Friday, December 3, 2010



In a charming neighborhood in Baltimore where walled or fenced gardens are the norm behind historic town homes, it was time for a garden makeover for that transformed a rambling grassy yard with old brick pathways into this sophisticated urban oasis. Our clients held a strong vision of a simplified, modernized urban sanctuary that gave a sense of spacious elegance, and over several meetings they were able to present us with a stunning design for installation. They chose to keep the boxwood hedge on the right and the sweet smelling viburnum bush on the left. Ipe decking was installed in racing stripes in bringing definition and accent to the patio and matching the existing back deck of the home. The decking functioned to divide the space in precise geometric and mathematical patterns honoring the fibonacci series!

The old fence at the far end of the yard was replaced with a cedar fence with horizontal boards. By selecting the horizontal board fence the homeowners selected a more modern look to the garden. The horizontal boards form a striking perpendicular form with the three hornbeams. The hornbeam trees are an unusual tree in this region and create a focal point of interest with their narrow upright form and beautiful bark and leaves- a perfect selection for this narrow garden. Liriope plantings “naturalized” the space. (Plantings of spring bulbs will also do this, clumped together in bunches). On the far left is a purple smoke bush, a lovely choice with its deep purple leaves and airy purple flowers.

Large 2’x3’ thermal premium bluestone flagstone were used for the patio. These large pieces of bluestone are treated with high heat to create a textured surface that is not a slippery as regular bluestone flagstone. It also creates a very consistent surface. The premium bluestone is color selected to be a very consistent blue color (as opposed to the full color bluestone which includes shades of greens, browns and purples, as well as the blue). The coolness of the bluestone enhances the feeling of serenity and spaciousness, while its consistency of texture and color brings both a modern look and a formality to the space. The warmth of the garden bed soil and the Ipe decking is an eye catching contrast to the coolness of the bluestone. Five variegated red twig dogwood bushes are planted. The variegation of the leaves reflects the coolness of the bluestone and the red of their stems reflects the warmth of the Ipe. The second purple smokebush is just visible on the right.

This beautiful garden reflects both its urban and contemporary setting as well as allowing the viewer to relish the beauty of nature, with the simple yet expressive landscape plantings, the incomparable beauty of natural stone and the natural variations in the color and grain of the Ipe decking. Carefully placed uplighting further enhances the carefully selected plantings. This will be a space to enjoy for years to come!

A Pool Scape


Our clients had several issues with their existing pool scape. Although the far side was beautifully landscaped in terrace style with many shade loving plants, the grass around the pool was sparse and detracted from the beauty of the pool and did not do justice to the peaceful surroundings. Our clients expressed a desire for various pathways and interconnecting patios and after several meetings we arrived at a design involving new garden beds , paths and patios made from pavers and river stone accents and edging.

BEFORE: Wood decking in the far left corner gets replaced with a paver patio with a drain to solve puddling issues, sparse grass and variably defined garden beds are reworked to open up a pathway and create more defined garden spaces, eliminating most of the grass.

AFTER: Visitors entering the garden gate are now met with an inviting pathway leading to the far patio. Grass is replaced with gardens. The right side of the path is edged with a river stone edge, allowing a raised bed on the right to bring added interest to the pool scape. The River Stones are wonderful additions to pool landscapes as they are the result of the movement of water over the stones and thus are natural choices for garden accents around the pool!

BEFORE: A pathway from the gate to the shed needs to be tied in to both the deck and pool. Sparse grass is replaced with garden beds.

AFTER: View from the pool. Pathway is now tied into the pool and the deck and a small edge of river stones gives definition to a new garden bed.

BEFORE: Especially sparse grass between deck and pool in this high traffic area is replaced with a new patio and garden beds.

AFTER: The new patio creates an attractive space in which to sit to enjoy the sunshine and pool. The new pathway is visible in the distance. Liriope plants in the foreground will fill in the space to create a lush green carpet effect.

Another view of the same patio from the other side. Pavers are laid in a herringbone pattern with straight edge pavers “picture framing” the patio.

View from the side gate, visitors are now greeted with a welcoming walkway leading to the side pool patio.

By redesigning this pool landscape we were able to eliminate much of the sparse grass, create new a new flow from the gate to the pool and from the shed to the pool, and were able to accentuate an new patio space between the deck and the pool.