If you weren't already dying from envy after seeing the inside of Mark & Hallie's historic rowhouse, then their dreamy backyard might just push you over the edge. They've made the most of the narrow plot, mixing vintage accents with plush outdoor furnishings for a garden that's as whimsical and interesting as it is comfortable and inviting.
It turns out that Hallie and Mark are as adept at transforming outdoor spaces as their indoor rooms. Like their glorious rowhouse, their backyard contains many layers of interest that draw you in, rather than simply a showy facade that you "get" right off the bat.
Stepping out the back door — located in a small hallway between the kitchen, dining room, and basement stairs — you are greeted by a weathered brick patio which holds a long vintage wood plank table from the barn sale at Chartreuse and Co. and a mix of chairs that Hallie scored off craigslist. Beyond that, Mark and Hallie have created a comfortable seating area with a firepit/coffee table in the center. They've used a mix of planters on the patio, layering varying heights of pots for visual interest.
Old wooden fencing lends a casual rustic vibe to the space, and according to their neighbor, it looks good even after taking some abuse. The friendly neighbor, who I met over the fence during the tour, told me that he once fell on the fence while trimming a tree, and rather than spear him or fall down, the top of the fence spikes simply crumbled off! (picture 7) The humorous anecdote — all's well that ends well — made me think about the benefits of using materials that age gracefully. In the natural garden setting, even the fence "wound" adds to the whimsical bohemian character, whereas one of the newer plastic or composite fences would have to be replaced after such a blow.
Beyond the firepit eating area, Hallie and Mark have created a rustic pathway leading to another seating/dining area on a small raised deck at the back of the lot. Simple shade garden beds line a pathway made of natural, irregular shaped stepping stones. The deck seating area, made up of an outdoor cushioned bench and cafe table, makes a perfect little destination. Even surrounded by other homes, the shaded area seems intimate and secluded.
Hallie told me that part of her planting success has come from following the advice of a friend who told her to plant three or more of a kind in close proximity. Her garden beds hold a variety of greens made up of shade plants and a mix of groundcovers. The occasional flower adds a shot of color amongst the sea of greens.
Leaving Hallie and Mark's backyard made me especially motivated to get working on my own outdoor space. They have remedied so many of the "faults" I see with my own yard — a lot of shade, a lot of mud, and a lot of uninspired, disconnected corners — with simple and straightforward solutions — patios/decks, stepping stone paths, shade gardens, groups of pots, and a variety of greens — and created a beautiful yard where every space is able to be used and enjoyed. Well done Mark and Hallie, you rockstars!
And in case you missed the talented young couple's fabulous home, check out Hallie & Mark's Hip Slice of History house tour.
Images: Leah Moss