Photo Gallery: Best City Backyards
Tips for making the most of an urban space.
Ample seating invites relaxation.
Welcoming seating in this Toronto garden is set up like a living room, with a sofa and chairs around a big coffee table. The drive and garage floor are covered in softly hued interlocking brick for continuity that defines this outdoor “room.”
Create a protected escape.
The owners of this home didn’t want to demolish the garage because of resale value, but they did want a place for all-weather dining. Garden designers Meredyth and Brad Hilton of Artistic Gardens added 20′-wide accordion doors to transform the garage into a welcoming indoor-outdoor living space that feels like an open-air cafe?. Meredyth camouflaged the driveway with a huge brick patio, while an elegant pond with fountain muffles street noise.
A seating area is defined by a herringbone “rug.”
Without grass, an urban yard can feel cold and unwelcoming but a herringbone “rug” pattern built into the interlocking-brick patio delineates the sitting area in this Toronto backyard. To accent the brick, the stairs are constructed from Owen Sound flagstone.
Bring dining areas alive with a beachy chandelier.
A garage gets a tropical-inspired makeover with an oversize Capiz shell chandelier, chartreuse chairs, and leafy-green built-ins. Hang a chandelier under a pergola or on a sturdy tree branch to create an intimate dining area.
Make a patio welcoming throughout the year.
Heaters on the beams keep this Vancouver dining area toasty in cool weather (the family dines outside comfortably year-round). Wide sliding glass doors (not visible) lead out to the terrace from the house, creating an easy flow from indoors and creating an outdoor room that takes full advantage of the pool view.
Group seating strategically for maximum enjoyment.
Several groups of furniture in Marta Triginer and Michael Kirsh’s Vancouver backyard are positioned to take in the features that include a dining area and hot tub (foreground), a firepit (left) for group conversations. The yard is nestled among mature trees that enhances privacy and contrasts the clean-lined architecture of the pool house at the foot of the garden.
Even small gardens can look epic.
Designer Theresa Casey turned a planter into a fountain in her Toronto backyard and was determined to make it the centrepiece of her yard. She retrofitted it with a hose to create a water feature; the artifact lends a sense of history to the garden. Instead of a fence, a row of swamp cedars (far left) and tendrils of ivy provide privacy and instils a secret garden appeal.
Switch up furnishings for al fresco parties.
If the wicker chairs are moved and replaced with a dining table in designer Theresa Casey’s garden, she can seat 20 in this area. Juniper bushes frame the long stone bench, a prime spot to lounge, read or seek refuge from the sun.
A glass greenhouse roof keeps the outlook sunny.
Adding a huge greenhouse roof transformed the 20′ x 30′ back terrace of Sandy Skotnicki’s Toronto home into the outdoor living space of her dreams. Designers Christine Ralphs and Michelle Lloyd Bermann of Lloyd Ralphs Design made it feel like a luxurious living room with the addition of a chandelier and gas fireplace.
Upscale gold accents make a patio feel exclusive.
The Toronto patio of homeowner Sandy Skotnicki is lavished with high-end decorating touches. Warm-metal finishes, a carpet, and cosy fur throws indulge her passion for fashion. The patio leaves just enough of a lawn for her three boys to play soccer or enjoy the trampoline.
A plunge pool turns this yard into an oasis.
The homeowners installed a small plunge pool and brick patio that creates a resort-like escape for their children. Now this long, narrow Toronto backyard is divided into three distinct zones: the back deck for entertaining, a patch of green space for the kids to play, and a pool area for swimming and lounging.
Want more outdoor design ideas?
This gorgeous escape in Magog, Quebec, is home to a family of six. Homeowner and interior designer Alyson Wood wanted a nautical, Ralph Lauren-inspired look. Surrounded by bluestone pavers, the large, elegant pool balances the size of the house and echoes its classical style.