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From dull to dynamic: Professionally renovating a shaded deck

by Timber Press on November 2, 2017

in Design, Gardening

The diagonal design of the patio and the transition area echo the diagonal design of the existing deck. Included photos by Jeff Nawrocki.

If you are a homeowner looking for some inspiration, or a professional designer vetting potential hardscaping strategies, this redesign of a shady back yard will shed some light on how renovation can revolutionize a garden.

Some of the most satisfying aspects of being a landscape designer are seeing a design come to life, having happy and satisfied clients, and then staying in touch with those clients to watch the landscapes mature and modify them as needed.

The back yard before work begins: a small concrete patio leads out to a spotty strip of lawn (the orange paint marks out space for the new walk that will replace the lawn).

This project was completed for an older couple nearing retirement. They wanted a larger patio that would be more inviting than the existing concrete pad and an attractive transitional area that would connect the new patio to an existing deck. The transitional area would replace lawn that was not doing well without steady sunlight. The designer, Jeff Nawrocki of Outdoor Concepts, chose to echo the diagonal design of the deck in order to unify all of the hardscape elements of the back yard.

The diagonal design makes this back yard much more interesting, while the boulders continue the stone theme.

The paving stone (a product called Unilock Rivenstone) was chosen by the client. Although lovely, it is thin, which meant that the contractor could not use his compactor because the vibrations would have cracked the stone. Rockfaced (weather-worn) sandstone was used to create the steps. In keeping with the stone theme, boulders were placed along bed edges to help retain the soil.


Bobbie Schwartz is the owner of Bobbie’s Green Thumb in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Her landscape signature is the use of perennials, flowering shrubs, and ornamental grasses to facilitate color and interest throughout the year. She is a certified Member and Fellow of APLD.



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