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This backyard was not very inviting or practical for a young family with two rambunctious little girls. The deck was a worry as it had been built with pressure treated wood that contains toxic chemicals including arsenic, which leach out over time. There was no real play zone, just an old fence, some trees, no flowers and patches of weedy grass. A proper plan was needed, and some muscle power to do the digging. Could dad watch his girls and fit in a little surprise gardening over the weekend?
Sian's vision of a child-friendly Zen garden was realized in just three days under the calm direction of landscape architect Kim Nakawatase and the Facelift team. Everything in the garden is symbolic and tied to life. It includes all four elements of a Japanese Zen garden; water, rocks, plants and accents such as pathways and fences. There is a swing for the girls tucked under an outdoor shower, and a sandbox. Flagstone pathways weave around a water fountain, and lead the way to exploring various plantings. The new deck fits into the low flow of this harmonious backyard, which offers a place for relaxed contemplation as well as a play area for the whole family.
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Bamboo symbolizes growth and strength, a natural material to use for the new fence. 4"x4" posts were framed with lengths of 1-inch wide bamboo, and dried bamboo screens were rolled out and secured to the posts.
Wood for a deck must be treated somehow as untreated wood lasts only one to four years while treated wood lasts up to fifty years. There is now an arsenic-free pressure treated lumber, which we used in this project. With this product there's no toxic leaching into the ground.
Plants represent harmony, the yin and yang of life. Kim chose a Japanese maple, emerald cedars, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, Irish moss, ivy, holly, periwinkle and Siberian iris.
Rocks were chosen for their size, shape, texture and colour. In the tradition of Zen gardens, they represent nature, earth, mountains and sky. The flagstone stepping stones and huge limestone rock are important accents available at your garden center. When selecting large rocks or boulders, take into account their weight and how you are going to transport them into their designated spot in your garden. It may mean taking down a fence and/or begging favors from your neighbor!
Swing and Shower
The swing is attached using a steel welded plate designed to fit over the 2"x12" wooden beam fitted between two large cedar posts. The outdoor shower is attached to the back of the swing structure. The swing itself can easily be removed to facilitate taking a shower.
Water creates balance and tranquillity and water features are a popular addition to all styles of gardens. This fountain was made by first installing a large fiberglass box, which acts as a reservoir. Concrete blocks were set into the middle of the box and mesh laid across the top. The large granite stone feature was then put on top of this, supported by the concrete blocks and small stones cover up the rest of the mesh. Water runs into the fountain from a bamboo pipe positioned so that the water falls in the middle of the granite. There is an inscription on the stone that means 'we only know sincerity.' A pump was installed to recycle the water.