Multi-Level Living

Grand Award, Outdoor Living Area, Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., Poolesville, Maryland


Terraces always lend a grand, open feeling to gardens, but the starting point for this Vienna, Virginia, garden was simply to come up with useable space. Landscape designer Joel Hafner of Fine Earth Landscape says his clients were building a 16,000-square-foot house on a property that had a 20-foot drop in the backyard. “What we needed to do,” he said, “was correct the rear yard grading problem so that they would have a rear yard, period.”Hafner came up with a series of terraces built of segmental retaining walls to allow the homeowners to traverse their property. The wall closest to the rear property line is more than 12 feet tall—and essentially retains the entire garden area, including the waterfall and pond, the lawn and lower patio area.

The only flat area on the entire lot is in front. Next to a wraparound driveway already in place, Hafner designed a paved parking court area, including a bench, in front of the main door to the house. Flowering plum trees greet visitors and Kwanzan cherries flank the front entrance. An island planting bed features blue Colorado spruce and a hedge of burning bush screens off the parking area.