These clients had matured out of the functions of their large back yard with a pool as the center piece. The children who were young when the property was purchased, were now grown and college age. And the principal form of entertainment was no longer pool parties with kids and dogs chasing and splashing. They asked for a more refined, contemporary space to relax, to dine with a few friends but also to entertain large groups while maintaining privacy.
CHALLENGES The pool was the dominant element in the landscape. Because it was time consuming to maintain and rarely used now, the clients wanted it gone, knowing removing it would be a large part of the total cost of the landscape project. (See “Transforming a pool into a cistern” under the News tab)
The clients expressed a desire to have multiple areas to sit, dine and play. They had aging dogs which needed to be considered in the functions of the design. There was to be no lawn. They wanted to include a hot tub which needed to be sited so it was both easily accessible from the house and private. And there needed to be a covered barbeque area which was both convenient to the kitchen and to any of the dining areas.
SOLUTIONS The pool was partially demolished – the concrete aggregate walks were removed, the coping and walls of the pool were removed down to 4 feet from grade, the bottom of the pool was cracked and left in place so water would drain. The pool was then filled with several layers of gravel, compacted and amended top soil was the final layer. The boulders which had been incorporated into the concrete aggregate walks were broken out and relocated to the new planting beds and to form a new retaining wall.
In the original back yard design, you walked from the house directly out on to a narrow aggregate patio which stepped down to the pool area. This was only deep enough to hold two chairs and a small table. Although it was cramped, the clients used this perch all the time because it was close to the house and kitchen and from that position you had a clear view of most of the yard. So we expanded the “perch” into a full blown deck which stretches between the two wings of the house and extends to a few gracious steps down to the garden. This is where large groups of 12 or more can sit and dine.
An offset path leads you past plantings, past a series of Cor Ten screens and through a contemporary Cor Ten Moon Gate to a large paver patio which offers ample seating around a gas fire pit. Another smaller, paved dining area was added in the NW corner of the yard with a path connecting to the house and to the larger patio, past a low, bubbling water feature.
The covered barbeque area was located to be convenient to both the patios and the deck. Natural gas was provided for the grill.
The hot tub was tucked under several existing trees and out the line of site of the main doors to the house with its own path, making it a single destination. Plantings were added to further shelter the tub for more privacy.
Finally, there was an open area of decomposed granite (DG) planned into the design for group games.
The plantings were selected to mingle ornamental with edible plantings. Combinations of various leaf colors and textures provide year round interest long after the blossoms are gone. Small Paperbark Maples and large shrubs were strategically placed to add rhythm and create layers in the landscape. All the plants were chosen with ease of maintenance in mind.
Lighting this new design was critical to way-finding and safety but also to enhance the night time ambiance. Path lighting was designed to be functional, to light the intended surfaces only and then disappear. But the Cor Ten Screens were lit along the top edge and down one side edge for a decorative effect and to add another layer of interest.