Bring the Outdoors Home

Pittsburgh, PA
Outdoor Living & Woodland Gardens

To transform a small backyard comprised of grass and a small concrete patio, our crews created three living spaces for entertainment and leisure. Invasive trees, an outdated patio and unused lawn space were eliminated to increase usable space, allowing for an expansion of the existing deck and new patio and firepit area surrounded by native plantings.

Before & After

sylvan-gardens-outdoor-living residential-backyard-before

We transformed this private residential space with a mix of plant and hard material. Custom hardscape builds include a gabion bench & gravel patio, modern walkway and natural slab stairs as well as an updated slab patio and custom wood work around the hot tub. All planting beds were planned with space-appropriate selections, transitioning from sunnier perennial gardens near the gathering spaces to shade and woodland-style plantings as shade trees take over near the lower side of the property.

The Plan
Create usable, private outdoor living space.
Material Used
Grandview Pavers (Slate Blend)
Material Used
Arborvitae 'Green Giant' (Privacy)
Material Used
Native & Woodland-Style Plantings

The Plan

Initial Request

The project began with a fenced outdoor space that featured hard-to-use sloping turf and outdated or undersized gathering spaces near the house. Two Norway Maples near the lower side of the property overtook much of the available planting space, limiting the previous landscape to turf and groundcover selections.

The fenced area represents only a portion of the backyard. With privacy already in place and gathering spaces roughed in, the job became a matter of increasing the quality and size of the gathering areas while improving the visual appeal of the sloped lawn.

Design & Proposal

The woodland setting was already in place, with large shade trees covering most of the neighborhood and woods outlining the property below the lower fenceline. The mix of materials was meant to capture and continue this woodland setting while mixing contemporary outdoor living elements in a way that didn't present a clash of styles.

We designed three distinct gathering spaces in a small area by using a mix of materials. Guests move through the property from a wooded deck to a hot tub pad built with concrete pavers from edge to edge. Contemporary bluestone pavers continue deeper into the garden, leading to an exposed aggregate fire pit patio. Natural stone slabs create the final stairs/walkway into the lower gardens, where the woodland and shade plantings are most dense.

Installation & Project Summary

The project started with the removal of two Norway Maples, non-native invasive trees with aggressive root systems that prevent understory plantings. All turf was removed, and a variety of hardscape materials were used to install the new outdoor living spaces.

Each space allows for different activities to take place simultaneously, each space surrounded and buffered by natural plantings. A variety of natural hardscape products were used to compliment the selection of texture-rich plantings and create the seamless transition from contemporary gathering spaces to natural woodland gardens.

Designer Comments

Our client looked to eliminate unused lawn area and replace it with multiple spaces designed for entertainment and leisure. The big concept called for a contemporary layout with native plantings that would provide year-round interest and texture.

We achieved the mix of natural and contemporary elements by transitioning from structural, hard materials to loose aggregates and natural stone, buffeting each hardscape elements with layers of native and woodland-style gardens.

Brian Friend Owner, Sylvan Gardens




Client Goals

Outdoor Living
Multiple Entertainment Spaces
Outdoor Living
Stone Sitting Wall
Outdoor Living
Hot Tub Area
Outdoor Living
Landscape Lighting
Outdoor Living
Modern Fire Pit
Planting Beds
Perennial Gardens
Outdoor Living
New/Resurfaced Deck
Planting Beds
Privacy & Seasonal Interest

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