Brooklyn backyard renovation blossoms with cedarwood, repurposed flagstone, and an elevated deck
“After” photos by Miao Jiaxin for Sweeten
Homeowners: K.V. Harper posted her backyard renovation project on SweetenWhere: Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, Brooklyn, New YorkPrimary renovation: Rebuilding the stained cedar fence, pavers, sod, and some new wood decking in the yard to achieve an urban getaway.Sweeten general contractorSweeten’s role: Sweeten matches homeowners with vetted general contractors for residential renovation projects, offering knowledge, support, and up to $50,000 in job-related financial protection—for free.
Planning out the backyard space
K.V. received suggestions from friends, including calls for a pool, but found herself inspired by gardens of Mexico and Brazil. Quiet retreats that are lush rather than luxe; welcoming outdoor spaces for relaxation and fun that aren’t overly designed. Hosting friends and barbecues was top of mind.
Her vision for cedar fencing became the defining element of the project. The yard was framed by reddened cedar boards, split into a few distinct areas for lounging and dining, and incorporated natural asymmetry with clean lines. Her Sweeten contractor started by clearing the yard entirely. They pulled up everything until they reached fresh dirt, making way for a clean slate.
After clearing and leveling the plot, he installed stained cedar fencing around the full perimeter of the yard. He took care to preserve the lone mature tree in the far right corner of the yard. The crew discovered bluestone under the rubbish during demolition and they were able to re-purpose it cost-effectively by the back entry. The upcycled bluestone blocks created a pathway onto square slabs that lead to the right of the yard into an elevated oasis at the very back, where gravel supports a simple perch.
Discovering the green thumb
Although they used fresh sod sparingly, it greatly impacted the yard’s midsection to create a green, lush aesthetic. K.V. admitted that having grass is a lot of work. However, because of it, she’s acquired a green thumb, a better sense of gardening, and plans for increased plantings next year. A row of mulch runs along the left side of the fencing with annuals, perennials, and blooms, K.V. has a fabulous foundation for her newly acquired greenskeeping skills.
K.V. outfitted her backyard with some necessities for a summer siesta or kicking back with friends and local fare. The elevated seating area in the back includes handpicked Acapulco chairs in bright colors, plus a fire pit and hammock (which she considered tossing until she made peace with the fact that she spent most of her days relaxing here). The paved walkway houses an outdoor table and bench seating, plus a grill.
With a completed backyard renovation in Brooklyn under her belt, K.V. is extra ready for summers in the city!
Ready to get your own slice of paradise with a backyard renovation?
BACKYARD RESOURCES: Fencing: Stained cedar/fire pit: One Kings Lane. Hammock: Novica. Table and bench: World Market.
Sweeten founder and CEO weighs in on what to know before renovating a brownstone
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