Paths and Walks: A Lesson in Natural Landscape Design

By working with the contours of the land, restoring native plants, and using natural materials that blend in with their surroundings, a couple turns an overly-artificial country home into a wooded masterpiece.



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Following the Brewsters' natural approach to landscaping, a path winds around the base of a knoll rather than intruding on the territory of the giant oak tree at its crown.
ILLUSTRATION: MALCOLM WELLS
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The Brewsters discovered an old stone foundation on their property, which they cleared of debris and designated as a picnic area.
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The previous owners cleared a 50-foot-wide swath of forest down to the water's edge and laid a strip of concrete from their back patio down to the shore.
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Finding the usual stair alternatives too mechanical-looking, the Brewsters devised "planter steps" with stone risers and pebbled treads, in which they planted sedums and miniature native grasses. The sloping banks at the sides of the steps made the steps appear to grow right out of the hillside.
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Pieces from the broken-up concrete walk were used as bench slabs.
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An earth-covered bridge uses a wooden form, reinforcing bars, and concrete for strength and stability. It is then covered with rich compost soil and allowed to grow over with the ground cover of the forest floor.
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