Home & Design

While renovating their stately, Georgian-style manse, the owners tasked Joseph Richardson and Adam Sexton of Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture with reviving their underwhelming yard. They envisioned an overhaul that would better reflect the gracious and venerable neighborhood and deliver privacy, security and spaces for entertaining.

The duo was given pretty much a free hand to design the landscape, measuring just under a quarter-acre, for the couple, who resided elsewhere while a renovation of the home by GTM Architects was also underway. “This was their first house with a fairly sizable outdoor space,” Richardson recounts, “and so they were leaning on us to direct them.”

The final plan imparted formal, welcoming appeal to the front of the house while enhancing outdoor living space in back. A brick walkway atop a retaining wall that ran from the front around the side of the house was extended to create a dining area covered with a wood-and-black-painted metal pergola; an adjacent lounge area with a fireplace prolongs outdoor entertaining into the cooler months. A built-in grilling station beneath the pergola is integrated with the fireplace.

A metal fence and planters filled with boxwood now adorn the retaining wall in back, which is softened by a bank of hydrangeas and boxwood. The patio overlooks an oval lawn ringed with Green Giant arborvitae and white knockout roses.

At the front of the house, a metal trellis over the garage carries semi-evergreen Snowdrift clematis and yellow jessamine vines, and a new dog run wraps around the side of the house to the back. Layers of stepped-up plantings provide the privacy the clients requested: pachysandra at ground level, then roses, hydrangeas and tall skip laurels. Adam Sexton notes the simple plant palette of creamy white flowers against the evergreen backdrop. “It fits the neighborhood perfectly,” he says. n

Landscape Architecture: Joseph Richardson, PLA, ASLA, principal; Adam Sexton, project manager, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture, Washington, DC. Landscape Contractor: Kohler Brafford, Black Pearl Management, Leesburg, Virginia, Washington, DC.

A steep ridge in Arlington, once considered unbuildable, presented a conundrum for landscape architect Scott Brinitzer. When the owners hired him to transform the lot into usable outdoor space, he was confronted with a flat, 30-by-60-foot lawn behind the residence, bordered on three sides by an angular, 25-foot-high brick wall, painted blue, that held back a natural woodland above.

“I was initially perplexed,” he recalls, “because it was an area without shape. It’s not a square, it’s not a circle, it’s not a rectangle. It’s formed by a wall placed to hold the soil back and allow the house to be built.”

The overarching challenge, Brinitzer decided, was “to make some sort of recognizable form out of what was treated by the builder as leftover space.” To reduce the wall’s visual impact, he installed a custom steel trellis in front of it. Now supporting two swinging chairs, it creates a focal point and a horizon line. Fronting the trellis, a bluestone terrace with limestone insets complements the Craftsman-style house. It provides space for separate dining and lounge areas and a raised square planter containing a tall Natchez crape myrtle.

To obscure the wall and neighboring properties, Brinitzer added Japanese cedars along the property line. Slender Silhouette sweetgums were planted behind the trellis, clusters of Steeplechase arborvitae were pruned into rectangles at different heights and Miami crape myrtles with vibrant pink blooms back the seating area. Prague viburnums are arranged around the edge of the patio, and dwarf mondo grass, astilbe and maidenhair ferns border a new, curved stone stair that descends to the front yard.

“The beauty of this,” Brinitzer observes, “is that I’m using ideas I’ve used before, but in new ways. This was a challenging, not immediately obvious solution.”

Landscape Architecture: Scott Brinitzer, PLA, ASLA, Scott Brinitzer Design Associates, Arlington, Virginia. Landscape Contractor: Wildwood Landscape, Round Hill, Virginia.

It’s hard to imagine a more fabulous birthday present: A DC client of Katia Goffin’s acquired and tore down his next-door neighbor’s house—in order to build a yoga studio and garden for his wife on the adjacent property.

