Tucked behind Hamburger Square in downtown Greensboro, NC is The Farmer’s Wife, an old storefront antique shop and florist. The store is known for an interesting collection of furniture and accessories, unique prints, architectural found objects and wall art, as well as artisan floral arrangements. What they are less known for is their “backyard.”
Behind the building is a large brick patio shared by The Farmer’s Wife and residents of the adjacent buildings. Flanked on one side by railroad tracks and on the other by a bus depot, this outdoor area seemed destined to be a dead space, but thanks to smart design, use of color and texture and whimsical accessories, the space has been transformed into a lush oasis perfect for a backyard soiree or a solitary book.
Employ hard and soft-scapes to create privacy.
When your outdoor space borders a high traffic area (like a bus depot!) or an unsightly transportation route (like railroad tracks) intimacy can seem out of the question. Privacy fences are a necessity to create the feeling of an outdoor room. Fences or masonry walls are one way to create privacy in your outdoor area.
You can use plants to create privacy while also adding color and texture to the design of your space. Evergreens are an especially popular choice because they maintain their foliage all year long. Emerald Green Thuja, Leyland Cypress and Irish Juniper are beautiful options.
Visual interest can create the illusion of more space.
In smaller spaces, if you draw the eye outward and upward, you can create visual height and give a lofty sensation.
Winding paths can lead guests into spaces of your garden that might not have gotten used otherwise.
Curved lines that draw you along the path can make a short space seem much longer. Creating patterns with pavers can also draw the eye in particular direction. Consider using a herringbone or chevron pattern to lead people toward a focal point.
Work with the shape of your space.
The Farmer’s Wife patio is long. To ensure the eye doesn’t cruise along without enjoying the space, create logical stopping points.
A small table and chair with a cluster of unique concrete pots creates an intimate seating area. A bench tucked underneath low hanging branches is like a tiny tree house.
An open gate defines one space from another.
Use color and texture to your advantage.
A garden with no variation in shape or color can look drab. At the same time, too many colors or plant varieties can look overwhelming and haphazard. Take some time to decide what plants work well with each other and within the same palette.
This garden uses a variety of rich greens punctuated by the vibrant red leaves of maple varietals and the deep auburn tips of sedum plants. Texture is what creates the visual interest.
Low growing thyme and oregano create a lush blanket of green.The glossy leaves of the shade plants play against the sharp, spiky leaves of sedum and echeveria varietals.
Use a little surprise.
One of the best features of this space is its use of whimsical objects.
A millstone propped against an accented wall and pots of tiny sedum tucked behind shrubs keep guests looking through the space.
Though the area is small, no space is left unused.
Pots and paths wind through the evergreens, even the outside border is dotted with rosemary and lavender.
Small statues peek out from behind chairs and foliage.
Whether you have a rolling country garden or a narrow sun-dappled urban alleyway, your home outdoors can be a pleasant work-in-progress, changing with the seasons or your whims.