A New England Minimalist Landscape Uses Classic Materials to Connect with Nature

Photography by John McCarthy

In Andover, Massachusetts overlooking the Fish Brook Wetlands sits a custom-built contemporary home that connects the interior, landscaping and natural environment in the most intriguing ways. Using classic New England materials, including granite steps, pavers and pool coping from Swenson Granite Works, Andover Landscape designed a contemporary minimalist landscape for this unique residence surrounded by traditional Cape and Colonial homes.

This project, which was featured in Northshore Magazine, showcases the beauty of a minimalist landscape. By limiting the use of design elements you can give your landscape a neat, clean appearance. With the right hardscaping elements and plants, you can achieve this fresh, contemporary landscape design.

Andover Landscape used Swenson Granite Work’s Woodbury Gray granite throughout this property, from the pool patio and coping to the front walkway and steps. “The Woodbury Gray granite harmonizes perfectly with the native tones of the site, “ notesJohn Nardozza, Managing Director of Andover Landscape

Before diving into a project like this, assess the look of your home. New York–based landscape designer Julie Farris has told Architectural Digest that the choice of whether to have a minimalist garden depends on personal style, as well as the architectural style of your home. “The flow from inside to outside should feel seamless, so if you have a modern aesthetic, a minimalist garden can be a natural outdoor extension of your interior look,” Farris says.

Russell Stott, Landscape Architect and Partner at Andover Landscape, carefully thought through all the details of his client’s home landscape and architecture for a seamless look. Let’s tour the Andover residence and see how Stott designed a minimalist contemporary landscape using Swenson Granite Works products with other hardscaping and softscaping elements.

Photography by John McCarthy

Start with Classic New England Materials and Native Plants

At the home’s front entrance and in the backyard, classic New England materials in a contemporary pattern complement materials used on the facade. Straightforward cedar shakes create a naturally beautiful, durable exterior that requires no painting or maintenance. A bosque of single-stem river birch planted in the front yard softens the home’s exterior and horizontal cedar timbers with its cinnamon-colored peeling bark..

Instead of traditional foundation plantings, there are four cube-shaped planter boxes stationed atop a bed of beach pebbles to the left of the tiered Woodbury Gray granite rock face steps. Plants are swapped out with each change of season, and minimalist planters keep the color scheme limited for a unified appeal.

Farris says the benefit of a minimalist garden is that you have fewer plants to worry about; however, the plants you do choose need to provide structure and perform throughout the year.

“I love deciduous trees with unusual branching and bark like the crepe myrtle, stewartia, and the birch; ornamental grasses like Nasella, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster,’ Pennisetum, and Deschampsia; and perennial flowers like echinacea, with large seed heads, have a presence even when they go dormant,” says Farris.

Leading up to the front steps from the driveway is a dark-toned aggregate path bordered with inlaid Woodbury Gray granite slabs.

Photography by John McCarthy

Photography by John McCarthy

This walkway adds an artistic, almost graphic element to the front yard. Stott jokes, “It’s not your grandma’s front walkway.” The abstract design, punctuated by intersecting slabs set perpendicular to the border, leads the eye into the adjacent plantings and yard, locking the path visually into the space.

Photography by John McCarthy

Turn The House Inside Out

The interior of the home is also minimalist, with a clean, contemporary design and neutral color palette. Every vantage point in the open-concept living and dining area offers views of the meadow and water. When seated here, the 60-foot gunite lap pool actually appears to be an infinity-edge pool due to the height of the Woodbury Gray granite terrace – a unique illusion that ties the interior to the landscape. “For this project to be successful, the elevation of the pool terrace and pool had to be spot-on,” explains Stott.

Photography by John McCarthy

Achieve Clean Lines with Hardscaping

A minimalist landscape takes advantage of hardscape elements – less lawn means less maintenance. When it comes to hardscape materials, décor and furniture, neutral tones – like white, tan, gray and brown – work best. The colors of the natural stone veneer on the pool and Woodbury Gray granite pool coping, pavers and rock face steps blend with the natural surroundings. Even the dark gray pool tile creates an indigenous look, as it mimics the color of the standing water in the wetland.

Photography by John McCarthy

Inlaid on the lawn are Woodbury Gray granite pavers positioned to create a geometrical grid, giving a contemporary look that relates to the clean-lined aesthetic of the house – another way to keep the design cohesive. Two modern outdoor armchairs and a dining set sit on the pavers in front of a cedar-shingled pool house. These furniture pieces are simple, clean and complement the yard without overpowering it.

Photography by John McCarthy

The Woodbury Gray granite pavers with beach pebble joints creates another walkway to the pool terrace. The fountain grass lining the walkway and side yard is an ideal plant for this minimalist landscape, as it is generally drought-tolerant and thrives with minimal upkeep. It is also a natural, loose plant, which designer Colin Miller recommends for a minimalist landscape. “There’s no reason to feel stuck with rigid, architectural plants,” he says. “When your plantings have a loose, alive appearance, they bring a sense of playfulness, liveliness, and warmth.”

Although this is a minimalist landscape design, there is nothing simple about the careful thought that went into the elaborate details of every aspect of this project in order to harmoniously connect the interior, landscape and wetlands in a unique and creative way.

It just goes to show that imagination is your only limit when working with products from Swenson Granite Works. Visit a Swenson Granite store near you and we can help you incorporate granite and natural stone into your own landscape design, whether it be minimalist, contemporary, traditional or rustic.

Nardozza comments, “Swenson’s ability to custom manufacture to our specs without the need of a middleman sets them apart from others. I deal with Dennis in the Concord, New Hampshire office and his expertise and extra effort always make my projects stand out.”