First Avenue Garden

View of the Lounge Area

This garden fronts a repurposed nineteenth-century industrial property that now houses three apartments. Unlike its neighbouring rowhouses, this building sits very close to the public sidewalk, had no rear yard, and, following an interior renovation, has giant windows facing the street.

With a limited outdoor area, we faced the challenge of including a lounge area, seating, dining facilities, a BBQ, storage space, bicycle access and storage, privacy screen, plantings and the main entry to the house. The solution is a simple garden plan with three distinct zones: a cooking and storage area, a lounging and dining area, and a concealed garden to look at through the apartment’s large interior side window. All three of these areas are surrounded by under-story trees to ensure there is ample privacy from the street, both for the garden and for the interior of the complex.

Industrial, salvaged and recycled local materials were used throughout the space. Dyed, sandblasted concrete paving and crushed Ontario granite replaced the existing, randomly placed stone paving. The old paving was preserved, trimmed and reused as garden edging. A long table and bench were custom-made using salvaged Toronto beams, and the existing kit-shed was re-clad with perforated metal and painted. Japanese Maples and Pagoda Dogwoods serve as more intimate tree canopies under the larger, existing maple canopy. In the private corner of the garden, a Paperbark Maple stands squarely in front of the garden-facing window, allowing residents to closely observe the tree’s exfoliation process all year round.

Both the long bench and BBQ table are made from old Douglas Fir beams. Set on steel bases, the bench and table form a border around the yard, framing the yard’s activities and accenting the garden’s plantings.

< Before : View plan >

view of the garden from the street

The view from the street

View looking West

Cooking and Bike Storage Area with custom table made with salvaged wood

Detail view of the bench

Custom bench using salvaged wood

View looking West

Overall view of the Garden from the East

View looking East

View of the Lounge Area

project credits >