Home & Design

A Vienna project by Surrounds Inc. encompasses a pavilion with fireplace and grill and a pool bordered by a granite retaining wall.

Kane Landscapes transformed a blank-slate Leesburg backyard into a family-friendly retreat complete with pool and spa.

Fine Earth Landscape designed and installed an inviting pool and pool house in Great Falls.

State of the Art Landscape completed a Great Falls project featuring waterfalls, a lounge basin and spa.

Colao & Peter Luxury Outdoor Living executed a landscape plan to complement a Great Falls home’s contemporary aesthetic; complete with waterfalls, a lounge basin and a spa.

Joseph Richardson Landscape Architects conceived a tiered plan with an upper terrace/grilling station and a mid-level terrace with a fire pit.

McHale upgraded a McLean property with a loggia and outdoor kitchen addition, swimming pool and pool house.

Makeover Magic

Local pros illustrate ways uninspired backyards can become outdoor wonders

VACATION LIVING   After experiencing a resort with outdoor spaces chock-full of indoor-living amenities, McLean clients tasked McHale Landscape Design with turning their suburban backyard into an elaborate outdoor-living environment. Overcoming challenges posed by an awkwardly situated septic field, setbacks and proximity to neighbors was the first step for landscape architect Anthony Cusat. “We then created a loggia/outdoor kitchen addition to the home and a swimming pool and freestanding pool house and pavilion,” he recounts. “Both have overhead heating systems for year-round use.” A patio of travertine and Pennsylvania flagstone around the pool connects the stone-veneer and red-cedar structures while Green Giant arborvitae, crape myrtle, boxwood, Knockout roses, nandina, astilbe and cryptomeria provide decoration and privacy. Photo: John Spaulding

PROBLEM SOLVED   Tapped to create a backyard oasis on a Vienna property complete with a pool and pavilion, Surrounds, Inc., first had to tackle significant drainage issues. “The house was sited well below the rear yard, so water flowed toward it,” recalls landscape architect Chad Talton. “The entire area sloped that way.” The solution was a design that terraced the backyard, creating an upper level for the kids with space for entertaining off the house. The pavilion centers on a fireplace and outdoor grill. The pool is bordered by a granite retaining wall, and patios and walkways combine random concrete pavers and full-color rec-tangular bluestone. Plantings include crape myrtle, weeping Alaskan cedar, cryptomeria, hydrangea, viburnum and more. Photo: Morgan Howarth

CIRCLE OF LIGHT   Homeowners in Lothian, Maryland, enjoyed an expansive lawn and patio—but the property felt one-dimensional. They contacted Scapes, Inc., to create a focal point in the backyard that would be a draw for family and friends and a comfortable spot in which to entertain. “They envisioned a raised outdoor-living area beyond the patio,” recounts Scapes principal Jeff Crandell. He and his team conceived a circular gathering spot centering on a ledgerstone-veneer fireplace, flanked on each side by sitting walls. Strategically placed lighting illuminates the step up to the seating area, which is paved in engineered cobblestone from EP Henry. A mix of canna, hibiscus and annual blooms borders the structure, adding color and softness. Photo: Jeff Crandell

FAMILY FRIENDLY   Clients in Leesburg brought a detailed wish list to Kane Landscapes when they were ready to convert their blank-slate backyard into a family-friendly retreat complete with pool and spa. “They wanted their home to be a hangout for their teenage kids, and for the pool to be near the spa, which would cater to the adults,” says principal Josh Kane, whose team designed and installed the pool and surrounding hardscape and integrated plantings, irrigation, low-voltage lighting and fencing. Techo-Bloc paves the pool scape, anchored by a picturesque waterfall; an outdoor fireplace and seating area are beyond the spa. Oakridge stone veneer clads the fireplace and Japanese cryptomeria and holly screen the property from the neighbors. Photo: Julie Kane

WOODED REFUGE   Great Falls homeowners loved their mature forest of oak and tulip poplar—so when asked to design and install their swimming pool and pool house, the team at Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., strove “to impact the remaining trees as little as possible,” says landscape architect Bernie Mihm. To address grading and drainage issues that caused water to collect in the area slated for the pool, Mihm relied on planted or turf slopes for containment. Concrete piers support the travertine pool decking, which stands on fill. The pool wall and spa are veneered with Oklahoma Stone to match the house, while coping, spillover and retaining walls are capped with limestone. Plantings include crape myrtle, viburnum, hydrangea and coreopsis. Photo: Hilary Schwab

GARDEN SPOT   While their new residence in Great Falls was under construction, clients hired State of the Art Landscape to transform the flat expanse surrounding it. “The site had a great deal of usable open space,” recalls principal Greg Powell. “The challenge was creating a sense of intimacy. The clients requested outdoor rooms to make it feel more residential.” The wish list included an elaborate pool scape to complement the home’s contemporary aesthetic; complete with waterfalls, a lounge basin and a spa, the finished project links to the house via extensive travertine and thermal-bluestone paving. An outdoor kitchen and fire pit provide gathering spaces, and maples, hornbeams, ornamental grasses, climbing hydrangea, crape myrtle, boxwood and Oso Easy roses soften the landscape. Photo: George E. Brown

MODERN OASIS  Clients in Great Falls envisioned a landscape plan that would mirror their home’s contemporary aesthetic. “They wanted an open feel that would be true to the modern architecture,” notes J.R. Peter of Colao & Peter Luxury Outdoor Living, who spearheaded the project. “Our job was to integrate the landscape with the house and with nature, establishing elegant, modern flow between the two.” He and his team employed granite and Techo-Bloc pavers to create the clean-lined hardscape. Features include masonry walls and a two-tiered masonry terrace in back, complete with a linear fireplace and an outdoor kitchen. A paver driveway leads to the house through automated cedar gates flanked by Carderock stone pillars. Photo: Curt Pulleyblank

CREATIVE PLAN   During a whole-house renovation of their McLean abode, clients hired Joseph Richardson Landscape Architects to make the most of their property’s dramatic, sloped topography. “The clients’ goal was to show how creative design can solve a property’s shortcomings,” principal Joseph Richardson says. He conceived a tiered plan beginning with an upper terrace/grilling station and descending via boulder steps first to a dining terrace and then to a mid-level terrace (pictured) centering on a boulder fire pit and surrounded by lush plantings. A lower terrace accesses the kitchen garden. The project combines Pennsylvania flagstone and boulders, a mix of native and adapted plant materials and high-tech low-voltage lighting. The landscape, installed by Wheat’s Landscape, overlooks woods and a creek. Photo: George E. Brown

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Informal on a Grand Scale
Surrounds Landscape Architecture + Construction, Sterling, Virginia;
Grand Award, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build)
Circular Edge
Al Fresco Escape
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