With a four-foot drop between the two lots and an eight-to-10-foot elevation change on the new site, the landscape designer says the goal was to “seamlessly merge the two properties aesthetically and functionally,” providing “a private, green haven for the family.” After the adjacent house was razed, most of the one-fifth acre lot was leveled. Goffin only preserved the former home’s garage, which became the yoga studio.

A new retaining wall and cedar fence were installed near the former property line, with a series of steps leading down into the new garden. Now, views from the main house fan out to the vista below, encompassing a large, rectangular lawn, gravel paths and a fieldstone wall.

The yoga studio—clad in stucco to match the clients’ European-style Tudor house—overlooks a meditation garden accentuated by a soothing trio of Winter King hawthorn, boxwood and liriope ground cover. Chairs are gathered in front of a clipped hornbeam hedge—a gesture Goffin repeated around the perimeter of the garden to obscure neighboring houses and the street. Behind the fieldstone wall is a row of Japanese cedar and a five-foot drop filled with oakleaf hydrangea. At the bottom, an existing slate walkway connects via stepping stones up to the main house’s garden and circuitous gravel paths.

Goffin’s designs always feature a simple plant palette. “I try not to use more than five or six species,” she says, pointing out that this garden has “an architectural, orderly and effortless approach. It feels like it’s always been there.”

Landscape Design: Katia Goffin, ASLA, Katia Goffin Gardens, McLean, Virginia. Landscape Contractor: Y&A Landscaping, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

The Excellence in Landscape Awards, sponsored by the Landscape Contractors Association of Maryland, DC and Virginia, recognizes exceptional garden design throughout the region. This annual competition is judged by industry experts who vote in more than a dozen residential and commercial categories. All winners of the 2021 residential awards are listed below and four projects are covered in-depth:

Inviting gardens and gathering areas complement an Alexandria abode
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An eco-friendly escape in St. Michaels promotes laid-back living retreat
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A clever design makes the most of a compact Palisades garden
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A welcoming terrace, pool, spa and cabana elevate a Virginia landscape
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The Excellence in Landscape Awards

McHale Landscape Design, Inc.—Bethesda Property for Total Residential Contracting; Spring Hill Residence for Total Residential Contracting

Fine Earth Landscaping, Inc.—Linnartz Residence for Residential Maintenance

Colao & Peter—Elegant Entryway for Front Residential Planting and Entranceway/Design Build; Palisades Oasis for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Fine Earth Landscaping, Inc.—Shady Retreat for Outdoor Living Area; Geros Residence for Outdoor Living Area; Glazer Residence for Outdoor Living Area; Hao Residence for Residential Maintenance; Landy Residence for Residential Maintenance and Outdoor Living Area

JCLD | Jennifer Connoley Landscape Design—Country Waterfront Estate for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Lehnhoff’s Landscaping—Phoenix Residence for Craftsmanship/Design Build

McHale Landscape Design, Inc—Centreville Residence for Craftsmanship; Kensington Residence for Outdoor Living Area; Alexandria Residence for Outdoor Living Area; Annapolis Residence for Residential Maintenance; Great Falls Property for Front Residential Planting and Entranceway; McLean Property for Outdoor Living Area; St. Michaels Residence for Total Residential Contracting; River View Property for Total Residential Contracting

Planted Earth Landscaping Incorporated—Alexandria West Residence for Total Residential Contracting; Bethesda Modern Residence for Total Residential Contracting; Ellicott City Residence for Residential Maintenance

Surrounds, Inc.—Residence at Shallow Creek for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Xtra Care Landscaping & Design, Inc. —Shades of Blue Garden for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Colao & Peter—Sanctuary in Triangle for Craftsmanship/Design Build

Fine Earth Landscaping, Inc.—Drescher Residence for Residential Maintenance; Kemper Residence for Residential Maintenance; Linnartz Residence for Total Residential Contracting

Greensweep, LLC —Garden in Northwest Washington, DC, for Total Residential Contracting/Design Build

