Goochland, VA Landscape Design Challenge: Covered Outdoor Kitchen and Backyard Sports Court
At Water and Earth, landscape design is never one dimensional. Our first priority is creating a custom space that speaks to the unique style and needs of our clients. This means something different to everyone. In today’s landscape design challenge, we’re visiting a design done for a property in Goochland, VA.
Introducing The Space
Like many of the homes in the greater Richmond area, this property was situated on a larger lot with a wooded perimeter. The back of the home featured a raised deck, creating a covered patio space below. The homeowners were looking to capitalize on this existing space, while also making the best of the uneven grade of the yard.
The main expanse of the backyard was sizable and had plenty of open space to work with. However, it was built on a slope. Sloped backyards can be tricky to design around, but also present multiple opportunities for creativity. After talking with the homeowners we had several ideas of how we could bring all of the elements on their wish list together while playing into changes in elevation.
After talking with the clients, we put together a list of their must-haves. On their wish list was a custom pool, outdoor kitchen, dining space, and a fire pit. These are elements many of our clients are interested in. These homeowners were also interested in something a little more unique–a backyard basketball court.
Once we had a firm understanding of what the clients were looking for, we hit the drawing boards and came back to present two distinct design directions.
Every project Water and Earth completes starts with 2D renderings. While 3D renderings are incredible ways to visualize the space, presenting them as the first version a client sees can be overwhelming. We emphasize collaboration in our landscape design process, and 2D renderings allow clients to see the potential in their space without feeling like there is no room to make changes.
The first design direction, or Concept A, can be seen above. Stepping out of the home, the clients find themselves under the shade of the existing porch. Instead of unsightly storage, however, the space has been transformed into a custom outdoor kitchen, featuring modern pavers, bar seating, and space to cook and entertain. Stepping out from under the overhang, the paver patio continues. To the left, there is a large outdoor seating area anchored by a central gas fire pit. Above this, room for a dining table and additional outdoor seating is available.
On the left side of the patio, a raised planter divides a staircase. It is here where you see that the paver patio is raised, and steps are taken to move from the patio space to the pool area. This design accounts for the yard’s change in elevation, while using it to an advantage. The result is two separate spaces that feel as distinct as they do cohesive.
Stepping down, you see that the long, custom pool extends along the side of the home, filling the large side yard seen in the initial property photos. One end of the pool is capped by a water feature wall, while the other leaves space for tanning chairs.
Back on the main patio, the homeowners proceed from the main space across a series of concrete steppers and onto a large basketball half-court. Or, they can turn right and walk along an auxiliary series of steppers and exit onto the main lawn space on the right side of the yard via another set of stairs. Surrounding all design elements is a brand new planting plan, including tall shade trees and planters. Outdoor lighting allows the space to remain functional day or night.
The second design direction, Concept B, can be seen above. The core of this direction is very similar to that of the first. The homeowners step out into a covered kitchen, and proceed in either direction onto a larger paver patio. There, they can relax around the fireplace, take a seat at the dining hall, or cross the concrete steppers to the sports court.
However, the design departs from Concept A after the homeowners proceed down the steppers from the paver patio and onto the left side of the property. Instead of stepping onto a pool deck, they find themselves on a small lawn. From here, they are met with a set of deck steps that take them down and into a clearing at the far side of the property.
There, among cleared trees, is the custom pool. Complete with a large tanning deck, repositioning the pool makes it feel more like a destination, and takes noise away from the main entertaining space.
After considering both designs, the homeowners preferred the practicality of the layout proposed in Concept A. Once the 2D concepts were confirmed, we moved ahead to the next stage of the design process–3D renderings.
3D renderings are one of the most exciting stages of design. The homeowner gets to see their dream space brought to life. Oftentimes, this is where clients are able to see the true potential of their own backyard realized for the first time.
As seen in the renderings above, the old covered patio space that had been used for storage has been transformed. Beneath an overhang fit with recessed lights, a brand new kitchen and bar area have taken shape. Underfoot, a sleek gray paver patio extends from beyond the kitchen space. In the background you see string lights attached from the covered patio to a wooden post at the far side of the fire pit.
Leaving the covered kitchen, the homeowners step onto the larger paver patio area. Here, a fire pit creates room for cozy evening seating, while plenty of space is afforded to a large dining area.
One deviation from the 2D renderings is an addition of a small spa , nestled behind the patio and beside the pathway of concrete steppers. The clients can access the spa from multiple directions, while its central location allows them to look over the main space and pool goers.
Stepping down into the pool area, you see the planter that bisects the two staircases. In the back of the frame, additional planting beds create a border and soften the hardscaping of the design. The pavers from the main patio continue down onto the pool deck, tying both spaces together despite the change in elevation.
Above, you can see the rendered pool. The pool deck wraps around creating a large space, perfect for a set of tanning lounger chairs, or a small table. The opposite end of the pool is finished with a long water feature. Three waterfall features recycle into the pool creating movement and additional visual interest. Around the pool, continued raised planters soften the sharp lines and inject a touch of color.
Moving to the back of the property you see the new basketball half-court, or sports court. Complete with bench seating, this auxiliary area allows this backyard to become a multi functional space, perfect for the whole family. Kids can enjoy a pick up game while parents cook dinner. The court remains separated enough from the main space to prevent stray basketballs landing where they shouldn’t, but doesn’t feel out of reach or inconvenient to use.
Above, you see the backyard rendered as one space. Toward the back of the frame you see a long, wide staircase that leads the homeowners through a metal arch and out of the yard. This helps to account for elevation changes, as well as acting as a true entry and exit point to the space. Landscaping finishes the edges of the property, while lawn remains available for kids or pets behind the swimming pool.
This backyard began as a blank canvas. After much collaboration with homeowners and some creative design solutions, the result is a multi-functional, beautiful, modern outdoor living space that is perfect for every member of the family.
Explore More Landscape Design in Richmond, VA
From Goochland to downtown Richmond, VA, explore more designs like this one by visiting our blog. From walkthroughs of finished projects to deep dives into upcoming spaces, get your questions answered and find inspiration for your own custom backyard. Want to see what we're working on now? Follow us on Instagram for behind the scenes looks at our current landscape design projects.