A chessboard is composed of limestone and flagstone squares with teak chess pieces. © Marcus Chacona
A pea-gravel path leads to the house. © Marcus Chacona
The home was designed to look like a Northern European manor. © Marcus Chacona
Two stairways lead from a lower-level family room up to the main garden. © Marcus Chacona
The pool is partially concealed from the house. © Marcus Chacona
A fountain fills the formal garden with the murmur of flowing water. © Marcus Chacona
The home was designed to look like a Northern European manor. © Marcus Chacona
Two stairways lead from a lower-level family room up to the main garden. © Marcus Chacona
The pool is partially concealed from the house. © Marcus Chacona
A fountain fills the formal garden with the murmur of flowing water. © Marcus Chacona

Potomac Playground

Chapel Valley maintains an elaborate garden complete with fountains and an outdoor chess set

A formal garden in Potomac needed to reflect the style of the home—a grand, newly built residence designed to evoke a northern European manner. The house was under construction when DCA Landscape Architects was called in to design the surrounding gardens.

“The front yard was kept simple—a lawn and boxwoods with a U-shaped drive—in order to save a huge maple tree,” says landscape architect Amy Mills. For the much more elaborate backyard, the clients requested a series of garden rooms, a pool and pool house and a lawn large enough to provide play space for their children. They also asked for three water features to bring in the appealing sound of flowing water: One is a small stone pedestal fountain with a hexagonal basin surrounded by boxwood and purple blooms; a second, to the side of the house, features an urn with seasonal flowers; and the third is located between two stairways that lead from the lower-level family room up to the main garden. An unusual design element is a large-scale chessboard composed of limestone and flagstone squares with teak chess pieces—a nod to the kids’ interest in the game. It fills a square garden room surrounded by hedges.

The owners tapped Chapel Valley Landscape Company to maintain their extensive landscape, and the company won an LCA award for its efforts. The job includes monitoring irrigation, pruning plant material and nurturing the many species of perennials and annuals that abound throughout the property.

Jane Berger is a journalist and landscape designer based in Washington, DC.

HERITAGE AWARD: Residential Maintenance. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: AMY MILLS, ASLA, DCA Landscape Architects Inc., Washington, DC. ARCHITECTURE: ANTHONY BARNES, FAIA, Barnes Vanze Architects, Washington, DC. BUILDER: JIM GIBSON, Gibson Builders, Washington, DC. LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE: Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, Maryland.