Project Details

Photos: Daniel Nystedt

Hilltop Views 

Design: Monica Fairbairn

This Watertown client had a steeply sloped front lawn on a corner property with a lot of potential. However, the presence of bedrock within inches of the soil’s surface severely limited plant growth. Because the hill was continuously shedding mulch, we started by building two New England Boulder retaining walls in a dry-laid fashion (without mortar), matching an existing on-site stone wall.

The client also needed a lawn and plantings that would both tolerate a lot of sun and bring an element of symmetry to frame their home. Building a tree bed and filling it with rich soil, we planted two red maple trees and a dogwood. We then installed a drought-tolerant, tall fescue sod lawn, as well as shallow ground cover plantings to fill in bare spaces. In order to maintain a clean division between the lawn and the surrounding plantings, we lined the edging with New England boulders, mimicking the retaining walls.

To meet the client’s need for an environmentally-friendly approach to lawn maintenance, we installed a customized irrigation system that uses untreated rainwater, decreasing water usage and costs overtime.

Behind the house, the patio garden was visible to neighbors higher up the hill. We opted for a screening hedge and trellises for an element of peaceful privacy. Shallow soils and shade at the main back entrance inspired a Japanese-style garden of smooth river stones, a bluestone focal point, and pottery. Well-placed outdoor lights further enhance the garden as an inviting space for outdoor living.