Homeowners in Seattle’s desirable Madrona neighborhood hired Cambium Landscape to transform their neglected back yard and rotting deck into a welcoming outdoor landscape for relaxing, entertaining, and enjoying the best of the precious Northwest summer.

“They wanted an outdoor active living space with areas for dining, cooking, and conversation,” says principal Tim Moshier. “They also love plants, so we included beautiful plantings and container gardens filled with seasonal color.”

In a small back yard like this, every inch counts. Tim and his team raised the grade of the yard almost two feet to reduce the distance between the back door and ground level, eliminating three courses of stair risers and freeing up several additional square feet for patio.

The patio itself is constructed from natural cleft Pennsylvania Bluestone, which, despite its name, shows off a tapestry of grey, brown, green, and blue hues. Black Mexican beach coblle around the perimeter of the patio provides a transition to the concrete block walls and ensures adequate drainage. An Ipe wood deck and staircase was built from sustainable forestry certified timber.

While this garden boasts year-round interest, it was designed to shine in spring and summer, the time of year when the homeowners are most likely to use it. Terraced plantings of hosta, autumn fern, heuchera, weeping Japanese maple, and Japanese forest grass provide a wide range of colors, shapes, and textures.

Notably, floral bloom is deemphasized in the plantings. “This garden is all about foliage,” says Tim, pointing out the satisfying contrasts of bold, round hosta leaves against the feathery texture of the Japanese maple, or the coppery bronze autumn fern against the deep green of the Irish yew. As an added bonus, most of the plants are very low maintenance, leaving more time for enjoying the landscape.