Rural Retreat

Landscape designer Robert George explains how he transformed a suburban-style backyard into a serene environment that better suits the dwelling it surrounds


The clients were weekenders in Dutchess County whose converted 19th-century barn was set on property that was awkwardly laid out. They love spending time outside, so they wanted to create an outdoor living space, but with low-maintenance landscaping.

poolside with patio
Stepping stones lead from the house to the pool (top); a covered bluestone patio (bottom) was built to resemble an old barn, using more hand-hewn beams

barn-inspired patio

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First, we took out the overgrown, incongruous foundation plantings. Then, to reflect the interior of the converted barn, we built several garden structures using reclaimed, massive hand-hewn beams. One long grape arbor serves as a passageway that ties the house to the swimming pool. Another arbor, on the other side of the pool, forms a destination.

before reconstructionGeorge removed the blobby foundation shrubs (above) and added arbors constructed with salvaged barn beams

More beams were used to construct a roof over a 20-by-30-foot bluestone dining patio. It has a raised tin roof like old barns used to have. Dry-laid stepping stones in the grass link the spaces and suggest where to walk. Now the outdoors has the same simplicity as the house. It’s inviting, serene, and a nice place to hang out and entertain.

For more information on Robert George Design Group and That’s Landscaping call 845-758-4088 or visit â—

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