Special Focus: Landscape Design 2016

In the city or suburbs, near a peaceful mountain lake or tucked on an island swept by salty air, gorgeous landscapes abound in New England.

Text by Paula M. Bodah

Rocks of Ages
The lakeside mountain retreat in western Maine seems to have sprung whole from its rocky site, but landscape architect Todd Richardson says the natural look didn’t come easily. Previous owners had significantly altered the site, flattening it and constructing retaining walls before building the house. Richardson’s primary aim was “stitching the house back into its context,” he says. As architect Leslie Saul renovated the home, she and Richardson collaborated to integrate house and land, adding or enhancing entrances and exits for better flow. A stone wall across from the front entry was demolished. Now, the homeowners stroll across what looks like a country lane into a rocky outcropping so natural it’s almost a surprise to find a built-in grill area, all ready for entertaining. More stone integrates the back deck, which overlooks the lake and is accessible from the living area or the master bedroom. In keeping with the natural look, plantings consist almost entirely of ferns that tuck in among the rocks as though they’ve grown there forever.

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Landscape Design: Todd Richardson, Richardson & Associates Landscape Architects
Architect: Leslie Saul, Leslie Saul & Associates
Landscape Contractor: Gammon’s Garden Center & Landscape Nursery
Site Contractor: Doug Wilson, D.A. Wilson & Co.
Meadow Lark
The owners of this Concord, Massachusetts, prop­erty wanted a pool area that seemed to settle ­naturally into the pastoral landscape around the five-acre lot. Landscape architect Stephanie Hubbard and architect Treffle LaFleche fostered the link to nature by siting the pool and pool house at an elevated corner of the lot. Where the ground slopes gently away from the native bluestone walkway around the pool, Hubbard built on the connection with a lush swath of meadowlike plantings of tufted hairgrass along with mounding cranesbill, feathery liatris, and coneflowers, all in purple hues. She reclaimed much of the lawn beyond, turning it into a seeded meadow. A grove of sweetbay magnolia and more cranesbill and liatris border the pool’s opposite side. A stone wall creates a pretty backdrop to a seating area and joins the pool house to the landscape. The connection to the environment is more than just visual: several copper chains guide rainwater from the pool-house roof into a groundwater recharge system.

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Landscape Design: Stephanie Hubbard, SiteCreative
Pool House Architect: Treffle LaFleche, LDa Architecture & Interiors
Builder: Jonathan Merz, Merz Construction
Landscape Contractor: R.P. Marzilli & Company
Best of Both Worlds
Traditional architecture doesn’t necessarily call for traditional landscaping, as this Martha’s Vineyard home proves. Landscape designer Jonathan Keep’s clients wanted to turn an existing series of small, detailed gardens into a pool and play area with plenty of space for their four active children. To give them the cleaner, more modern look they wanted while being respectful of the buildings’ architecture, Keep conceived a plan that beautifully marries old and new. The guesthouse, which now has an open-air changing room and shower, makes a charming backdrop to a pool whose gray granite, two-step, split-face surround can be interpreted as either traditional or contemporary, Keep says. Hedges of Rose of Sharon, a plant that thrives in sandy island soil, offer summery white blooms. A granite walkway bordered with annuals in vibrant reds and purples runs along the east side of the pool, connecting the houses. And, just for fun, three retractable fountains along the pool’s west side can be activated for an elegant water feature.

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Landscape Design: Jonathan Keep, Jonathan Keep Landscape Designers
Architect: David Stern, Stern McCafferty
Landscape Contractor: Fred Fournier, Landscope Landscape Construction
Pool Contractor: Tekomah Goggins, Atlantic Pool
A Little Piece of Paradise
The house is sleek, contemporary, and hip. The one-third acre lot sits in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The modern house and urban location suit the homeowners, but when it came to the yard, they wanted a more rural vibe, one that reminded them of their summer home in Maine. In front, landscape architect Matthew Cunningham created a welcoming walkway of stepping stones and mosses in a pattern that echoes the horizontal geometry of the house. Trees, ferns, and low-growing flowering perennials add to the woodland feel. In back, Cunningham dealt with a fairly steep grade change by adding a stepped stone terrace that leads to a wide, shallow stairway of stone and grass. In the interests of sustainability, Cunningham used reclaimed stone for all the paving granite. Because the homeowners head north for the summer, Cunningham employed plantings that are at their showiest in spring and fall. Massive drifts of white astilbe cascade down the terrace, and at the property’s edge stand trees that glow golden and orange come autumn.

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Landscape Design: Matthew Cunningham, Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design
Architect: Anmahian Winton Architects
Landscape Contractor: Martin Lucyk Landscape Construction
Assembly Required
It’s all about family in this Duxbury, Massachusetts, backyard, where the homeowners welcome their grown children and grandchildren for frequent poolside gatherings. Grownups can relax in the spa while keeping a close eye on children frolicking in the pool or playing on its grass surround. A broad terrace with a generous grilling area and several seating areas offers plenty of space for entertaining. Masses of hydrangeas mixed with dogwoods and backed by mature arborvitaes provide spectacular white blossoms all summer long, while easy-care Knock Out roses and pennisetum grasses offer additional color, shape, and texture. The whole area is enclosed with a charming antique stone and unstained-cedar picket fence. The stone helps protect the plantings from the wind, notes landscape designer James Douthit, while the pickets—besides looking pretty—let lounging guests soak up the lovely harbor view.

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Landscape Design and Construction: James Douthit, a Blade of Grass

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