Kane Landscapes, Inc. —Long Residence for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build; Schmidt Residence for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Lehnhoff’s Landscaping—Cockeysville Residence for Total Residential Contracting/Design Build; Hydes Residence for Outdoor Living Area

Live Green Landscape Associates—Bastinelli Residence for Front Residential Planting and Entranceway/Design Build; Carnaggio for Craftsmanship

McHale Landscape Design, Inc—Takoma Park Bungalow for Total Residential Contracting/Design Build; Vienna Property for Total Residential Contracting; Arlington Residence for Total Residential Contracting; Great Falls Residence for Outdoor Living Area; McLean Residence for Total Residential Contracting

Rossen Landscape—Contemporary Oasis for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Surrounds, Inc..—Johnson Residence for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build

Planted Earth Landscaping Incorporated.—Kalorama Heights Residence for Residential Maintenance

McHale Landscape Design, Inc.—Swinks Mill
 Residence for Outdoor Living Area—Vienna Residence for Residential Maintenance—Bodkin Point Residence for Residential Maintenance—A Bethesda Residence for Residential Maintenance

D.A. Dunlevy—Historic Kensington Residence for
 Outdoor Living Area/Design-Build
Pinehurst Landscape Company—Historic Guilford Renovation for Total Residential Contracting

Chapel Valley Landscape Company—Private 
Residence in Fairfax, Virginia, for Outdoor Living Area
D.A. Dunlevy—Georgetown Secret Garden for Outdoor
 Living Area/Design-Build
Lehnhoff’s Landscaping—Phoenix Residence 
for Outdoor Living Area
McHale Landscape Design, Inc.—A Broomes Island Residence for Total Residential Contracting
Planted Earth Landscaping Incorporated—A McLean Residence for Residential Maintenance—A Baltimore County Residence for Total 
Residential Contracting
Surrounds, Inc.—Munsun Place for Total 
Residential Contracting/Design-Build

Maxalea—Bass Residence for 
Craftsmanship/Design-Build—Reitberger Residence for Total Residential
McHale Landscape Design, Inc.—Alexandria Residence for Outdoor Living Area—Potomac Residence for Total Residential Contracting—Hunting Cross Residence for Residential Maintenance—Centreville Residen

Hired to mastermind a backyard upgrade in Great Falls, Virginia, landscape architect Chad Talton of Surrounds, Inc., first demolished an existing pool and deck to make way for an elegant outdoor living area with a new swimming pool and plenty of space for entertaining.

The property is located in a protected area in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds, so Talton worked closely with county officials to make sure his design would meet strict environmental requirements. “We had to be very cautious to stay within the limits of the original pool and avoid additional paving,” he notes.

The client requested a contemporary look to match the residence. First, Talton razed the existing deck and wood railing on the upper floor of the house and removed hardscape around the pool and spa. Then he created an expansive, second-story terrace with seating space, a fireplace, a dining area, outdoor audio and TV and an outdoor bar and grill. A new stairway leads down to the backyard and pool terrace.

Travertine-look porcelain pavers and coping surround the pool and raised spa; the chocolate-gray building stone was also employed on walls and other elements. A modern new pool cabana boasts TV, audio and additional seating. Candle sconces on the wall in back of the spa provide diffuse lighting in the evening. Summer-blooming plants such as white drift roses, ornamental grasses and striking trees including dogwoods, paperbark maples and crape myrtles soften the geometric plan.

Award: Grand for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build. Landscape Architecture: Chad Talton, PLA, Surrounds, Inc., Sterling, Virginia. Contractor: Surrounds, Inc. Outdoor Automation: Aion Corporation, Leesburg, Virginia.

Small landscapes often present design dilemmas. Case in point: a project in DC’s Palisades neighborhood recently overhauled by J.R. Peter of Colao & Peter.

