Lush landscapes are usually commissioned after a home's sale, but two years ago award-winning landscape designer Barry Block turned the small, exposed backyard of a spec house in Bridgehampton, N.Y., into an ultimate, move-in-ready landscape.
Block created this al fresco retreat to combine indoor and outdoor living, right down to the color palette. In no more than two and a half months — and with a crew of 10 to 15 people — the new-construction cottage underwent an "incredible amount of work to have it look finished and as detailed as possible within the time constraint," says Block.
Providing privacy was top priority in this project, especially because the flat lot is flanked by neighbors. Block added 8- to 10-foot-tall Eastern red cedars and magnolia trees, a 3-1/2-foot-tall holly hedge, an arbor and a privet hedge. The arbor mimics column and trellis details on the house, while its color palette (white, silver and blue) echoes those used in the master bedroom.
Amid hostas and hydrangeas, freestanding retaining walls create garden rooms. A quaint, undersized pool and open-air pool house — restricted by town setback laws — blends into the landscape, rather than becoming the sole focal point. That distinction is reserved for the plants. The two perennial beds appear lush with three- to five-gallon artemesia and lavender, planted slightly closer together to give the look of a mature garden and sprinkled liberally throughout with cosmos.
"We had to rely heavily on annual and perennial color," says Block. "This helped us express the seasonality of our summer garden, when this weekend cottage would be used most. Yet we still had to provide enough evergreen and deciduous garden structure to hold up during the other three seasons."
Pricetag: More than $175,000
Barry Block, principal of BARRY BLOCK Landscape Design & Contracting, Inc., has more than 20 years of landscape design experience. He won the 2006 APLD Residential Design Gold Award for a rooftop garden in Manhattan.