Barry Harrison wanted to transform his small vacant yard into a lush private garden that would provide a healthy habitat for his prized koi. He also wanted a space that could help earn money for The Greening of Detroit as part of the Detroit Garden Works Garden Tour.
He and Arturo Sanchez, co-owners of interior and furniture design firm Art | Harrison Interiors, hit the drafting board and then the workshop to come up with unique and clever ways to create a 25- by 42-square-foot backyard oasis that screens out a city park, provides comfortable seating and the relaxing sounds of water, and gives his koi plenty of room to swim around.
Patio at a Glance
Who lives here: Barry Harrison
Location: Birmingham, Michigan
Size: 1,050 square feet
One of two large granite slab bridges leads to a gravel patio. You are lured across by a 1960s statue of a temptress that Harrison picked up at the Brimfield Antiques show.
Birmingham 1: Art | Harrison Interiors & Collection, original photo on Houzz
He and Sanchez adapted these luxurious chaises for the garden with an all-weather finish.
Chaises: The Lewiston Chaise, Art | Harrison Interiors
Smaller granite slabs create a 2- to 3-foot-deep moat all the way around the gravel patio, which is a great habitat for Harrison’s prized koi.
Birmingham 2: Art | Harrison Interiors & Collection, original photo on Houzz
Bamboo and this whimsical garden folly screen out an adjacent city park. Designed by Sanchez and Harrison, the fanciful shed has copper pipes just off the front of its barrel-shaped roof, which spout water down into the moat. The structure serves as the fountain’s pump house as well as a cleverly concealed potting shed.
Birmingham 3: Art | Harrison Interiors & Collection, original photo on Houzz
Around the back of the folly, a vintage cast iron bull statue stands guard over the potting implements — and over Harrison himself at the moment.
Harrison also keeps vintage gardening tools, watering cans and cloches back here.
Birmingham 4: Art | Harrison Interiors & Collection, original photo on Houzz
This large obelisk provides more ingenious hidden storage, hiding an air conditioning unit and larger garden tools, like rakes and hoes.
Birmingham 5: Art | Harrison Interiors & Collection, original photo on Houzz
Stag horns and ferns mark the entrance to the great room. A marble-topped French console helps the space serve as an outdoor foyer.
Out front, a foot-deep space at the side of the driveway did not offer much room for plants, so Sanchez and Harrison whipped up sketches for this screen of plants in clay pots. The two design indoor furniture at their firm, so this was an interesting departure. The pots are filled with succulents that don’t require much attention.
Birmingham 6: Art | Harrison Interiors & Collection, original photo on Houzz
The screen nudges you off the driveway and around the side, down a granite flagstone path to the private garden.
Most of the plant palette is simply lush green, including easy-to-care-for plants like petasites, Baltic ivy, angelina, creeping Jenny and ferns.