Looking to take more advantage of the creek view her Cedarburg backyard offered, our client called us. She asked that we design a space for friends and family to hang out, but she didn't want a large patio eating up her backyard. We suggested a fire pit as a focal point and set about creating a modest space that would fit the architecture of the home and its setting.
The fire pit was placed on the center line of the back porch steps on the home. We left enough space between the fire pit and the water's edge that people would feel comfortable while allowing for a 180 degree view of the creek. Lannon stone steppers set in the lawn emphasize the visual axis from the porch steps to the fire pit patio. The patio surface is natural top, irregular lannon flagstone, enhanced with a brick soldier edge that also surrounds the fire pit. The fire pit itself is custom, radial cut lannon stone and is dry-stacked in two layers. A metal liner insulates the stone from the heat of fires.
New plantings were also part of the mix. We started with a new shade garden down the side of the home that wraps around the back porch, with new planting beds along the foundation. Near the path of lannon stone steppers, a wide planting bed hides the blank wall of the nearby garage. Shrubs and perennials that attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinating insects were used throughout the backyard. Large-scale perennials such as monarda and eupatorium, along with Panicum virgatum 'Northwind,' help to screen the neighbor to the south. Invasives and weeds were removed on the bank of the creek and replaced with Betula nigra, Stephanandra incisa 'Crispa,' and Cornus sericea 'Alleman's Compact.' Stone steps were added to the bank to allow our client to get her canoe out of the creek.
Creekside gatherings around the fire are now commonplace after the renewal of this backyard.