2018 Merit Award

Borderline Farm

Category: Residential Design

Landscape Architect:

RKLA Studio



Project Team:

Dan Snow – Environmental Artist

About the Project:

Since 1984, Borderline Farm in Southern Vermont has been a testing ground for ideas on design, plant material, and construction by the owner; a landscape architect. Stretching out over 80-acers, the site embodies a restraint that echoes the quintessential New England landscape. New features, including contemporary working barns, dry-laid stonework, experimental gardens, and natural water features seamlessly integrate with the 19th-century farmhouse architecture. Beyond the house environs, and stretching to the Green Mountain National Forest, the woodlands and meadows of this rural landscape have been maintained over the years using land management strategies to ensure both the land and its diverse wildlife continue to thrive.

Project Location: South Londonderry, Vermont

Special Factors

The relocation of the town road was an early project that had a significant impact on the organization of the farmhouse site. Originally situated much closer to the 19th-century farmhouse, the road was shifted to create more privacy and usable space. It allowed for the siting, design, and construction of a large post- and-beam barn in 1993 and a smaller equipment shed in 2007 to create a contemporary “farmyard”. A productive vegetable garden, a restored apple orchard, and extensive perennial and woodland flower borders, are organized around the farmhouse and barns.

Anchoring many of the buildings and landscape features are dry-stone walls created by an environmental artist from nearby Dummerston, Vermont. Built from stone gathered on-site, his contributions— the patio and patio wall in 1984, the driveway walls and steps in 1993, and wall work associated with the equipment barn in 2007—highlight the skill and artistic progression of a singular stone artist that the designer has worked with on numerous client projects. The most recent project, “Music Rocks”, marks the designer and artist’s fourth collaboration on this site. It includes the restoration of an old stonewall, terrace, and stone enclosure for guitar playing at the river’s edge.

Beyond the farmhouse proper, the site’s acres of meadows and woodlands have been improved through ongoing management. Over the years, overgrown meadows have been opened up, and the woodland understory has been managed to create and maintain a native habitat critical to Vermont’s wildlife. Taking advantage of the site’s natural springs, a pond was constructed in 2015 in an upper meadow and a spillway has been created near the house. Currently, several woodland trails are being carved out of the wooded hillside, a managed Vermont Tree Farm, to connect the farmhouse to the new pond and the Green Mountain National Forest.