Every yard has limitations

 
By Catherine Flesh of Aurora
Posted6/17/2018 6:00 AM
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  • Catherine Flesh of Aurora would like to build a deck. However, her sliding-glass doors step out flat to the yard.

    Catherine Flesh of Aurora would like to build a deck. However, her sliding-glass doors step out flat to the yard.

  • Emerald green arborvitae would provide privacy by shield the view from the neighbor's yard.

    Emerald green arborvitae would provide privacy by shield the view from the neighbor's yard. Photos Courtesy of A Garden Guy

  • Bobo hardy hydrangea

    Bobo hardy hydrangea

  • Blue Wonder catmint

    Blue Wonder catmint

  • Knockout roses

    Knockout roses

Our backyard is bare, except for a sad and sagging bench. It does not allow us to enjoy the outdoor space during the warmer months. We can't entertain outdoors at all.

I would love to build a deck to be able to host events for family and friends, especially a graduation party for our daughter, who graduated at the end of May. We would like to grill when hosting parties, but can't place the grill on the uneven grassy area. I would also add some nice plants/flowers to give the area some color.

Sprucing up this space would really take this eyesore out of our neighborhood!

Design by A Garden Guy

Expert: Matthew Mlynski, agardenguylandscaping.com

When planning an outdoor project, it is a good idea to create a wish list, but also keep in mind some possible limitations or challenges. I tell all of our clients that "nothing is impossible." Which is mostly true …

Your yard is considerably wider than it is deep. It is also adjacent to the driveway. Unfortunately, in the Chicago area, we have to consider how winter weather, winds and salt can damage a new landscape. Also, your door steps out flat to the yard. That means that a deck would be difficult to install. Let's look at all the factors as a positive.

Budget: $10,000

Suggestions

• First, because of the lack of elevation from yard to house, a paver patio would work much better. Installing a paver patio allows you to play with curves and make the patio more visually interesting than a square deck. This allows for separate areas for the barbecue grill and dining table. The curved patio will immediately create visual interest and assist in creating areas for planting beds.

• When choosing plants, I would use hardy shrubs that can tolerate the challenges of a Chicago winter. Also, I would keep everything to scale with the yard. Meaning, most of the plants will be bunched together and low growing (double knockout roses, Bobo hydrangeas, dwarf lilacs, etc.). I'm afraid tall shrubs or trees would "shrink" the yard. The one exception would be the use of emerald green arborvitae to help shield the neighbor's yard. Fortunately, these trees do not get much taller than 12 feet.

• Finally, add some grasses to block the AC unit, and some perennials to the planting beds to add color (black eyed Susan and Shasta daisy) and around the existing tree (Walker's Low catmint). Now your yard is ready to entertain guests, barbecue some grub and enjoy the colors of your newly landscaped yard!

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