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Garden Tour: Small Yard, Big Impact

Having just a sliver of yard in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood couldn’t squash Brad Schreiber’s dreams for a stunning outdoor retreat. His solution? Escape to the roof. But his topflight plan’s space-savvy ideas will suit your yard, too.

From the top

In Brad Schreiber’s rooftop garden, varied flooring levels and wall heights help define areas such as the outdoor kitchen and lounging area.

The outdoor kitchen with a refrigerator, gas grill, pizza oven and dining area expands on the home’s main-level kitchen and family room. On the terrace, a striking fireplace and pergola anchor seating areas. Two meditation gardens provide solitary retreats.

“There’s not a lot of opportunity for private green space in the city,” Brad says. “You have to make a different type of place to escape.”

Click ahead for garden designer Tony Butterworth’s tips on how to make small spaces live large. See slide 5 for a buying guide.

Go vertical

Use walls and decorative screens—solid or open—to create privacy. Lift some planters off the ground to keep green at eye level and to increase the space’s perceived scale. 

Don’t skimp

Grand focal points like a pergola or this fireplace connote a sense of luxury that belies square footage. 

Add containers

Planters layer in softness. Trees like hornbeam, serviceberry and sand cherry add mature scale to small spaces. Limited root space in containers keeps them from reaching an overwhelming size. 

Simplify

A subtle palette visually expands a space; textures add interest. In the meditation gardens, grasses and pebbles create the look of a dry stream bed.

Buying guide Builder Brad Schreiber, City View Real Estate Group Inc. cvrg.com Landscape designer Tony Butterworth, Christy Webber Landscapes. christywebber.com Decking Trex Company. trex.com

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