Bethesda Retreat


This landscape project began as a referral from a prominent swimming pool builder who of which sited the pool, spa & surrounding deck prior to our arrival. In our mind, the most important priority in our collaboration of the rear garden was to design and create a unique focal element immediately outside the 6’ x 10’ dining room window and in the foreground before the edge of the pool deck. This window is centered on the front door and becomes a long axial ‘first impression’ view shed when one enters through the front door of the home. With the house being more contemporary in architectural style, we also thought it would be important to play off of the existing lines of the home in the immediate garden & entertaining spaces, as well as, find a subtle and creative way to “bleed” our clean landscape layout back into the site’s natural surroundings.

In the end, the unique focal element became a Zen garden in the foreground with a linear border of granite cobbles and Mexican beach pebbles, randomly placed natural Boulders to portray “islands” in a sea of river stone pea gravel, and perennial groundcover to soften some of the harsh edges. Finally, a pathway between the existing dining and sitting areas was necessary so we integrated linear bluestone slabs to bridge the garden and finalize the connection between these two spaces. The garden perimeter became a natural border with evergreen screening trees, various flowering shrubs for color, and a mix of perennial forms & textures for enhanced visual interest.

Special or Unique Challenges:

Designing a garden within the confines of existing hardscape and a swimming pool can always pose its challenges. We wanted to ensure we did not detract from the pool and spa’s beauty with whatever materials we were suggesting and yet enhance the overall view and achieve a harmonious balance between these elements and nature. In addition to finding a critical balance aesthetically, one final challenge was addressing the existing drainage issues on site due to its ever so flat topography. It was necessary for us to design and install a network of subsurface drainage materials, catch basins, and infiltration pits to collect storm and ground water and re-route it to below grade trenches that would allow the water to slowly percolate back through the soil.