Hydrangeas, crape myrtle, black-eyed Susans surround the pool.

Summer Sanctuary

An elegant landscape provides a gathering place for family and friends


Informal plantings can be the best solution for a very formal landscape: They soften the straight lines of pool, patio, deck and retaining walls, and lend a casual air to a backyard geared for the enjoyment of family and friends. 

For designer Joseph Hafner of Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., combining formal and casual was the key to landscaping a sweeping Potomac property, where a pool and patio created the elegant yet welcoming look he wanted. The main design scheme, says Hafner, was “to create a feeling of under-story and sanctuary down by the pool,” while maintaining views of the landscape from the deck off the rear of the residence. The major roadblock to the design was an existing septic system, which dictated that the pool be built atop special support piers screwed into bedrock 25 feet below grade. Hafner connected the house to the lower landscape with stone retaining walls, planting beds and wide steps to the pool and patio area, which is a generous 2,400-plus square feet. 

A planting of evergreen Japanese cedars on one side of the property maintains privacy by the pool so it can be used well into fall, and plants were selected for deer resistance and interest throughout the year. The blooms begin in spring with the heavy scent of Virginia sweetspire, which gives way to summer-flowering hydrangeas, crape myrtle, black-eyed Susans and other colorful shrubs and perennials. An array of ornamental grasses extends the blooming season well into autumn. 

Washington, DC-based Jane Berger is publisher of GardenDesignOnline.

LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Joseph Hafner, Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., Poolesville, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY: Bob Narod, Herndon, Virginia.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and landscape design ideas.  Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas, and outdoor spaces to life.