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Remember the project feature we did on the Munoz’ landscape?

Well, at the end of that post, we told you about the home next door that actually ended up being something of a companion project to Munoz: the Stephens home. And, as promised, I’d like to talk a little about the Stephens project today on The Neave Way blog.

Both the Munoz and Stephens homes were part of a three-home spec project, meaning they were built at the same time and in a similar style. This project came about pretty naturally; the Munoz and Stephens families had become friends, and the Stephens family decided they wanted to work with us as well.

We proposed the concept of creating a park-like feel between their two houses, which already had a lot in common architecturally and design wise, with coordinating landscaping – they loved the idea.

One of the first challenges, of course, was creating a landscape in the Stephens’ yard that would complement their neighbors’ landscape but still feel individualized and homey to them. In the end, we did many of the same things: a driveway apron, garage apron, front walkway and pool stone, as well as plantings around them. The Stephens project got a different stone treatment, a beautiful bluestone, and where the Munoz family’s aluminum fencing was bronze, the Stephens family chose a regal black fence.

The next challenge – a real hurdle – was the trees in the backyard. We mentioned this briefly in the post about the Munoz home, but the trees were actually on the Stephens property. These were big trees. Walnuts, actually, that had been around for a very long time.

View towards the Munoz residence
View towards the Munoz residence


We planted numerous trees--both evergreen and shade--between both properties that will eventually create a park-like setting between the homes.
We planted numerous trees–both evergreen and shade–between both properties that will eventually create a park-like setting between the homes.

There was a heavily forested area nearby in the years before we started, but many of the trees had already been cleared; the ones that remained had an extremely high canopy that would have posed a danger to both homes after any heavy snowfall. Walnuts are also pretty ruthless trees! From their wide green canopy, they actually drop poison to the ground below, which can destroy other plant life on the ground. They’re so aggressive.

At first, we got a lot of pushback from the homes association when we asked permission to cut the trees down. But when we explained those things to them and promised to plant new trees at a ratio of two to one, they were on board with our plans. We ended up going far beyond the two-to-one ratio, and there are now a lot of younger trees in a place that will be so much healthier for the landscape in the long run.

Creating this atmosphere, the feeling of a park in the middle of this residential neighborhood, isn’t just to the benefit of the homeowners. Everyone in that historical area of Croton-on-Hudson gets to enjoy the beauty of this landscape! It’s such a nice feeling to drive up that street now, to turn the corner and look over and see those beautiful homes with their coordinated landscapes; it really instills a sense of pride to be part of that area.

As with any landscape, there’s so much room for things to grow. In a couple of years, even next spring, the Stephens’ yard will have matured so much. The new trees we planted will flower and grow; the evergreens will fill out and become taller; the ivy in that wall will start to overtake the stone and envelop it in a lush green. The park-like atmosphere will become even more beautiful, but it’ll offer the Munoz and Stephens families more privacy when they’re cooking out, swimming or living their outdoor lives in general.

The next step – I hope – will be the third house in that spec series! As soon as someone buys the property, that’ll be our opportunity to complete this park-like trifecta!

Brick paver walkway leading to the Stephens front entry
Brick paver walkway leading to the Stephens front entry
Brick paver driveway apron
Brick paver driveway apron


Interested in landscape design for your own property? Call the professionals at Neave Group Outdoor Solutions. From the Hudson Valley, call (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, dial (914) 271-7996, and if you’re in Connecticut, call us at (203) 212-4800. You can also fill out our web form to have us get in touch with you.

And if you want more insight as you plan your landscape, download our free Landscape Planning Guide!


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