Danville Back Yard, Improved, by Huettl Landscape Architecture

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What do you do when you’ve got some good elements in a crowded back yard — things you’re fine with keeping — but you still want to open it up without tearing everything out? You call experts like Huettl Landscape Architecture to balance the old and the new, as they did with this back yard in Danville, California. Keeping existing pool decking, they added flagstone terraces and some new masonry walls; this delineated back yard “rooms” that both open up the space and give differentiation when it’s wanted. Notice the nice touch of retaining walls in front of a wide lawn, fronted by cedar benches, shaded by luxuriant bushes and surrounded by low plantings to give color and visual interest; extra seating comes from both ornate wrought iron and fun wicker-effect chairs and tables.

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And those aren’t just plain new walls, either: where there might be a kind of unrelieved stone effect, Huettl inserted a nifty water feature, a five mini-cascade fountain and small pond, enclosed in gray brick and hosting a bit of native grass at the end. Colorful grasses accent beds next to the pool deck, the lowest level of three terraced levels in an arrangement that allows for easy “flow” no matter the size of the group. Another nice touch: where there’s a mature tree, there’s no sense tearing it out for the sake of installing new wood decking…so the designers didn’t force the issue. They merely cut a small asymmetrical opening in the wood deck, thereby preserving a healthy tree and its equally welcome shade. It’s all part of clever design and visual expansion that works, literally, on more levels than one!

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