A landscaping project can be a daunting task for any homeowner. Whether the project is big or small, there are many factors to consider. To start with, there are zoning codes and safety issues, not to mention New Hampshire’s inconvenient mud season. Beyond that there are endless possibilities for reshaping the turf.
Hardscapes, including stone and brick need to be planned well and appropriate plantings that consider the location, type of home and maintenance vary greatly.
Hiring a professional can help alleviate these pressures and assure a job well done, as did the owners of this historical estate on Main Street in New London. Matarazzo Land Planning Consultants/Landscape Architects were hired to design and create a natural landscape for the historic home.
Originally a tavern and stagecoach stop, this country home sits on nine acres and boasts a beautiful view of Mount Sunapee. The homeowners wanted to bring back the feeling of a classic New England estate to the property and make the home reflect its history. With a few simple requests — privacy from the Main Street and that their 13 grandchildren be a factor in the design — Matarazzo went to work creating an easy-to-maintain and natural-appearing landscape for the home.
George Matarazzo, owner of the company, says the entryway is an important part of the landscaping process because it’s the first thing visitors see and it delivers an impression of the home overall. “In this case,” he says, “that was part of the challenge. The front door was way off the street and we needed to get some sense of arrival, so we developed a U-shaped driveway that brings the visitor to the front door.”
Another problem the family wanted to remedy was the house’s proximity to New London’s bustling Main Street. They wanted the house to appear farther away from the street and to have more privacy. The landscapers easily created the illusion of the house being set farther from the street with a simple white picket fence and additional plantings.
To keep the house looking uniform with its surroundings and, as Matarazzo puts it, as if it had “been landscaped forever,” the designers looked at the type of fencing and the kind of plants other houses in the neighborhood had. Also, to make it seem the landscaping had been there for a long time, landscapers took the trees and shrubs that were dug up to a nursery and kept them there during the one-year process. Near the end of the process, the trees and plants were brought back into the design and replanted, giving the landscape an established look.
“With Colonial houses, we landscape with materials natural to the areas; maple trees, lilacs, flowering shrubs, forsythia, rhododendrons, and consider the heartiness of those plants for the weather,” Matarazzo says.
With the homeowners’ 13 grandchildren in mind, Matarazzo designed a functional and beautiful back yard for the home. He looked to the natural slope and incline of the back yard and planted flowers and trees that mimicked this feel to enhance the landscape. With the back yard came more features for the family, including a large pool to accommodate many people in the summer, yet not become an eyesore during the winter seasons when the pool is not in use.
“When you design a pool with a New England landscape, you want to site it in a position so, in the middle of the winter, you don’t have a pool staring you in the face. We screened it in with plant material, and used a place in the landscape that was not unsightly in the middle of the winter,” Matarazzo says. The design also had to follow town ordinances. A 4-5 foot fence around the pool was required, as it is in most towns, as a safety and liability precaution. To keep the fence in sync with the feeling of the whole yard, they set the fence away from the outside of the pool, creating an area inside the fencing.
To make the fence flow with the yard, it was created out of stone that included granite they found while digging for the pool. The brick walkway that leads from the family room out to a patio and extends to the pool is separated from the pool by a small garden. That makes the patio seem like a separate area when the pool is closed, but can be a part of the pool area during the summer. Off of the pool, for year-round use, is a hot tub that looks out over the pool to the house’s clear view of Mount Sunapee.
With plenty of grass and areas to play for the children, and a large swimming pool to accommodate family events in the summer, Matarazzo created a functional and beautiful back yard for these homeowners. NH.
Matarazzo Land Planning Inc.
75 Newport Rd. Suite 209
Landscape contractor: Whitehead’s Landscaping, (603) 927-4915
Site Work: Rockwood Excavation
Stonewalls: Charlie Duncan
Tree moving: New England Tree
Pool: Pools by Andrews, (800) 272- 7949
Horse Fencing: Springfield Fence
Picket fencing: Walpole Fence, (978) 658-3733
Driveway: Porter Paving
Bob Sherwood Landscape Co.
55 Know Marsh Rd., Dover
(603) 742-0463, www.bob-sherwood.com
Full-service landscape contractor specializing in compost, sand, gravel and stone, bulk materials, maintenance and hydroseeding.
Chappell Tractor Sales Inc.
454 Rte. 13 South, Milford
(603) 673-2640; 251 Route 125
Service and sales of new tractors and equipment. Celebrating 50 years and four generations of knowledge and experience.
Del Gilbert & Son
427 Province Rd., Laconia
(603) 524-1353, www.gilbertblock.com
Landscaping products and masonry for commercial and residential needs.
Fat Cod Plantscape
6 Greenleaf Woods Dr., Portsmouth
(866) 832-8263, www.fatcod.com
Landscape specialists in plants, exterior and interior, unique and creative design, maintenance and restoration. Holiday and seasonal decorating also available.
& Nursery Inc.
1130 Hooksett Rd., Hooksett
Landscape, design and installation for residential and commercial properties.
Part One: The Front Entry
A tree spade was used to remove existing plants and trees that were replanted a year later when the project was completed.
Five Things to Keep in Mind
Landscape improvements may not evoke the same sense of drama as a building modification or an interior redesign, but they have the most impact per dollar on the first impressions you create with your home. Plan wisely and the improvements will substantially increase the enjoyment and the overall value of your home. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Keep the look indigenous to the area.
2. Have a list of “must haves” for the designer.
3. Add features that will last and increase property value.
4. Begin your plan in the fall for time maintenance.
5. Install irrigation to save time and money in the long run.
A crude sketch was the starting point that would make all the difference in the setting of this home.
The deep lot was broken down into curvaceous sweeps that included a curved driveway, a free-form pool with curved fencing and a sunken garden.
The front lawn was excavated to within 20 feet of the road and five feet down to the finish grade of the house. This new sunken garden, retained with beautiful granite walls, served to frame the house and create a formal garden and welcoming entry to guests.
Part Two: The Backyard and Pool
The pool was oriented to focus the view of Mount Sunapee. By putting it to the side, the pool does not dominate the back yard in winter. To meet codes and not obstruct the view, the entire rear of the property was enclosed with a traditional three-rail fence and painted black, allowing it to disappear into the background.
The patio area is right off the family room. It is separated from the pool by the garden.
This article appears in the March 2007 issue of New Hampshire Magazine