Annie’s Site Problem – Part 1

Annie from Canmore writes to John and Matthew about problems with the outdoor space of her property.

“Hi Guys…

Inspired by your course in the weekend! Thx. We live in Canmore, just finished this reno. How do I create privacy, with some shade, yet keep the big views and sun on this south facing deck? Had thought about burming a bit. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks a mill.

  • Steve

    The video is marked ‘private’, so I don’t know the details beyond the paragraph above, but what a beautiful view!  Does the design need to provide solar shading for the windows in summer?  Does the deck need partial or full privacy screening?

  • Steve

    What a great design brief – thanks, Annie!  Your preference for xeriscaping and thoughts
    about a berm or (low) fencing sound great. 
    If you put a fence in the side yard, you could use the same wood as is
    on the house.  For shade on the deck, an umbrella affords maximum flexibility while preserving the view.  In the front I think a
    curved berm with medium height grasses and shrubs with native flowers and plants would be sufficient for
    privacy.  Given
    the rectilinearity of the house and deck, I think curving pathways
    would introduce some needed organic form in the hardscaping, in addition to
    undulating planting beds.  I don’t know
    what plants work well in your micro-climate or about your taste, but you might find
    inspiration from the Okanagan Xeriscape Association.  Good luck!

  • MidAmericaMom

    Hi so out of my element here… but.
    I love how the wood on the deck ties to the house.  So I thought of a railing and then I recalled these green walls I found during the slow home project. 

    What is great is that you could build a living wall that adds interest to those on the deck and on the street side.  you can change the look or configuration depending on what you settle on. 

    Take a look:

    For grass… You may want to checkout thyme.  It is a ground cover that does not need much water, loves south sun, you can walk on it, and it would not need to be mowed.  You may be able to get one for your zone (4?).

  • Annietreds

    Thanks for the ideas Steve. The deck needs partial privacy. We doo not need to protect windows from summer heat. During the summer,sun travels over the ridge line of the house. What did you mean when you suggested “undulating plant beds”? I like the idea of the curved paths. Annie

  • Chris

    Here is an additional thought. The front door of the house is not the greatest entrance. I would prefer the path direct people to the side door(mud room entrance). This would leave the front door for access to the deck from the house? Chris(Annie’s partner)

  • Steve

    Hi, Annie and Chris:  Please forgive my very crude graphic, but I imagine bermed planting areas rising out of the xeriscape on either side of the entry walks as curvaceous ovoids, not rectalinear boxes.  The paths would also be curved, not straight-line sidewalks; the path to the deck could be stepping stones to indicate it’s not the primary entrance.  Around the deck, you could have a 4×4 ‘bumper’ (about 1.5″ above the floor) rather than a railing, and a low hedge, so the deck space doesn’t feel fenced off from the yard.  To protect the house from summer sun, you might consider some kind of brise-soleil just above the windows. 

    Good luck — it’s a great summer project!