Client Story – Master Design Plan

Fully Featured Design for New Executive Home

Master design plan with phased installation desired for a large semi-rural lot in an executive neighborhood.

Sweeping lawn path through plantings leads to home entry

Balanced front yard landscape

Goals and Challenges

Carrington and Susan were nearing the completion of their new dream home in a lovely rural setting situated with other executive homes. An initial consultation to provide a quick front walkway concept quickly expanded into the goal of designing a full property plan. Among the many challenges for the project was to complete hardscape design elements to meet the aggressive schedule of the builders doing the installation. For the rest of the design, the clients intended to do most of the work on a more leisurely schedule.

The goal was to complete a total yard design plan that would provide a highly colorful, densely planted unique look while creating positive curb appeal and neighborhood acceptability. The large yard presented many challenges including several steep drop-offs and the desire to artfully and uniquely weave together numerous desired elements including:

  • Front walk with a primary and secondary entry and attractive plantings
  • Rear deck and 2 small and distinctly defined patio spaces
  • Lengthy boulder retaining embankments
  • Vegetable garden
  • Spring shrub cutting bed for forcing
  • Plantings to handle rocky, impoverished soil left by the building process
  • Flowing lawn paths
House front bare soil before landscaping Berks County Pennsylvania

House front yard before landscaping

Builder installed boulder embankment on steep slope

Boulder embankment before planting

Builder installed boulder embankment on steep slope creating enclosed planting bed

Boulder enclosed planting bed before planting


In order to meet the tight schedule for installing the front walk, a design was conceptualized and the path layout marked for the contractors within hours of the initial meeting. An accelerated concept design and review was also used to complete the hardscape design for installation of a rear deck and the two small patios. The normal CNLD multi-step approach was used for the remainder of the design process resulting in a richly detailed plan for the entire yard.

Graceful home front walk stamped concrete just after installation

Graceful home front walk

Deck during construction and bare soil rear yard

Deck during construction

Design Highlights

The front yard planting design includes a diverse dense mix of woody and perennial plants that provide swaths of color and texture, and vertical and horizontal elements in scale with the home and rural surroundings. These elements result in a unique design with broad appeal and neighbor friendliness. The front entry design provides the clients with an attractive walk for a welcoming and interesting journey for guests past several unique planting beds and includes a sneak path to a play room without creating confusion for guests. The just-in-time design avoids an uninteresting straight walk of insufficient width for the grandeur of the home.

Sweeping lawn path through plantings leads to home entry

Balanced front yard landscape

Home entry walk leading to front porch through colorful plantings

Vibrant home entry landscape

Secluded stepping stone path through mixed plantings for access to game room

Hidden path through plantings

A uniquely shaped rear deck features spaces custom fit for the desired needs with a space-efficient angled staircase. In several locations plantings serve multiple purposes of spatial definition, steep drop-off protection, beauty, and wildlife value. The side yards are integrated into the overall plan to create a landscape that flows naturally around the home. Outlying areas are designed for specialty garden spaces including a vegetable garden, and are tied into the whole with flowing lawn paths.

Sweeping lawn path leads to backyard area and past edging plantings of native shrubs

Rear yard lawn path and plantings

Front yard slope extensive planting bed with client installed boulder retaining wall

Front yard slope planting bed

Colorful mixed planting in steep slope bed with Catmint in bloom

Colorful mixed planting bed


The home builder’s sub-contractors executed the walkways, deck, rear patios and the largest of the boulder stone work. The clients purchased the plants, did their own planting bed preparation and plant installation, and completed some of the stonework for walls and paths utilizing the master plan and supporting documentation. CNLD provided ongoing support responding to questions throughout the process including plant substitutions and maintenance issues.

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