Mark Voelkel of Rolling Acres Landscape worked closely with the homeowners, architects and builders to come up with a functional, contemporary design that would complement the house. Like the inside, says Voelkel, “The outside should be very functional and at the same time clean and minimalistic.”Clear and simple: A modern house requires a modern landscape. However, creating the exterior plan for this Bethesda residence was anything but.
The site’s 11-foot drop from back to front presented a challenge. The owners wanted a swimming pool with a terrace, a fire-pit and a spa. While the pool location was not an issue, the spa was a different story. “We went through many revisions of the drawings,” Voelkel recalls. They finally designed it with a vanishing edge and sited it next to an open-air pavilion with retractable screens. From here, homeowners and guests can view the water spilling into a long, narrow basin. A raised edge around the swimming pool serves as a seat wall, while water jets in the deep end allow bathers to swim against a strong current.
In keeping with the contemporary aesthetic, Voelkel installed a minimalist plant palette of ornamental grasses and specimen evergreens. Tanyosho and Thunderhead pines provide year-round interest, while Japanese maples with beautiful red fall color stand out against a stucco-and-stone retaining wall. Two cut-leaf ‘Orangeola’ Japanese maples flank the gateway to the fire pit.
Jane Berger is a journalist and landscape designer based in Washington, DC.
GRAND AWARD: Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build). LANDSCAPE DESIGN: MARK VOELKEL, APLD, Rolling Acres Landscape/Nursery, Brinklow, Maryland. ARCHITECTURE: MARK GIARRAPUTO and MARTIN LOCRAFT, Studio Z Design Concepts, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland. BUILDER: Sandy Spring Builders, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland.