Phase 1 - figuring out the backyard!

Residing in a multi-unit apartment building in Brooklyn, one would ask "What do you know about backyard design?".  From the wonderful sales people at the various nurseries to the landscaper who assisted with the heavy lifting and sourcing, this was a question we heard several times on our quest to redesign our client's backyard.  For me, other than the occasional backyard party in a Brooklyn brownstone, a glimpse into the extremely fortunate lives of my Lefferts Garden's neighbours, and a distant memory of planting sunflowers in my "early years" in Kingston, I would've answered "not a whole lot".  Our favorite photographer would probably answer "a bit more than her" with his Brooklyn Botanical Gardens experience and claim to his own backyard.

Today however, the answer has changed drastically.  Concept, layout, plantings, sun exposure, roots, concrete, stone walls, annuals, perennials, and a ton of sunblock...the list does goes on.  Anywho, here are a few images of the existing property, pre-clearing, and our conceptual solution for our non-gardening clients who had very little desire for backyard maintenance.

view from mudroom
not much of a view of anything but knotweed
in the back bed looking at west fence
looking at back fence from stairs
under stairs
above (all photos by

With little guidance other than direction on usage and a "please do not touch my rose bush!" (there's a rose bush in there???), we were determined to provide the perfect backdrop for our constantly entertaining clients and their extremely low-maintenance lifestyle.  We knew a lot of style was required to coordinate well with the interior of the home while the idea of a rock garden was our solution to low-maintenance.

The Concept Descriptors -
"rock garden | flexible/multiple seating | sophisticated"

- were the three terms we kept running in our heads.

Below is a sketch of the plan the clients selected, which included building a stone wall on the right hand side of the yard for level variation and seating.  But alas, the budget would not allow.
sketch of initial idea
with stone wall idea out the window, we started conceiving of alternatives for the right side of the yard
in the meantime, we loved the japanese maple as focal point in center of garden

final sketch
As the bushes cleared and we studied the landscape in greater detail, our plans got modified to give it a more modern feel.  In-progress shots coming up in Phase 2 - Surprise, Surprise!

A quick sneak peek of things to come...

the idi team