Laurelhurst Hillside Garden Seattle images, Washington landscape architecture photos, US social garden on a slope

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, WA

May 28, 2020

Design: Wittman Estes Architecture+Landscape

Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, Washington

A Sunken Courtyard in a Sun Soaked Backyard

Transforming a steep hillside landscape into a lush social garden

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden, Seattle, Washington

Situated on a steep hillside on a lot with over 40 feet of grade change, Laurelhurst Hillside Garden weaves together a series of vibrant new gardens and outdoor living spaces for a active young couple’s home. Organized around a series of concrete and steel terraces, the landscape design encourages guests to enjoy intimate garden experiences and outward views to the neighborhood and Lake Washington.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, Washington

The main entrance to the house sits over 20 above the street and was cut off from view, creating a challenge for guests as well as the owners. The backyard, with existing mature Japanese maple trees and occasional views to Lake Washington, rose steeply from the back deck and was not readily accessible from the home.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, Washington

The Roddens asked that their landscape be designed in a way that would allow a more gracious connection between the house and outdoor spaces so they could be outside and enjoy the full extent of their property.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, Washington

The couple and their two daughters wanted a way to be outdoors and socialize, cook, and relax with friends and family. Wittman Estes imagined a series of interconnected spaces for both the front and back yards, and envisioned a terraced landscape with a variety of open spaces woven into lush plantings.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, Washington

In the front, a new custom mailbox and house number demarcates the entrance and starts at the street to create a more gracious entry for guests to climb the hillside and enjoy the lush plantings and views along the path to the front door. Wide landings paved with custom pre-cast pavers are linked by steel and concrete steps, and bracketed by 3’ tall carbon steel planters with billowing grasses.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden Seattle, Washington landscape design

In the backyard, an ipe hardwood deck opens out from the kitchen and dining room, and steps down to the focal point of the landscape: the sunken courtyard. Featuring custom hardwood screens, plate steel retaining walls, ipe wood benches and handmade cushions by La Fabrique, the courtyard is both intimate and expansive.

With a fireplace in the center, the space offers a cozy refuge for small groups of friends to gather, while pathways connect the courtyard to the deck, the landscape terraces below, and the front entry landscape down the hillside towards the street. Ascending once more from the patio, wood steps rise to an elevated garden with wide views from a relaxing hammock.

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden Seattle, Washington landscape design

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden Seattle – Landscape Information

Architect: Wittman Estes Architecture+Landscape
Design Team: Matt Wittman and Jody Estes
Structural Engineer: Josh Welch
Builder: Matt Eads, Terrain Build

Wittman Estes

Wittman Estes is an award-winning interdisciplinary collaboration started in 2012 by architect Matt Wittman and landscape designer Jody Estes, and founded on the idea that buildings and landscapes could be combined into one interconnected whole. The office is known for innovative designs, energy-positive prefab housing, multifamily housing, and for their ability to design for sensitive ecological sites.

Wittman Estes has been published in Dwell, Dezeen, Design Milk, Gardenista, Seattle Magazine, Luxe, and London’s Made magazine. Their work has been featured in galleries and exhibits in Seattle and San Francisco, and was recognized at the 2018 AIA Honor Awards for Washington Architecture. More info at:

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden Seattle, Washington landscape design

Seattle social garden materials

Indoor Outdoor Connections

Ipe deck and steps
Precast concrete terraces
Fleetwood Multislide doors
Filtered views from the living and dining room to the gardens and Lake Washington beyond

Landscape materials

Carbon steel planters and retaining walls
Custom concrete firepit by Wittman Estes
Precast narrow modular pavers by Stepstone
Ipe hardwood screens and benches
Custon carbon steel mailbox and entry marker by Wittman Estes
Crushed granite pathways
Custom cushions with Sunbrella textiles by La Fabrique

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden Seattle, Washington landscape design

Planting Materials

Ginkgo biloba “Fairmont’ Maidenhair Tree
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ Witch Hazel
Acanthus mollis Bear’s Breech
Anemone x hybrida ‘September Charm’ Pink Windflower
Calluna vulgaris ‘Flamingo’ Mauve Heath
Calluna vulgaris ‘Kinlochruel’ Dbl White Heath
Calluna vulgaris ‘Selly’ Rosy Red Heath
Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ Japanese Sedge
Clematis ‘Snow Queen’ White Clematis
Crocosmia ‘Twilight Fairy Crimson’ Red Montbretia
Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ White Bleeding Heart
Erica x darleyensis ‘Alba’ White Heather
Erica x darleyensis ‘Golden Sport’ Gold Leaf Heather
Fatsia japonica Japanese Aralia
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ Japanese Forest Grass
Helleborus orientalis ‘Spring Party’ Lenten rose
Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’ Lily Turf
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ Maiden Grass
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yaku Jima’ Dwarf Maiden Grass
Nassella tenuissima Mexican Feather Grass
Rhus typhina ‘Tiger’s Eye’ Tiger’s Eye Sumac
Ribes sanguineum Red Flowering Currant
Sarcococca hookeriana humilis Dwarf Sweet Box
Sarcococca rustica Sweet Box
Trachelospermum jasminoides Star Jasmine
Tulipa White Tulip

Laurelhurst Hillside Garden in Seattle, Washington images / information received 280520

Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

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