Pro Portfolio: From barren yard to outdoor screening room

Every Monday we post a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer. This week we look at a front yard that was transformed into an outdoor living room for a family.

Landscape architect’s description: This garden was created for Brian Ten of Carde Ten Architects, his wife, Rika Houston, and their three children. They had a small front yard, shown before the makeover at right, that they never used because it was empty and open.

The intent was to make the new garden the centerpiece for the family. They wanted an outdoor living room where they could spend time year round and a space that could be used for a variety of purposes. Eventually it became not only the focal point for their household, but also a hangout for other families in the neighborhood. It’s a place for movie nights, a homework space and a spot for meetings and fundraisers.

A fountain starts by the sidewalk, slices through the wood fence and continues as a long channel in the new garden. The spill of water creates a soothing sound. The kids love to play in the water, and at night it is accentuated with dramatic lighting. Around one corner is a secluded secret garden, a quiet space with aquatic plants and serene bubbling water.

Comfortable couches and colorful pillows give the three kids — 16,14 and 7 — a place to do their homework and work on art projects. During summer, a canvas goes up on the garage wall, heat lamps are put in place, the glass fire pit is lighted and the neighborhood film festival begins.

The plant palette is easy to maintain and is composed of natives, herbs, citrus, and medicinal and edible plants around the outdoor dining area. A small cistern stores some water. The native plants bring a joyful array of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees into the garden.