Rooms with a view – Shepherd Express

When Todd Richards and I decided to buy a house, landscaping was the last thing on our minds. We were young and lived in a spacious apartment a few blocks from Cathedral Square. The adult came calling, however, and soon we wanted dogs, a yard, and all the Martha-Stewart-inspired charm we could muster.

It was time to buy a house, and the moment we walked into a 1931 English Tudor in West Allis, we knew we had found our home. We quickly started painting, decorating and arranging things piece by piece. I loved the idea of ​​giving each room its own style while creating a cohesive feel throughout the house. I had no idea how well this concept worked on the outside. As a first-time homeowner, the landscaping overwhelmed me, but considering outdoor spaces as “rooms,” backyard design seemed doable (and fun!).

Take it outside

We wanted to create areas of the backyard for entertaining, eating, gardening and relaxing. We started by demolishing the small terrace of the house and building a much larger outdoor living space. Our new terrace is large enough for two spaces. Half of the deck is for dining, the other half a relaxing seating area.

We also removed the small master bedroom balcony and replaced it with a balcony that stretched across the back of the entire house. The addition of planters and a bistro set made this a spacious ‘room’ to enjoy morning coffee or relax at sunset.

The side of the house was perfect for a garden. This area has changed over the years from a salsa garden to a cut flower garden. Today, the refuge features yellow roses, flowering shrubs and low-maintenance greenery. I added a Hosta-lined walkway, leading to a charming doorway. Even though the area has a ‘secret garden’ appeal, we call it Rocco’s Garden because our West Highland Terrier, Rocco, enjoys spending time in this quiet, private area of ​​the yard.

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Our detached one-car garage had a significant presence in the backyard, so when it came time to expand it into a 2-car space, Todd worked closely with the builder to design the rear of the garage. (which faced the backyard). Featuring double doors, carriage lights and a decorative window, it looks less like a garage and more like a guest house.

The Emerald Gardens Landscape and Garden Design team installed a flagstone patio at the rear of the grounds. The perfect place to entertain a small group of friends, it’s surrounded by Black-eyed Susans, Coral Bells, Astilbe, Hydrangeas and Golden Spirea. It really stands on its own as a separate space.

Tie it all together

For me, it is essential to visually link the outer “pieces”. You can do this a number of ways, but accenting the yard with a cohesive color scheme makes it easy. For example, every summer I plant several vegetable gardens and hanging baskets, and try to maintain a color palette in the flowers I choose. This year, I focused on yellow, red and orange flowers with a few bursts of deep blue. Likewise, almost all of my containers are the same color – brick red – with a few blue pots that carry the eye from place to place.

Texture is also a great way to create consistency between areas of a yard. I use a lot of outdoor pillows that match the backyard color scheme, but you can do the same with throws, outdoor rugs, and garden trinkets.

Outdoor lighting is also a smart way to keep backyard areas together. My back patio is accented with cream and purple lights, the deck features golden hues, and the side garden is subtly lit in emerald green. Because the entire yard has accent lighting, everything works together while visually separating each area. Guests love it and so do we…and that includes little Rocco.

Marc Hagen

Mark Hagen is an award-winning gardener, former caterer, and Milwaukee lover. Her work has been published in Birds & Blooms and Home and Your Family magazines.

Read more by Mark Hagen

August 04, 2022


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