Longwood Garden

BROOKLINE, MA

Designer: Matthew Cunningham

A stunning new home and landscape replace a dilapidated property for outdoor-focused, contemporary living in the busy heart of urban Brookline. The clients, an accomplished couple with two young boys, jump at every opportunity to be outdoors. They requested a landscape that would fuse “California-style outdoor living” with a fantastic New England vernacular. Beautiful board-form concrete walls elevate the front yard, where a fantastic porch and pergola overlook the streetscape. An inviting staircase glides from the house to sidewalk and circulation is cleanly defined. Contrasting, native “beachy” meadow plants soften hard edges. A parking court utilizing permeable unit pavers above compacted crushed stone returns stormwater to the watershed, and peastone paths flank both sides of the house, connecting the front and back yards. The sloped rear yard is re-graded and a flat lawn becomes an incredible urban amenity. The new landform edges are densely planted with coastal woodland species, providing a wonderful green buffer along shared fence-lines. Reclaimed granite from decommissioned sea walls become fantastic new benches that provide impromptu overflow seating for cookouts. Separate terraces are sited to avoid cluttered views from the two-story floor to ceiling windows on the rear façade of the house; the inside and outside are visually interconnected. A pergola and a contemporary screen, both planted with dwarf American wisteria provide important structure and privacy to the garden. Creative stormwater management solutions, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant native plantings, and flexible activity areas illustrate an easy-to-replicate model of easy living in an otherwise intense urban place.