When Steve Clancy of Town Creek Landscaping first saw this Glenwood, Maryland, property, it was a blank slate—nothing but grass and a pool. The homeowner wanted to provide his large family with a backyard in which to gather, play, swim and eat, and he tapped Clancy to design a space that would accommodate all their needs. Now, the two-and-a-half-acre property is a serene yet lively family retreat complete with an outdoor kitchen as well as a sport court for tennis and basketball. It’s well suited to the family-oriented homeowner—who also owns a plant company adjacent to the home.
“The whole area was designed to have a lot of outdoor rooms,” says Clancy. “It’s very unassuming when you pull up to the front. It’s when you go out back that your jaw drops.”
A sprawling, elevated deck with a mahogany floor complements the owner’s ranch-style cedar and stone home. Scratch-resistant clear panels inside the rail ensure unimpeded views. There’s plenty of seating—including a circular bench built around a tulip poplar that provides a naturally shady spot. A curved mahogany and stone bench near the sport court took three days to build; each slat of mahogany was meticulously cut, planed and bent to fit the surrounding stone.
According to Clancy, he initially wanted to relocate the swimming pool, but the homeowner “didn’t go for that.” Instead, he moved three large spruce trees away from the pool, then updated the concrete surround with pavers that complement the deck and stonework to “really pull the whole project together,” Clancy says. Large, perpendicular stones comprise a diving board, while more stones are scattered throughout the yard. A blue moss cypress topiary, hand-trimmed each year, provides a striking focal point.
A nearby waterfall cascades down irregular stone ledges to the natural-looking pond, providing a peaceful, trickling sound. On the edges of the pond, boulders offer perches for the family to dip their feet and view the koi, protected by artificial herons after a real one devoured the first batch. “The kids had even named them,” says Clancy. Adjustable jets create a quiet stream or a more powerful waterfall effect.
Clad in Western Maryland stone, the outdoor kitchen was designed around an existing dogwood tree, and is the setting for al fresco meals prepared on the stainless steel Viking grill. A bar, topped with a gray-and-rust-hued marble surface, runs the length of the kitchen, which also houses a refrigerator and beer tap. The family can dine there or move to the shade under a cedar pergola complete with fans and recessed lighting.
Dogwood and magnolias herald the start of spring. Red cherries show off not only white blooms, but deep purple foliage. Easy-care grasses and perennials like sage give long-lasting color and texture.
But the garden’s real stars come from the homeowner’s plant company. “The highlight of this whole project is his annuals,” says Clancy, who brings them over by the truckload. “He has different varieties every year. After a week or so, it looks like they’ve been there for five years.”
Karen A. Watkins is a Bethesda-based freelance writer who frequently covers gardening. Photographer Anne Gummerson is based in Baltimore, Maryland.
LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Steve Clancy, Town Creek Landscaping, Ellicott City, Maryland.