Despite the diminutive size of the clients’ backyard, the landscape architect met their desire for maximum amenities for all ages with a few innovative solutions. Peter set out “to transform a dated single-family home into a resort-like environment for our clients’ family to enjoy year-round,” he says.

Existing upper and lower decks were demolished, and an above-ground pool was sited at the rear of the one-fifth-of-an-acre property to create plenty of space for other features. Peter selected materials to complement the home’s contemporary design. Custom-sized slabs of Jerusalem limestone were imported from Israel for the veneer enveloping the pool and water feature, and for pavers in the loggia space underneath a new deck. The texture and color of the limestone blends with the hues of natural building stone near the deck and patio off the back of the house. The upper deck, with Trex Transcend flooring and a custom cable railing, connects to the patio and grill underneath via a space-saving spiral staircase. A water-management system channels rainwater into hidden gutters. Between the pool and patio, Colao & Peter installed artificial turf to establish a generous children’s play area with a specially designed swing set.

Evergreens lend the garden structure, while summer-blooming hydrangea, perennials and apple and peach tree espaliers against the horizontal fence provide color and interest year-round.

Award: Grand for Outdoor Living Area/Design Build. Landscape Architecture: J.R. Peter, Colao & Peter, Luxury Outdoor Living, Sterling, Virginia. Landscape Contracting: Colao & Peter. Photography: Curt Pulleyblank.

Reimagining the grounds of a longtime client’s summer residence in St. Michaels, Maryland, landscape architect Matt Rhoderick of McHale Landscape Design encountered unique challenges that also presented design opportunities.

The owners requested a casual pool and entertainment area, along with enhanced plantings throughout the property. The home’s location on a creek off the Miles River meant that Rhoderick’s design had to satisfy setback regulations and other rules mandating a reduction in impervious materials to prevent runoff.

A raised ipe boardwalk that appears to be on grade leads to the front door, while a willow oak stands sentinel, accompanied by low, colorful plantings. Rhoderick sited the backyard pool to maximize views of the creek while meeting the county’s 100-foot setback requirement. The pool was elevated and ipe decking allows for catch basins and drains underneath that carry water away from the house and pool. Travertine pool coping and a nearby pergola offering shade and additional seating create a casual, contemporary mood. An evergreen backdrop provides privacy from neighboring properties.

Yarrow and salvia at the entrance give way to knockout roses and nepeta by the parking courtyard. Deer-tolerant plantings, selected to bloom in summer, include crape myrtles and ornamental grasses that sway in the breeze. They blend with existing plants and trees to strengthen the maturity of the garden.

Award: Grand for Total Residential Contracting. Landscape Architecture & Contracting: Matt Rhoderick, McHale Landscape Design, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

The total overhaul of a Mid-Century Modern property with a notable history required close collaboration between landscape architect Jennifer Horn and landscape contractor Planted Earth Landscaping, Inc., which now maintains the grounds.

The residence was originally designed by architect Charles Goodman, known for his iconic modern enclaves in the DC area; the home’s first owner was the late CBS commentator Eric Sevareid. The current owner tapped architect Michael Cook to update the structure and Horn to redesign the landscape.

Horn notes that clients with mid-century houses often imagine West Coast landscapes, with concrete pavers and gardens offering year-round interest. “Translating that to the cold, snowy Virginia winters and hot, humid summers posed challenges,” she says. “We opted for thermal bluestone that can handle 
the freeze-thaw cycle a bit better.”

Horn reflected the home’s clean lines in her plan. A front courtyard contains raised beds and a water feature while the backyard revolves around a pool, fire pit, seating areas and even a hub for beekeeping.

Planted Earth project manager Justin Spittal says the steeply sloping site was a challenge. “With competing grades in the construction area, erosion was a constant concern,” he notes. Retaining walls were used “to keep both the home and neighbors safe from runoff.”

The team installed ferns, horsetail reed and other sculptural plants. Says Horn, “We focused on texture more than on a traditional mix of flowers, trees and shrubs.”

