Member of the Month- May 2009
Association of Professional Landscape Designers®, APLD

In 2002, the Witchell home was about 11 years old. It was a corner lot, on a finger of Lake Pinehurst. The first owners had planted a pair of Japanese Maples on either side of the front entrance walk. Most of the existing foundation plantings were old and misshapen. A side street driveway ended with one guest parking space at the end of the front walk. The owners wanted a new driveway to the front of the residence from the main road in front of their home. The area between the road and the home was quite dense with shrubs oaks and pines. I engaged a surveyor to map the property with large existing trees, topographic information and setbacks, and utilities, including sanitation lines.

I designed a new driveway which would follow a gently flowing curve to the front of the home. I drew a conceptual design showing how a drive could be brought in and create a pass court in front to the residence which would allow 2 cars to park side by side. The new gravel drive would have a cobble stone curb and cobble stone aprons. There was enough change of elevation to create a sunken garden which would be enjoyed by the owners and their guests. This area was designed to give privacy from the street and seasonal color.Many of the existing plants materials were re-located including one of the large Japanese Maples.The original front steps and stoop were awkward and unsafe. I designed a new front porch and steps, and a stone wall with planters to create a small private garden in front of the dining room window. As the conceptual plans for the project developed, it became clear we would need a builder, a mason, and experienced landscape contractor to help solve drainage problems. A demolition plan was drawn showing the areas of asphalt drive which would have to be removed. The trees for removal were marked. An application for a new driveway and tree removal was submitted to the town of Pinehurst for their approval.

As work began on the front of the property the owner’s attention moved to the back of the property. An old deck would have to be replaced. I designed a new set of steps and new railing system which incorporated both new stainless steel cables and wood. This was for economical reason, but the combination is very pleasing to the eye. The landscape design for the steep grade down to the dock, developed with input from the owner’s college age son. There needed to be enough level grass area to kick and throw a ball around. A wide grass path system traverses the steep grade and allows for large planting beds which are viewed form the new deck as well as the ground level terrace and apartment. The owners wanted colorful, fragrant, plant materials which would attract birds and butterflies. I choose a palette of gardenias, osmanthus, blueberries, dogwood, bald cypress, and perennials and grasses. As the work continued into 2006, our area of the state began to suffer with a deep drought. The irrigation for the property was pumped from the lake, but as the draught continued it became apparent that there was not enough circulation in this finger of the lake. We decided to build a small water course to aerate the lake water.

Carolina Gardener


United States Department of Agriculture


J.C. Raulston Arboretum



Mary Francis Tate has had years of experience designing gardens. She began designing Landscape Plans in her early twenties when she worked for Clarendon Gardens of Pinehurst. The gardens and foundation planting designs that Mary Francis created in her early years have matured into examples of exemplary design practices today. In keeping with the times, Mary Francis Tate uses current technology to advance her practice of Landscape Design. Computer Aided Drafting software speeds design work and cuts the cost to the client in half. The design concept is created by focusing on the functional relationships of the residence to the site. By listening to the clients, and understanding their desires and special needs, Mary Francis creates original gardens that will be enjoyed for generations. A vast personal library allows easy reference to particular garden designs. Whether your personal taste is for Traditional English gardens or the Far East, Mary Francis can design a garden for you.

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Slane Residence

Three existing Camellia sasanqua which had become over grown. These were limb-up into evergreen trees and placed to follow a stepping stone path system I designed low mounds for the path to wind around and a bog area allowed for a variety of different plants to be used to give seasonal color. More …


Lowe Residence

In keeping with water restrictions the lawn area was reduced. A gate was designed to invite visitors into a new front garden. The new entrance is framed with 2 Kousa Dogwood trees, Knockout roses, and summer annuals add seasonal color well into the fall. Relocated Liriope ground cover will fill in and achieve continuity. More …


Henry Residence

The south facing stucco and rough sawn lap-sided cedar home with tile roof is complimented with rammed earth retaining walls that terrace the steep slopes on either side of ground level wooden deck. Color was added to the rammed earth walls during construction to create interest. More …


Aycock Residence

A conceptual design was drawn for new front steps with landingsand lights to transition the grade, decorative retaining walls to support a“pass court” which would accommodate 4 cars. Grading the front yard changed the perspective and existing plant materials were relocated around the property. More …

Mary Francis Tate
APLD Certified Landscape Designer
P.O. Box 124, Southern Pines, NC 28388