Home & Design

The Great Outdoors

This year's crop of award-winning gardens pairs lush landscapes with inviting al fresco entertainment areas

The Great Outdoors

Chapel Valley Landscape Company. Photo by Roger Foley.

Homeowners are increasingly asking landscape architects and designers for complete outdoor entertaining areas and eco-friendly landscape options. A new survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects identified outdoor fireplaces and fire pits as the most popular items homeowners request as a trend continues toward outdoor spaces that augment a home’s useable living space.

According to ASLA, koi ponds and fountains are also favored assets, and many homeowners want sustainable landscape solutions, such as native plants that require less water and maintenance or green roofs and rain gardens.

These national trends are evident throughout the Washington metropolitan area. In the pages that follow, we cover a sampling of the Landscape Contractors Association of Maryland, DC and Virginia’s 2006 Excellence in Landscape award-winners. You’ll  see outdoor living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and bars; swimming pools that enhance rather than overpower a landscape; roomy patios; and lots of lush native American plantings.

Dallas Reeve, whose husband, Landon, owns the Chapel Valley Landscape Company in Woodbine, Maryland, says their new garden (pictured at right) was designed to accommodate lots of visitors. It has a huge lawn area, a loggia underneath the second-story deck and a small kitchen on the lower level that she calls “our summer house.” It’s perfect for buffets, and the patio area can accommodate more than 100 guests seated for lunch or dinner. It’s just one example of  outdoor living at its finest.

A Formal French Garden
A house reminiscent of a French Country chateau demands a certain kind of garden, and only the precise and orderly will do. French gardens reached their apogee under André Le Nôtre, who designed Versailles for Louis XIV, but Le Nôtre’s influence has lasted for centuries.

This Bethesda garden, designed by Julie Patronik of McHale Landscape Design, Inc., was inspired directly by the style of the clients’ house and their desire for “a formal French garden.”

A five-foot-high wall stretches across the front of the property, broken by two massive wrought-iron gates. One gate is the homeowners’ entrance; the other is for visitors. Guests are greeted outside the gate by globe-shaped burford hollies, roses and ornamental grasses. Once inside, an exposed aggregate driveway leads up to the front entry, past a long, narrow island planted with three specimen crape myrtles and green velvet boxwood. In winter months, the center area is filled with pansies, which give way to tulips in spring and flowering perennials in summer.

A rectangular infill of deep rose-colored granite blocks breaks the expanse of monochromatic aggregate. Inside the courtyard, a spacious lawn and simple plantings of light and deep pink ‘Knockout’ roses, cherry laurel and ‘Little Princess’ spirea complete the picture.

To reach the back yard, one either goes through the house or up the homeowners’ driveway and through a breezeway that connects the garage to the house. Garage bays opposite one side of the residence house the owner’s automobile collection, while the breezeway functions as an overflow patio area for large outdoor parties.

In the back yard itself, paving of Turkish limestone that matches the “Texas gold” stone veneer of the house is laid in random rectangles, interspersed occasionally with circular, tile-like patterns.

A formal parterre garden is located just off the patio, again, planted with boxwood and tulips. A swimming pool, spa and pool house are placed near the rear of the property. In front of the home’s library is a reflecting pool flanked with 10 pink dogwoods. A formal hedge of yew separates the formal garden area from a woodland garden with shade plantings and a winding path of gravel, in keeping with the French Country look.

Patronik says that one of the great pleasures of the project was the owner’s considerable knowledge about plants. “I was incredibly surprised,” she said, “because very few of my clients know very much about plants.” Although he wanted a simple plant palette, the homeowner requested river birch and lots of tulips, and worked carefully with Patronik on the entire planting scheme. The result is simply a formal delight for the eye.

McHale Landscape Design, Inc., Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Grand Award, Total Residential Contracting.

Informal on a Grand Scale
Big houses require big landscapes, and when a house is grand like this one in McLean, Virginia, it takes talent and ingenuity to come up with a design that looks both informal and inviting.

