After settling into their new McLean residence, a couple decided to address its steep, practically nonexistent backyard. The issue: The terrain began its descent toward pristine woodland only a few feet from the home’s rear façade.
“There was no play space for their two young daughters,” recalls landscape architect Joseph Richardson, who was initially asked to build out a modest lawn. From there, he says, the owners’ plans mushroomed.
Richardson wound up overhauling the entire property, building up the backyard with massive retaining walls in a feat of engineering. The makeover forged a better connection between the front and back yards with a stairway swathed in Big Blue liriope. It also created a lawn for the kids and unfurled an expansive terrace that houses a dramatic, infinity-edge pool and a freestanding spa/water feature.
Now that the project is complete, reflects Richardson, “the pool offers a spectacular view of the natural area.” The terrace blends seamlessly into the landscape. “Full-range flagstone paving shows variations in color and texture,” he continues, “and helps soften the space.” As do native waxmyrtle, Annabell hydrangea and manicured boxwood hedges.
Along the property line, a wall of Western Maryland stone buttresses the spa, fed by water flowing through brass scuppers. A fire pit by Hart Concrete Design tempts guests to linger year-round. A staircase leads the owners past the pool’s waterfall edge and down the slope to a stream and a wooded trail—the perfect extension of their own natural idyll.
Landscape Architecture: Joseph Richardson, PLA, ASLA, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Black Pearl Management, Leesburg, Virginia. Pool Contractor: Jose Pimenta Construction, Rockville, Maryland.