Richmond, VA Landscape Design: Small Backyard Putting Green & Raised Vegetable Gardens
Updated: Feb 15
Some of the most exciting projects we do are ones that include nontraditional elements. In today’s Richmond landscape design challenge, we took on a small backyard space on the northside of Richmond. These homeowners were looking to do something a little bit fun and unique with their outdoor space.
While they wanted to include traditional elements like a deck and an outdoor kitchen, they were also looking for more fun elements. Read on to see how we fit a small putting green, as well as raised vegetable gardens and ample living space into this small Richmond backyard.
Introducing The Space
All backyards have unique features. Whether they’re big yards built on a hill, or small lots with trees to consider, we have to approach every design challenge ready to work around or with what is present in the space. In this backyard, the largely blank canvas was punctuated at the far end by a large garage unit that was incorporated into the space.
Other existing elements were a large stamped concrete patio that led into a matching concrete walkway. While the homeowner’s appreciated having an area to set furniture, the rest of the space was not serving them in its current state.
Behind this stamped concrete patio, a raised deck had been previously constructed. This deck was level with the back entrance of the home. While the clients liked this functionality, it was in need of a design update. Ideally, they wanted to see a better balance of hardscaping, and a better overall use of the green area. In its original state, the lawn was largely unused and looked bare.
With all this information in mind, we hit the drawing boards and came back with two different design directions for this unique north Richmond backyard.
After talking with our clients and getting a better understanding of their needs and wants for their space, we came back with two design directions. Both included all the elements they were looking for, but each direction had different approaches to dividing up the space.
The first design concept we presented, or Concept A, emphasized transforming the green space the homeowners already had without devoted too much new space to additional hardscaping. Overall, the balance of hardscaping to landscaping elements remains similar, although the overall design and function has been transformed.
In Concept A, homeowners step out of their back door onto an upgraded deck. Immediately off the back door is an outdoor kitchen and bar, flanked by outdoor dining space. From here, the clients step down off of this deck onto a lower deck. This lower deck holds the new fire pit, some more cozy seating, and string lights overhead for added ambience.
From this lower deck, the homeowners step down onto a new paver pathway that bisects the rest of the backyard design. To one side of the pathway is a series of raised vegetable gardens. The other side has transformed from unused grass to a new, mini backyard putting green that wraps up towards the backside of the home.
Continuing along the path, the homeowners take one additional step down into the lowest area of the design, where new turf and plantings surround the existing garage structure.
In our first 2D render, hardscaping and landscaping were split in a roughly 30/70 ratio. This split allowed for a considerable amount of room to be devoted to the new backyard putting green. In our second design, Concept B, we adjusted this ratio, skewing the split closer to 50/50.
In many ways, this design is similar to the initial layout. The clients step out of their home onto a raised deck finished with a bar and room for seating. From here, instead of stepping down onto a smaller scale deck, the clients find themselves on a much larger deck area. Concept B allows enough space on this lower deck for both a full formal dining area and large fire pit.
Increasing the square footage of the space gives the homeowners a lot of room to play with. They can add a grill, seating, or find new uses for the space if desired. This larger footprint of the deck means that the amount of space devoted to landscaping has been downsized. However, many of the same elements from Concept A remain.
The same long, paver pathway bisects the space. One side is devoted to vegetable gardens, while the other houses considerable landscaping, stepping stones, and a new, backyard putting green. While smaller than the putting green proposed in Concept A, it is still a fun and functional design element in this version of the space.
Finally, the homeowners take the familiar step down toward their garage, which is surrounded by green turf and new landscaping.
After reviewing both designs, the homeowners decided that they were leaning more towards Concept B, appreciating the additional deck space. From here, we began the process of creating 3D renderings to bring the space to life.
Below, you see a view of the yard looking up toward the home. One of the most useful elements of showing clients their designs fully rendered is the ability to show them the preferred materiality. Here, you see the light wood rendered on the raised vegetable beds. This wood matches the lighter wood proposed on the deck.
Additionally, you can see the contrast in the geometric shapes of the pavers against the softer lines of the plants and organic shape of the putting green. We love the way plants add an injection of color to the largely neutral palette of this modern design.
The larger scale of the deck allows the homeowners to create separation of spaces. Rendered above you can see how the bar, directly outside the home, has become its own nook. From there, a dining table is finished on one side by bench seating. Behind it, a cozy fire pit has room to breathe. The entire deck has been finished with steel pillars that allow string light to hang overhead.
Privacy is important in all designs, but in city backyards houses can be close together. Creating visual barrieres at the property line becomes even more important. From OutDeco panels, to walls of wood, and natural planting, the perimeter of this backyard is shielded from the prying eyes of neighbors.
After reviewing the final 3D renderings, the homeowners were excited about the final direction of their space. Not only does this proposed design give them plenty of seating and entertaining area, but it transforms their previously unused turf landscape into something beautiful and functional. From the non-traditional backyard putting green, to space for vegetable gardens, and color landscaping throughout, this Richmond, VA yard is as much a space to relax as it is to play and entertain.
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