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Visions of a Backyard Paradise

Here’s a lesson from some pros on how to make your outdoor space extraordinary.
By Live Green Landscape Associates

Picture your ideal backyard: rushing waterfalls, elegant stonework, and an abundance of greenery. But finding the right team to bring your vision to life can often be time-consuming and frustrating, because you’re looking for a firm that builds trust, understands your vision, and executes a high-quality result.

To better understand how to cut through the jungle of landscape companies, we connected with the experienced group at Live Green Landscapes, who offered a case study: a Reisterstown property whose owners saw how these fixers can transform a backyard into a haven.


Project History

When the client and contractor first began working together, this project had been re-designed and terminated many times over by the homeowner and other contractors. The client had a clear vision of their property, but were unable to bring it to life.

Coming up with the Solution

Live Green’s in-house designers developed a master plan that included creating an extravagant motor court anchored by the brick wall and arch, inspired by the architecture at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home. This arch defines the entry into the courtyard where the homeowner wanted a simplified European style garden that led to a bluestone patio. The view through the courtyard overlooks a stream and waterfalls, flowing into the koi pond. This area of the site was designed by a landscape architecture firm that had been working on the design of the space over several years.



Little touches, big impact

The design for the multi-level patio area included an outdoor kitchen and a large gathering area, complete with wood-burning fireplace and pergola. Bench walls, stairs, and a fireplace were all veneered with Western Maryland fieldstone, introducing a rustic appearance. Low-voltage lighting in the bench walls and stairs around the patio allows the space to function day or night. The landscape planting included 15 mature evergreen trees and hundreds of shrubs, including boxwood, hydrangea, viburnum, and weigela. To preserve the landscaping, an 8-foot tall deer fence was installed around the entire rear planting area.

Addressing Unique Challenges

This project was completed in phases over a period of three years. The groundbreaking began with the koi pond. As if they were naturally placed, large 1000-pound boulders created a stream bed and tiered pond basin, while a liner and smaller rocks added a final organic touch. The brick driveway followed the completion of the stream. Old asphalt and 4-inch stone base were removed for recycling to pave way for new sub-grade soil and geotextile fabric. The driveway was then covered with plywood and compacted again to achieve a solid surface that wouldn’t settle with the repeated weight of the homeowners’ two large SUVs. The Herringbone pattern along with a Soldier Course border helps the driveway stand up to daily use. With the special attention that was used to prepare the base and install the brick, the level driveway is easily plowed of snow with no damage to the brick each winter.

When the bluestone patio was constructed in the rear of the home, concrete trucks could not reach the area, so the crew was able to complete the patio using a concrete pump truck. The concrete was finished by hand and allowed to cure before beginning installation of the natural bluestone surface. Electrical outlets were located throughout the patio area, and wiring was run inside conduit between the cinder-block core and the stone veneer on the walls. Electrical boxes were set flush with the face of the Western Maryland stone to provide convenient outlets that blended into the look of the stone walls when not in use. A separate electrical circuit was installed for the low-voltage lighting in the stairs and walls, and these lights were given a control switch at the door of the house, so they could be turned on as needed.


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