Landscaping dilemma: retention pond / by Brooke

  One of my favorite things about landscape design is being forced to think. I like a good challenge. This home in Millville was certainly that. Here is what we were up against:

The home: a beautiful three-story house with a contemporary-classic style

The family: 4 young kids, 2 busy parents, and 1 dog.  Looking for outdoor space to send the kids and dog, as well as room to entertain company.

The dilemma: The backyard of this newly built home holds a retention pond to catch storm water and water runoff with a (ahem) lovely oversized drain. And this giant eyesore (as well as the retention pond itself) is required to stay in their backyard with lots and lots of restrictions by the city. What to do?


I admit, I spent a few sleepless nights tossing this one over. But I think we were all pleased with the end result.  So here is what we came up with:

First, we tried to use these restrictions to our advantage. Instead of trying to hide it, we decided to use the shape of the retention pond to become the usable space of their yard. So we put in some concrete walls but terraced them in two levels (so it didn't appear to be a massive concrete wall).

In between the levels, we put grass. Which is perfect for entertaining since the grass “steps” can double as lawn furniture. Because they have young kids, it also becomes a child's dream summer stage and play area. But with a sophisticated, classic look. The grass keeps maintenance low and softens the look.


The concrete also makes room for some planter boxes, so we could fill those with some nice boxwoods and beautiful spring snow crab trees, giving a formal, classic look.

We opted to do concrete walls on the east side only, to keep cost lows but more importantly to save the space from looking like an empty swimming pool.

Also we put in two sets of stairs for easy access to patio areas and lawn furniture. The wide stairs give a nice, dramatic look.

The result is a charming backyard with great space for young kids but still perfect for entertaining large groups.  Isn't it lovely?  I am picturing lots of casual summer parties and fourth of July barbecues but you could do something more formal, too -- like a wedding, I think.

Such great view.




Nice when it all comes together.