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Custom Pergola, Spa, and More–Richmond Landscape Design Challenge

You don't always have a lot of space to work with. Every project that we take on has its own unique set of challenges. Whether you're dealing with nosy neighbors, a sloping backyard, or a serious lack of space, no two landscape design challenges are exactly the same. Today's Richmond landscape design challenge features a backyard that is short on space but holds big potential. Read on to figure out how we managed to bring huge design impact to this small Richmond, VA backyard.


Introducing The Space

This beautiful Richmond, VA home featured a backyard that was lacking function. As you'll see in the images below, the existing backyard was narrow, and divided in half by an old, raised deck off of the back of the home. The remaining space was filled by lawn, unfinished landscaping beds, and was in big need of a functional upgrade.

In the image below, you can see just how narrow the yard really is. An old pergola structure extends from the fence, and an auxiliary building takes up valuable square footage in the yard's far corner. Ultimately, the homeowners were looking to completely reimagine the space including features such as additional seating, a spa, and a custom covered living area.

After discussing possible design direction with the homeowners, we hit the drawing board and came back with two design concepts for their consideration.


Concept A

The first design direction, Concept A, can be seen below. Here, you see how every inch of space is utilized to insure the homeowners get everything on their list, without the space feeling cramped or overcrowded.


Stepping out of their back door, they land on a new raised deck. This one is large than their existing version, and has plenty of space for outdoor seating. Above, string lights provide ambience and take the deck from day to night. From the deck, the homeowners can step down a series of stairs on all three exposed sides.


The stairs on the left side of the deck lead them down onto a series of concrete steppers and a new, sunken trampoline filling the home's side yard. To the right, the stairs lead them down to more steppers, and then along to the front of their home. The stairs off the back of the deck lead the clients down onto their new paver patio.


Covered entirely by a custom pergola structure, this paver patio houses a brand new custom spa, bar, outdoor dining space, and an outdoor fireplace. The remaining yard space has been left green, and the perimeter of the home is afforded privacy by a lush landscaping. At the back corner of the space, a new parking pad has been added.


Concept B

The second design, Concept B, looks very similar to Concept A, with minor adjustments. The deck remains the same. In the two side yards, the concrete walkways have been replaced with grass. However, the biggest adjustment is in the positioning of the new custom spa.


In this design, the spa is nestled into the center of the deck. On either side, stairs lead the clients from the raised deck, along the built-in spa, and down onto the paver patio. As before, this patio is covered by a custom cover, featuring recessed lighting. An outdoor fireplace and dining area are seen again, as in the first design direction. Landscaping and parking remains the same.

After reviewing both design options, the homeowners decided they liked the layout of Concept A over that of the second design. From here, we moved to bring the space to life using advanced 3D renderings.


Final 3D Renderings

In these renderings, seen below, you see the design proposed in Concept A come to life. Stepping out of their home, the clients walk onto their new, raised, composite deck. Plenty large enough for a full dining table, zig-zagging string lights extend from the roof to the pergola creating a warm, twinkling path overhead.


From this angle, you can see the spa, partially inlaid into the deck, but built upon the new custom paver patio. A large outdoor fireplace is nestled along the back of the property, sheltered by the pergola cover.

Moving under the covered living space, you see large geometric pavers that echo funky tiling on the new outdoor bar. Overhead, recessed lighting makes this a space that easily transitions from day to night. A TV mounted above the outdoor fireplace means guests can as easily enjoy the big game outside as they could in the clients indoor living room.

In the side yard, seen below, concrete walkway is softened by grass, and a large planter box that borders the staircase and the deck. From here, the homeowners can either step onto the patio, or continue around to the front of their home.

Zooming out, you can see the finishing touches that truly make this a custom space for every member of the family. The inground trampoline offers hours of fun for kids. Behind the new fence, a parking pad provides additional functional space while retaining the yard's privacy.


From this vantage point you see some of the small finishing details of the space. The tile from the bar is carried around the walls of the space. Large, colorful plantings border the perimeter of the home and fence. A large planter box hugs the side of the raised deck.


At the end of the day, a small backyard doesn't mean you have to shrink your dreams. Even the smallest of spaces can be incredible canvases for great design, when you have the right team in your corner. When all is said and done, these clients will be able to enjoy a custom backyard living space that both looks beautiful, but offers fun and function for the whole family.


For more design inspiration like this, visit our blog. To keep us with us day to day, follow Water and Earth Landscape Design on Instagram!

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