Sure, Stonehenge and the Garden of Versailles are wows, but you're only there temporarily. The paradise you create on your own property is yours to enjoy whenever.
A VIEW FROM THE TOP
Ordinarily, it would be this Kinnelon yard’s spectacular vistas that first caught visitors’ eyes. But commanding equal-if not more-attention here is the breathtaking 950-square-foot, infinity-edge, Roman-shaped pool created by Cipriano Landscape Design in Ramsey. "The goal was to visually tie the property in with the rest of the valley," notes president Chris Cipriano.
Sparing no luxury, the homeowners chose intricate iridescent glass tiles set in a Grecian key pattern; large, antiqued planters from Longshadow; a Wisconsin limestone patio; a glass-tile spa; and a stone gazebo. But the area is perhaps most striking at night, thanks to whimsical fiber-optic lighting. Explains Cipriano: "Deck jets shoot illuminated water into the pool from the corners, and floor lights at the bottom of the pool appear like little stars."
WALK THIS WAY
When a steep 15-foot slope prevented Rockaway homeowners from reaching the top of their scenic property, they called on CLC Landscape Design Inc. in Ringwood to work a little magic. The result? This winding grand staircase made of Karney bluestone.
"Instead of going straight up the slope, we gave the staircase a gentle S-shape set in clusters of three of four steps at a time so people would pause along the way," says CLC owner and landscape designer Rich Cording. That allows them time to enjoy the abundance of colorful plantings Cording installed around the steps, including catmint, brown-eyed Susans, Russian sage, pink carpet roses and blue lyme grasses. "The homeowners are avid gardeners, so they’re thrilled that they can now access all these plants on what used to be a dangerous incline," adds Cording.
The steps also offer pretty valley vistas. "They’ve transformed an unusable area into the homeowners’ favorite spot," says Cording.
"We were trying to bring the nature that surrounds the property right up to the edge of the pool," says Michael Hartman, landscape designer for Jacobsen Landscape Design and Construction in Midland Park, of this woodsy Kinnelon space.
"To achieve that vision, Hartman opted for an irregular-shaped pool by G&G Custom Pools in Haskell, featuring a snapped bluestone Jacuzzi and moss rock waterfall. ‚ÄúIt looks more like a pond than a pool," says the designer. A multitoned quartzite stone patio helps keep surfaces cool, while boulders placed among perennials on the yard’s sloped areas add a feeling of rugged charm.
Along the edges of the property, the designer incorporated eastern redbud, summersweet, native rhododendron and serviceberry-all "plants you would expect to see while walking through the woods of northern New Jersey." These selections complement the mature trees and shrubs that surround the proper- ty, making for an idyllic, natural haven. Another plus to choosing indigenous flora: They’ll eventually require little or no irrigation. "Once they get their first flush of roots out they should be all right with the seasonal rainfall," says Hartman.
ALL FIRED UP
"The homeowners were basically looking to add another ‘room’ to their house," says Matthew LaNeve, vice president of Oakland-based Stonetown Construction, describing this cozy outdoor seating area in Morristown. "They have young children and wanted a space where the family could sit outside during the fall and early spring."
The space is anchored by a commanding 9- foot-tall granite fireplace with bluestone details and two built-in firewood storage areas, ensuring that the flames can roar deep into the night. A matching low granite wall with a bluestone top provides an easy place for the kids to sit and roast marshmallows, while a bluestone patio completes the space.
"Since the home is an old country house, we chose materials that would have been used 100 years ago," says LaNeve. "The granite matches the house, and the bluestone is just timeless. Everything looks like it was always there."
HERE COMES THE SUN
"We call this area ‘the sunset terrace’ because it offers a beautiful view of the valley and the sunset," says Ron Cording, owner of Cording Landscape Design in Towaco. Those stunning vistas come courtesy of the terrace’s prime location on the western side of the property, a former farm situated on 10 bucolic hilltop acres in Mendham’s Somerset Hills.
"It’s a really serene place in which to get away from the more active areas of the yard and relax at the end of the day," says Cording.
The property’s other outdoor features include a large pool and a separate spa area that the homeowners can reach via the winding walkway shown here, made of custom-cut bluestone slabs bordered by a bluestone wall. Along this path, a garden area boasts a profusion of sun-loving plant life, such as pink shrub roses, ornamental fountain grass, coreopsis and other colorful perennials.
WALL OF MEMORIES
Clean, simple and sustainable-that was the vision for this Mendham backyard, designed by Morristown- based landscape architect Carolle M. Huber. "Despite the home’s fanciful back facade, the landscape is carefully pared down and edited to keep a nice, crisp look," says Huber.
A 3-foot-wide planting bed between the wall and patio features boxwood, knockout trees and lavender, while a walkway made with large slabs of bluestone makes its own contribution to the yard’s mood of understated elegance.
But it’s the large fieldstone wall that steals the show and adds a sentimental touch: "The stone came from a barn in Pennsylvania that belonged to the homeowner’s parents and was in really bad shape," says Huber. "We knocked the barn down and brought the stone to Mendham, so we were reusing something from his childhood."