Small yards often require ingenious design because there’s little space for all of the components a client wants. When the owners of a Bethesda residence called McHale Landscape Design, Inc., to overhaul their modest property with its unassuming landscaping, they asked designer Carolyn Mullet to plan “a garden they could live in” that included a spa, a swimming pool and more inviting plantings.
In front, Mullet designed a granite-edged parking area and a new front walk and added plantings for year-round interest. Now, a Sweetbay magnolia graces the front entrance, winter-blooming jasmine spills over a front wall and hydrangeas and spirea bloom away all summer.
The major challenge was finding room for everything the clients wanted in the 35-by-60-foot back yard. Mullet removed a large second-story deck and replaced it with a balcony where the owners can enjoy their morning coffee. A stairway leads down from it to the patio below. There was enough space left for a 22-by-10-foot lap pool with a spa and waterfall. The pool is flanked on one end by a white crape myrtle and on the other by Japanese snowbells which screen out neighboring properties. A shower and changing room were built under the stairway.
“We took a space that was unappealing,” says Mullet, “and we made it into a place that gives them the exercise they want, that looks beautiful from the house, and gives them a place to have dinner and socialize.” Big, bold plantings around the pool, including drifts of black-eyed Susans, Sum & Substance hostas, Arena lilies and Winterthur viburnums, lend the back yard a modern look as well as a sense of drama.
AWARD: Grand, Total Residential Contracting. DESIGN & PHOTOGRAPHY: Carolyn Mullet, McHale Landscape Design, Inc., Upper Marlboro, Maryland.