Emerson Woods

From the stone farm wall along the road to the American flag flying high, Emerson Woods is a quintessential New England residence. With views west to a secluded pond and a dense periphery of mature trees, the design of the landscape was conceived to be an extension of the already striking natural features.

Entering from the drive, guests are met with a sweeping view of the residence and are led to an arrival court bracketed by boxwood hedges. Composing much of the site’s open area is a meadow of wildflowers and tall grasses, contributing to the rural, New England charm. Pea stone walks lined with a simple, yet colorful perennial palette introduce an intimate garden setting directly around the residence.

At the rear and centered on the main body of the house, a set of rustic, grassy stairs begin a mown path down a steep slope towards the pond. A dining terrace adjacent to the kitchen inside provides a tranquil setting for summertime dinners, where the sound of a traditional fountain can be heard across the way.

Rocky Narrows

Not far from a stretch of the Charles River in the rural suburbs of Boston, Rocky Narrows presents a landscape at the intersection of rustic and refined. In achieving this aesthetic, the design of the landscape utilizes two fundamental elements: form in the sense of topography and landscape features, and materials in the sense of planting, masonry and timber.

Defining the landform of the site, a soft, yet definitive grade break sets the residence on a pedestal, where only a select few sets of granite stairs traverse the gentle slope. Graceful curves inform the layout of the drive, which leads guests to an arrival court held by a tapered fieldstone retaining wall.

A consistent palette of natural materials provides lush greens and brilliant whites in the planting, while masonry and timber contribute complimentary earth tones. Featured on two reclaimed granite piers, a three rail gate hangs at the front entry, while additional piers move up the drive matched by sugar maples on the opposite side. Encompassing the remainder of the yard is a split rail fence, terminating an adjacent slope and allowing wildflowers to peer over each rail.

High Meadow

Set in a rural, forested context, High Meadow is a nearly six-acre site characterized by wooded uplands with rolling topography and prominent ledge outcrops. The residence, standing on the highest point of the property, attracted clients who saw an opportunity to realize the potential of the previously underutilized landscape. A series of programmatic elements were then identified to include in the design: a swimming pool and spa, fire pit, and a barn and pool house to be sited in collaboration with a local architect.

Foremost, a sequencing of spaces was developed to organize the primary elements of the landscape. Beginning at the pool house, the architecture extends above the stone terrace with the use of a pergola, from which the pool and spa directly abut. Trees and shrubs flank the pool house, stepping down to a lush meadow of wildflowers, tall grasses, and finally to the lawn. The result is a gradual transition from the architecture to the expanse of the lawn, matched by the barn on the opposite side of the yard.

Graceful curves shape paths of bluestone steppers and garden edges throughout the landscape, leading the eye towards focal elements and informing movement. A traditional fieldstone fire pit remains in character with existing masonry, while providing a central node to gather around. The result of the design is an arrangement of landscape elements that cater towards an active, outdoor lifestyle.

Cypress Court

Set back from the street and buffered by topography and mature stands of trees, this property offered a unique opportunity to create a tranquil setting for a new home within a suburban context. From the onset, the existing landform and vegetation at the periphery were identified as resources to be upheld. By doing so, the existing relationship of the property to its context would be maintained, and privacy within the property could be preserved.

Contributing to a heightened arrival sequence, a chip seal drive passes through an existing woodland softened with fern and understory plantings, before turning to redirect views across an open lawn to the residence. Proceeding towards a towering copper leaf beech tree, the arrival sequence culminates at an elliptical forecourt, where magnolias frame the main body of the residence.

In the rear yard, a stone terrace is framed with evergreen hedges and a simple, lush perennial palette. The design of the landscape is a direct response to the character of the architecture, where symmetry is maintained in the form each space and natural materials compliment the relaxed nature of the shingle style façade.

Stone Court

On a suburban site of less than half an acre, new homeowners were looking to establish their landscape as an extension of the character and quality of their residence. Specific programmatic elements to the design of the landscape included a revised arrival sequence, privacy screening from the road and adjacent properties, and the incorporation of outdoor living amenities.

Framed by traditional entry piers, a circular auto court was introduced to manage multiple circulation routes through the arrival sequence. The geometry of the auto court is reinforced by an expansive monolithic bluestone staircase, met by a series of grass-jointed bluestone rows that lead guests to the main entry of the residence.

