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Landscape Architect Visit: A Leafy Garden in Park Slope in Brooklyn


Landscape Architect Visit: A Leafy Garden in Park Slope in Brooklyn

October 20, 2021

In Brooklyn’s leafy Park Slope neighborhood, a young couple with a son asked architect Kim Hoyt (a member of the Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory) to transform their narrow backyard into a garden to enjoy as a family and a welcoming place to entertain guests.

The first time Hoyt saw it, the garden had a narrow planting strip, an irregularly shaped patio, and a four-foot border of gravel (wasted space) alongside the house. According to Hoyt, the layout of the existing garden plan emphasized the garden’s narrow dimensions (it’s only 16 feet wide). But she had a plan to make the garden feel spacious:

Photography by Dan Wonderly, courtesy of Kim Hoyt Architects.

Above: Hoyt designed a patio of bluestone pavers in the center of the garden; she added shade-tolerant plants (from Gowanus Nursery in Brooklyn) at the front and taller plants at the back to create a feeling of depth.

At the back right corner is a white pine tree (Pinus strobus), with an umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) at left; both were already on site when Hoyt arrived. She kept them and planted witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana ‘Little Spire’) between them.

Hoyt’s clients selected the furniture themselves; it’s the Huron Sofa collection from West Elm.

Above: The natural cleft bluestone stepping stones are flanked by Anemone hupehensis.
Above: Most of the garden’s shade comes from a single large Siebold’s magnolia tree (Magnolia Sieboldii ‘Michiko Renge’), which the previous owner had planted many years ago.
Above: The stairway, deck, and fence are all made of water-repellent ipe wood and fabricated by Gogoleyed. The railing is painted steel, fabricated by All City Ironworks.

Hoyt planned the deck, plant palettes, and paving to complement the Siebold’s magnolia (“an uncommon specimen,” she says), along with the white pine and umbrella magnolia at the back of the garden.

Above: Hoyt cantilevered the ipe and steel deck to keep its support beams away from the roots of the Siebold’s magnolia.

“This configuration for the deck not only helps preserve the tree, but has the added effect of making you feel like you are standing within its canopy when you’re on the deck,” said Hoyt.

The client plans to grow Actinidia kolomikta ‘Arctic Beauty’ on the trellis from a pot on the deck.

Above: Hoyt added hooks to the underside of the deck so the clients could hang a swing for their young son; they chose the weatherproof canvas Solvej Swing from Nature Baby.

On the garden level, a door leads to a guest bedroom (the balcony connects to the kitchen). Hoyt’s team did minor work to clean up the rear facade, including painting.

Above: The ipe stairway and fence in detail. The fence provides privacy, while thinner strips of wood at the top still allow for air flow.

For more of our favorite Brooklyn gardens, see:

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published March 2017.

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Product summary  

Outdoor & Patio Furniture

Huron Sofa

$1,399.00 USD from West Elm
Outdoor & Patio Furniture

Solvej Swing

$219.95 USD from Nature Baby

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