Southampton Village, New York
Sometimes the most attractive settings come with serious challenges.
This pristine site, for example, is nestled into a heavily protected natural dune system that is home to uncommon native species of plants and animals. Even walking on the dunes is prohibited. As a result, only 20 percent of the lot was open to development, and the rest had to remain untouched. To keep the built landscape from seeming constricted and out of scale with the house, it had to be integrated seamlessly into its natural surroundings so that there was a sense of uninterrupted flow.
The LDG design team accomplished this by using only indigenous plants common in the dune system. The dune vegetation was extended into the landscaped area by laying down swathes of American beach grass, bearberry, and beach heather over the sandy soils at the perimeter. To organize the landscape and create a sense of shelter around the house, the designers relied on native shrubs and trees such as beach plum, bayberry, shadblow, and American holly. Using plants native to the setting also eliminated the need for amending the soil and relying on heavy irrigation.
The transition from house to pool is a broad rectangular deck of naturally weathered wood, and the pool itself was sculpted as a raised black plinth. To soften what could be a severe space, the adjacent terrace was paved with irregularly shaped flagstones laid dry so that drought-resistant sedums could be planted into joints. The portion of the pool enclosure abutting the reserve area is a low palisade of rectangular steel pickets, which were sand-blasted so that they would acquire a patina of red-brown rust and merge visually with the browns of the natural background.
Ornamentation had to be sparing in this understated setting. A border of purple-flowered catmint ‘Walker’s Low’ lines the walk along the south side of the house; carefully placed shadblows mark the entrances. Great restraint, combined with a deft touch and a special vision of the plantings, has produced a landscape that harmonizes with the surrounding dune system.