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At just 11 feet deep, this back yard would hardly seem to welcome a crowd. What's more, the north-facing yard is in shade most of the day, making it unsuitable for the typical lawn. The design solution draws the eye up rather than out, with vertical accents such as black-cane bamboo, tall ceramic containers, and a custom arbor which could accommodate a child's swing. Because the bamboo doesn't take up a lot of room, the new deck can be extended far enough to accommodate a dining table; and a built-in bench provides efficient seating as well as bounding the deck. Constructed out of synthetic wood and elevated above the damp ground, the decking won't rot or harbor mildew or moss. Although the space is too shady for turfgrass, artificial turf is specified for the play area; shade-tolerant shrubs and perennials with chartreuse or variegated foliage also brighten the space. A custom fountain completes the unique design, utilizing salvaged materials and inexpensive construction to create a focal point that adds depth and interest from indoors as well as outside. (Construction specifications and installation by others.)

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