A scupper channels water from the basin into the rill.
Statuary and plantings provide color and interest.
Plantings provide color and interest.
For the backyard of the stately residence, Horn selected shade-loving tropical annuals.
In the sitting area, a retaining wall and rill flank iris and blackberry lily.
Mona lavender.
The raised bed spills over with sweet potato vine, Mexican petunia and Mona lavender beside the basin of Mexican beach pebbles.
Ipe planters atop the retaining wall hold cascading clematis, passionflower and sweet potato vine.

City Oasis

A modern makeover imparts form, function and Asian flair to a Kalorama garden

A backyard garden in Kalorama posed some challenges for landscape architect Jennifer Horn, who was asked to transform it into a party-ready space with a touch of Asian flair. The north-facing garden was sunken, surrounded by retaining walls that limited sunlight; the plants needed protection from the owner’s beloved but destructive Labrador retriever; and a problematic water feature, set up too high, sprayed water on the terrace.

Horn created a large, raised bed at one end of the garden that would be hard for the dog to reach. She removed the fountain but retained its basin, adding a scupper that flows water gently into a rill, then into a lower basin. A band of flowers between the rill and the retaining wall is protected from the dog, and ipe boxes atop the retaining wall hold cascading blooms. “This way, we can have plants trailing down without the dog getting to them,” Horn explains. “Every decision was driven by the usefulness of the space for parties and pets.”

A clean-lined, thermal bluestone patio in a running-bond pattern is bordered on one side by Mexican beach pebbles, which also line the bottom of the rill. These elements contribute to the Asian vibe the owner wanted; a line of notches in the patio stone conceals PVC pipe that collects surface water. “Any urban garden is a bit of a bathtub, especially one surrounded by walls,” notes Horn. “This was nicer than buying a drain.” Formerly beige walls are now a cool gray that matches the stone. u


Landscape Architecture: Jennifer Horn, RLA, Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture, Arlington, Virginia. Contractor: Kaz Malachowski, Falcon Construction, Inc., Rockville, Maryland. Landscape Installation & Maintenance: Hedge Garden Care, Frederick, Maryland.