Project Portfolio: Flat-out beautiful


When an unusually flat site threatened to consume the view of the yard, the homeowners let the design team take some risks—and were rewarded with an outdoor space that’s the envy of the neighborhood.

Brian Cossari, ASLA, a landscape architect for Wilton, Conn.-based Hoffman Landscapes, and his team were faced with a daunting challenge: The owners of a stately colonial wanted an outdoor space in which their young family could entertain, relax and play. But the flatness of the landscape presented drainage and wind issues.

To compensate, Cossari manipulated grade elevations to control views from the home while separating different areas for each hardscape element. Excavated material from the pool allowed the team to create raised masonry planters throughout the patio and pool area, without the feeling of being cramped.

“Drainage had to be carefully planned to integrate pitches of existing patio with proposed enhancements,” he says.

To complement the large scale of the home, the axis of the pool was brought as far away from the house as possible. “That brought the pool close to a rear yard setback line, so the pool was built slightly more narrow and longer than a traditional pool,” Cossari says.

Another unusual feature was the neighbor screen the Hoffman team built, featuring a large footing to withstand the wind sheer of cold Northeastern winters. The fake facade uses New England stone veneer to match the existing stonework on the residence. Its Rumford-style fireplace produces large, showy flames—ideal for chilly evenings outside. 

The work

  1. Something to work with. The builder of this brand-new home constructed egress stairs off the living spaces to a well-built, but simple terrace.
  2. Add-on magic. The existing terrace (shown in 1) provided a base for the outdoor kitchen and dining area, keeping both on the patio.
  3. Bursts of color. Planters filled with nepeta, day lilies, phlox, coreopsis, lantana and lavender bring color to the raised beds, providing sweet scents around the yard.
  4. Water wonder. A gunite swimming pool was installed with bluestone coping to integrate materials used on the existing builder’s patio. The pool patio is quartzite, which blends nicely with existing bluestone—yet is not as hot on bare feet around the pool. Note the pondless waterfall feature behind the two sets of chairs.
  5. Dressed for dinner. Designer Brian Cossari used biaxial symmetry in the pool layout. The center line of the door access spears through the dining room, pergola, lounging area, pool, spa, waterfall and backdrop berm planting.
  6. Simple symmetry. The other axis carries the view through the fence arbor, boxwood hedges, pool, living room and pergola, terminating at the outdoor living room and fireplace. Plantings include oak leaf hydrangea, inkberry, dwarf boxwood, viburnum, butterfly bush and roses.
  7. Privacy wall. The shutters on this large, fake façade were crafted from recycled barn timbers with iron hinges and shutter dogs. These openings can be cut into doors to provide access to a future pool house, if desired.

Founded in 1987, Wilton, Conn.-based Hoffman Landscapes focuses on design/build, landscaping and property maintenance services throughout New York and Connecticut. Learn more at HoffmanLandscapes.com.

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