Award: Grand for Total Residential Contracting (Planted Earth). Landscape Architecture: Jennifer Horn, PLA, Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture, Arlington, Virginia. Renovation Contractor: Perpetual Home Improvement, West River, Maryland. Landscape Contractor: Planted Earth Landscaping, Inc., Sykesville, Maryland.

It’s not always easy to marry a historic property with modern requirements for sustainability—especially when the landscape is a 16-acre waterfront estate in Easton, Maryland. McHale Landscape Design has worked on this property for almost 20 years, taking special care to preserve iconic trees and shrubs that distinguish the flat landscape as it rolls down to the Miles River—a majestic and expansive waterway which snakes out to the Chesapeake Bay.

Current owners Mike and Ginny Borner were on the lookout for a warmer climate when they decided to move to Easton from their Westchester County, New York, residence about 10 years ago. Little did they know back then that in 2018 Forbes would name Easton one of the top five “coolest towns” in which to have a vacation home in the U.S. The magazine cited its year-round culture combining history, excellent restaurants, galleries, boutiques —and relatively low property taxes to boot. “I didn’t know what the Eastern Shore was,” recalls Mike. “We stumbled upon it and still pinch ourselves every day because we could not be happier.”

The Borners settled on a classic, 200-year-old house overlooking the water that had been renovated from time to time over the years. It had everything they desired, including a swimming pool, a guest house and a long dock where they could keep their boat.

The previous owners tapped McHale to create a master plan for the property. The landscape firm had carved out a lovely drive, lined with a long allée of cherry trees, that curves around to the front of the house, where a charming water element features a sugar-kettle fountain. The landscape was dotted with loblolly pines, magnificent old oak trees and numerous willows—from which the property takes its name, The Willows.

“Willows were part of the original farm fields and farmhouse area, so we’ve added more over the years,” says McHale landscape architect Matt Rhoderick.

When they purchased the property, the Borners were so pleased with McHale’s work that they decided to hire the firm to maintain it and make a few upgrades. As Mike explains, “They knew the property and its history, and we were happy with the appearance.” To get the ball rolling, the couple met with McHale principal Steve McHale, who later brought in Rhoderick to collaborate on the project. Initially, changes in the landscape were left to the firm. “We didn’t have many desires in the way of additions or renovations,” says Mike. “All the ideas came from McHale.”

One of McHale’s main proposals was the construction of a stone parterre garden showcasing flowering perennials including Russian sage, coneflowers, daylily, herbs and catmint, flanked by evergreens including boxwood, cherry laurel and fragrant osmanthus. The garden creates a colorful focal point—a tableau that’s visible from the kitchen. McHale also re-installed a travertine patio around the pool after the former owner replaced a previous patio with lawn.

Eventually, the Borners developed a wish list of their own. Though the firm proposed a new fountain, Ginny asked for a gazebo instead. The couple also wanted a small, enclosed space where they could enjoy casual al fresco meals. This request ultimately led to the addition of a large screened porch on the residence. “McHale came by with drawings for an addition which blended right in with the house,” says Mike.

Rhoderick adds, “The nice thing about working on a property through iterations is that you have an idea of a master plan over phases.” It’s helpful when shaping the space for a new owner, he explains, because “you can pull from that original master plan.”

Since the Borners’ property extends along the water, the team faced environmental restrictions on construction and plantings. The existing lawn was grandfathered in, but to meet Talbot County requirements, new plantings were incorporated that mitigate runoff into the Miles River. Near the swimming pool and around the guest house, for example, McHale planted an array of native shrubs and perennials; today, switchgrass, hibiscus, Black-eyed Susans, viburnum, red-twig dogwood and inkberry holly impart year-round texture and color to the landscape.

When a vacant lot adjacent to their property became available, the Borners purchased it for additional privacy. McHale turned the area into a native meadow, which screens the owners from neighbors and also meets new regulations on sustainability that help protect the environment.

