Sagaponack, New York
Each landscape poses unique challenges. In this case, the primary challenge was the location: the two-acre site fronted on a busy road with lots of traffic noise. This was especially unwelcome because the client was a concert promoter with especially sensitive ears.
The response to this situation was two-fold. An acoustic engineer assisted in the design of a sound-reducing perimeter fence. The property was enclosed with a series of stockade fencing panels lined with a thick rubber membrane, whose foot was buried in the ground, and topped with sound-deflecting panels of plexiglass. This was hidden in evergreen hedges, which also function as a visual screen, closing off views of the exterior world and turning the newly quieted land inside into a very private retreat.
Although it diminished the sound, the fencing could not entirely banish it. To minimize the impact of the remainder, natural sources of white noise were incorporated into the landscape. London plane trees were added to existing mature specimens: their large leaves rustle audibly on breezy days. Likewise, a tallgrass fescue meadow was installed which makes a sighing noise when stroked by the wind. Additional white noise is provided by three strategically placed fountains, one by the new swimming pool, another in an existing orchard of heirloom apple trees, and the third adjacent to a dining area by the house.
All these features were made to do double duty and contribute to a bucolic atmosphere. Except for a rectilinear panel of lawn behind the house, most of the property was given over to meadow traversed by mown paths. Beside the pool, an arbor was installed to provide shade and a gathering area. Terraces framed by luxuriant expanses of switch and fountain grass were disposed around the house to help translate the architecture into the landscape, and a combination cutting and vegetable garden was inserted into a gravel terrace.
The transformation of this property was nearly total. Even the existing house was demolished to make way for a new, contemporary-styled residence, and from the old landscape, only the orchard, freshly groomed, was preserved. What had been a standard suburban scene was reshaped into an elegant—and peaceful—country retreat.