Landscaping with Style
Martin Shaw LLC custom-designs beautiful landscapes that stand the test of time
by Michelle Garling


Some designers are known for their signature style. But when the subject is a landscape design that will beautify a home for many years, it is the owner’s taste that should be considered and reflected.


Martin Shaw LLC, a landscape design and construction company with offices in Furlong and Bryn Mawr, prides itself on the ability to offer creative designs and quality craftsmanship tailored to the needs of each client. Client requests have included a Tuscan-style vineyard, the construction of a new wall that resembled a fallen ruin and a re-creation of the tranquil Zen-like quality of a Balinese spa.


“I enjoy a challenge,” says owner and landscape designer Sharon Shaw. “It is very satisfying to create a landscape that can transport my client to a favorite destination or complement the architecture and decor of their home.”


Architecture plays an important role in the designs of Martin Shaw LLC. Sharon and landscape project manager Barry Martin often look to the home and its location to suggest landscape features that will add to the scale and details. Barry is particularly concerned with creating landscapes that will mature beautifully.


The design process at Martin Shaw LLC is quite thorough; prospective clients are asked to fill out a questionnaire that helps Sharon understand their style, wants and needs for the landscape.

“When I design, I think about how a family will enjoy the space,” she says. “Understanding their lifestyle and their preferences helps me to create a space that is both functional and beautiful for them.”


Sharon’s work has received a Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association award, and has also been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Business Journal and Philadelphia Style. Her company provides landscape care and maintenance, as well as the design and construction of patios, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and gardens.


One of the most uniquely themed landscapes that Martin Shaw LLC has created is at the home of Jane and Jeff Evans. Both Jane and Jeff enjoy time in the country, but Jeff works long days in Manhattan, so the Evanses have made their home—both inside and out—an ode to Williamsburg, Va., where the couple has taken numerous trips.  


“It is a relaxing place,” says Jane. “When you go there you are removed from the rest of the world and we wanted to re-create that effect at home.”


Their one-acre property in Lower Makefield includes an orchard of flowering trees, a waterfall and pond, historically accurate outbuildings and beautifully maintained gardens. Indeed, the property is so well planted that once one enters the backyard, it is hard to believe it is in a development surrounded by neighbors.


Jane wanted a knot garden in front of the potting shed, built using a book of plans and photographs of details from historic buildings in Williamsburg. She had admired the work of Martin Shaw LLC and asked Sharon to design the garden. After doing some research, Sharon sketched out a square formal garden that features raised beds of roses, boxwoods and lavender enclosed by a custom wooden fence.


“We worked through several concepts until agreeing upon one that was both historically appropriate and functional for the site,” says Sharon. “We used bluestone treads to create the raised beds and brick to outline the pathways. Both are classic materials, but the crushed oyster shell traditionally used for the pathway was not practical in this situation.” Instead they used white marble gravel to replicate the effect. A large wrought-iron urn sits in the middle of the square, bursting with flowers.


“Many of our projects are designed for older homes, and we strive to complement the historic architecture,” Barry says. “But this is the first time we’ve adhered to a Williamsburg re-creation.”

Martin Shaw LLC has since designed the property’s landscape lighting and shade garden, constructed several stone walls and is working with the Evanses on the next phase of their project: an enclosed courtyard patio and landscaping to complement a new addition.


“We choose to work with Sharon and Barry of Martin Shaw LLC because they are willing to go the extra mile to achieve whatever it is that we are looking for,” says Jane.


‘Designed to Endure’

Though not all of her clients seek to include such specific elements, Sharon explains that her company strives to “guide our clients to make decisions that are appropriate to their home and their lifestyle.” Sometimes a particular material is not suitable for the conditions. In those cases, according to Sharon, they use the client’s request for inspiration and make suggestions that offer similar features instead. “There are many styles, colors, textures and accessories to choose from when creating a landscape,” she says.


Barry suggests using classic materials and proper construction methods that will create a landscape that looks great and functions well. “A correctly built patio is designed to endure years of use,” he says. He also advises clients to select high-quality, large-sized plants and then placing them appropriately for their growth. “The most successful landscape is one you don’t have to worry about,” he says.


Martin Shaw LLC believes in educating clients so they can get the most from their landscapes. The company strives to maintain an ongoing relationship that includes good communication. The company’s website,, provides detailed information on care, while a blog and Facebook site keep visitors up to date on local events and educational articles with helpful links.


Martin Shaw LLC



Bucks County office

P.O. Box 18

Furlong, PA 18925



Main Line office

P.O. Box 898                              

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010           



Michelle Garling is a freelance writer based in Bucks County.

Rob Hall is a freelance photographer based in Plumsteadville.