Indeed, the meadow has become a standout landscape element. As Rhoderick explains, “It’s a mixture of grasses, pollinators and native plants, and they provide a succession of flowers and color throughout the year.”

Landscape Architecture: Steve McHale, RLA, principal; Matthew Rhoderick, RLA, lead designer; McHale Landscape Design, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. 

Al Fresco Style The owners of a 15-acre horse farm in Germantown who wanted the landscape to complement their traditional stone house hired designer Julie Patronik of McHale Landscape Design to help them achieve their vision. “They wanted it kind of loose and casual, especially as you moved away from the house,” Patronik says. They also requested plenty of color throughout.

Patronik heralded the new design with a stone entry wall etched with the farm’s name. Stone piers to either side of the drive are enhanced by plantings. Halfway along the main drive, stone columns guide visitors to the right, toward the main entrance. The drive continues straight to the stables at the rear of the property.

Located between the residence and the street, a pond has been embellished with boulders and a fountain in its center. Iris, ornamental grasses, aster and a weeping willow make this formerly nondescript spot alluring. In keeping with the clients’ wishes, it even welcomes Canada geese during their seasonal migration.

Behind the house, Patronik designed a series of linked flagstone terraces, including a main entertaining patio, a kitchen patio with a water feature and a private patio that’s accessible from one of the bedrooms. A long path from the terraced area leads over a bridge to the stables. The clients requested colorful plantings in informal beds; masses of hydrangea, river birch, spruce and perennials tie the entire landscape together.

Jane Berger is a journalist and landscape designer based in Washington, DC.

DECADE AWARD: Total Residential Contracting. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: JULIE PATRONIK and CAROLYN MULLET, McHale Landscape Design, Inc., Upper Marlboro, Maryland. ARCHITECTURE: BRUCE HUTCHINSON, Hutchinson + Associates, LLC, Rockville, Maryland.

Modern Aesthetic Clear and simple: A modern house requires a modern landscape. However, creating the exterior plan for this Bethesda residence was anything but. Mark Voelkel of Rolling Acres Landscape worked closely with the homeowners, architects and builders to come up with a functional, contemporary design that would complement the house. Like the inside, says Voelkel, “The outside should be very functional and at the same time clean and minimalistic.”

The site’s 11-foot drop from back to front presented a challenge. The owners wanted a swimming pool with a terrace, a fire-pit and a spa. While the pool location was not an issue, the spa was a different story. “We went through many revisions of the drawings,” Voelkel recalls. They finally designed it with a vanishing edge and sited it next to an open-air pavilion with retractable screens. From here, homeowners and guests can view the water spilling into a long, narrow basin. A raised edge around the swimming pool serves as a seat wall, while water jets in the deep end allow bathers to swim against a strong current.

In keeping with the contemporary aesthetic, Voelkel installed a minimalist plant palette of ornamental grasses and specimen evergreens. Tanyosho and Thunderhead pines provide year-round interest, while Japanese maples with beautiful red fall color stand out against a stucco-and-stone retaining wall. Two cut-leaf ‘Orangeola’ Japanese maples flank the gateway to the fire pit.

Jane Berger is a journalist and landscape designer based in Washington, DC.

GRAND AWARD: Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build). LANDSCAPE DESIGN: MARK VOELKEL, APLD, Rolling Acres Landscape/Nursery, Brinklow, Maryland. ARCHITECTURE: MARK GIARRAPUTO and MARTIN LOCRAFT, Studio Z Design Concepts, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland. BUILDER: Sandy Spring Builders, LLC, Bethesda, Maryland.

Potomac Playground A formal garden in Potomac needed to reflect the style of the home—a grand, newly built residence designed to evoke a northern European manner. The house was under construction when DCA Landscape Architects was called in to design the surrounding gardens.

