The challenge: Lee and Marilyn Gilberston often sat in their screen porch but never in the backyard of their northeast Minneapolis home. It lacked a patio, landscaping and a welcoming walkway that illuminated at night from the garage to the porch. “It was just extra lawn to mow,” said Lee.

The couple wanted to add designated outdoor dining and grilling areas, eye-pleasing shrubs and flowers and a gurgling water feature. Water drainage issues also had to be resolved.


The designer: Steven Wilde, landscape designer for Bachman’s Landscape Services, Mpls.


Backyard room: In place of ho-hum turf, there are now steps leading up to a new raised multicolored paver patio and brick retaining wall wrapped around an existing linden tree. The raised patio was a solution for the sloped backyard. “The wall frames the patio and defines the space,” said Wilde.


Lush landscape: Wilde chose shade-tolerant plants for beneath the linden tree, including a boxwood hedge, yews, hosta and groundcovers. He also planted vertical Karl Foerster grass by the porch, to sway in the breeze.

Since the couple spend a lot of time in the screen porch where they can view the yard, “I also like to design from the inside out,” said Wilde. “The plants soften up the hardscape and give contrast and color.”


Rolling stone: A basalt boulder fountain next to the paver patio delivers the tranquil sound of flowing water that Lee and Marilyn can hear from inside the porch. It’s also low-maintenance because it’s pondless and recycles the water.


Better BBQ station: The old grilling spot was on a slab of cracked concrete, “which wasn’t pretty,” said Lee. Wilde created an appealing paver grilling platform between the detached garage and house. The connecting paver walkway is lined with astilbe, hosta and clematis climbing a trellis against the garage wall.


Boulder beauty: Three flat-topped North Shore boulders provide an earthy element — and extra seating.


Walk this way: A new curved paver pathway guides you from the garage service door to the raised patio and porch entry.


Air-conditioner in disguise: The air-conditioning unit was an eyesore and loud when running. Wilde designed a western cedar lattice enclosure around it. “The panels can be lifted up to get access for servicing,” he said.


Let there be light: Bachman’s installed low-voltage pathway lighting for safety and for the Gilbertsons to enjoy the patio at night. Moody uplighting illuminates the linden tree.


Drainage solution: To divert water away from the house, Wilde installed a drain tile system under the patio pavers and in the yard.


The result: The new sitting and grilling areas are smartly integrated into the small city lot and bordered by greenery instead of concrete.

“It’s peaceful — like having an outdoor room surrounded by your own private park,” said Lee. “And the grandchildren love to play on the boulders.”



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