Ask the Pros: Landscape Architecture

Advice on designing the perfect home by the bay

What are best practices for selecting plant material for a project that’s in a critical area near the bay?

Successful landscapes often use native plants. In the project pictured, all new plantings within 100 feet of the water are species native to Maryland. Deer-proof plants are also advisable.

Maintain a planted barrier—the wider the better—between any lawn and the bay or creek. Farther from the house, we use meadows instead of lawn because they are sustainable and attract wildlife. If the shoreline needs repair, plant a living shoreline. Keep in mind that native grasses in full sun will mitigate the tide action. Above the tideline, several species of grasses and shrubs can be used to shape the landscape.

Note wind patterns. Some plants are buffers for wind while others may be damaged by it. And test the soil prior to plant selection. —Jay Graham, FASLA, Graham Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, Maryland.

On a property that was once home to a 19th-century wharf on the Choptank River, Jay Graham designed a kitchen/cutting garden around an outbuilding that’s the oldest structure on the site. Photo © Eric Kvalsvik.