Home & Design

A retaining wall capped with Pennsylvania flagstone defines the eating area.

A Carderock stone fireplace offers a focal point in the seating space beneath a cedar pergola.

The outdoor kitchen features a flagstone countertop with space for bar seating and built-in appliances.

Flagstone pavers bordered by cobblestones form a path to the stairs, which lead up to the lawn and sport court.

Pennsylvania flagstone paves the patio, which stretches from the outdoor kitchen, rimmed with May Night salvia and heuchera.

Backyard Bonanza

Wheat’s Landscape creates a haven for outdoor living on a Bethesda property

“The property is about a quarter acre—and we used every square inch of it,” recounts Luke Tirrell of Wheat’s Landscape, who oversaw the transformation of a Bethesda backyard from mundane to amazing. “The owner wanted an extension of his house, where he and his family could hang out for eight months of the year. It was a massive plan; we did just about everything we could do.”

When the project began, a sport court already occupied one side of the backyard. The owners, who have kids, wanted to preserve it, but were prepared to demolish the surrounding landscape and start fresh. A cramped patio made way for an expansive one of Pennsylvania fieldstone, embellished with cobblestones that delineate separate zones. Carderock stone retaining walls separate the patio from the sport court and lawn; they also terrace the property, which has been regraded for better function.

Beneath a narrow, Western red cedar pergola, an outdoor kitchen is clad in Carderock stone; it features a built-in grill, fridge and stainless-steel drawers. A thermal-treated Pennsylvania flagstone countertop offers an overhang with bar seating and a dining table tucked in beside it. At the other end of the patio, a large pergola covers a spacious seating area facing a Carderock stone gas fireplace and TV. A wide staircase now accesses the upper part of the yard and sport court.

With the backyard a blank slate, Wheat’s started from scratch with landscaping, planting a screen of arborvitae behind the fireplace and a magnolia near the grill. Beds of shade-loving rhododendron, boxwood and oakleaf hydrangea soften the hardscape, while impatiens and May Night salvia add color.

Landscape Design & Installation: Luke Tirrell, project manager, Wheat’s Landscape, Vienna, Virginia. Audio/Video System: National Technology Integrators, Rockville, Maryland.

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