5 Ultralush Landscapes and Outdoor Living Spaces Fit for Spring

Celebrate the upcoming season in style with AH&L’s Outdoor Living Award winners

Grand Reveal

Landscape Architect Missy Madden, Missy Madden Landscape Architecture
Architect Amanda Orr, Amanda Orr Architects
Interior Designer Alissa Portman Beard, Alissa Portman Interiors
Builder David Childers, Macallan Custom Homes

Though originally beginning as an addition to the main home, it didn’t take long for architect Amanda Orr, landscape architect Missy Madden, interior designer Alissa Portman, and builder David Childers to realize this sprawling property’s potential. With an acre of open green space in the backyard, the design-build team created the ultimate oasis with several entertaining zones for the young family with three active children. A new pool house is a relaxing retreat, offering a shady respite from the otherwise sunny open yard and serving as a multiuse space for child’s play, alfresco dining, and pool storage. Orr mimicked the materials of the main house to form a connection between the two structures, but because of its location to the side of the home, the pool house is a site still to be discovered by guests. “In large estate properties, having the pool as a destination and allowing only glimpses of the space encourages you to be drawn through the outdoor spaces at a slower pace,” says Madden. “The mystery allows the area to form its own identity—linked to the home, but also able to stand on its own.” The large lawn is both tailored and architectural, yet fun and functional, says Madden. Hornbeam trees and holly were used to enforce structure and help define the landscape’s various areas, while the green hedging gave the perennials and flowering shrubs an elegant and textured backdrop. And the finishing touch? Says Madden, “Every good Southern garden needs a boxwood—or 10.”

Hidden Gem

Landscape Architect John Howard, Howard Design Studio
Architect Stan Dixon, D. Stanley Dixon Architect
Interior Designer Teri Duffy, T. Duffy & Associates
Builder Jon Berndsen, The Berndsen Company

Set on the outskirts of the city on an expansive wooded lot, this Buckhead home—and its dramatic city views—are a rarity in Atlanta. “Buckhead is a heavily forested neighborhood with lush mature trees providing a high level of privacy from neighbors, giving the feel of living in a rural setting, rather than in the midst of the big city,” says builder Jon Berndsen, who collaborated with architect Stan Dixon, landscape architect John Howard, and interior designer Teri Duffy. “This home is perched high on a south-facing ridge that provides a unique, unobstructed view of the entire Downtown skyline.” In the backyard, a sculptural lap pool is sited on an axis with the house’s rear facade and includes an infinity edge to take advantage of the property’s sloping terrain—an aspect of the landscape that was an exciting challenge for the team. The surrounding garden took its cues from the home’s architecture, with globe-shaped American boxwoods in pots placed at the column lines. Nearby, hydrangea, azalea, and autumn ferns create a foreground of seasonal interest. “The whole design was imagined as a structured landscape with tailored plantings near the house to support the strong architecture, then looser waves of plantings as you get further away and into the woodland beyond,” says Howard. And regardless of if you’re gazing from the covered limestone porch, the private garden off the primary bedroom, or the poolside firepit—from this vantage point, Atlanta has never looked better.

Pride of Place

Landscape Architect Carrie Steinbaum, PA
Landscape Designer
Cecilia de Grelle, Landscape Vision LLC
Gil Schafer, Schafer Buccellato Architects

Built on a site that had been in the homeowner’s family for generations, a new Florida home by architect Gil Schafer and landscape designer Cecilia de Grelle had a lot of programming to accommodate. The project required careful attention, needing to preserve the original home’s sense of memory and place while also rethinking the property’s layout to introduce a more relaxed way of living. To maximize interaction with the surrounding landscape, Schafer’s “H” floor plan allowed for windows on three walls in all of the home’s corner rooms. Views that may have normally highlighted utilitarian exterior spaces—such as a garage, AC units, or garbage bins—were protected thanks to the team’s creative relocation and implementation of gardens, walled courtyards, and on the west side of the house, a dramatic allée of palm trees that especially wows when the family entertains below the towering leaves. In the rear, the elegant pool adds to the air of sophistication provided by the house’s classic, Anglo-Caribbean style. And lush landscaping is abundant, with clipped hedges of ficus contrasted by a more natural assortment of plantings that relate nicely to the classicism of the house, says Schafer. “Cecilia and I made a point to rely on plants that felt very much of the place—to give the garden a loose and jungly character balanced by a certain formality and structure.” Mission accomplished.

Make Way

Architect Frances Zook, Frances Zook Architect
Interior Designer Beth Meyer, Beth Meyer Design

During the restoration of this historic home in Marietta, architect Frances Zook and designer Beth Meyer wanted the backyard to match the grandeur of the property it sat on. “The priority of the new homeowners was to have more space for their growing number of grandchildren,” says Meyer. “We wanted the pool house to be unique and make a statement against the newly designed pool area.” To enhance the pool house’s existing structure, Zook incorporated character-rich details and a mix of materials—including a granite entry arch, board-and-batten siding, a custom steel railing, steel doors to mimic the new arch of the stone, and copper lanterns—that blend seamlessly with the original facade. Space was borrowed from a seldom-used working kitchen to make room for alfresco dining and relaxation areas in the open breeze. Various plantings completed by the previous homeowner help usher the home into its new lease on life. Says Meyer, “The family now thoroughly enjoys the space. Their grandchildren bring all their friends for playdates filled with swimming and picnic lunches.”

Blooming Beauty

Landscape Architect Lucinda Bray, Floralis Garden Design
Architect Frank Neely, Frank G Neely Design Associates
Builder Jim Sculac, Sculac Homes

Landscape architect Lucinda Bray collaborated with late architect Frank Neely and builder Jim Sculac on a full renovation of this charming estate in the heart of Atlanta, where stately hedges and a reclaimed limestone planter filled with greenery greet guests as they arrive. In the backyard, entertaining is easy thanks to a variety of spaces—including a newly designed pool, an outdoor dining area, flower and vegetable gardens, and a firepit. “A bluestone terrace area and retaining wall were added to enlarge the space surrounding the pool,” says Bray. “A cutting garden fills the space below the pool wall and provides season-long blooms, including a mixture of boxwood evergreens, iris, lamb’s ears, foxglove, and more.” Utilizing wood beams salvaged from the existing home’s structure, raised plant beds with a pea gravel garden surround provide fresh vegetables for the homeowners. Complete with a white deer fence that mingles seamlessly with the architecture of the home, the garden is just as much a design accent as it is a functional growing space.