Here is the Before!
This is a typical Church Hill, Richmond,VA, Back Yard. Twenty Eight feet wide by 150 feet long, which includes the footprint of the home!!
Right after you walk out the back door, you couldn’t walk directly out the back door, you had to walk down two awkward steps then navigate over this awkward step that you had to step up and over EACH way. (image on left)
If you live in a Church Hill Property, you already know that if you don’t have attic or crawlspace storage (as is pretty common in these historic properties) then you have to get quite creative with ways to store your out of season or sports type
gear. The small shed was no longer cutting it.
The plants were quite overgrown for the space and there was no place to sit and enjoy the outdoors while also being sheltered from the elements.
The side pathway along the home was a soft pea gravel and it was difficult to get the garbage and recycling to the curb.
I know, I know, I know — you, like me, we work with what we have — BUT — All spaces can be improved to better suit your life!
I don’t believe in cookie cutter design. Each and every single space I come across carries its own needs and wants that is based on the character of the neighbourhood and most importantly the needs and wants of the people who inhabit the space
And here is the front of the property:
We started the project with some stump grinding, as TWO neighbours had very large trees removed in the previous year.
Next up, came the new fence installation, along with some grading where we found MASSIVE roots from the two neighbours trees!
As you can see from the images, these were plentiful, and in most cases they were also larger than the diameter of my thigh! So massive — uh, not my thigh, but the roots 😉 !!
This is a great time to mention that when you work on properties with limited access, meaning you can’t get machinery in the back yard, you need to rely on hardworking and creative contractors who can navigate the 27″ access points and who have the skills to think outside the box.
The design intent was to give the homeowners a space where they could relax under the shelter of a roof, with the option to enclose the space with mosquito netting. As Church Hill is a city neighbourhood, privacy is also a consideration in the design.
The clients 1889 Victorian has this STUNNING millwork on the front porch, and as a nod to the properties historic roots I brought a little of the history into the design of the pergola.
(Aside; if anyone knows of the original designer of the 1889 scrollwork, I’d love to know!)
We simplified the scrollwork a little, and the carpenter hand-cut (with tools) all of the pieces on the pergola!
Ok, back to the fence! The fence framing was completed concurrently with the pergola.
Next the custom sized shed got built while the roofed pergola received some interior details. This shed has 9′ walls allowing the clients to have ample storage in this postage stamp yard. I faced the door towards the side fence so that the beautiful cedar sides could be seen and admired from the home and rest of the outdoor space.
The homeowner decided on a copper standing seam room for both structures! They have a second story porch where they can enjoy the changing beauty of the copper!
All of the copper was formed and cut to size on site.
With the main portion of the two structures complete, we moved on to the next portion — prepping for the hardscape!
The large stack of bricks are stored here to use on the front walkway!
The homeowners had been having some drainage issues, so I definitely wanted to make sure that this got taken care of before the hardscapers arrived to build the walkways, patio, ramp and walls!
Here you can see why the drainage wasn’t working!
If you are doing your own drainage, please DO NOT use this floppy, flexible drain line! They get crushed, they get clogged and they fail 100% of the time, most of the time within 10 years!
This particular drainline didn’t have a properly created french drain around it. A french drain should ALWAYS have gravel surrounding the drainline, then also have fabric around the entire drain so that it doesn’t get clogged with dirt and sediment!
What you can’t see from the photo, is halfway through the drain, instead of being on a gentle slope to the exit, the drain sloped down, then UP, then down again! No wonder the drainage wasn’t working!!
We took care of the drainage and got ready for the next transformative stage!
Stay Tuned for PART TWO!
I’ll share what design we went with for the patio, walkways and plantings!!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you, tell me below in the comments what portion has surprised or delighted you so far!