Creating a Landscape to Complement the Natural Setting

This 12-acre plot in a western suburb of Boston was once a blank canvas. But the property’s potential, set amidst a pine forest, was unlimited, and the young homeowners that purchased it embarked on creating a landscape to complement the serene setting.

Marzilli Feature EDIT

LANDSCAPING & HARDSCAPING BY R. P. Marzilli Landscaping Contractors
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Rosemary Fletcher

“Although this house is located in a suburban neighborhood, you’d never know you were anywhere near a subdivision. The property is so private and rural,” said Robert Marzilli, president of Medway-based R.P. Marzilli Landscape Contractors, the company that was contracted to cultivate the grounds.

Like the understated yet graceful house they built, the homeowners wanted the landscape to convey a minimalist design approach with a simple yet stunning plan that would provide areas for their children to play and for adults to enjoy.

“It was very important to the homeowners that the landscape not be overdone,” Marzilli said. “The intent was to create a rural, rustic paradise that embraced the natural environment and surrounding wildlife.”

The initial step in the landscaping process was to create a series of stone walls, providing transitions between the yard’s three levels. The house is sited on the first level, the pool area sits below, and the third features the children’s playing fields. The stone walls enable the expansive lawns on multiple tiers to flow seamlessly into one another.

Blending into the Forest

Landscape Architect Stephen Stimson Associates designed a multi-level plan for the surrounding lawns and gardens utilizing long, low retaining walls of New England granite and native plantings.  Designed by Estes Twombly Architects, Inc., the home’s exterior materials, including cedar clapboards, were selected to recede into the setting.  Marzilli constructed stone veneers and a stunning chimney that matches the granite of the stone walls.

“The long, low lines of the house are echoed by the long, low lines of the stone walls,” Marzilli said.

The granite was harvested from a quarry in New Hampshire. After Marzilli obtained several massive 8- by 8-foot slabs, the surfaces were chiseled and thermaled, a process in which a blow torch is fired on the granite so the material appears finished rather than cut and raw. Monolithic bluestone harvested from upstate New York was used for steps, walkways, and the pool’s surround. The adjacent bluestone patio, situated under a pergola, accommodates an outdoor living and dining area where the parents can relax while watching their children play.

Wildflower fields featuring native blueberries, viburnums, clethra, and ferns were planted to act as a natural border to the pine forest. Birch, red maple, and oak trees, along with an eclectic mix of perennials, were selected for their relation to the native setting. To enhance the property’s rural aesthetic, and to further integrate the use of the land into the homeowners’ daily lives, the property also includes a functional vegetable and cutting garden, along with an apple orchard.

“The house and the landscape truly fit together. It’s a beautiful spot,” Marzilli said.

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