Tour a Sustainable Backyard Garden Retreat 

A naturalistic pond and waterfall bring movement and life to this sustainable design 

Video by Carol Collins, Edited by Cari Delahanty

A well-planned water feature will lend a restful, restorative atmosphere to almost any garden. Whether it is a simple birdbath or fountain, or a larger feature such as a pond or waterfall, incorporating the sight and sound of water can transform an ordinary outdoor space into a personal retreat that feels set apart from the outside world. 

The Jacobs garden in Beechwood, Ohio, takes this concept to a whole new level. Designed by the husband-and-wife team of Samuel Salsbury and Sabrena Schweyer of Salsbury Schweyer, Inc., this landscape is oriented around a large dramatic pond fed by a charming naturalistic stream and waterfall. Frogs, birds, and insects all take advantage of the valuable habitat that the pond and surrounding garden provide. 

An expansive deck and pergola tie the house to the garden, encouraging the homeowners to spend more of their time outdoors. Stepping-stones securely suspended over the pond’s surface connect the deck to the garden beyond, inviting exploration.  

Although the backyard is only about 1/10 of an acre, dividing the space into distinct outdoor rooms has made it feel larger. Natural cedar fencing and lush plantings surround the pond and deck, lending a comfortable sense of enclosure and privacy. 

The pond water is kept clean with systems that rely on naturally occurring bacteria rather than artificial chemicals to capture and break down waste. You can read a little more about the basics of designing an ecofriendly pond in How to Build a Garden Sanctuary With an Ecological Pond.

When creating a garden sanctuary, here are some of the strategies that Sabrena recommends:  

  • To encourage rewarding daily interactions, provide a sequence of blooms throughout the seasons. 
  • Create destinations, focal points, and elements that make sections of the garden feel separate and intriguing. 
  • Design for all five senses, with some edibles for you and wildlife to enjoy, plants with touchable textures, and a variety of soothing sights, scents, and sounds. 

To read more about this garden, check out Sabrena’s article here.


More garden tours: 

Good Design Is Worth the Wait—Garden Tour

Tour a Cottage Garden Bursting With Blooms

Tour an Architect’s Spring Garden in Coastal Connecticut

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