Country Oasis

Swimming Pool, Covered Seating, Fire Pit, and Rural Acres Become a Go-To Destination


Because of a steep slope wooded area toward the rear of the home, the clients’ desired swimming pool and covered sitting area were placed toward the front. But front yard in this case isn’t a typical suburban parcel. Think 70 acres of gentle slopes where the new additions now represent a pleasant destination to stroll to and linger. The homeowners’ house and grounds are the site of a large annual Fourth of July party.

 Wish List:

Pool for swimming and play

Covered sitting area

Fire feature with seating

Reworked landscaping, walkways, and improved traffic patterns

 The Site and its Challenges

The biggest issue on this job was to change out the composition of the red clay soil that makes it tougher for new plants to get accustomed to their location. With soil amendments and a new irrigation system, plants will become established and thrive for the long term.

Landscape Architectural Solutions

Soil and irrigation. We tested the soil to determine what amendments of organic matter would need to be made to improve conditions. We also introduced an easy-to-use ground-water irrigation system in 15 stations throughout the site where new plant materials were introduced. Homeowners or their maintenance crew can manage the stations easily, which don’t only relay the amount of moisture near the top of the lawn but 18 inches down to indicate how much water plants get at their roots. This check needs to be made every several days, until a pattern is established based on rainfall and sun.

Swimming Pool. The gently sloping topography of the site informed the pool’s placement, along with sandstone retaining walls as anchors. Because of the desire to swim laps, we used a classic rectangular shape and edged it with more of the same sandstone material to offer a cohesive, rustic appearance that best fits the bucolic property.

        Pergola Seating area and fire pit. Louvered cover open-air porch design shelters a seating area adjacent to the pool, but which is a few steps higher because of the slope, thereby offering good views of swimmers and a place from which kids can jump into the pool. More sandstone walls frame the area for an intimate feeling, key to feel cozy on such a large property. A short distance away, we constructed a round fire pit, again from sandstone, and set in a manner that fits the rustic setting with flagstone flooring and framed in curving stone walls.

        Bridge. Again, because of the site’s slope, we had the opportunity to construct a stone bridge over a dry creek stream that was designed to manage the runoff water on the surface rather than putting water into drain boxes and pipes that can clog. We could have managed the water without the bridge, but it adds an old-fashioned sense of whimsy, a great focal point, and a nice touch of adventure.

        New Planting materials and lighting. To gain seasonal color year-round, we planted a significant mix of flowering trees, perennials, roses, annuals, and groundcover. To fit the large site, scale was important, oversized clay urns measuring 46 inches in diameter and similar to what hotels use fit that need, changing out flower color with the season. New walks meander for a more natural feeling, from the front of the driveway to the pool, across the bridge, and beyond. LED lights illuminate paths, walls, the pool, and fire pit.