Exterior Design

Modern Utah Lakeside Dream Yard

May 17, 2021

Modern Utah Lakeside Dream Yard
Modern Lakeside Dream Yard
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I am a corporate banking Senior Vice President with a passion for antiques, crafts, and beautiful interiors. Proud mom of Seth and Lily Lee. 


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Tristy Lee- DIY | Home Decor | Art | Project Inspiration

Creating our modern Utah lakeside dream yard took about a year to go from concept to completion.  Jet is an Architectural Designer and was super excited to embark on a project where we were the client.  It was an exciting prospect to create a yard taking all the ideas, integrating them into a design, finding the right landscapers to work with on the project, and finally managing the project through completion.

Utah Lakeside Backyard

Overall Yard Design

     Our overall landscape design was eclectic, taking elements of Modern Landscapes, Xeriscape-water wise, and hints of English Landscape.  We have a relatively large yard just under a half-acre.  We knew we wanted to create zones in our yard for different functions. Traveling is one of our favorite things to do, and we always visit gardens on our trips.  After visiting gardens from across the country and in our international travels, we wanted to bring some of our favorite themes into our yard.  While we tried to bring in our favorite ideas, we still wanted a cohesive design with the style of our home and to harmonize with the natural Utah Lake landscape. 

Interview with designer Jet Lee: 

He will tell you about the inspiration, design, and walk you through the yard.

Utah Lakeside Yard Front

Front Yard Inspiration: 

     In the front yard, we had several goals for the design.  One, we wanted to tie in the metal siding on our home exterior façade.  Second, we wanted to add dimension and levels to our very flat yard.  Third, we emphasize and create a grand entrance to lead into the front porch.  Fourth, we wanted to introduce paths throughout the front and back yard to create a flow. 

Metal Planter Lavender


     Planters are a great way to add levels to your yard design. Jet decided to use two flower boxes in the front yard.  He chose to use corrugated metal on the planters to tie into the metal on the house.  As part o the entrance walkway, we found two metal tall planters that continued the metal theme on another scale.  Adding planters to your yard, make sure to plan for drip systems and lighting before you begin. 

      For the first planter, we planted a couple of lavender plants. If you live in UT, you’re familiar with the Young Living Oils and their lavender farms in Mona UT.  If you travel to UT during the blooming season, the endless fields of lavender are breathtaking.  Lavender grows really well in UT, and we wanted a touch of it in our yard.  In the 2nd planter in the front yard, we have a mixture of plants starting with four large peonies in various colors.  The peonies are both of our mom’s favorite flowers; they are spring stars. After the peonies are done blooming, we add summer annuals to keep the colors going.

Yard Monster

Modern Yard Art:

Jet was lucky enough to get his hands on a metal art piece at a surplus sale at UVU.  We lovingly call him our yard monster.  Because we wanted to prominently display him in the yard, one of the front yard planters was the perfect spot. Jet added a sprinkler to his hand to add some playful whimsy to the design.  Lily and the other kids in the neighborhood love run through the sprinkler when the yard monster is sprinkling.   He is also so fun to decorate for the seasons with hats for Halloween and Christmas. Adding metal yard art fits right in with this modern Utah lakeside dream yard.

Yoshino Cherry Trees

Cherry Orchard Lane:

     Jet and I both grew up in communities where you could drive through neighborhoods and see orchards.  Then,  as a senior trip, we took Seth and his cousin Rocky Washington DC.  We timed our journey to be there about a week before the official Cherry Blossom Festival, and we were lucky the flowers were in full bloom.

     That trip had such an impression on us from the rich history to the elegance of the Yoshino Cherry trees we knew they needed a place in our yard.  We decided to put a mini Orchard of Yoshino Cherry trees on the north side of our front yard.  In the early Spring, when this is in bloom, it is a total show stopper.  After the bloom fall, it reminds me of the orchards that are slowly going away in our community as they are being bought up and developed into residential neighborhoods.


Walkways and paths:  

     We wanted walkways through our yard to create zones and flow throughout our yard.  You will see pathways throughout our yard.  When we were finalizing plans, we had a lot of walkways, and we used several different types of materials.  One of our goals was to Xeriscape and to be conscious of our water usage, but not compromise on texture and visual design interest.  So we had to get creative when incorporating materials. We used pavers in a couple of colors, flagstone chips, granite finds, and concrete. cut the ends off the cones so that we could place them more upright on the board and fill in the center.

Tip Pavers: It costs a little bit more to use polymer sand but the investment is totally worth it. We did some of our front yard pavers using standard sand and they are shifting and letting weeds through.

Side Yard Japanese Maple


     The backyard is where we had our biggest dreams. Our list is long of the things we want in the yard.  We knew we wanted to add an arbor, cement planter, garden boxes, patio, firepit, and several types of grasses.  We enjoy hosting large parties with distinct zones where people can have intimate seating areas throughout the yard.  The yard opens up to the Utah Lake preserve, and we wanted our design flow and compliment the lakeside landscape.   Jet wanted to use curves throughout the yard design to create a sense of flow and continuity.     You will see these curves throughout the yard in the paths, arbor, planters, patio, and firepit.  

