Take it Outside

September 2020 View more

Outdoor living spaces have grown in popularity and amenities for years, but the restrictions caused by the coronavirus have spurred an even greater demand for unique and functional yards. Whether you want to expand your living space, reconnect with family and nature, or amp up your grilling game, these suburban retreats are sure to jump start creative ideas to beautify your landscape.

The wisteria vine hanging over the pergola is a big hit—especially when it blooms in
the spring.

Bluestone and Indiana limestone hardscape materials were used to coordinate with the architecture of the house to complement the building materials, which were instant classics.

The back patio is loaded with seasonal containers to match the colors and textures of each season.

Terrace Views

A pergola takes center stage in this beautiful outdoor living space

CONCEPT A landscape design for new construction that was timeless and functional, with a focus on entertaining

BUDGET Details upon request

When they built their Hinsdale home in 2010, Tony LoBello’s clients wanted their new home to quickly look like it was an established part of the neighborhood. Hydrangeas, roses, and boxwood were used to give the landscape an organized but loose feel—nothing overly formal. LoBello’s team from Mariani Landscape incorporated a large terrace in the back patio, as the family loves to gather and entertain. The terrace was broken up into subspaces to avoid a vast, empty feel. The outdoor “rooms” include an outdoor kitchen, a dining area, and a lounge space to cook, eat, and hang out or read, and are delineated using masonry patterns on the ground.

JR’s Creative Landscaping contracts with Southwest Greens for the installation of maintenance-free synthetic putting systems, which are designed and constructed by certified pros.

The main patio surface was constructed using Unilock’s Beacon Hill Flagstone, a high-end product that is wear- and frost-resistant.

Above Par

This expansive outdoor space makes the perfect 19th hole

CONCEPT An extravagant custom backyard that includes several living and entertaining spaces, with unique and custom touches throughout

BUDGET $970,000

Question: What does a million-dollar backyard include? Answer: Everything. A chef-quality kitchen. Multiple fire and water features. An entertainment pavilion cooled by a water mister. Audio, lighting, fountain, and sprinkler systems that all can be controlled remotely. And yes, a putting green—even though an actual golf course backs up to the property. From the custom fire tables and LED lighting to the U-Cara retaining walls with carved limestone caps, no detail—or expense—was spared at this home in northeast Aurora. “This project is all the bells and whistles that people want now,” says Jim Rose, owner of JR’s Creative Landscaping. And although the construction details are impressive, Rose thinks the plantings are as cool as the hardscape.

The home’s original landscape dates back almost a hundred years. It is believed to have been designed and constructed by the renowned Morton Arboretum.

The bottom of the hillside was excavated to form a large level surface for the construction of a pétanque court, an outdoor game similar to bocce that the homeowners enjoyed during their trips to France.

A set of stone steps lead down to the mezzanine level lounging space flanked by two towering spruce trees—the last remaining from the original garden design.

Side Sanctuary

Despite a challenging terrain, a wooded lot gets reimagined

CONCEPT Transform a century-old landscape design to enhance living and recreation space, while preserving historically significant features

BUDGET $250,000–$300,000

Situated on a corner lot in downtown Naperville, this home’s side yard is its largest area, with a steep slope that drops 28 feet from the front of the house to the rear of the property. After peeling back tons of thick underbrush and fill, C.B. Conlin discovered the remnants of a terraced landscape. A series of quaint rubble walls and rustic stone steps were found to be in good condition, a discovery that altered Scott Lucchetti’s design approach and guided methodical site operations sensitive to the aging structures and ancestral trees. To access the outdoor living area, an opening was cut through the sunroom, leading out to a graceful new staircase that connects to the main dining patio.

The gas fire pit allows for a clean and easy focal point, says landscape architect Michael Kehl, and is surrounded by walls and multiple levels to create visual interest and provide a cozy atmosphere.

Lighting was the final touch that provides both safety and aesthetics. The lighting leads from the deck steps all the way out into the backyard, and there are a few LED accent lights on nearby trees to provide subtle ambiance.

The retaining walls—Unilock Quarrystone—allowed for minimal steps leading directly off the deck and provided raised planting beds for the homeowners’ existing garden.

Cozy Transition

A hardscape patio provides beautiful bridge between deck and garden

CONCEPT The design accommodates a dining area on a raised deck (not shown), providing spillover space for entertaining into the lounge area with a fire pit.

BUDGET $40,000 to $50,000

When Jim and Karen Giroux decided to replace the original paver patio of their northeast Naperville home, a neighbor provided a referral to Michael Kehl of Bruss Landscaping. “We went in not knowing what we wanted,” says Karen, “and Mike came out with something spectacular.” He even dug out Karen’s perennials (black-eyed Susans, peonies, clematis, and bee balm) and reinstalled them after the patio construction. “We are so happy with everything,” says Karen, who says the family uses it a lot—especially during the pandemic. “We just had our daughter’s wedding shower out there, and it was the perfect space for it.”

The year-round fountain features a biological filter that picks up particulates, plus a UV light that purifies the water.

Fountain focus

A special water feature that is full of life and love

CONCEPT A raised structure with sound that serves as a focal point for the porch

BUDGET $25,000

Only 335 people live in Millbrook, but the west suburban town is also home to a unique population—the butterfly koi in Bob Hursthouse’s front yard. The landscape designer and his wife moved southwest of Yorkville seven years ago, and after finishing a front porch project, they focused on the view from the private area where they often sit. “We wanted another element to make this a special spot,” says Hursthouse. Taking cues from the architecture, which includes a granite boulder fireplace and chimney, Hursthouse designed a 1,200-gallon fountain that allows the koi to be active all year long. The cast-iron sugar kettle that serves as the fountain’s ornament is a personal touch that was purchased in the French Quarter—a nod to the heritage of his wife, who was born in Baton Rouge. “It’s something really, unique. As it oxidizes, it gets this really cool patina.”

Photos courtesy Mariani Landscape, Jr’s creative landscaping and by Marina Storm/Picture Perfect House