Residential Landscape Architecture, Cambridge, Massachusetts
We recently completed a challenging project for the owner of a 20th century urban home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The homeowners recently added a room to the back of the house as part of a larger remodeling project. As a result of the construction, the 2500 square foot backyard of the home was left denuded and needed an entirely new landscape design.
Determining Scope and Aesthetics
At Kimberly Mercurio Landscape Architecture, the first step in our design process is to sit with the homeowners and determine their aesthetic and functional needs for their space. For this project, our client's sought to incorporate existing elements within the new design. The largest being an existing Sears Roebuck Kit garage with an attached rustic pergola that our client was extremely fond of and wanted to retain and integrate. There were several other existing elements on the property that the clients sought to include within the design including birch trees planted along the property line three years prior, a partial wood fence, and a large elm tree located in the back of the garage.
In addition to reusing existing elements, the client's were inspired by a minimal design aesthetic. The goal of the space was to provide a visual respite for the owner as she gazed into the garden while meditating in her new room addition, as well as the inclusion of spaces to sit while having morning coffee. They requested low maintenance varieties including native plants, a fenced and gated area for a dog run and while she didn't want a “traditional” patio, she did want a large open area for gathering.
Developing The Design
The final design incorporated materials that are appropriate for New England while creating the minimal design aesthetic the client requested. Existing bluestone was repurposed within the hardscape to construct a walkway with thyme placed in the joints. A hardscape gravel terrace with sitting stones was designed to be a gathering space. The stones were selected from a farmer's field. Mortise and tenon red cedar fencing were placed at the entry to the garden. The fence fits nicely into the landscape design and provides the perfect enclosure for the client's dogs.
Because this was to be a meditative garden, we chose plants that would provide year-round interest. We included clipped yew hedges to provide order and a backdrop for the other plants in the backyard garden that provides year-round interest. The gardens include extensive native and drought-resistant plants and ground covers.
The garden gracefully moves around the existing garage structure and provides beauty and elegance to the awkward, yet interesting, structure. The client can gaze upon the garden while practicing her morning meditation in the new room addition.
Meeting the Client's Needs in an Environmentally Responsible Way
As a landscape architecture firm, we always try to take an environmentally responsible approach. A project such as this allowed us to create a design that maximizes sustainability. We started with a blank canvas, and we were able to incorporate elements including drought-tolerant native plantings.
The minimalist design aesthetic favored creating pervious surfaces such as the gravel terrace and a bluestone walkway with thyme joints. The plantings we chose were designed to provide year-round interest and are beneficial for pollinators and help to create a balanced natural ecosystem.
Finally, by repurposing materials in selected areas, we managed to maximize the client's desire for sustainability, while still providing the aesthetic design they required. Our clients are pleased to wake up each morning and sit in the meditation space overlooking her environmentally sustainable, low-maintenance, beautiful garden. With colorful blooms, the garden has become a gathering place for pollinators and is the perfect natural space for enjoying morning coffee or entertaining guests in the evening.
Kimberly Mercurio Landscape Architecture creates residential landscape designs for discriminating clients in Greater Boston including, Wellesley, Weston, Newton, Brookline and Belmont. Contact Kimberly Mercurio Landscape Architecture at (508) 495-1075 to discuss your project.