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Help Needed by Landscape Designer for Flagstone Backyard Patio -Please

5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

We are trying to finalize plans for our backyard patio. I have a hard time visualizing things and need some help with some design details.

I’m attaching 2 drawings. Drawing #1 is a cleaner, however it doesn’t include the seating arrangements. In addition, the stepping stones leading from the patio to the laundry room door are shown incorrectly – those stepping stones should be butt up against each other, whereas the stepping stones going from the driveway to the laundry room door are to be spaced out with grass in between. Sketch #2 is a rough sketch, but does include some measurements, seating arrangements and better shows the correct stepping stone design. Below are the details that are included in the design, etc.

- I live in Bucks County, SE Pennsylvania, and the back of my home mainly faces the south. If you are looking out the back door, the sun rises to the left and sets to the right. I prefer more traditional looks and Bucks County farmhouse looks, vs contemporary design. I’m at the top of my budget currently.

- The upper patio (dining area) 20’x16’ and lower patio (sitting area) 14’x14’ will both be dry-laid with natural cleft flagstone. I have to still pick out the size of the slabs, but intend to use rectangular and square slabs larger than 1’x1’. There will only be 1 step down to the lower patio (that’s all that our grading accommodates). Do you think that the lower patio should be wider to line up with the edge of our family room, which is the room with the bump-out parallel to the lower patio – or aesthetically does that not matter once the beds are done?

- The landings will be concrete block faced with veneer stone (TBD) and capped with 1.5” bluestone treads. The backdoor landing will be 4’x7’ (currently shown incorrectly on sketch #1 as 2’x7’). The laundry room door landing will be 4’x4’ (currently shown incorrectly on sketch #1 as 2’x4’). I’m trying to decide if the laundry room door landing should be switched from 4’x4’ to 3’x4’ (just not sure if 4’x4’ will look right). Note, I do hang laundry outside & will be carrying baskets. Neither landing will have hand rails.

- I need help deciding on the size of the water feature. I was thinking of this one recommended by the garden center that sells them

– it’s 67.5”h x 40.25”w. However, I’m not sure if it’s too large – I don’t want it to look obnoxious. They come in 25 different colors – I was thinking of getting a darker patina finish. I’m still trying to decide if I want a self-contained one, or one that utilizes a disappearing basin. If I use a disappearing basin, there will definitely need to be pea gravel (probably gray) around the perimeter to allow for water to get into the underground basin, which means less plantings in that bed. Our kitchen table in front of our back door, so the water feature will be a focal point, viewable from there. In addition, I want to be able to hear it from both patios. I currently have the firepit sitting in our backyard in the area that the fountain would go.

- The 24” sitting walls at the lower patio, like the landings, will be concrete block faced with veneer stone (TBD) and capped with 1.5” flagstone. I’m trying to decide if we should get the walls (or just one or both). I love the idea of more seating, but I’m concerned that they won’t look right when you are walking out the back door onto the patio. The wall that runs parallel to our family room wall, can be softened with a bush, etc. so I’m not as worried about that one. But the wall that runs parallel to the water feature will not be able to have bushes, but probably only some lower lying plants. Will the walls look right from the angle of the landing, or out of place? Our contractor said they will not be necessary, so it’s up to us.

- I’m attaching pictures of the front of my home, so that you can see the style, as well as the brick color. I’m conflicted on the stone veneer to use for the sides of the landings, risers and walls. I feel like I need to incorporate brick out there, but at the same time, I love the look of the stone used on old Bucks County farmhouses (google for images).

- I’m thinking of using this planter box below my kitchen window.

- I haven’t even started thinking about bed design, trees & plantings, so I’m up for suggestions. The tree locations in Sketch #1 are fairly accurate, except the 2nd tree in from the left. That tree is actually going in the bed that juts into the patio – it will be in the bed above where the words “water feature” are on Sketch #1. I definitely can use suggestions on a tree that would work here long term – in other words, I don’t want the roots to damage the patio. Someone had mentioned a Crape Myrtle to me. Also, we are looking for low maintenance beds/plantings, as well as color that will come out throughout the different seasons.

- We will be getting LED low voltage 2700 kelvin lighting for under the steps, up-lighting for the trees and some lighting along the stepping stone path.

- We will have a wood fence on the side of our house that will disguise our 2 trashcans. It will match our existing fence at the front of our home (picture attached). However the trashcan fence will be taller, and the pickets might be slightly closer.

- So overall, I need help with:

o Lower patio width - should it be wider to line up with the edge of our family room?

o Veneer Stone choice for side of landings, risers and potential sitting walls.

o Sitting Walls - should we get one, both or neither?

o Fountain – what size?

o Bed design and plantings to bring color throughout the seasons in SE Pennsylvania.

o Any other suggestions would be welcomed.

Thank you so much! So many decisions and work involved with this.

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