Residence Transforming a plot of land in rural Connecticut into a weekend country retreat. By Heather Tunstall

THE MILLERS HAD A DREAM OF ESCAPING THE stress, hustle and noise of big city life to a private country retreat, taking solace in the woods at a beautiful place of their own where they could entertain and connect with nature on the weekends. Matthew Biron, landscape architect with Hoffman Landscapes, Wilton, Connecticut, helped them turn that dream into a reality. The clients had purchased a home on 5 acres of forested land in rural Connecticut. The property had plenty of op- portunity, but would need vision and a ton of work to turn it into the relaxing oasis the Millers hoped for. Surrounded by mature trees, sloping grounds and wetlands, the goal was to keep as much of the natural ambiance as possible when transforming the outdoor space.

THE ASK The homeowners wanted a space that could function both as a relaxing retreat and as an entertainment spot. A pool, hot tub, fire pit and audio system were

incorporated into the design to meet those requirements. “The wife wanted to swim laps, so that was an import- ant layout aspect of the pool,” Biron says. “We came up with a great design and a natural freeform pool.” Biron says the

homeowners also wanted to be able to see the bottom of the pool to make sure there aren’t any snakes in the pool. They were in the woods, after all. A separate hot tub was the husband’s request, where he could relax while his wife swam laps.

THE CHALLENGES The tricky aspect of the property was that it was a sloping yard with wetlands along one side. There was a septic system in the prime real estate where the pool was supposed to go, and on the other side of the pool location were the wetlands. The house had a funky layout that didn’t have a true front of the house. There was no connection from the house to the pool environment and the neighbor’s driveway came up behind the space, so privacy screening would be needed. Once the project was underway, more challenges presented themselves. For example, while digging the pool, the Hoffman Land- scapes team ran into rocks and a lot of groundwater.

“The pool would fill up with groundwater every night and we had to pump it out every day,” Biron says. “It was a battle dealing with the groundwater and then putting in a system so it wouldn’t do it again.”


Biron and his team designed a layout that utilized the natural slope of the yard, creating a terrace effect nestled into the hillside. “We had to come up with a plan that didn’t impede the wetlands but bolstered the transition from the hardscape to the wetlands,” Biron says. “There are no man-made materials in the landscape; everything is nat- ural. They wanted the feel of it being here for a while. We saved a lot of elements of the original landscape that the owners liked, including lots of boulders and lots of native plantings along the wetland border.” They used evergreens

to block the view from neighbors, and they added drainage along the pool to capture the groundwater

“There are no man-made materials in the landscape; everything is natural. They wanted the feel of it being here for a while.

36 The Landscape Professional // May/June 2019

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