“The front yard was kept simple—a lawn and boxwoods with a U-shaped drive—in order to save a huge maple tree,” says landscape architect Amy Mills. For the much more elaborate backyard, the clients requested a series of garden rooms, a pool and pool house and a lawn large enough to provide play space for their children. They also asked for three water features to bring in the appealing sound of flowing water: One is a small stone pedestal fountain with a hexagonal basin surrounded by boxwood and purple blooms; a second, to the side of the house, features an urn with seasonal flowers; and the third is located between two stairways that lead from the lower-level family room up to the main garden. An unusual design element is a large-scale chessboard composed of limestone and flagstone squares with teak chess pieces—a nod to the kids’ interest in the game. It fills a square garden room surrounded by hedges.

The owners tapped Chapel Valley Landscape Company to maintain their extensive landscape, and the company won an LCA award for its efforts. The job includes monitoring irrigation, pruning plant material and nurturing the many species of perennials and annuals that abound throughout the property.

Jane Berger is a journalist and landscape designer based in Washington, DC.

HERITAGE AWARD: Residential Maintenance. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: AMY MILLS, ASLA, DCA Landscape Architects Inc., Washington, DC. ARCHITECTURE: ANTHONY BARNES, FAIA, Barnes Vanze Architects, Washington, DC. BUILDER: JIM GIBSON, Gibson Builders, Washington, DC. LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE: Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, Maryland.

Riverside Retreat MARCH/APRIL 2011

A close collaboration between clients and designer transformed a disjointed, 34-acre Eastern Shore property into a magnificent riverside estate. Landscape architect Eric Beane of Chapel Valley Landscape Company was asked to meld scattered elements on the property into a coherent whole.

First, he widened and re-designed a dark, narrow entrance drive through native woodlands to provide a fitting first glimpse of the grand estate. At the end of the drive, visitors encounter a crumbling, rustic ruin reminiscent of an old church—actually a garden folly inspired by those prevalent in Europe in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. It's an intimate, secluded retreat that was recently the site of a wedding ceremony.

A circular drive with a large, elliptical lawn bordered in boxwood leads to the newly designed main buildings of the estate. A formal rose garden links the caretaker’s cottage to the main house, the pool, the patio and a tidal pond. A long breezeway was constructed to connect the main residence to the guesthouse, complete with its own walled entrance garden.

In the backyard, Beane added a pergola and fireplace at one end of the swimming pool, along with summertime plantings of roses and ornamental grasses. He also enlarged the main terrace off the rear of the house to provide space for dining and relaxation along with views to the Miles River and the tidal pond. An old concrete platform over a dry creek bed was converted into a charming stone bridge with a stream flowing beneath it.

visit Chapel Valley's website is build incorporating latest web design trends at chapelvalley.com

Jane Berger is the publisher of GardenDesignOnline.com.

AWARDS: Grand, Total Residential Contracting (Design/Build); GRAND, Outdoor Living Area. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Eric Beane, Chapel Valley Landscape Company, Woodbine, Maryland.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and landscape design ideas.  Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas, and outdoor spaces to life.

Modern Med MARCH/APRIL 2011

A tiled roof, stucco finish and decorative arches lend a California feeling to this Mediterranean-style property in Alexandria. The owners asked landscape designer Morgan Washburn of Botanical Decorators to create outdoor spaces that would complement their home’s minimalist interiors, provide plenty of entertaining space and suit the needs of their active family.

Washburn devised an innovative, contemporary design, locating a pool at the rear of the long, narrow lot and renovating an old garage to serve double duty as a pool house and space for cars. An upper terrace of Turkish travertine seamlessly connects indoor and outdoor rooms, while gracious, wide steps descend to the garden level.

An open, elliptical lawn conceals a cistern underneath that catches rainwater from downspouts and feeds the garden’s irrigation system. A curved stucco wall on one side of the lawn houses a built-in fireplace; upright yews in surrounding beds will eventually hide most views of the pool, lending a mysterious air to the rear of the property.

