Patience Rewarded

A three-phase, five-year project yields a unified outdoor paradise


The fountain was constructed as part of the patio in phase one,
and the pavilion behind it added later.

When the owners of this Mitchellville, Maryland, home began working with McHale Landscape Design, their vision wasn’t just for a season, but for years down the line. They began focusing on a multi-phase project that would take five years to develop. The final project would span the entire two-acre property and encompass three new structures plus patios, fountains, an indoor pool and a spacious garden.

“The entire project was planned before beginning phase one,” says president Kevin McHale. “But the client wanted to go at it in phases so that they would have time to tweak the design.” The company, the clients and their homeowner association’s architectural review board struck a delicate balance during the planning stages. The final goal of all parties concerned was a completed project that would look as though it had been built in conjunction with the original home, constructed in 1990.

The first phase of the project laid the groundwork. A rear flagstone terrace was installed that included a large fountain. A 20-by-40-foot outdoor swimming pool and patio were also built—although this area would undergo a dramatic transformation over the next few years. “The first question the client asked in the design meeting was, ‘If in the future I want to cover this pool, can I do it?'” recalls McHale. “And we said yes.”

In the second phase of the project, McHale landscaped the front yard, driveway and entranceway. “When our design team visited the site, it was barren with only one tree on the property,” says McHale. Since the home’s design was based on a Federal mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, they predominantly chose plants common to the South, such as magnolia, crepe myrtle, hydrangea and roses. The large scale of the house and the multiple structures that would be in place by the end of the project called for larger plantings, so the company brought in mature plant material, including trees more than 25 feet high.

In the third and final phase, the major construction began with the erection of the pavilion, the pool house and the garage and multi-purpose building. The barbeque area off the patio had initially been constructed as a simple outdoor kitchen. As part of this final phase, McHale Landscape Design constructed a copper-roofed pavilion on the site, and turned the area into a full-service kitchen that includes two icemakers, two refrigerators, two new barbeque grills and a stone chimney to vent exhaust. All of the crown molding and trim details are durable and low-maintenance.

The pavilion is now perfect for entertaining, hosting both small outdoor gatherings and providing a serving area for catered events from the three-foot-wide flagstone countertop. The brick-bordered flagstone patio around the pavilion was expanded to accommodate bar-style seating around the outside of the structure, which was built by McHale’s stonemasons to match the existing garden’s stone wall and other structures on the property.

Finally, the clients’ dream was realized as construction began on the pool house. The new structure enclosed the swimming pool and spa built in the first phase of the project. Tall framed windows wrapping the walls and skylights in the roof let sun pour into the space. Huge King Truss supports wrapped with cedar allow the wide expanse of ceiling over the pool without requiring vertical supports. The pool house is filled with all the amenities required for year-round entertaining, from a gourmet kitchen that fills one corner to an oversized hearth and fireplace—complete with a wood-burning pizza oven. The space also includes men’s and women’s changing rooms and copious amounts of space for several cozy seating areas.

The third new structure is the free-standing garage, which was built for two-fold use. In the lower level is the garage proper, housing the client’s car collection, which includes a vintage Bentley and a Rolls-Royce. Upstairs is a large entertainment and education center where the children and young adults gather during family and community occasions. A breezeway was constructed to connect the house’s attached garage to the new garage building, providing sheltered access and complementing the craftsmanship of both the original home and the new building. The entrance to the garage is enhanced by a surrounding boulder garden and stone steps, which give the impression the garage was built into a natural rock formation. It makes for a picturesque view from the kitchen in the main house.

Throughout the project’s many phases, McHale Landscape Design was careful to refer back to the style of the home as much as possible to maintain an architectural consistency around the property. A custom blend of antique bricks and brown stone was created to match the house brick, which was no longer in production. Shaker roofs were used on all the structures, and roof lines were carefully designed to be sure the pool house, garage and pavilion did not overpower the grander main house.

The home is ideal for large-scale entertaining, and has already been tested—to great result. Guests at a recent social event lavished compliments on the project, which reflected both the quality of the craftsmanship and the client’s vision.


The pool built in in phase one was later enclosed in a
magnificent poll house, along with the spa.


The new pool house.


Similar architectural details such as the brick foundation, pillars
and copper roofing blend the pavilion and other structures.


The pool built in in phase one was later enclosed in a
magnificent pool house, along with the spa.


The spa in the new pool house.


Skylights and dozens of tall windows let in light.


A large fireplace includes a built-in pizza oven.


The new garage building.


A pillared breezeway connects the new garage building with
the main house’s garage.


The new garage building houses the owner’s car collection,
and the upstairs features entertainment areas.