A Front Yard Regrows in Brooklyn

Nature has an interesting means of reminding us who’s in charge. As we saw many recently when Hurricane Sandy carved a catastrophic route throughout the East Coast at 2012, we’re often left to clean up the pieces in its aftermath.

About five weeks after the storm plowed through New York, a few in Brooklyn’s Red Hook area hired landscape designers Sean Lewis and Jesse Terzi to reconstruct and rehabilitate their 18- by 50-foot front yard, which had all but drowned in the storm. The customers wanted a distance they could devote a great deal of time in — not working and maintaining, but enjoying and entertaining.

Before Photo

Saltwater flooding washed out and destroyed almost everything implanted in the backyard. One Japanese walnut, one yucca and a little patch of yard were the sole survivors.

New Eco Landscapes

AFTER: A current Cor-Ten fence and oiled ipe deck have been reused in the backyard design, reducing cost and enabling more money to go toward a new outdoor plants and kitchen.

Terzi and Lewis, of New Eco Landscapes, created two different garden areas. “He desired a large outdoor kitchen” says Lewis, and “she desired a comfy lounge area.” The contrast is striking however balanced — both the neutral and geometric deck and outdoor kitchen area complement the looser, more organic patio.

Potted herbs carry the greenery of the patio on the deck, along with the irregular flagstone pulls the grays of their outdoor dining and kitchen area down to the landscape. String lights are outdoor lighting and fun.

After the storm the customer moved a huge ac unit to the deck. “We had to work around it,” states Lewis. He ultimately mirrored the appearance of the outdoor kitchen cabinets using a simple slat box along with a planter.

New Eco Landscapes

Lewis and Terzi designed and constructed cedar cabinets to house the outdoor kitchen’s natural-gas grill and smoker. This was the toughest portion of the whole job, Lewis states, but also his favourite feature. A trellis and bamboo include solitude.

New Eco Landscapes

A low sectional sofa invites guests to lounge. Irregular-shape flagstone blurs the boundary between landscape and patio.

New Eco Landscapes

Thinking about the effects of the storm, planting this time around called for a bit more resilience. “The plants were inspired by my own visits to Cape Cod,” states Lewis. “The cape is coated with rhododendrons, scrub pine and grasses. While I see that a plant can flourish without any irrigation or maintenance in poor soil, I know it’s going to be a winner.”

The designers refined the plant collections by looking around at what plants had survived the storm. “We drove around Long Beach, New York, and watched all of the Hollywood junipers were flourishing, although many other evergreens had expired,” states Lewis.

New Eco Landscapes

The designers promptly filled the backyard with what they had seen on their trip: lavender, chamomile, mugo pine, rhododendron, Japanese walnut, hardy sedum, Hollywood juniper and Mexican feather grass.

For today all is in Brooklyn, but Lewis and Terzi built this garden for the future, for both good weather and poor. “When and if a second hurricane hits New York, we want this garden to be able to ride it out,” states Lewis.

New Eco Landscapes

Inform us : Have you rebuilt following Sandy? Please show us everything you have done!

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