From the April/May 2015 Issue:

Striking a Balance

    Writer: Judy Jeannin | Photographer: Howard Roberts | Landscape Design: Deborah Cerbone, PP, CLA |

Deborah Cerbone designs a landscape that meets the varying needs of her clients

Article Photo
enlarge | The owners’ children enjoy the garden with its mix of flowers, vegetables and herbs. It’s centered by a fountain surrounded by flowers and pretty pea-gravel paths. The lawn panels can be similarly planted should the homeowners want to expand the garden.
It was a landscape project with many contradictions. The husband wanted balance and symmetry with classic details that reflect the aesthetics of the family’s imposing new home in Somerset County. The three active children needed outdoor space to pursue their favorite activities. And, finally, the family wanted areas suitable for entertaining large groups.

It fell to landscape architect Deborah Cerbone of Deborah Cerbone Associates in Far Hills to reconcile their needs. The design she came up with artfully combines formal architectural elements with outdoor rooms that incorporate a carefully designed garden, two fields suitable for pickup soccer and football games, a bocce court, a koi pond and a small waterfall as well as a woodland garden with lighted paths and a zip-line. There’s also a classic swimming pool and elegant pool house. Flanking the pool house are an outdoor kitchen and dining area and a living room outfitted with a massive fireplace and large-screen outdoor television.

“It’s like a little resort,” says Cerbone, a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a licensed professional planner.

To assure that the landscape design was compatible with that of the house, Cerbone worked closely with the home’s architect, Douglas J. Coleman of Douglas J. Coleman AIA, Architect & Associates in Warren. The Doric columns used on the house are repeated throughout the garden, for example, while the fences reflect design elements on the windows. Cerbone took care to create dramatic site lines from the terrace at the back of the home as well as from the arbor and the rounded pergola that define the side perimeters.

“The pool house is centered on the pool, and that is centered on the rear of the home,” she says. “A cross axis goes almost the entire length of the property, so from a balcony on the house you look down and see the entire sweep of the property.”

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enlarge | The homeowners opted for a classic pool in keeping with the symmetry and balance of the project. The deep blue of the pool reflects off the travertine patio, while the custom fireplace, pergola and garden arbor tie into the hard­scaping palette. A swath of pink drift roses throughout the property bring color from late spring through fall.
In the Mix
While the structural elements are formal, the plantings are more informal, mixing a wide variety of flowers and grasses. “The plantings are loose as opposed to having rows of boxwood.” Cerbone says. “These clients wanted an abundance of color. They wanted to always have something going on. We used a lot of spring-flowering bulbs, trees and shrubs and an abundance of summer color in the pool area with roses, liriope and astilbe. They are massed in large groups for greater visual impact.”

The mix of the elegant and informal has worked well for the family. The father has the look and balance he wanted while the children have room to play. In addition one of the young daughters can often be spotted strolling in the organic garden with its mix of herbs, vegetables and flowers. All three siblings help with the gardening and can be counted on to pick vegetables for dinner.

The fire pit situated atop the koi pond has become a favorite spot for roasting s’mores and viewing the night sky. Meanwhile, the outdoor living room is the place to watch television when the weather is warm. “We go out there in June and watch the NBA playoffs,” says the wife, who played college basketball.

The lawns have become a favorite spot for pickup games of soccer and flag football, while the family and their guests enjoy the bocce court.

“We couldn’t be happier,” the wife says. “Deborah did a tremendous job of making it work and making it visually cohesive.”

Judy Jeannin, a regular contributor to Design NJ, is a Hillsdale-based writer.


Landscape architect, Deborah Cerbone of Deborah Cerbone Associates Inc. in Far Hills; architect, Douglas J. Coleman AIA, Architect & Associates in Warren; buildings, garden structures and hardscapes, J. Rocker Associates Inc. in Liberty Corner; landscape installation, High Tech Landscapes Inc. in Branchburg; landscape management, Statile & Todd Inc. in Far Hills; pool contractor, Ridge Pools Inc. in Branchburg.

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