Downtown Indy's Urban Oasis

Small Indianapolis Landscape Transformed

Limited space downtown can leave you feeling a little claustrophobic and in need of a place of rest and rejuvenation. We worked with one client to turn the back yard of their recently updated new home into a haven of peace with modern design and exquisite detail.

Our client gave us free reign to work with the space. They wanted a sitting and eating space, and  something that would be enjoyable from inside looking through first and second story windows.

Since it was a small space, creating an efficient landscape design to present areas for multiple uses was a challenge, but we pulled off both a living room area and a dining room area along with a private little space tucked in the corner against the house. To hold interest from the first floor windows, we turned the back wall of the garage into a living mural of sorts, and we used plants of varying heights and colors. From the second story looking into the back yard, you get a unique aerial view of the garden that allows you to fully appreciate the designs built into the paving materials.

Allow me to take you on a virtual walk around the property to get a look at how this landscape offers both peace and intrigue.

This retaining wall is a functional part of this downtown Indianapolis urban landscape design. 

This retaining wall is a functional part of this downtown Indianapolis urban landscape design. 


As you approach from the street, a small serviceberry tree (seen here in it's autumn glory) anchors the end of the planting space. Plumbago next to the retaining wall with fragrant sumac behind provide low-maintenance, multi-level groundcover. Dramatic cannas with deep burgundy foliage add height to the planting and direct your eye up to the house's redesigned facade.


On your walk up the front stairs, the concrete walls and steps give a simple, modern, almost industrial feel that is livened up by the sleek scarlet container overflowing with tropical annuals. To the right, you can just see the perennial planting that softens the edge of the walk and adds more texture and color to the composition.

Now take a walk through the gate into the backyard and prepare for instant zen. Perfectly shaped and spaced bluestone pavers take you along the side of the house and into the garden. A line of majestic dawn redwoods adds a vertical element to the space and echoes the upright architecture of the house. A simple container of shell ginger provides a snap of color to pull you into the yard.


A closer look at the graceful foliage of the shell ginger arching over the path. To the left you can catch a glimpse of the corner planting bed with purple coral bells, chartreuse shade-tolerant grasses, and a coppery red Japanese maple.

As you round the corner you find yourself in a tranquil outdoor room that is continuous with the interior of the home. The abstract black fire feature is called UrbanFire, and its part of the ModFire line of outdoor fire features designed by an artist originally from Indianapolis.

The black furniture invites you to sit and grounds the vibrant green of the accent tables. Alternating panels of ivy and soothing nature photos form a textured monochromatic wall against the garage. The photo panels are made of a dense, translucent plastic material, and at night they are backlit to fill the space with a warm glow. Robust wisteria covers the pergola and cascades down.


From the opposite side of the yard you get a better look at the bluestone and gravel paving that echoes the walk in from the front of the house. The rust-hued rectangular containers are barely visible from this angle, but they have a unique cut-out in the center that visually lightens them up a bit.


This gravel is held in place by a strong adhesive to provide the fascinating texture to contrast the bluestone without the inconvenience of gravel spilling everywhere. Filling in the gravel was a painstakingly detailed process, because if any of the adhesive touched the stone pavers it would leave a permanent residue. Our skilled construction crew carefully funneled the gravel into its place to leave the stone pavers clean.

As you head back through the gate to the front, well-rested and peaceful, you find a beautifully framed view of more nature across the street to carry you on your way.

What will your oasis look like? It is our mission to enhance lives through the outdoor environment. Visit our portfolio to see more examples of outdoor spaces to match all tastes and homes, and learn more about working with us. You can also call us at 317.251.GROW or contact us directly online to get your project started.


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