A Chestnut Hill Backyard Goes to Infinity and Beyond

Landscape architect Stephanie Hubbard elevates a site’s natural beauty with smart engineering and contemporary design.

chestnut hill backyard 1

An infinity pool built into the slope of the existing landscape blends into the horizon of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. / Photograph by Greg Premru

When a couple approached Stephanie Hubbard, of SiteCreative, to redesign their Chestnut Hill backyard, they hoped she could perform a miracle: carve out enough space from the steeply sloped land for them to entertain their extended family. Unfortunately, the existing landscape was “just a small strip of lawn,” Hubbard says—hardly enough space for anything, let alone entertaining. But Hubbard had some tricks up her sleeve, plus the promise of a view of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, once a few trees came down.

Instead of working against the terrain, Hubbard decided to play it up, using retaining walls to create a series of terraces connected by limestone paths and patios, as well as a riserless glass-and-metal staircase.

chestnut hill backyard 2

The dark interior of the pool allows it to glow vibrantly when lit up in the evenings. / Photograph by Greg Premru

Hubbard’s design begins along the southeastern side of the house, where a small stone patio hosts casual dining. The sculpture garden, down a flight of steps, leads to a larger outdoor dining area, complete with built-in benches and a fire pit. Beyond, an ipe-wood-decked spa overlooks an infinity pool, lined in black. “The dark interior makes it look the same as the natural water body—it reflects the sky. It visually connects the two,” Hubbard says. “And at night, when it’s lit up, it has more of a shimmering jewel effect.”

Each region has its own flora, chosen for available sunlight. The shady sculpture garden, which showcases some of the art-savvy couple’s favorite pieces, provides the perfect habitat for native woodland species like ferns and Solomon’s seal. The pool, located in a sunnier part of the property, features a perennial garden stocked with delicate windflower and cranesbill. Even in their dried state, Hubbard says, they add textural interest in the winter.

“I see this landscape as a series of garden rooms,” she says. “Each has a unique character and function, with its own level of enclosure and its own vista. They’re all a little different, but that’s what makes it work.”

chestnut hill backyard 3

An outdoor spa overlooks a small lawn and a terrace for outdoor dining. / Photograph by Greg Premru

chestnut hill backyard 4

Ipe-wood paneling adds an element of warmth to Hubbard’s design and breaks up the expanse of painted brick on the house. / Photograph by Greg Premru

Design Sitecreative Landscape Architecture
Contractor R. P. Marzilli & Company
Lighting Consultant Light Insight Design Studio