A relaxed stand of Holly encompasses the side yard, providing screening from the road, while a Yew hedge segmented by masonry piers offers privacy from an adjacent residence. In the rear yard, a water feature introduces auditory and visual interest as the focal feature from the terrace. Serving as a centerpiece to the terrace, a complementary fire feature defines an outdoor space to gather around.

Hundreds Woods

At a shingle-style house on a site with significant topography, the client sought to transform the landscape in a way that tailored to the wishes of a young family. In developing the direction for the design of the property, two clear goals were established: to create a landscape with several distinct living spaces for year-round enjoyment, and to provide a strong connection between the residence and its outdoor elements.

Improving the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, a stone terrace now sits directly adjacent to the rear of the house, featuring an outdoor kitchen and fireplace. Bordered by hydrangea, a path of bluestone steppers lead from the terrace to a raised grass panel overlooking the circular lawn. The pool and spa become the primary feature of the landscape, lined with a single row of chaise lounges framed by dogwood and evergreens.

At the edge of the pool, a shingle-clad pool house tucked into the grade of the hill serves as a both focal element and a refuge. Beyond, a rustic set of stairs meanders up a terraced slope, connecting the pool garden and lawn to the upper woodlands. In the client’s words, the landscape has become “a perfect place to hide, think, read, relax, and entertain.”

Charles River Estate

Settled in the rural outskirts of Boston, the Charles River Estate is a circa-1900 stucco country place sited on more than four acres of pastoral land. Perched on the highest point of the property, the residence looks east through mature trees to the Charles River, and west across a sweeping meadow. New owners with a young family acquired the estate and sought to restore and enhance the landscape.

Drawing from the classical tradition, a series of garden rooms were created to provide transitions from the west and south sides of the residence. These spaces include a lawn terrace, dining terrace, and a pool garden, all of which are planted with a restrained palette of green and white to complement the setting.

Existing stone walls were restored and modified, while new masonry stairs and piers were designed to match the existing craftsmanship. Traditional crossbuck gates and fences with traditional motifs complement the character of adjacent natural stone. A palette of natural materials in concert with traditional New England craftsmanship defines this property’s character and sense of place.

Sumner Estate

Located south of Boston, the property was developed as a residence in the nineteenth century by the Endicott family. The current owners undertook a renovation of the house and grounds to bring back their former elegance. The creation of a master plan improves the overall quality of the landscape, guiding the siting of new structures as well as the design of extensive landscape improvements.

The landscape design creates a series of gracious and distinct outdoor spaces which relate to the traditional architectural character of the property and support the program of interior spaces while meeting the outdoor recreation needs of the client. The design of this restored estate reflects its history while creating outdoor spaces and meeting the program requirements of a twenty-first-century family.

Pond’s Edge Estate

This formerly derelict estate was transformed and revitalized to reconnect the existing early twentieth-century architecture—a 1911 Chapman and Frazer-designed craftsman-style house—to a now thriving and inspiring environment. Defining scenic features of the site include a steep slope, striking views, and a decorative pond. Adjacent to the Hammond Pond Reservation, the property is located within the historic district of Chestnut Hill.

To address the owner’s wishes to rejuvenate the garden in the spirit of the neighborhood’s traditional character, the steep terrain was terraced to maximize sightlines from the house, offer mystery from the street, and delight from within the garden itself. New stone walls safeguard the pool, define entertaining and recreation areas, and display an organized transition from the house to the landscape beyond. Overgrown spaces were selectively cleared to sustain a variety of indigenous and heritage plant life. Hedges, gates, and entry piers beckon, guide, and add formality within the natural abundance. The pond was dredged and rescaled to become—along with a contiguous wet meadow—the focal point of the garden and a functional ecosystem once again.

Stonewood Garden

Located in one of Boston’s early twentieth-century suburban communities, this estate featured a 1928 stone-front colonial residence surrounded by lush eastern hemlock and its original period landscape. The owners, a family with young children, wished to better enjoy the space surrounding their house while retaining the jewel-like classical sensibility of the gardens.

Inspired by the stone house and the clients’ embrace of a raised pool garden concept, the new site plan maintained the organization and grade of the property. The formal walled garden was restored, while a significant expansion of the extant rear terraces allowed for a dining area, a spa and swimming pool, and an outdoor fireplace.

To further enhance the pool terrace, a lattice screen panel based on the Tuscan order creates a backdrop that includes an urn original to the garden. These gestures, along with a refined entry garden, create a unified setting that exhibits programmatic needs and vibrant connections to the architectural character of the property and neighborhood.