Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Landscaping Ideas: A Sunken Verdant Courtyard for a Seattle Home on a Slope

Search

Landscaping Ideas: A Sunken Verdant Courtyard for a Seattle Home on a Slope

May 14, 2021

Living in a hillside home with lake views may sound dreamy, but if you’re someone who loves to have usable outdoor space, the location may be less than ideal. This was the case for Mike and Bridget Rodden, whose Seattle home, with views of Lake Washington and the surrounding neighborhood, was situated on a steep hillside with no yard.

The challenges: a front entrance, perched 20 feet above street level, that was hidden from view and had no curb presence; and, thanks to a steep slope, an awkward connection between the home and the outdoor space. To solve the landscape problems, the couple hired Wittman Estes Architecture + Landscape, a Seattle-based firm that believes “buildings and landscapes can be combined into one interconnected whole.”

Here’s how they transformed the property into a terraced garden perfect for entertaining and lounging.

Photography by Miranda Estes, courtesy of Wittman Estes.

The house now has curb appeal thanks to new retaining walls and stairs. Billowing grasses greet visitors as they walk up the steps.
Above: The house now has curb appeal thanks to new retaining walls and stairs. Billowing grasses greet visitors as they walk up the steps.
A new street-level custom mailbox clearly announces the house&#8
Above: A new street-level custom mailbox clearly announces the house’s presence. Steel and concrete steps lead the way to the front door.
The steps are bracketed by 3-foot-tall carbon steel planters planted with Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ Japanese Forest Grass. (For a similar plant, see Gardening loading=
Above: The steps are bracketed by 3-foot-tall carbon steel planters planted with Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ Japanese Forest Grass. (For a similar plant, see Gardening 101: Japanese Sweet Flag Grass.)
In the back of the house, the kitchen and dining area opens out onto an ipe hardwood deck that steps down to a larger outdoor living room below.
Above: In the back of the house, the kitchen and dining area opens out onto an ipe hardwood deck that steps down to a larger outdoor living room below.
The multi-level lounge areas in the backyard provide ample opportunity to relax alone or host guests and include the deck, a hammock area (at left), and a sunken courtyard living room (at right),
Above: The multi-level lounge areas in the backyard provide ample opportunity to relax alone or host guests and include the deck, a hammock area (at left), and a sunken courtyard living room (at right),
A mix of grasses—including Liriope muscari &#8
Above: A mix of grasses—including Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’ Lily Turf, Nassella tenuissima Mexican Feather Grass, and Maiden Grass—creates a soft and textured look.
The courtyard&#8
Above: The courtyard’s pavers are precast Narrow Modular Pavers from Stepstone.
The courtyard is enclosed by plate steel retaining walls and ipe wood benches, and anchored by a fire pit.
Above: The courtyard is enclosed by plate steel retaining walls and ipe wood benches, and anchored by a fire pit.
A Fatsia japonica Japanese Araliaea thrives in a container next to the sectional.
Above: A Fatsia japonica Japanese Araliaea thrives in a container next to the sectional.
A peek of Lake Washington just beyond the wood wall. The concrete fire pit was designed by Wittman Estes.
Above: A peek of Lake Washington just beyond the wood wall. The concrete fire pit was designed by Wittman Estes.
The cushions are made with Sunbrella textiles by La Fabrique.
Above: The cushions are made with Sunbrella textiles by La Fabrique.

For more on lanscaping ideas for slopes, see:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0