Landscape architect Howard Cohen of Surrounds Landscape Architecture + Construction solved the problem with a multi-level swimming pool, a rustic outdoor living room and lush plantings spread throughout the property.

The homeowners, Cohen said, wanted “what everybody wants now when they put a pool in their back yard: a complete entertaining setup.” He explained that the landscape agenda included an arbor to provide shade, an outdoor kitchen with fireplace and grill, a play area for children and a lagoon-style pool with waterfalls.

The clients also wanted an automatic pool cover, which dictates a rectangular-shaped pool. This made their request for a “natural” pool even more challenging. Cohen solved the problem by bringing in huge boulders—4,000 to 6,000 pounds each—and raising the ground level behind the pool a bit to provide the necessary drop for several waterfalls. Guests can climb into the spa adjoining the pool via “natural” boulder steps, and, just below the spa, a bench was built into the pool itself—providing an enchanting place for bathers to sit.

In the outdoor kitchen area, a rustic-looking granite sink was set into a flagstone countertop with a rough-hewn edge; huge flagstone pavers with plantings in between the stones lend a homey feeling in front of the fireplace; and the roof of the unadorned cedar arbor defines an easy-going, relaxed outdoor living room.

Finally, evergreen Japanese cedars and tall hollies were planted in back of the pool to screen the neighboring property. A grove of trident maples softens the view from the pool back to the house. Plantings of flowering shrubs and perennials, including daylilies, roses, catmint, ornamental grasses and sprawling ornamental strawberry, provide color in every nook and every corner, through every season of the year.

Surrounds Landscape Architecture + Construction, Sterling, Virginia; Grand Award, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build).

A Suburban Resort
These days, ordinary swimming pools are simply off the radarscope. Nobody who’s spending the money for a pool wants the standard rectangle or the boring old kidney shape anymore.

So when landscape architect Steve Wlodarczyk of Botanical Decorators got a call from clients in Laytonsville, Maryland, he wasn’t surprised to learn that they wanted “a back yard resort…a beautiful outdoor space that was unique and different.”

Wlodarczyk decided to base the design on views from the house. He positioned the deck, the patio, the pool house and the swimming pool at pronounced angles in relationship to the house so that wherever you stand within the landscape, your view has a great deal of depth and perspective. “We wanted to avoid a pool-house structure that monopolized the space,” said Wlodarczyk, “and we wanted a story line or path that indirectly brings you around to the pool.”

That story line begins with a walk under wisteria vine gracefully trailing off a custom-milled cedar pergola supported by eight-inch fiberglass columns. The pergola links the deck, patio, pool house and swimming pool together to create a cohesive resort-like outdoor space. Wlodarczyk matched the pool house design to the simple farmhouse style of the main residence. The entire area is wrapped in exuberant plantings of ornamental grasses, Russian sage, tickseed, clematis and hanging baskets full of annuals that deliver big bursts of color throughout the summer.

One unique feature is a pool deck made of a material called Sundeck, which is much cooler to the touch than flagstone and kind to bare feet in the height of summer.

In the front of the house, Wlodarczyk added a country-style open front porch and put in a bluestone and exposed aggregate walkway. Ornamental grasses, heavenly bamboo and spirea complete the picture, with Mohawk viburnums added for intense fragrance in spring.

Botanical Decorators, Inc., Olney, Maryland; Grand Awards, Outdoor Living Area and Front Residential Planting & Entranceway.

A Garden for Brides
Outdoor weddings require special landscapes. And this two-acre property just north of the Baltimore city line is perfect for outdoor parties. Surrounding this majestic stone house built around the turn of the last century are stately trees and mature shrubs, an expansive lawn area and a spacious patio that stretches all the way across the rear of the house.