Backyard Design

Modern Metal Arbor for  our Dream Yard:

     When we visit gardens, we often see show-stopping arbors covered in vines. We absolutely fell in love with a metal arbor in a semi-circle that was at the Utah Water Conservatory Garden in Orem UT that has unfortunately since closed. Jet’s design concept was similar to that on a smaller scale for our yard. Jet considered having a company build a wood version of the arbor design. However, he wanted to use Wisteria as the vines, and they can pull down wooden structures over time. He kept coming back to a metal arbor that also continued the metal them through the yard. Ultimately, what tipped the scale Jet saw a bunch of remnant metal beams on our local KSL classifieds site (similar to Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.) Jet was able to get a great deal on the materials. Jet has some experience welding, but given the scales of this project found a local welder to work with on the project.  This was an absolute must for our modern Utah lakeside dream yard. 

Metal Arbor

Modern Garden Hosting Table:

     I have to admit this one was my dream, not Jet’s, but he loves me and helped me to make this project happen. I saw a garden table at a local nursery and fell in love with it. We had some leftover beams from the arbor project, so I took Jet in to see the table. The next step was to convince my dad to take the project on. My dad Barry Atwood is an expert welder and always need a Christmas present ideas. I took him in to show him the inspiration table, and they both agreed to the project, and I ended up with the most fantastic table. We use it when we are planting and as the buffet table for our outdoor parties. 

 Metal Raised Garden Boxes: 

     We just bought and built some assembly required raised garden boxes.  However, you can see we deliberately choose the metal boxes to again pull the metal elements into our overall design.

Metal Garden Hosting Table

Modern Yard Cement Planter:

We started seeing cement planters more often in some of the Modern Style yard designs that we admire, and the wind is a big issue living lakeside. Jet decided to create the planters for the backyard out of cement. These cement planters are great for anchoring our yard furniture to make sure it doesn’t move too far during some of our crazy wind storms.

Modern Yard Cement Planter:

We started seeing cement planters more often in some of the Modern Style yard designs that we admire, and the wind is a big issue living lakeside. Jet decided to create the planters for the backyard out of cement. These cement planters are great for anchoring our yard furniture to make sure it doesn’t move too far during some of our crazy wind storms.

Cement Planter
Cement Planter

Dreamy Patio and Seating Areas:

     We actually have two structured patio sections in the back yard. One is at the base of our deck and uses the same pavers as the walkway coming in from the front yard. We have an art piece here that is a bench created out of some parts from an old Chevrolet truck. This is always a beautiful bench to sit on, but it doubles as seating when you add a table for a party. This patio is large enough to put a couple table groupings on for large parties.

Truck Bench

Modern Patio with FirePit:

    The second patio is our favorite place to be in the yard, sipping a cold drink and watching a sunset around the firepit. The patio around the firepit has pavers that were remnants from another project the landscaper was working on. The had a modern feel and incorporating some of the prior pavers into the path. It gave us an entirely new look for that patio. Our vision of perfect lakeside living included images of sitting by the fire listening to the crickets and water in the evenings. We started to see the gas fire bowls in more designs and knew this would be the perfect finishing touch to our seating area. You will notice in the pictures the patio has 2 seating areas to allow people to have a couple of seating groups or can be combined into a more massive party. We are getting ready for summer parties, we add a table to the backside for a DJ and end of summer Karaoke, where we hear tons of Disney songs with the neighborhood kids as rock stars.

Firepit Seating Area
Seating Area

Lily’s Dream Yard: 

     Lily is a toddler, and with all these hard surfaces, I wasn’t 100% convinced that this would be a kid-friendly design.  Adding a playhouse and a swing to the metal arbor, I could not have even dreamed of the ways she would play in the yard.  The cement planters have become balance beams,  the pathways are her personal bike trails for her strider bike and trike.  The glass rocks in the firepit are the gems she shows her friends. It really is Lily’s Modern Utah Lakeside Dream Yard.

Landscape Company:  

      If your are in Utah County we highly recommend working with JC Landscaping.  Jet has worked with them for many years and the quality of their work is exceptional.  They pay attention to details and work with you to make sure that you achieve the vision of your yard.  Tell them Jet sent you.  

 For more yard ideas:

How to Plan Your Dream Yard

How to Hire the Best Landscape Designers and Landscapers

     Our yard truly is our dream yard, and I am so happy that Jet spent the time to design and make it a reality.  I feel like I am on vacation when I sit out there in the evenings and can’t wait to have friends over for a party.  It is genuinely our Modern Utah Lakeside Dream Yard.  Be sure to sign up for your Free Checklist to Hiring the Best Landscape professionals.  If you want to work with us on a project please contact tristy@liliesandjets.com.

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I'm Tristy... 
I am that friend who will say "Dream big...Let's do it."

My dreams exceed my ability to do regularly. But with the right vision and the right partners, you can do anything!

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