By Water’s Edge

A landscape overlooking the Cape Cod Canal delivers both challenge and reward.

By Ann Luongo | Photography by Christian Scully

Owning a home overlooking the Cape Cod Canal is a dream come true for many people. Breathing in the salty air and watching the daily parade of water vessels, from tankers and tugboats to sailboats and fishing boats, is the epitome of Cape living. However, owning a home in this type of location is not without its challenges. Coastal environments can be harsh and special considerations must be made when planning a landscaping project.


The upper level patio, installed during the first phase of the landscape project, has a Pennsylvania fieldstone wall that cleverly curves into a fire pit.

For their waterfront property, Kelly Mastria and her husband wanted to create an outdoor living space that would allow family and friends to enjoy the surrounding beauty, not only of the canal and its ever-changing views but also of the adjoining conservation land. The Mastrias hired The Gardeners to design the landscape project. “The Gardeners came up with a plan we liked,” says Mastria, “which included both the front and back yards, with a focus on the back.”

The project began in 2010, and over a period of three years it was completed in two phases. In phase one, The Gardeners designed and installed the rounded patio with a fire pit. But, before the patio and fire pit could be installed, the steeply sloped backyard needed to be graded. Atop the level surface, a Cape Cod blend of concrete paving stones by Pavestone was laid down, and a stone wall with seating was built. “I like the mix of tans and grays in the [patio] paver,”says landscape designer Jason Pontbriant, which is versatile and matches most stone work well, he adds. The stone wall and fire pit are made of Pennsylvania fieldstone.

Phase two of the project involved the installation of an in-ground pool. The home’s proximity to the canal and abutting conservation land presented a set of challenges during the project. To gain approval from the Conservation Commission to install a pool on the property, The Gardeners agreed to construct a sea wall that would act as a coastal bank and protective barrier for the conservation land. “With the site being such a tight space,” says Pontbriant, “maneuvering machinery and manpower was also a challenge.”

For the pool installation, the Mastrias hired Easton Pool & Spa, in Easton, Massachusetts. “I was first contacted by the homeowner over a year before the project started to collaborate,” says David Hobaica, of Easton Pool & Spa. To install the pool, the remainder of the yard was graded, using a small excavator because of the limited space. The pool has a 4-to 6-inch concrete bottom with a 10-inch concrete wall, a waterfall feature and a vinyl liner. “It was ultimately a very easy installation once we started,” says Hobaica. “We broke ground on April 3, 2014, and were finished by June 3 – just two months [later].”

To complete the outdoor living area for the waterfront property, the Mastrias chose hardy plantings for their softscaping needs. “I wanted wind- and weather-tolerant plants,” says Mastria.“We’d had tons of hydrangeas and yellow daylilies prior to the project, so we created a staging area on the side of the yard and saved as many as possible. Overall, it’s a mixture of daylilies, Knock Out roses and decorative sea grasses.”

Not to be forgotten, the front of the home received some pampering as well. “The beds in front of the house were cleaned up and replanted,” says Mastria, and a walkway was constructed from brownstone and granite. The Gardeners also built a curvy retaining wall made of Pennsylvania fieldstone to border the property. “When I have a really neutral-colored paint on [a] house, I like to add pops of color—reds and yellows,” says Pontbriant. “Because the house was perched on a hill, I used evergreen shrubs like boxwood to soften the façade of the house. The colors from the front were installed first, so I tried to unify the back with some of the same colors.”

The Mastrias are thrilled with their landscape makeover. “It’s really an extension of our living room. It’s so nice. My favorite feature is the pool; my husband’s favorite is the fire pit. We couldn’t be happier with the results.”

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