Washburn considers “very strong geometry and monochromatic plantings” to be the highlights of the design. Cool plantings—Annabelle hydrangeas, blue salvia, agapanthus and blue hostas—surround the pool. In contrast, the ellipse garden contains a warmer palette of oranges, yellows and salmons, while up near the house, the colors are bolder still, with overflowing containers of red ivy geraniums. Washburn included a large planting of herbs on the upper terrace—thyme, basil and a hedge of rosemary—to lend a Mediterranean touch in line with the home’s architectural character.

Jane Berger is the publisher of GardenDesignOnline.com.

AWARDS: Front, Grand, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build); Rear, Distinction, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build). LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Morgan Washburn, Botanical Decorators, Olney, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY:  MORGAN WASHBURN.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and landscape design ideas.  Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas, and outdoor spaces to life.

Au Naturel MARCH/APRIL 2011

A three-story addition to a residence in Great Falls, Virginia, was the key element in a new,  panoramic landscape design. According to landscape architect Howard Cohen of Surrounds, Inc., the sweeping views from the addition set the tone for the design; the addition had so many windows overlooking the entire backyard that “the garden had to have a broad approach.”

Cohen’s clients did not want a swimming pool, but they did want a koi pond, lots of plants and a space for entertaining. Cohen united the property’s large backyard with a picturesque, river-like water feature that cascades down from one side of the property in a series of waterfalls and ends at the koi pond on the lower level. The naturalistic design includes large boulders, a stone bridge over the water that connects to a secluded patio with an open-air pavilion, and a series of descending stone terraces.

Inside the pavilion, a fireplace, lighting and gas heaters in the ceiling allow the structure to be used well into the cooler months. There’s even a computer screen that descends from the ceiling on rollers to table level so the client can have an open-air work space in beautiful surroundings.

Because the clients wanted a wide array of showy plants and shrubs, they had to do something to keep out the deer. Cohen installed a seven-foot steel fence—far more attractive and sturdier than normal deer fencing—around the property that allowed him to plant such deer favorites as roses, aucuba, daylilies and hydrangeas. 


Jane Berger is the publisher of GardenDesignOnline.com

AWARD: Grand, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build). LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Howard Cohen, Surrounds, Inc., Sterling, Virginia. PHOTOGRAPHY: Greg Hadley and Brian Rossen.

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and landscape design ideas.  Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas, and outdoor spaces to life.


Streamlined Style MARCH/APRIL 2011

A double vanishing-edge pool, open decks, a screened porch and masses of colorful plantings are the main components of this contemporary yet classic garden in McLean, Virginia. When landscape architect Anthony Cusat of McHale Landscape Design Inc. first encountered his clients’ long, linear property, it already had a free-form pool with a wrought-iron fence around it that divided the backyard in half. Based on consultations with the owners, his goal was to connect the al fresco spaces and, as he describes it, create an environment “rich in architectural detail, contemporary in spirit and grounded in traditional design.” The clients also wanted him to incorporate the symmetry and balanced proportions of their updated Georgian-style residence.

Cusat designed a new state-of-the-art, three-level pool with two vanishing edges. Water spills from an urn into the upper level, cascades down into the main pool, then spills over another edge into a lower basin. At one end, a glass mosaic tanning shelf sits below water level, creating an area roomy enough for a chaise and a shade umbrella. From upper-level decks and a screened porch, stairs descend to spacious patios surrounding the pool and to walkways that wind through colorful plantings to a serene lawn area. The pool deck and walkways are constructed from Turkish travertine with Pennsylvania flagstone edges; stepping stones through beds of ground-hugging Mazus reptans unify terraces at different levels.  Sweetbay magnolias in spring give way to summer blooms of hydrangea, crape myrtle, catmint, cleome and roses.

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Jane Berger is the publisher of GardenDesignOnline.com.

AWARD: Grand, Outdoor Living Area. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Anthony Cusat, McHale Landscape Design, Inc., Upper Marlboro, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY: Richard Sweeney.

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