How We Built a 4-Season Backyard Oasis

Creating a Four-Season Backyard with Maximum Privacy

This week we are sharing an exciting new project that we have been working on – the creation of an incredible backyard oasis for a lovely family. The goal for this space was to design and build a relaxing, multifunctional outdoor area with three main hangout zones: a four-season porch, a cozy fire pit area with an outdoor kitchen, and a screened-in pergola. 

This backyard renovation will provide the homeowners with the ability to enjoy the outdoors and entertain guests no matter the weather or season. The four-season porch will allow them to soak in views of the yard and garden during the colder months. The fire pit lounge will be the perfect spot for roasting marshmallows and gathering around a warm glow. And the screened-in pergola will provide shade and protection from bugs for al fresco dining during the warmer seasons.

We worked closely with the homeowners to understand their wishlist and bring their dream backyard oasis to life. Over the next sections, we will walk through the major steps involved in constructing each component of this stunning space. The end result is an amazing customized backyard that exceeds the family’s expectations. They now have the ultimate staycation destination right outside their backdoor!

Staining the Pergola Boards

The first step in building this stunning screened pergola was staining the boards that will be used. These boards had been sitting out and have had a chance to cure and dry out. We stain them ahead of time because once we start constructing the pergola, it can be challenging to reach every nook and cranny. So, we want to make sure they are stained and ready to go before we start building.

Pre-staining the boards is a crucial first step, as it allows the wood proper time to cure and dry before applying the stain. If we were to stain the boards after constructing the pergola, it would be extremely difficult to fully coat every surface, leaving unstained spots that could weather and degrade faster. By prepping and staining each board individually, we can ensure full, even coverage. This protects the integrity of the wood long-term and provides a uniform, beautiful finish.

Excavating and Preparing the Base

Next, we jump into the excavation process. We dig down for the base, which will have about 6 inches of stone for the foundation of the pavers. We excavate, tamp the subsoil, lay out fabric, and then spread out the #57 stone over the fabric. We continue spreading the fabric and stone, compacting it all the way up. The final layer consists of 5 inches of #57 gravel and 1 inch of #8 gravel, which we screed out before laying the pavers.

Laying the Pavers

When laying the pavers, we always start at the stairs, making sure the depth is right. It’s crucial to pay attention to the height to ensure that all the treads are the same depth. Having uneven depths can cause trips and loss of balance, which is not what we want in our backyard oasis.  We never want to cheat our way around that last step, as safety is our top priority.

You can see in the video below how quickly our team is able to lay the pavers down. Once the base is stable, the process goes smoother and quicker. We didn’t encounter any soft spots or issues with the soil in this job, as it has clay soil, which is generally good in terms of stability. However, it can get quite messy when wet. Thankfully, the open-grade style base we used doesn’t hold moisture, allowing us to continue working even in bad weather.

Adding Privacy Features

One of the biggest concerns for my clients when we first walked through the space was the lack of privacy. Their backyard overlooks a ravine where they could see directly into their neighbor’s yards. They wanted to create an oasis where they could relax and entertain without feeling exposed.

To address this issue, we got creative with some privacy solutions. On the pergola, we installed motorized screens that can come down when needed. These unique screens have a special opaque coating that when hit with sunlight makes them function like a one-way mirror. My clients will be able to enjoy their pergola without worrying about who might be watching from the neighboring yards.

Additionally, we are adding privacy screens on the outside of the patio that will eventually be covered with foliage like jasmine or clematis, further enhancing the privacy of the space. This will provide an extra layer of greenery to make the space feel more secluded. The plantings will grow in over time, filling any gaps in the screens for maximum privacy.

With the motorized screens and climbing foliage, my clients will be able to fully immerse themselves in their backyard oasis without distractions from surrounding properties. The privacy solutions we implemented were practical yet blend seamlessly into the aesthetics of this gorgeous new space.

Building the Fire Pit

A fire pit is an essential part of any backyard oasis, providing warmth and ambiance during chilly nights. For this project, we opted for a gas-powered fire pit for convenience and safety.

