A SoPo Backyard Unites Neighbors from Two Towns

How Mary and Paul Bloch’s blank slate of a lawn became a sweet gathering spot

To many South Portlanders, Goudy Street is known as Camp Goudy. A crosswalk linking the dead-end street with Elsmere Avenue, on the opposite side of busy Cottage Road, funnels in kids from other neighborhoods to shoot hoops, ride bikes, and play in Goudy’s narrow front yards. On Memorial Day, hundreds show up for a parade in which a resident baton-twirler leads a youth marching band, children on decorated bicycles, and a local police car and fire truck up and down the block. “We have something really special here,” says Mary Bloch, who has lived on the street with her husband, Paul, for 18 years and has a son and daughter in the Goudy gang.

ABOVE In Paul and Mary Bloch’s backyard, landscape designer Keith Stone installed a patio faced in Oak Hill granite from Jefferson’s J.C. Stone on the South Portland side and a firepit tucked among oaks on the Cape Elizabeth side.

When Cape Elizabeth’s Blueberry Road subdivision went in behind the Blochs’ 1939 Dutch Colonial 10 years ago, bringing an influx of new families to the area, the SoPo kids expanded their territory to the yards and forest along the town line. But the vibe in the Blochs’ blank slate of a backyard wasn’t exactly welcoming. So when the couple brought in Keith Stone, of Freeport’s Pinnacle Landscape & Design, to beautify their lot, they also sought to foster a better “Goudy-Blueberry Road connection,” Mary says. 

ABOVE In the front yard, he added custom granite steps and a local flagstone walkway. Jennifer Cummings, of Falmouth’s Full Circle Landscaping, collaborated on the plantings.

A curving raised granite patio for dining, sunbathing, and hot tubbing softens the yard’s square shape and “feels more connected to the indoor living space” than a grade-level surface would, Stone says. A step in the patio’s ledgestone wall leads to an abutting wooded Cape Elizabeth plot the Blochs own, which Stone improved with a stepping-stone path to the Blueberry Road lots and firepit ringed with free-form boulder seats, where neighbors from both towns frequently gather.

The Blochs share the credit for the success of their setup with their neighbors too. “It’s just an extension of what was already happening here,” Mary says.