Solitary ConfinementCaliopie Georgiadis recently brought her dream home in Brooklyn, but there is just one nightmare left lurking out back. Her concrete box of a backyard resembles more state penitentiary than cool and contemporary city escape. Host Matt James turns the blank concrete canvas into a Zen-like paradise.
After moving from the hub of Manhattan to a more chilled-out Brooklyn, city girl Caliopie is longing for somewhere to relax or party with friends. Although she wants a minimalist yard, the current concrete box that is her yard has been referred to by friends as a prison exercise yard!
Matt's challenge is to come up with a design that softens the harsh space and is manageable for this first-time gardener. His plan is to use the concrete as a subbase for a stylish cedar deck and keep the planting simple with bamboo and easy-maintenance perennials.
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Zen in the CityTo work with the mammoth-sized concrete pad, Matt decided to draw on this space's best feature—its size. By decking the floor with red cedar, he can maximize the area for entertaining while also covering the concrete. The new garden has a minimalist design which creates the Zen-like feel the homeowner desired.
The cedar decking is a budget-friendly alternative to ipe and other hardwood lumber. Instead of painting, the walls were left as-is and add a gritty, urban feel. When viewed in relation to the decking, the space is accented by the simple, straight lines.
cedar decking (STK grade) - Riverhead Building Supplies
cedar planters, Mexican beach pebbles - Bissett Nursery
slate - Extech Industries
Bamboo PlantersBecause Caliopie isn't an avid gardener and works long hours, she wants a low-maintenance backyard. So the new space has several planters filled with golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) and colorful perennials, such as gaura (Gaura lindheimeri 'Siskiyou Pink'). Golden bamboo can be somewhat invasive, so it's better to grow in a tub if you've got a small garden. For someone like Caliopie who isn't sure how to take care of plants, the best part is that it needs very little maintenance. Just the occasional water once its established.
Bamboo is a great architectural plant that adds height and bulk to any planting scheme. Plus it does well in containers. There are hundreds of different types available, several of which can grow up to 40 feet or more. It's this height factor that prompted Matt to use them here.
Clean SlateCool slate tiles at the garden's entrance add contrast to the wood decking.