We began by digging the foundation and installing the blocks for an Aspen Stone fire pit. Aspen Stone was chosen for its durability and rustic properties, bringing a sense of warmth and character to the space. The fire pit includes built-in aluminum screens to allow proper airflow, preventing any potential buildup of residual gas. This helps avoid any mishaps and keeps the fire pit safe to use for years to come.

With the fire pit foundation in place, we shift focus to constructing the surrounding seating area. The modular wall design allows us to curve the shape for an inviting feel. We’re using natural stone in keeping with the earthy aesthetics of the space.

The end result is a gorgeous and functional gathering area centered around the cozy fire pit. The curved design promotes conversation and connection—the perfect spot for sharing stories over s’mores on cool evenings! The durable stone materials ensure this space can be enjoyed for many years.

Completing the Outdoor Kitchen

The final touches are installed into the outdoor kitchen – a trash can, storage area, and a grill. The entire kitchen will be topped with stunning granite. It’s truly going to be a feast for the eyes.

The outdoor kitchen really completes the backyard oasis by providing a functional space for cooking and entertaining. We built the base for the kitchen using Belgard Weston Block in the color Chesapeake before adding granite countertops to finish off the space.

Granite was the perfect material to give the kitchen high-end style. The clients chose a finish in a neutral tone that pairs nicely with the pavers and pergola. The color has variation and depth to it that keeps it interesting.

With storage, trash, grill, and stunning granite complete, this outdoor kitchen has everything needed to cook up amazing meals outside. It’s the perfect addition to our backyard oasis design.

Installing the Motorized Screens

The motorized screens we installed on the pergola provide both privacy and sun protection benefits for the homeowners. These ingenious screens lower down from the pergola roof with the touch of a button.

The special material used for the screens has a unique opaque sheen when hit by sunlight. This creates a one-way view, where the homeowners can see out but no one can see in. It’s almost like having high-tech one-way glass right in their backyard! This gives them the privacy they were hoping for, without losing the beautiful views from their yard.

The motorized screens also provide shade and sun protection when needed. On hot or bright days, the homeowners can deploy the screens to instantly create cooling shade under the pergola.

These versatile screens give the homeowners full control over their privacy and shade needs. With just a push of a button, they can alter their backyard experience and comfort. We couldn’t be more thrilled with how well these screens address the needs of our clients while also looking fantastic.

Pest Control Considerations

We put a lot of thought into how to keep bugs and other pests out of this beautiful backyard oasis. An invasion of creepy crawlies would definitely ruin the enjoyment of this space! To address this, we added screening to the bottom of all the posts supporting the pergola roof. This prevents bugs and other unwanted visitors from crawling up inside from the ground below.   

Additionally, we filled any gaps or cracks between boards and sealed up potential entry points and to deter pests. The motorized privacy screens provide yet another barrier, thanks to the added fringe and felt edging. The soft fringe makes it impossible for bugs to crawl between the screen and the post. And the felt provides a tight seal when the screen lowers down. With all these pest control measures in place, you can relax and enjoy the backyard without any uninvited guests crashing the party!

Final Revel and Overview

Now, let’s take a step back and admire the fantastic work our team has done.

We have a polycarbonate roof on the pergola, providing protection from the sun while still allowing natural light to filter through. The clean lines and minimalist design of the pergola allow it to blend seamlessly into the space.

The stunning granite-covered outdoor kitchen is a chef’s dream, with ample prep space, storage, and a top-of-the-line grill. Gathering around the kitchen island for snacks and conversation will be a joy.

The gas fire pit is the perfect focal point for the patio, providing warmth and ambiance. The flames dance mesmerizingly behind the elegant aluminum screens.

The pavers are laid beautifully, with meticulous attention to getting the right heights and angles. They provide the ideal textured yet smooth surface underfoot.

Privacy screens line parts of the patio, filtering the views and allowing my clients to relax in seclusion. The motorized screens on the pergola can open or close with the touch of a button, optimizing shade and visibility.

This space truly is an amazing oasis, perfect for relaxing, entertaining, and creating lasting memories. The design maximizes function while retaining beauty, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it all came together. Our team put their hearts into this backyard transformation, and we hope our clients will enjoy it for many years to come.