Home & Design
Western Maryland stone fountain anchors spa
Western Maryland stone fountain anchors spa

An accent wall of Western Maryland stone anchors the spa, which doubles as a fountain when not in use.

Waterfall edge pool in backyard oasis
Waterfall edge pool in backyard oasis

A waterfall edge, softened by masses of astilbe, animates the slope down to the stream.

Backyard pool oasis
Backyard pool oasis

An aqua PebbleSheen finish plays up the reflections of the trees on the pool.

Stairway leads to backyard lawn pool and fire pit
Stairway leads to backyard lawn pool and fire pit

A new stairway leads to the backyard lawn, pool and fire pit.

Green Scene

A clever plan transforms a useless slope into a chic outdoor party space

Green Scene - 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.

Green Scene - 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.



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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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