The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - STAR TRI­BUNE (MIN­NEAPO­LIS) ST. LOUIS PARK, MINN. —

Want to make your neigh­bour­hood friend­lier? Con­sider adding a front-yard pa­tio ... some pavers, a few plants, a cou­ple of comfy chairs — and, voilà! — in­stant sum­mer so­cial­iz­ing.

That’s the way it seems to be work­ing in one St. Louis Park neigh­bour­hood, Minikahda Vista, where front-yard pa­tios have be­come con­ta­gious in re­cent years.

Beth and Gerry Gun­der­son added one in 2015, in­spired by a neigh­bour’s new pa­tio a block away. “We just loved it!” re­called Beth, whose en­thu­si­asm for en­ter­tain­ing has earned the cou­ple a nick­name: the Fun­der­sons. “I walked home and said, ‘Let’s do it here.’”

Last year, the Gun­der­sons’ next-door neigh­bours, Bobbi and Mike Deeney, also added a front pa­tio. “We used to have chairs on the grass,” said Bobbi, an avid gar­dener. “But it was hard to move them to mow. Now there’s less to mow — and more for me to plant.”

Just a few months later, Mary and Trent St­effy added their own front pa­tio, in­spired by the two across the street. “We needed to redo our front land­scape, any­way — it was over­grown,” said Mary. And as a teacher who rel­ishes her sum­mers off, she was ea­ger to cre­ate an­other out­door space to en­joy. “I try to spend as much time out­side as pos­si­ble — I lit­er­ally bring my laun­dry out and fold it!”

Back­yard pa­tios — se­cluded and pri­vate — have long been the norm, but up­front pa­tios are cur­rently trending, ac­cord­ing to Diana Grun­deen, owner of Trio Land­scap­ing, the Min­neapo­lis firm that de­signed and in­stalled both the Gun­der­sons’ and Deeneys’ pa­tios.

“We have been do­ing more front-yard projects. They’re more so­cial,” she said.

That nos­tal­gia for old-fash­ioned neigh­bourli­ness also has fu­elled the re­vival of the front porch in re­cent years. “But not ev­ery­body’s ar­chi­tec­ture lends it­self to a front porch,” Grun­deen noted.

A front-yard pa­tio cre­ates an easy, nat­u­ral way to min­gle with neigh­bours, said Bobbi, who likes to spend time on hers at the end of the work­day when peo­ple are com­ing home. “They walk down the street, sit on the wall, and we’ll chit-chat.”

Some gath­er­ings even mi­grate from one pa­tio to an­other, pick­ing up neigh­bours as the evening pro­gresses. “My hus­band likes to start in front,” said Bobbi. “De­pend­ing how many peo­ple we ac­cu­mu­late, we’ll move to the back.”


Bobbi Deeney, left, and Beth Gun­der­son with their dogs, Oliver and Nel­son, on the pa­tio in front of Deeney’s house.

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