The challenge: Homeowners Dean and Debbie Christianson often sat on their compact wooden deck off the back of their home in Eden Prairie. But they never used their big back yard, which was mostly a carpet of green grass. “We wanted an outdoor space with a little fire and waterfall where we could relax and entertain in the summer,” said Dean.


The project manager: Patrick Warden, director of Landscape and Garden Services, Bachman’s,


The mission: Design a welcoming outdoor living room boasting a fire pit for warmth and ambience, comfortable furniture surrounded by appealing landscaping, and the tranquil sound of gently flowing water.


Patio central: Warm bluestone pavers form a spacious 1,000-square-foot, rectangular-shaped patio positioned right behind the house. “The New York cut bluestone was done in full color range, which allows you to interject brown, tan and burgundy tones for warmth and character,” said Warden. He also added a flagstone walkway to connect the home’s existing casual deck to the new formal sitting space outfitted with all-weather wicker furniture. “I call it New Age wicker,” he said. “It’s durable and has a designer look.”


Inviting alcoves: Since the bluestone patio is quite large, Bachman’s designers divided it into designated spaces, such as a bench on one side to listen to the gurgling fountain, and easy chairs in front of the flaming fire pit for reading. The wooden pergola, retaining wall and landscape plants create a sense of enclosure, as well as providing shade. “The retaining wall is tied to the hillside,” said Dean. “I like the different heights and dimension.”


Bluestone fire pit: The minimalist “fire pit” is simply an iron cage filled with burning wood set inside the dry-stacked bluestone retaining wall. “I bought the Fire Funnel at the Minnesota State Fair,” said Dean.


Bubbling boulder fountains: Next to the patio, water flows from three large stones into a hidden underground reservoir and then recirculates. This pondless water feature is easy to maintain, said Warden. Dean agrees. “There’s no pond to deal with and you can switch the water on and off,” he said.


Patio plantings: Bachman’s encircled the patio with easy-care flowering perennials, such as daylilies, hosta, sedum and shrub roses. Overflowing planters hold a colorful mix of annuals. Last spring, the Christiansons planted morning glory and grapevine to climb the pergola. “We’re casual gardeners, so low-maintenance and durable works best,” said Dean.


The best part: The serene patio setting has become the couple’s little getaway. “We can hear the flowing water,” said Dean. “And flowers are blooming from spring to fall.”


Lynn Underwood 612-673-7619