Patio of the Week: 3 Microclimates and Countless Blooms

” All I really wanted out of the entire deal was a fantastic porch swing. That is it!” Swears landscape architect Sean Papich about the redesign he did for his own backyard. Following an extensive renovation which transformed the home from a ranch that is ’50s to a traditional New England Cape, his lawn was a blank slate. He flattened a large slope, then designed covered open and semicovered living spaces along the back of the home in the kind of a screened-in porch, open patio and pergola-covered terrace.

Patio at a Glance
Who lives here: Sean and Tami Papich and their 3 kids.
Location: Hingham, Massachusetts
Size: About26 feet by 27 feet

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

The backyard faces south and has exposure to sunlight, so Papich created microclimates, providing varying levels of shade from sun to shade to partial shade. A tree on the left side of the porch offers interest, sedum, while hydrangeas and grasses provide an undulating edge.

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

He stuck with hardy plants which could stand up well during droughts to full sunlight and water bans, and that require somewhat additional trimming and deadheading.

If you look beyond the left side of the umbrella, you will observe a 4- by 10-inch beam between the trees which holds two swings. The household can enjoy a complete view of the backyard from the bluestone terrace.

Pergola: habit, New England Woodworkers

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

The plan includes three distinct rooms: A porch which is going to be screened in when Papich finds that the period is on the left; an open bluestone terrace (14 feet by 27 feet) is in the center; and a brick terrace covered with a large pergola (12 feet by 16 feet) is on the right.

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

The bluestone terrace has a vibrant, sunny mixture of plants, such as Endless Summer hydrangeas, moonlight coreopsis, pink Knock Out roses, Russian sage, sweet bay magnolia trees and Blushing Bride hydrangeas (right). A fan of the job of Oehme van Sweden, Papich also likes to use a lot of decorative grasses in his work, and it has mixed in Hameln dwarf fountain grass and heather.

Look carefully at the porch and you’ll be able to see Papich’s prized oak porch swing. He ordered it from Doug Mrock in Mrock’s Creative Woodworking, a skilled craftsman carrying on the business his father began; he makes everything by hand. Papich cannot recommend his work.

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

While the family has plans to someday outfit the terrace with their dream outdoor furniture pieces, sturdy tables and chairs from Ikea and Target suit the sunny spot just fine at this time.

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

In the far end of the pergola-covered terrace, Papich screened the view of busy Main Street and neighboring homes with a vine-covered trellis. He saved the five-leaf akebia blossom from another job when he discovered it was going to be thrown off, overwintered it , then transplanted it to the trellis.

“it is a very nice hardy vine that’s competitive but not too crazy,” he says. This photo shows 1 year’s worth of growth.

The baskets are mix but made to look like lead. The Papiches overwinter the standing tree carpet roses, then bring them back out to the terrace each spring.

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

“I think that the classic style of the pergola works nicely with a lot of traditional house styles, whether the home is a colonial, Victorian or Cape,” Papich says. “Had we maintained the ’50s ranch style, I’d have done something a bit edgier and funky to go with it.” The columns are mix with 6- by 6-inch articles indoors; the rest of the arrangement is cedar.

Annabelle hydrangeas and ‘Blue Muffin’ arrowwood viburnum create a living wall around the left, while Knock Out roses and Endless Summer hydrangeas close in the right side. This gives the pergola-covered terrace a more intimate and private sense, even viewing out the lacrosse games which go on in the backyard.

Sean Papich Landscape Architecture

Tumbled brick in a herringbone pattern “makes the terrace feel a little old,” Papich says. A ribbon program and linear-edge plan of brick round the border make the pattern richer and provide a great transition between the rectilinear pattern of the adjoining bluestone patio.

Papich’s wife, Tami, an interior designer, scored the candle chandelier in an antiques fair, which they illuminate for evening gatherings. The table is a galvanized paint bucket with a painted terra-cotta shirt — a bit while they hunt for another one. The family loves to change the pergola terrace for different events up. Occasionally they drape canvas over it for shade, and on Halloween they make it spooky to their party.

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