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Arlington Properties: View Across Ravine To Cliffs (upper Property)
Arlington Properties: View Across Ravine To Cliffs (upper Property)

View across ravine to cliffs (upper property)

Connecting Neighboring Suburban Properties
Arlington, MA

Timeframe | Upper Property completed in 2018; Lower Property in progress (2019)

These are two neighboring residential properties that lie within the same steeply sloping ravine landform. The two parcels are bounded by steep cliffs along the edge of the backyard and connected by an intermittent stream.


For the upper property, our design work focused on opening up a splendid view across the ravine – from the house to the cliffs – by clearing away dense vines and low quality vegetation. We created a level rear terrace patio of lovely Goshen stone and enhanced a seasonal stream at the ravine bottom with stone and sedge plantings and a large bridge stone to a lower barbecue sitting area nestled right up against a 30′ sheer rock face.


The owner of lower neighboring property watched all this take shape and decided to hire us to transform her yard, too! This lower property was a jumble of loosely placed rubble covered over with ivy like the upper property. Their lower yard was shadier and cooler under a mature canopy of maples. We also terraced this space with a natural stone retaining wall supporting a patio that steps easily off a series of new decks on the house. Below the wall, the terrain is organized around water. A sinuous path winds around the continuation of the stream from the upper yard, but this time crossing a series of waterfalls that add an intoxicating trickle during wetter times.

These two properties are planted to take advantage of the full diversity of ecological zones, from the hot, dry clifftops on the upper property – where sedums and clumping grasses reign – to the cool, moist shade at the bottom end of the lower property being planted with ferns and Cardinal Flower. A resident hawk frequently alights on the tops of the cliffs, while songbirds enjoy splashing in the intermittent pool down below.

View up stream corridor from lower to upper property
View up stream corridor from lower to upper property

View up stream corridor from lower to upper property


  • Reclaiming steep slopes for dramatically beautiful and usable space
  • Enhancing existing water features and drainage patterns into streams and waterfalls
  • Developing a richly diverse mosaic of native plant communities that respond to highly varied conditions on land that drops 40 feet over a small area

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