When we were approached to work on this project in Alexandra, VA, we saw incredible potential. The 2.5-acre estate consisted of an extraordinary historic property sitting high on a hill with riveting views of the Potomac River and Messianic Temple. But though the home was about to go through its second renovation in 10 years, the outside property had not been touched in over 50. When we began the project, it was devoid of any outdoor living or entertaining space.
The existing front yard space was overwhelmed by a huge circular drive, with a second driveway leading to the home’s back service entry. The renovated house left an enlarged footprint with just enough room for the driveway and limited plantings. Additionally, the house is designed so that visitors approach through the side yard with no view of the front door or even the front of the house, presenting one of our greatest challenges during the creation of this landscape estate in Alexandria, VA.
Our client was clear that there would no longer be vehicular access to the front of the house. So we worked extensively with the architect to ensure the proper connection between the house and the estate gardens.
We designed a terrace over the new garage to provide immediate access to dining, grilling, and lounging from the house kitchen and formal living room. We also installed a front porch spanning the entire front of the house to tie in all three doors while keeping the focus on the front door and portico. Finally, we added a grand staircase—one with the scale to match the house and provide a graceful transition into the yard. Custom ironwork pulled all architecture features together for a landscape estate of the utmost beauty in Alexandria, VA.
Although the property is quite large, the only area for private space was located in the front yard. This part of the landscape estate required a gracious formal approach to the home, a children’s play lawn that’s tentable for events, and lastly, an area for the pool and pool houses. Most of all, it needed lush gardens and an authentic look fitting with the era of the house.
After eight months of design, nine months of permitting, and two years of construction, we successfully completed a landscape estate in Alexandria that is reminiscent of the client’s family estate outside of Richmond. No detail was left to chance; we designed custom gates and railings, detailed paving patterns, historic plantings, as well as an exact replica of a Tiffany Cast Iron fountain from Central Park to achieve our goal. We hope you enjoy the experience as much as we did!
“Nothing But Problems.” This Alexandria home sits behind much smaller houses that face the road. When we began this estate landscape project, the drive approached the side of the house and wrapped around a telephone pole. We buried the utilities and routed the driveway so that guests now arrive at a parking area.
Once we got people to this point, our next challenge involved guiding them to the front of the house. We installed a formal entry and gates that act like a second front door, inviting guests to the front walkway and leading them to the 60 round front entry court.
The yard also had 22’ of grade change yet needed to feel relatively flat. To achieve the desired result, we added three raisers to the front staircase and removed three feet of the crest in the front of the house. A four-foot retaining wall now holds up the far side of the arrival court. Stairs lead down to the tentable play lawn that was excavated four feet on the upper side and raised eight feet on the lower.
The pool house is a two-story structure with a ten-foot tall basement to hold up the grade. The pool was built above grade and then backfilled due to severe marine clay issues. Making the shell structurally sound required full framing and tripling the steel schedule and the concrete thickness.
We land granted the property for the tax advantages, but this brought along 12 pages of restrictions we needed to work around. The city of Alexandria required that we capture all the runoff from the house, so we built two underground water retention systems that store over six thousand gallons of water. One is a state-of-the-art cistern with parts sourced from as far as Australia that holds 2500 gallons of irrigation water. To successfully reach our pervious ratios, we made sure the drive and the arrival court are fully permeable “Gravel Pave” system.
There are eleven properties located around this landscape estate in Alexandria, VA, and after three years of construction, the city was less then amenable to anything we were doing and required a lot of handholding and accommodations. Fortunately for our clients, nothing was going to keep us from building the dream—the project was an absolute success!
At Botanical Decorators, we specialize in creating estate designs for residences throughout the DC Metropolitan area. Our work renovating this front entry, fountain garden, and pool house resulted in the completion of a landscape estate unlike any other in this Alexandria, VA neighborhood. Whether you are interested in building something similar or have other ideas for a landscape estate with your own personal style, contact us. We serve homeowners in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC and can help you create the estate design of your dreams!