• Indoors Out…. Unique Ways To Add Outdoor Living Space

    When Lanny & Carol Lang bought their Lakewood home in Ahwatukee back in 1986, they were among the first of many families to settle in the area. As original owners, they have seen a lot of changes. Their children have now moved onto college and beyond. Being empty nesters, they desired to make some modifications at home to compliment their new found lifestyle. Both being the outdoor type and very active, what a better way to start than by creating a functional, great new look with unused space, and at the same time giving their Lakewood home brand new curb appeal.

    Based on the sun exposure, the front of the home was the perfect place to add a relaxing new courtyard . It is just perfect for that morning cup of coffee with the newspaper or an early evening cocktail at the end of a long day. When the Lang’s first contacted me, they had a few ideas of their own, and were also open to suggestions. After listening to their “wish list” and discussing possibilities, we came up with a game plan to fit their new needs within their budget. Here’s what we did and how we did it…

    The Lang’s wanted a small courtyard out front to relax and enjoy the neighborhood. They asked for a small decorative wall to define the space. They wanted to add a custom gate between two masonry pillars which matched the new custom iron door in the front of the home they had just installed. To provide needed shade, they added a wood arbor to span the distance between the garage wall on the left and the home on the right. This arbor also increased the level of intimacy and overall feel. They wanted additional seating to compliment furniture, along with pots for plants. Both wanted a water feature, but were unsure of which direction to go. We gave them a few options that fit their budget. When it came to the floor of the patio, (we call it flatwork in landscape), there were several options and I recommended pavers. With new planting pockets and a low voltage lighting package, we had everything we needed to begin the design.

    The first thing we did was define the space. In other words, how much workable space will we have for our courtyard? Doing a rough sketch and taking measurements gave us the framework we needed to get started. To get a better handle and visual of the overall design, we took this outline with all the measurements and put them in scale. Typically most designs are done in 1/8 scale, but since our space was fairly small, we decided to go 1/4 scale on this project. Once the design was completed we sat down for a plan review, made a few small changes and we were on to the next step. Selecting plant material, paver style and color, light fixtures, caps for the courtyard wall, etc…were all on the list. Once we had a decision on all materials, the design was off to the HOA for approval before we could start the build. Fortunately, the plan was approved easily and then scheduled for construction.

    We started with demo of their existing concrete walkway which connected the driveway to the front door. Basically the “A” typical concrete walk was completely removed up to the front door. The courtyard walls were laid out with landscape marking paint as well as the position of the two pillars which grace the entrance. Hardscape is the first place to start after demo and prep. The courtyard wall footings were excavated and poured followed by block construction of the actual walls. Before we can finish the walls at the desired final height, we had to know the finished height of the pavers we chose for our flatwork. Once we knew this information, it was easy to finish the courtyard walls with a nice flagstone cap. We used a decorative flagstone turndown under the cap and finished off the walls with a stucco pattern that matched the house.

    The water feature was simple, and beautifully effective. Monolithic boulders were core drilled from top to bottom to allow water to flow individually off each boulder. A small pond was excavated, electric brought to the location to support our pumps, a water line installed for the auto fill, and after a little “tinkering”, it was up and running in a few days.

    The layout and installation of the pavers was next. We chose a three piece random pattern using a tumbled AZ Block product we found locally. Since the homeowner wanted plants, pots, and lights throughout the courtyard, we needed to make sure we added adequate sleeving under the pavers to run irrigation and wiring easily from point A to point B. We also needed to make sure the pavers were pitched properly so that water would always run away from the house. Pavers are one of the best choices for flatwork here in Arizona. They are very pleasing to the eye, durable, and from a price per square foot…there just isn’t a better product for the money.

    Once all the hardscape was completed, we placed the plants and lights, added some decorative rock to fill the planters, painted the courtyard walls to match the house, cleaned up and we were done. The Lang’s took it upon themselves to add some furniture they had admired, and within a week or two after we were complete, the furniture was delivered. Each piece was specifically chosen to fit in a certain area of the courtyard. Now they have an additional 500 sq ft of living space, enhanced the curb appeal of their home and will have a great place to relax over the holidays. I want to thank them for their business and being the perfect client. It was a pleasure working with them.

    Now is a great time for doing a remodel on your existing landscape or adding some needed living space to the front or backyard. Great deals and discounts can be found everywhere. If you’ve had the thought of making a few changes, you couldn’t be choosing a better time. Big Bargains…Big Results!