Torontonians are transforming their lawns, terraces and backyards into opulent oases

Torontonians are transforming their lawns, terraces and backyards into opulent oases

A few of the city’s most creative landscape designs

A purple paradise in the Beaches

A pair of art collectors recently transformed their Beaches home into a contemporary paradise, and later enlisted landscape architect Kim Price to do the same for their backyard. They wanted clean lines, modern features and artsy details, plus space for a parking pad at the back of the property. Price set out to make the yard as inviting as possible, surrounding several lounge areas with hydrangeas and wild grasses. She constructed an architectural cedar structure to block the view of the parking pad. The highlight of the space: an otherworldly water installation on a raw and burnished steel backdrop, which looks like something out of Avatar.

The water feature is decorated with these egg-shaped planters, which light up at night. Photograph courtesy of Jeff McNeill

A multi-purpose courtyard in Deer Park

When Alan Schwartz of Terraplan Landscape Architects and his wife decided to redo their Deer Park backyard, they knew exactly what they wanted: a contemporary space that felt like an extension of the house’s indoor aesthetic. They collaborated with Roundabout Studio, the same firm that helped modernize their home. “We tried to give every outdoor space a purpose,” says Roundabout designer Daniel Harland. The secluded garden at the back of the yard has a sculptural ipe bench that’s ideal for relaxing with a book. And the loungey dining area off the side of the house is known as the “gin and tonic deck.”

The yard’s terraces are made of ipe, a Brazilian hardwood, and surrounded by lush grasses and hydrangeas. Photograph courtesy of Terraplan Landscape Architects

A luxurious green roof in Yorkville

When these owners downsized from a midtown home to a 25th-floor Yorkville condo, the only thing they missed was their garden. They wanted their new terrace to be as lush as possible, but the location proved a challenge: the harsher weather and low soil depth make balconies difficult to greenify. Landscape architect Janet Rosenberg tore out all the concrete and devised a green roof system that changes colour and vibrancy with the seasons. A seating area is lined with boxwoods and terracotta planters filled with hydrangeas. Rosenberg also layered the terrace in pre-planted strips of perennials and herbs. Now, they have a terrace that’s just as lush as the garden in their old home—only this one has a stellar view of downtown.

The natural stone walkway leads from the dining area to the lounge. Photograph courtesy of Janet Rosenberg and Studio

An eclectic garden in Oakville

The owners of this Oakville garden transformed their sprawling outdoor space in phases, making sure each piece was perfect before moving on. “It has a painterly quality that’s all about adding layer after layer,” says landscape designer Janet Rosenberg. The backyard is inspired by the English countryside. “The pool is very David Hockney,” she says.

The backyard looks like an English garden, with an eight-person hot tub that doubles as a tranquil water feature when not in use. Photograph courtesy of Janet Rosenberg and Studio

A tropical retreat in Forest Hill

The owners of this three-storey semi in Forest Hill are a brother-sister pair who both work hectic hours and love to entertain. When they hired landscape designer Jennifer Hayman, their yard was a long, skinny strip of grass that sloped down toward a derelict old shed. Instead, they wanted a serene outdoor space that would be equally suited to lazy afternoons and raucous dinner parties. The owners love the tropics, so Hayman constructed a Florida-style boardwalk out of ipe. By day, the pond is a peaceful retreat. At night, floating spheres light up and transform it into a sparkling centre-piece that provides a dreamy ambiance for their guests. “We tried to use a lot of zen materials that you’d find in Southern climates,” Hayman says.

The shed was built into a retaining wall, so Hayman restored it and turned it into a rustic focal point. Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hayman Design