Some Highlights: Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available! Housing
New Weekly Article Contemporary Commitment
A Low-Impact Home Landscape Design
Two architect-homeowners wanted a more efficient, modern-concept home, but loved their Maryland suburb community. They decided to raze and replace their inefficient 1920s house with a four-story, nearly net zero contemporary home. Their desire was to have the landscaping fuse with the home, offering an inside-outside flow and supporting their energy-efficient commitment. They hired Clinton & Associates Landscape Architects to create that environment on the 7,200-square-foot suburban lot.
“Working closely with the homeowners, we incorporated their desires for a limited carbon footprint, inside-outside transparency and connection, the ability to enjoy outside living as long as possible throughout the year, and the possibility of aging in place,” explains Sandra Youssef Clinton, president of Hyattsville, Maryland-based Clinton & Associates. “We created garden rooms, an array of accessible vegetable and herb gardens, and used layers of plants that eventually ensconced the home and provided a private oasis for the owners.”
The home layout on each level is one room deep in the shape of an “L” with a courtyard nestled in the corner. “The one-room-deep concept allows air and light to completely penetrate the house,” says Clinton. “The front of the home faces north, but is open to the sun. The landscaping there greets the public and is more formalized. It incorporates flat grass framed with trees like flowering dogwood and river birch, as well as shrubs like hydrangea and witch hazel.” In keeping with the energy efficient goals, the front garden planting beds camouflage geothermal wells, supporting home heating and cooling. To the left of this area is a path of locally quarried Pennsylvania bluestone set on porous sand encouraging easy drainage. The path reaches along the side of the house to the front entrance.
Off the walkway, sandstone steps approach a modest sitting area facing the north-oriented front yard and alongside the living room. The owners installed a pizza oven there and often sit and greet neighbors while making dinner. “They did not want to isolate themselves, but rather wanted to embrace anyone who walked by,” says Clinton. A trash receptacle is constructed between the pathway and sitting area. The top of it contains an herb garden. The seating area is raised above the front lawn through the use of gabion retaining walls, which are free draining walls constructed of galvanized steel baskets filled with rock. Water flows through the walls into a cistern below and is used to irrigate the gardens. To the right of the sitting area is another walkway that leads to the courtyard and a more private outdoor dining area on the south of the living room. The living room has a lot of glass so the outdoor spaces comfortably communicate with the living spaces. Flowering, low-maintenance lawn cover and lush herb gardens bookend the living room, enhancing the strong indoor-outdoor connections.
The land slopes gradually toward the backyard area. Here the home’s bottom level holds the couple’s architectural offices. Above are a music studio and art studio. The land in the area is mostly shaded and in a valley with runoff from the property and neighbors’ yards. “We created a semi-circular maintenance path with honey dust paving and stepping stones,” explains Clinton. “Plantings, at eye level to the offices, are lush and of plants that love wet environments, like hosta, Solomon’s seal, astilbe, and ligularia. Some cypress, sycamore, and dogwood trees along the property line create a privacy barrier between neighbors.” Many of the hosta are from the original garden. They were moved to a temporary location while the home was being built and then replanted into the new landscape.
The second story of the home has a lovely seating area bordered by a large raised planting area with Christmas rose, winter jasmine, Veronica spicata, creeping Jenny, and Japanese maple. In fact, 50 percent of the roof supports vegetable and ornamental gardens that are watered by the cistern, according to Clinton. The remainder of the rooftop supports photovoltaic panels collecting power from the sun for hot water heating. “The trees and plants in deep planters on the roof provide not only screening from neighbors and natural shading during hot summer months, but insulation year-round,” she says.
Clinton asserts that the house and garden reflect and reinforce a deep commitment to environmental stewardship at a residential scale. “It was a gift to be able to design for such a modern house and such sensitive owners,” she says. “The design enables them to enjoy life, their environment, neighbors, and community.” Written by Carolyn M. Runyon. Photography by © Michael Moran/OTTO and Clinton & Associates, PC.
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Raul Acuña - Raul has been in the Real Estate Industry since 2005. Raul began working at an REO brokerage before opening his own REO company in 2010. Raul has a business degree from Cal Poly Pomona, ....
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