A backyard turns green

A backyard turns green

So much is said about practicing sustainability within our homes that means living a lifestyle in harmonious balance with our mother earth. We all love the concept of reducing our carbon footprint and sustaining a healthy life on earth, but good intent gives away to confusion when set upon the task of actualization this concept.

My latest design project implemented strategies for a greener design without compromising beauty and comfort and I hope you can use these helpful strategies in your own backyard.



 The objective of this project was to incorporate the backyard within the living space of the house. Basically, we created an outdoor room complete with chandelier and fire pit to enjoy warm summer nights. The once enclosed patio was opened up by a simple stepped planter design that immediately invited the outdoor living inside. The open design and the cozy furnishing paired with the pergola above make this a delightful space to lounge and hang out. Beauty, style and comfort took center stage, but best of all, we applied many sustainable measures to make this a healthy treat.


1. Stamped concrete: I used custom colored stamped concrete for the patio. Concrete is one of the main sustainable building materials and when mixed with color pigment and pattern it has become an invaluable design tool. I spent some creative time mixing the pigments on site to compose this unique color that compliments the surrounding rock.



2. Natural Stone: I used the honey ledge stone to create the planters and steps. Natural stone is by its nature an organic product harvested from the earth. The benefits to the environment by using this material lie more towards its durability, longevity, ease of maintenance and salvageability at the end of its use. It falls into the category of cradle-to-cradle material, or one man’s trash is another man’s treasure concept, where it does not land in landfills, but back into the salvage yard for the next owner to claim it and use it again.



3. Low VOC stain: We used Benjamin Moore Low VOC stain to paint the wood structure. At this point, low or zero VOC paints and stains are a must. They reduce the toxins that are released into the environment and contribute to better air quality overall.


4. LED Landscape lighting: Finding the LED landscape lighting was a little bit of a challenge. There are a lot of low voltage lights available, but I wanted to do more. I am a firm believer of using LED lights, so I finally found these simple fixtures at Focus industries. Although, initially a little pricey, they offer guilt and maintenance free hours of light in the yard.


5. Ceramics logs and gas flame fire pit: The fire pit is powered by gas and the logs and rocks are fashioned out of ceramics to resemble real wood and they give the feel of an outdoor fire in the woods. By not using a wood burning fire pit, green house gases are reduced, but the beauty and romance of a night by the fire remains.





6. Fake grass: Using synthetic grass is the ultimate gift to water conservation. Watering grass uses a vast amount of our resources and with our drought looming every year, grass is really a luxury to have. Fake grass helps conserve water, eliminates the use of toxic fertilizers and is maintenance free. That means we save on fuel for the lawnmower and the emissions of this machine do not pollute the air. The grass stays green and beautiful all year  without you lifting a finger. If you can get your mind to jump past the image of Astroturf , shop around for the many beautiful synthetic grass products that are available today.



7. Sunbrella outdoor fabric: Yes, the cushions on the furniture are to deliciously luxurious looking to qualify as green. But, rest assured you can bathe in the comfort of these pillows as they are covered with Sunbrella fabrics.  (from website) Sunbrella® creates no waste water from dyeing and produces fabrics that are extremely durable and GREENGUARD® certified for indoor air quality. The comfort is yours. Karen Wittich Design provided the furniture.



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