Michael McWilliams, landscape designer and president of Maxalea, Inc., has been working on this property in collaboration with independent landscape designer Jonna Lazarus for more than 20 years. At the entry, new dawn roses and sweet autumn clematis are entwined and encircle the front door. Plantings of mature boxwood on either side of the entry are echoed in gracious urns filled with “Kingsville Dwarf” boxwood on the front stoop. Dainty white blooms of Nikko deutzia herald the arrival of spring, and in late summer an ample bed of caryopteris bursts forth in deep blue glory.

In the back yard, the two designers added stone steps through the lawn leading down to the pool area; deep, luscious borders filled with shrubs and shade plants; and a perennial garden surrounding a small circular fountain.

A few years ago, the designers were called in to tear out the old swimming pool and replace it with a lap pool and new plantings in time for the first of two weddings the owners’ daughters planned for the same year. According to McWilliams, the new pool was nestled in below the parking area and screened so that it can’t be seen from the house. “What’s nice about it,” he said, “is that it’s its own little room.”

McWilliams and Lazarus had to work around the existing trees and shrubs, but they added a wisteria to scramble over the arbor above a new deck. Around the pool, they planted more boxwood, spring bulbs and flowering shrubs and perennials.

McWilliams said the garden was perfect for the brides, who descended the grand staircase from the second-floor sunroom to the bluestone terrace below. And the plantings for the weddings were perfect as well: banks of peonies for the wedding in spring, and hydrangeas for the wedding in fall.

Maxalea, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland; Grand Award, Total Residential Contracting. Photography by Michael McWilliams.

LCA Award Winners
2006 Excellence Award Winners

Maintained for ten years or more
Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, MD
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Commercial Maintenance

Maintained for more than five years
TruGreen LandCare Mid-Atlantic Region
Oak Crest Village, Commercial Maintenance

Bob Jackson Landscapes, Inc., Owings Mills, MD
Residence at Caves Valley, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)
Owings Mills Residence, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)

Botanical Decorators, Inc., Olney, MD
Fyffe Residence, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)
Fyffe Residence, Front Residential Planting & Entranceway (Design/Build)
Petrovich Residence, Outdoor Living Area

The Brickman Group, Ltd., Columbia, MD
Marriott International, Commercial Maintenance
Skyline City, Commercial Maintenance
Washingtonian Center, Commercial Maintenance

Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, MD
Private Residence in Potomac, MD I, Residential Maintenance
Private Residence in Potomac, MD II, Total Residential Contracting
Private Residence in Woodbine, MD I, Total Residential Contracting
Private Residence in Woodbine, MD II, Residential Maintenance

Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., Poolesville, MD
Pino Residence, Total Residential Contracting
Galli Residence, Residential Maintenance
Colon Residence, Craftsmanship

Garden Gate Landscaping, Inc., Silver Spring, MD
Mannon Garden, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)
Neal/Marek Entrance Garden, Front Residential Planting
& Entranceway (Design/Build)

Greenlink, Inc., Gaithersburg, MD
Discovery Communications Headquarters,
Commercial Landscape Installation

Homestead Gardens, Inc., Davidsonville, MD
2006 Flower Show II, Special Events (Design/Build)

John Shorb Landscaping, Inc., Kensington, MD
NW Washington, DC, Residence, Residential Maintenance
Department of the Interior-South Building,
Commercial Maintenance
A Residence in Bethesda, Residential Maintenance

Korfonta Landscape Company, Sterling, VA
Potomac Falls, VA, Residence, Craftsmanship

Maxalea, Inc., Baltimore, MD
Ruxton Residence, Total Residential Contracting
Romantic Courtyard for Mrs. Shere, Front Residential
Planting & Entranceway (Design/Build)

McHale Landscape Design, Inc., Upper Marlboro, MD
Ward Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Mitchellville Residence, Total Residential Contracting
Easton Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Sheleheda Residence, Residential Maintenance
Vienna Residence, Total Residential Contracting
Moore Residence, Outdoor Living Area
King Residence, Front Residential Planting & Entranceway
Magnolia Residence, Front Residential

