Show us your space

Laurie Fisher sits at her favorite part of the outdoor space, next to the pond at her home in nothern Baltimore. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / May 21, 2012)

The Fisher family envisioned a retreat in the backyard of their Baltimore County home — an easy, elegant outdoor living space that would reflect their passion for nature.

"I grew up in the country," says Alex Fisher, an investment executive. "There were rock gardens, ponds, streams and a waterfall where we would sometimes camp out."

"We've always enjoyed being outdoors," adds Laurie Fisher, a fashion consultant. "Our son, Davis, will leave for college soon, and we're really embracing this time we have with him. We're happiest relaxing with family and friends."

Last summer, the Fishers interviewed a series of contractors, ultimately accepting a bid from L&R Landscaping of Glen Arm. Along with outdoor spaces, the company's specialties include brick and stone masonry, decks, patios and landscaping.

Over the course of four months, owner Scott Robinson and his team of craftsmen embarked on a renovation project to transform the family's sprawling backyard into a cozy, outdoor living environment.

Only one thing stood in the way of the suburban paradise the Fishers imagined: an oval swimming pool that dominated much of the yard.

"The first priority was to get rid of the pool and decking, which were in rough shape," says Alex Fisher.

"We never used it much," Laurie Fisher adds. "We decided to put a pond in its place."

Reconfiguring the pool would pose its share of design headaches. Robinson, a landscape designer and builder with 26 years of experience, acknowledges that it was a bit challenging.

"We had to break it apart, cut the steel reinforcements," he says. "We filled the hole, mostly with gravel. Then it was a matter of compacting and compacting. It took us about two weeks."

But once that portion of the project was tackled, the rest of the process went smoothly. The entire cost was less than $50,000, according to the homeowners.

Today, the Fishers relish their outdoor space. It celebrates nature while offering practical amenities that make it ideal for summer entertaining.

A waterfall flows gracefully into a tranquil pond with lily pads. Boulders, flora and fauna surround the water feature.

A sitting area, complete with a weather-resistant couch and chairs, and a custom fieldstone fireplace, beckons on chilly evenings.

In another section of the yard, a table that seats eight has a centerpiece of thick candles for al fresco dining. A shiny professional-style grill is stationed nearby.

A series of decorative accents dot the space, including wind chimes and statues. Among them is a jaunty frog toasting with a wine glass.

"That was a gift to my husband," says Laurie Fisher.

Meanwhile, a profusion of green and bursts of colorful flowers emerge at every turn. Several 12-foot trees were planted, notably a crape myrtle and a weeping cedar. Pink and blue hydrangea and assorted perennials, lend additional beauty to the landscape.

In a nod to conservation, the builders used reclaimed and repurposed materials. For instance, the mantle on the fireplace was made of recycled barn beams and the large rocks scattered near the pond "were brought in from the family farm," says Alex Fisher.