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Side-yard patio has units built in for gardening, cooking, and socializing.

Side-yard patio has units built in for gardening, cooking, and socializing

A friendly intimacy enhances this sunken side-yard patio, which concentrates several practical ideas into a small space. Without seeming crowded, the brick-lined 21- by 24-foot area includes an awning-covered barbecue center, well-detailed potting table, built-in seating, and a firepit that also serves as a footrest and long, low table.

Off to one corner, a heavy-beamed greenhouse expands the usable space but remains in scale with the patio.

Santa Monica, California, landscape architect Michael Kobayashi positioned the compact patio to one side of a larger, trellis-covered deck next to the house. Sinking the patio 2 feet below grade made it the focus of the garden and increased privacy provided by the surrounding 6-foot-high walls. Because the lot slopes to the street in front of the house, drainage pipes under the bricks carry away water from even the heaviest rains.

The barbecue center backs up to the higher main deck. Red quarry tiles cover its 34 1/2-inch-wide, 11-foot-long counter. A gas-fired barbecue, small sink, and storage compartments are built in. For late-evening cooking, downlights were built into the frame of the cantilevered canvas awning above the counter.

Red tiles also top the 98-inch-long potting counter. To keep soil from spilling onto the patio, all potting takes place on a built-in 15- by 21-inch grate. A bucket below the grate collects excess soil that falls through. The back wall of the potting counter is the retaining wall running around the perimeter of patio and greenhouse.

Panels of tempered glass cover the steep roof of the 11-foot-square greenhouse, which reaches just over 9 feet at the peak. Earth berms on three sides keep it insulated; 80-percent shadecloth and an evaporative cooler keep it from overheating.

Gary Peterson of American Landscape, Inc., built the patio at his house in Canoga Park, California.

Photo: Sunken patio and greenhouse fill small side yard without looking crowded. The private, bricked-in retreat has a barbecue center, potting table, broad-lipped firepit, and 26 feet of low wall to sit on. Below, awning covers a cantilevered rough-redwood frame above the barbecue and sink unit. The frame's 4-by-6 posts are bolted to the brick retaining wall behind the tile-topped counter

Photo: Potting counter sits just outside sunken greenhouse (left). As she works, loose soil falls through removable grate of 2-by-2s to bucket below. Open shelves store fertilizer and extra pots
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Date:Oct 1, 1984
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