Garden Variety

Wheat’s Landscape makes the most of a diminutive lot with style and function

The owners of a small property in Falls Church had big plans for their compact backyard. These included a pool and water feature, a screened porch, a patio with a fire pit and lush plantings to provide screening from neighbors.

The couple hired Wheat’s Landscape to design and install their new outdoor oasis. Given the tight rear yard, the team focused on maximizing usable space, beginning with retaining walls that addressed a four-foot change in grade from the home to the rear property line.

The swimming pool, finished in a pebble sheen, features decorative “floating” stepping stones and submerged ledges for lounging. A fountain, encompassing a pedestal and basin linked by a 30-foot-long runnel, forms a water feature on one side of the pool, with custom stainless-steel scuppers that can be adjusted to soften the sounds from nearby homes. Small river-stone channels throughout the lot provide paths for storm water.

The screened porch, with a roof that cantilevers over the adjacent rear door, combines Azek flooring, a cedar ceiling and a custom-painted gas fireplace. Stairs lead down to the bluestone patio, which sports a gas fire pit and clean-lined furniture from Room & Board and Restoration Hardware.

Fast-growing tree species such as arborvitae, hornbeam and maple offer privacy, while a secondary layer of flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials was planted in patterns that echo the geometric shapes found in the pool and hardscape.

Award: Grand, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build). Landscape Architecture: Joseph Richardson, PLA, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Wheat’s Landscape, Vienna, Virginia. Pool Installation: Pimenta Construction, Rockville, Maryland. Porch Contractor: Denny + Gardner, Sterling, Virginia.