Lush Landscape

A Cedarburg backyard is transformed into a family friendly outdoor oasis.


A patio, pergola, pool and beautiful landscaping makes this Cedarburg backyard a relaxing respite.

When Jim Drzewiecki went to scope out a backyard in Cedarburg for a landscape design project, he arrived to an unusable patio and no landscaping at all, with the exception of a single tree on the lawn.

“It was a pretty uninviting backyard,” says Drzewiecki, landscape designer and owner of Ginkgo Leaf Studio in Cedarburg.

His clients were eager to transform their yard into a sanctuary that the whole family, including their three daughters and two small dogs, could enjoy. Armed with his clients’ inspiration photos and wish list — which included a pool, a pergola and a fire pit — Drzewiecki designed a lush outdoor oasis to complement the Colonial-style home and suit the family’s needs.

A stone patio off the back of the house offers a spacious area for entertaining and dining next to the adjoining grill area. A white pergola forms a canopy over the patio, with hanging plants that bring pops of color.

Three columns of Lannon stepping stones form a walkway from the pergola to the pool area, and the grid-like walking paths are a motif throughout the yard; stones along the side of the house also provide a path from the front yard, and a small trail of stepping stones behind the pool connects the yard to a communal neighborhood green space.

Drzewiecki worked as an architect before becoming a landscape designer, and his architect’s eye is evident in his work.

“I’m really cognizant of the fact that there are certain sight lines or physical lines from the house that help to dictate where things should be placed in the landscape,” he says.

The rectangular shape of the house and of the pool led to the rest of the yard’s rectilinear design, with each element carefully placed to create a cohesive, symmetrical look. The fire pit and an assortment of perennials, for example, were centered along the long axis of the swimming pool, and black-eyed Susans and perennials planted on the opposite side of the pool create a mirror image effect.

By setting the pool away from the patio, the owners were able to preserve precious green space in the yard, which was doubly important for the two dogs. When selecting plants, prairie-style shrubs and flowers are as hardworking as they are beautiful.

“We strived to use them to help delineate the space,” Drzewiecki says, citing the hedge of hydrangeas along the back fence and the upright juniper hedges along the sides of the yard that reinforce the rectangular shape of the space.

While strong, clean lines were king in the Cedarburg backyard, Drzewiecki wasn’t afraid to break the rules of symmetry for the sake of highlighting the natural beauty of perennials, grasses and small shrubs.

“We’re taught from kindergarten to never color outside the lines and that everything should always match,” Drzewiecki adds. “A skilled designer can break those rules at the right time and do things that maybe aren’t always lined up or equally spaced.”