Fall 2013 I apld.org
Planting Design Merit Award Beach Area Residence, Westport, Connecticut Eva Chiamulera, ASLA, Professional Member APLD Austin Ganim Landscape Design, LLC, Fairfield, Connecticut
Integrating this newly constructed Westport, Connecticut residence into the adjacent beach community presented us with several unique challenges and opportunities. There was a significant topography change between the front and back of this corner lot and the neighbors were in close proximity. The front of the property is extremely sunny while the rear is under heavy shade from the neighbor’s mature trees. Our clients were particularly concerned about the front of the house. They wanted additional privacy, but they asked for plantings that would not “wall out” the neighbors. As avid plant lovers, they requested a tapestry of mixed plantings that would grow together in time and provide habitat for birds and butterflies. The clients previously lived in a home with woodlands and meadows, and it was important to them to them to integrate reminders of that site into this new this new suburban environment.
The stepping stone walk in the front yard creates an inviting but casual entrance to the property, reflecting the relaxing atmosphere of this beach area community. Drifts of beach rose, hydrangeas and viburnums accented by thunderhead pines, hibiscus and grasses soften views into the property. The semi-formal foundation beds defined by boxwoods and cherry laurels provide winter interest while roses and perennials carry the summer months.
Our design marries the site challenges with the client’s needs for a friendly, private, relaxing atmosphere that incorporates plant life as the main focal point of the property. We took the opportunity to create intriguing and inviting spaces not only for our clients, but also for their guests and neighbors. Our four-season approach to planting design ensures that there is always something interesting in the garden. Rather than rely on fencing for privacy, we relied heavily on plantings that would screen as well as create interest through texture, color, and flowers. Incorporating the woodland and meadow theme gave us the opportunity to expand our typical beach plant palette in a way that would not overwhelm this less than half-acre lot.
In the backyard, a series of steps and terraced planting beds connect the lower patio to the deck above; a mixture of spruces provides privacy and a backdrop for the bark of red-twig dogwood and white birches in the winter months. While descending the stairs, your eyes are drawn to an arc of dogwoods surrounding the lower corner of the property and creating a canopy of layered plantings for privacy. The design allows an organic-shaped pool to be integrated into the patio and plantings at a future time. Plant material was chosen for its hardiness in this Zone 7a region, integrating a number of natives and incorporating species to provide food and shelter for birds and other local wildlife. Many of the flowering plants attract bees, butterflies, and other critical pollinators. The landscape designer designed and oversaw the installation of this project. Our team installed the plant material while the builder’s masons constructed the hardscape.