Before and After - Making a Backyard more Serene

Modifying a Deck - How to make an outdoor space a little more Serene 

When this family asked me to make their backyard more serene and usable they never imagined I would tell them to alter their architect-designed deck!

But when I arrived and saw their property I quickly realized that the 'grand staircase' that led from their deck was more 'show' than anything else. It was perfect as a 'Gone with the Wind' stairway, allowing Vivien Leigh to descend in her long hoop skirt, but it did not fit a modern 21st century family. 

My suggestion? Remove the staircase entirely and build one on the side of the deck.  The husband was a little taken aback by my idea and thus I did not hear from him for another 6 months. But when he called he told me that he was ready to modify the deck. 

The result was a lovely and more usable deck accompanied by a larger and more level lawn. The new railing also made the deck more inviting. I also added white birch trees, pennisetum, viburnum and more.   And note the tall planters I placed on the deck in front of each deck column. 

The changes were a great success and it appears a little more serene too, don't you think?


  1. Love the changes - it's a huge improvement!

  2. Love it! I also hate garages that face forward and make an ugly presentation from the street.

    1. Thanks Arthur in the garden! I agree with you...their garage is on the side and so no one sees....

  3. Thank you so much for this. It is, indeed, difficult to decide to let go of a landscape tree, especially if you’ve spent years growing it. It’s a tough call but then there are issues that have to be considered such as safety if ever the tree collapses. There’s the possibility that you can save the tree, but sometimes we really have to take some of them down.
    Mark Taylor

    1. Mark Taylor, I have learned that trees can present a hazard and we must consider that is our responsibility. And I so love trees. I even wrote a book about them:
      Orthos All About Trees.

  4. With the staircase gone, I agree that it looks more serene now, especially with trees and additional greenery around. I see the previous design is inspired by the classic Gone with Wind film, and it looks wonderful, but I have to agree that it doesn’t fit the 21st century needs. Thus, the modification is just right and truly fantastic!

    Mitchell Knapp @ Scenic Landscaping

    1. Thanks Mitchell Knapp @ Scenic Landscaping - It took quite some time to convince the owner...and I am not a pushy type so I just left.6 months later they called and said "ok - let's do it!" So if it happens in your work - just wait.


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