Party Time

Surrounds, Inc., transforms a mundane backyard into a mecca for entertaining

A couple living in Northwest DC’s Foxhall Crescent neighborhood hired Surrounds, Inc., to create an outdoor living area on their quarter-acre lot. “They specified an entertainment space in back but wanted to preserve the side yard for their children to play,” recalls landscape architect Chad Talton, who spearheaded the project. “The difficulty was that the narrow backyard was dominated by a walk-out basement staircase that cut the rear in half.” The yard also sat three feet lower than the house, making circulation awkward from the inside out.

Talton and his team saved the day with a stylish, compact design that smoothly integrates numerous elements. They installed an elevated Azek deck that fosters easy flow from the house while creating more usable yard space, and they reconfigured the basement walk-out to include a storage area. Beyond the deck—which features a built-in hot tub—is a travertine patio edged in Pennsylvania bluestone. It holds a dining area bordered by a built-in Wolf grill and fridge clad in quartzite with a black, leathered-granite countertop.

An adjacent ipe-and-quartzite pavilion with a tongue-and-groove pine ceiling offers a gathering spot around a custom, stainless-steel, natural-gas fire pit. It’s topped by a four-inch-thick Pennsylvania bluestone thermal slab and black fire balls.

The simple plant palette, which complements the clean lines of the built elements, includes single-stem crape myrtle, Paperbark maple, evergreen hinoki, Green Velvet boxwood, caladium, ajuga, holly and Sweetbay magnolia—all enlivened by colorful annuals.

Award: Grand, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build). Landscape Architecture & Installation: Chad Talton, RLA, Surrounds, Inc., Sterling, Virginia.