OK
In progress indicator

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden

By Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers, APLD. The client is a multi-generational, multi-cultural family that occupies two separate living areas of a new home in Lakeville, M. The house is a craftsman-style, two-story structure on a 2+ acre lot in a subdivision located in the suburban Boston area.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

The grade of the property was raised using lots of sandy fill, due to surrounding wet areas and to accommodate septic requirements.

The imported soils were well drained, but lacked organic content. Copious amounts of organic compost was brought in to address this issue. The house was sited upslope from the street and rose significantly from the grade. Several mature oaks were located on site, but they suffered from being buried too deeply in debris during construction. The location was mostly sunny, surrounded by wet woodland areas (but not classified as wetland). There were no discernible views, but the property needed some privacy screening from neighbouring properties to the east and west. 

The property is located in USDA Horticultural zone 6 with an average rainfall of @ 45”. 

Client Needs

This was a multi-year project due to budget, contractors’ schedules and the changing seasons. 

Program: Front entry landscaping and circulation; pool and backyard recreational area for family (to include fire pit, putting green, sunning and dining areas, plus large lawn area for soccer); a private area for grandparents, who enjoy gardening and relaxing. The client needed a multi-phased installation due to construction costs. 

Installation arrangements: the designer was assigned to work with existing building, pool and landscape contractors. The owners had pre-purchased a landscape “package” from these vendors, so pool size & shape and hardscape options were pre-determined. Additionally, installation of these materials, while overseen by the designer, was conducted by others, resulting in a continual struggle for quality control. While the hardscape materials were not what was originally specced, we were able to obtain beautiful results for the client by coordinating a focused design approach and developing a rapport with the contractor.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

DESIGNER’S SOLUTION

First, the property was analyzed and categorized into functional Stone Wall “zones” – as defined by program specifications (pool, play, grandparents private area) and site limitations (septic, setbacks). A preliminary concept sketch, highlighting spatial organization and locations of major landscape elements was presented and approved by the clients. This drawing also featured photo call-outs to help illustrate design intent. 

The schematic master plan and phase II backyard plan evolved as budgeting was re-focused. Ultimately, the design reflects the needs of a multi-generational, multi-cultural household. 

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

Front Yard: As with many subdivisions, a large expanse of a front yard drifted up to new construction, raised high above grade. The house literally jutted out from the surrounding woodland area. In order to harmonize with adjacent stands of mature trees, anchor the home on a steep rise and lend a sense of permanence, a dry-laid field stonewall, iconic in this area of New England, was constructed in the front yard to add definition, a sense of permanence and provide beautiful, natural curb appeal. A garden was carved out of the slope, unearthing those buried tree trunks, and tied into the stone wall, anchoring either end.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

Entry Garden: With several entrances, and a somewhat complicated circulation pattern, a large circle with tangent “spokes” was used to direct foot traffic to the desired entrance. This pattern was also repeated at the front porch landing, giving people a chance to stop and take in the garden on their way out. A focal point, featuring Japanese Blood Grass, clumping bamboo, riverstone and a large, copperglazed urn lend a nod to the Asian aesthetic of the grandparents.

While not a “Chinese Garden” per se, plant materials typically found in Asian gardens were used throughout the property to help unify the landscape.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

Recreation: While the pool shape was pre-determined by the contractor, groundSwell designed the large pool apron and adjacent fire pit repeating the same circle/tangent style found in the front. Hardscape materials, patterns and colours were also repeated, with the exception of the hardscape stairs leading down to the pool area. These are a natural fieldstone slab, placed to look as if they were almost uncovered on site, rather than installed. The effect was a recreation area that harmonized with the front garden, yet blended with surrounding natural areas. 

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

The recreation area also features a wood burning fire pit seat wall; separate seating areas for children and adults; a landscaped waterfall that cascades into the pool. There is a lawn for soccer and other sports, and a garden shed hidden behind an elevated planting area. A chain link fence surrounds the backyard, keeping the pool area safe. Along the front or street view, the clients opted for a more decorative iron fence with gates. Planting areas along the periphery were designed to provide privacy as well as camouflage the chain link fence.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers

As-built adjustments: The putting green was eliminated due to cost restraints. As with most installations, some plant substitutions are made in the field as dictated by market availability or other seasonal adjustments. Also, some plant sizes and quantities were downsized to accommodate the budget.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers

Grandparents: Tucked into a private nook adjacent to the grandparent’s living area, is a space for a small, raised bed vegetable garden. This garden was not installed during the first two phases, plans are underway to build this area in the fall of 2016.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers

Plant materials were chosen to provide maximum colour and movement not only during the summer months, when the pool is in use, but also in the “off” season, when the view from inside is just as important. Grasses, hydrangea and clumping bamboo lend an Asian “feel” to the garden, while not overtaxing the maintenance budget.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

The children love their kid-sized, colourful lounging area and roasting marshmallows over their new wood-burning fire pit.

A Multi-generational Suburban Home Garden by Rhode Island garden designer Shawn Mayers.

Plant list:

X Cupressocyparis leylandii
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
Fargesia nitida
Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'
Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'
Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'
Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'
Picea omorika
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Aurea Densa'
Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'
Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low'
Paeonia suffruticosa 'High Noon'
Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance'
Phlox subulata
Geranium 'Rozanne'
Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller'
Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis
Iris sibirica 'Ruffled Velvet'
Juniperus conferta
Thuja occidentalis 'Yellow Ribbon'
Sedum telephium 'Autumn Joy'
Sciadopitys verticillata
Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
Actaea simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty'
Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron'
Aronia arbutifolia
Rosa 'Flower Carpet Sunshine'
Viburnum dentatum 'Synnestvedt'
Heuchera 'Tara'
Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum 'Shasta'
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake'
Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio'
Skimmia japonica
Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry'
Amsonia hubrichtii
Forsythia 'Maree d'Or'
Rhododendron 'Golden Lights'
Ilex verticillata 'Nana'
Pinus strobus Nana Group
Dryopteris erythrosora 'Brilliance'
Pinus cembra
Morella pensylvanica
Ilex glabra 'Shamrock'
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Kosteri'
Cryptomeria japonica 'Giokuma'
Cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon'
Cryptomeria japonica 'Yoshino'
Hemerocallis 'Stella Supreme'
Astilbe 'Maggie Daley'
Thuja occidentalis 'Nigra'
Tiarella cordifolia 'Running Tapestry'
Liquidambar styraciflua 'Silver King'
Rhododendron 'Capistrano'
Ilex glabra 'Compacta'
Pinus nigra 'Arnold Sentinel'
Pinus sylvestris 'Hillside Creeper'
Ilex crenata 'Helleri'
Ilex crenata 'Steeds'
Juniperus chinensis 'Hetzii Columnaris'
Juniperus virginiana 'Canaertii'
Rhododendron maximum
Rhus aromatic 'Gro-Low'
Designed by Shawn Mayers