Water Mill, New York
Input from the client is, of course, foundational for every landscape
design. In this project, however, where the client was a prominent interior designer, that input extended into a mutually rewarding collaboration on the details of the design. The vision of the landscape itself was strongly influenced by the client’s perspective, for it became an exploration of outdoor living within the garden.
A number of strictures were imposed by the nature of the site. The house, a comfortable but relatively modest Cape Cod cottage, overlooked a wetland, and this dictated setbacks in any development on the property. On the other side, the front side of the house, was a relatively busy road, whose impact on the landscape the client wanted to minimize. This second goal was complicated by the fact that the site sloped markedly down from the road to the wetland, effectively elevating the roadway and increasing its prominence.
The erasure of the road began with the installation of a noise-attenuating fence along the property’s frontage. The minimization of the roadway’s presence was further reinforced by a feature of the swimming pool. The pool was central to the client’s wish list, and it was accommodated by cutting a terrace into the slope with a finely detailed stone retaining wall. This wall also became the backdrop for a water cascade into the spa; the soothing sound of the falling water muffled residual traffic noise.
To enclose and shelter this central area, the LDG design team installed a woodland garden of ferns and hydrangeas on the slope between the pool area and the road. Here, a turf path meanders around mature trees that are lit at night to create dramatic views. A small orchard of dwarf apple trees was added to the front of the property.
The client’s expertise in interior design expressed itself most clearly in the treatment of the area surrounding the pool. The placement of twin European hornbeam trees at the pool’s foot gave it the appearance of a formal ornamental pool. A coping of irregular flagstones topped the pool, bleeding out into the turf with an irregular border, integrating the pool into its setting. On two sides, the flagstones extended out into a terrace that the client turned into an outdoor living space, furnished with a dining table and chairs, as well as a couch and armchairs, even floor lamps, surrounding a coffee table. An outdoor shower and changing area were hidden in the adjoining shrubbery. It was the client’s inspiration to inject a note of color into this largely green landscape by painting the enclosing gates a periwinkle blue to match the door to the house.