Home & Design

Wooded Wonder

An expert team conjures a welcoming forest reverie in Great Falls

The potential for a multi-dimensional garden in the woods was clear from the start on a three-plus-acre clearing in Great Falls, Virginia. The owners of a Colorado-inspired, stone-and-wood residence sought to enhance their property with a pool, vegetable garden and play space for children. The plan developed by landscape architect Jeff Plusen layered vegetation in organic curves and set stones as nature might have dropped them. He even integrated a faux stream by recycling pool water over a cascade of Delaware River pebbles.

“It’s a tremendous property carved out of the woods, so the connection to the environment was very important,” Plusen notes.  

A wild spirit flourishes in the backyard. Stacked fieldstones support a pool sidewall. Irises and grasses sprout among irregular flagstones, a fire circle and pathways to an expansive lawn. For contrast, orderly travertine pavers surround the pool and gazebo.

Garden installation was undertaken by Planted Earth Landscaping. Starting in 2015, spaces for play equipment and a kitchen garden were established, and serviceberry trees, oakleaf hydrangeas and summer meadow bloomers planted. Close to 100 additional trees replenished the forest edge. “We went with nothing smaller than two-inch calipers,” says then-project manager Justin Spittal.

An unusual cattle-crossing grate at the front entrance keeps deer out, while welcoming guests with an unobstructed and lush view. “This project was awesome,” says Spittal. “Other than the native forest, there wasn’t a single plant on site when we got started.”

Award: Distinction, Total Residential Contracting (Planted Earth). Landscape Architecture: Jeff Plusen, ASLA, RLA, Plusen Landscape Architects, Catonsville, Maryland. Landscape Contractor: Planted Earth Landscaping Inc., Sykesville, Maryland. 

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