McLean Residence, Outdoor Living Area

Herrington Harbor, Commercial Landscape Installation (Design/Build)
Hart Residence, Front Residential Planting & Entranceway
Clifton Residence, Craftsmanship
Cox Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Bethesda Residence, Total Residential Contracting
Potomac Residence, Total Residential Contracting
Carter Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Ken and Melissa Blake Residence, Craftsmanship

Pine Ridge Landscaping, Inc., Chantilly, VA
Westfields Business Park, Commercial Maintenance

Ruppert Nurseries, Inc., Laytonsville, MD
University of Maryland Smith Beautification Project,
Commercial Landscape Installation

Surrounds, Inc., Sterling, VA
Lineberger Residence, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)

TruGreen LandCare Mid-Atlantic Region
Lowes Island, Commercial Maintenance
Corporate Headquarters Bethesda, Commercial Maintenance
United States Department of Commerce,
Commercial Maintenance


Botanical Decorators, Inc., Olney, MD
Ahern Residence, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)

Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, MD
Moxley Garden - Samuel Riggs IV
Alumni Center, Commercial Landscape Installation

Fine Earth Landscape, Inc.,
Poolesville, MD
Dubinksy Residence, Front Residential Planting & Entranceway
Welch Residence, Residential Maintenance
Mahoney Residence, Craftsmanship
Whiston Residence, Total Residential Contracting

Homestead Gardens, Inc., Davidsonville, MD
2006 Flower Show I, Special Events (Design/Build)

Images Landscape Architecture, Inc., Centreville, VA
McLean Residence II, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)

Inside Out Services, LLC, Silver Spring, MD
Cioffi Residence, Outdoor Living Area

J & G Landscape Design, Inc., Spencerville, MD
Johnstone Residence, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)
Ansari Residence, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)

John Shorb Landscaping, Inc., Kensington, MD
Department of State, Commercial Maintenance

Korfonta Landscape Company, Sterling, VA
Fairfax Station, VA, Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Bethesda, MD, Residence, Total Residential Contracting

Maxalea, Inc.,
Baltimore, MD
Brookelandville Residence, Front Residential Planting & Entranceway (Design/Build)

Outside Unlimited, Inc.,
Hampstead, MD
Keelty Residence I, Total Residential Contracting
Keelty Residence II, Outdoor Living Area
Bon Secours Memorial Garden, Commercial Landscape Installation (Design/Build)

Quayle & Company Design/Build, Inc., Severna Park, MD
Ambrose, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)
Lessin, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)

TruGreen LandCare Mid-Atlantic Region
Riderwood Village Retirement Community, Commercial Maintenance


Bob Jackson Landscapes, Inc., Owings Mills, MD
Murray Hill Residence, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)
Residence at West Golf Course Road, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)
Pikesville Residence, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)

Complete Landscaping Services, Inc., Bowie, MD
Woodmore, Commercial Maintenance

Fine Earth Landscape, Inc.,
Poolesville, MD
Belair Residence I, Craftsmanship
Misra Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Johnson Residence, Outdoor Living Area
Karch Residence, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)
Masri Residence, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)
Lipschutz Residence, Total Residential Contracting

Garden Gate Landscaping, Inc., Silver Spring, MD
Sharma Residence, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)

Great American Landscapes, Inc., Clarksburg, MD
Barnett Residence, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build)

Images Landscape Architecture, Inc.,
Centreville, MD
McLean Residence I, Craftsmanship (Design/Build)

Inside Out Services, LLC,
Silver Spring, MD
7900 Westpark Drive, Interior Landscape Maintenance

Korfonta Landscape Company, Sterling, VA
Clifton, VA Residence, Front Residential Planting & Entranceway

Maxalea, Inc., Baltimore, MD
St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Commercial Landscape Installation

McHale Landscape Design, Inc.,
Upper Marlboro, MD
Riverhouse, Outdoor Living Are

Surrounds Landscape Architecture. Photo by Ron Blunt

Botanical Decorators. Photo by Paul Madsen/Sky Photos

Maxela, Inc. Photo by Michael McWilliams

Maxela, Inc. Photo by Michael McWilliams

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