doors were built to access the garden from Judith’s office, and the patio was replaced by a raised deck, with a seat wall and steps leading down to the garden. The large Yew off the deck remained, providing privacy from the neighbors. A large koi pond with a waterfall was built close to the deck where it could be appreciated, and two walks were built: a paver walk that leads from the deck to a small sitting area to the garage, and a crushed gravel walk that meanders around plantings.

For seasonal color and interest, a variety of ornamental trees were added, including Autumn Blaze Red Maple, Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Serviceberry and Kousa Dogwood. Other shade-loving, colorful additions include Holly, Azalea, Virginia Sweetspire, Witchhazel, Climbing Hydrangea, Hakone Grass and Astilbe.

Our clients love their lawn-free, carefree backyard. “Everything glistens, and every speck of soil supports growth,” Tom adds. We are delighted to know this garden was featured in the Alternative Yard Tour this past July, held by Go Green Wilmette, a local organization promoting a healthier lifestyle and whose mission is “to raise environmental awareness in the Wilmette community and to inspire residents to take action to make a difference”.