Mr. and Mrs. Brooks came to our company looking for us to
straighten out a front entry planting installed by the builder’s
landscape company. After completely renovating the front,
thoughts turned to renovating the backyard. And that is
where things get interesting!
The home already had a deck, a patio, a swimming pool, and
a great view, what more could possibly be needed? Well,
in word, …connection. The deck was nice, but the steps
led down to narrow walk to the rear patio. There was no
way to get from the rear deck over to the garage side of
the house without climbing up a steep and slippery slope
to the existing concrete walk. The lower patio was brick
with nice a stone pillar holding up the deck but its lines
did not reflect the colonial lines of the deck and house
architecture. The rear walkways from the driveway to the
rear main floor entry were concrete, narrow, and lacked
any thought as to use or design. Lastly, the swimming pool
was sighted properly but was surrounded by a post and rail
fence that made it look like a horse corral. Better yet,
the walk to the pool was several aggregate concrete rounds.
The Brooks’ knew that all these amenities could be
pulled together in a better manner. Other wishes included
a spa and pool house with storage and an outdoor kitchen
that might reflect the colonial architecture. They also
wanted a better entrance to the back door with some utility
area for firewood and garden hose. A poorly sited propane
shutoff had become an eyesore of some concern. Lastly, there
was a row of White pine that initially provided some privacy
for the pool but where now obviously cutting the rear yard
Having installed projects in the area, we were well aware
that the installation would be complicated by lots of shale
and plenty of hungry deer. A pool structure would have to
be designed, installed, coordinated with the architect and
builder and tied back into the existing pool apron. The
walkways between all areas would need to be installed as
to look as if the had been planned from the start. The pool
would need a fence. Plants needed to be moved. So, with
plans in hand, work commenced.
Whenever we do projects of the scope, all utilities are
located. However, utility locaters do not locate pipes and
wires that are not part of the service to the house. So,
of course, while relocating the large pines with a truck-mounted
spade, the gas line to the pool is hit and would eventually
need to be completely re-installed.
Materials for the walkways and pool structure were determined
by the brick and stone used by the builder in the initial
construction. Bluestone was added for some relief to the
brick. Plants were chosen for their resistance to deer first
but obviously all the other elements of good plant selection
apply…. seasonality, color, texture, fragrance, etc.
Blooming times around a pool usually mean summer, but this
pool area is on view from the deck and interior and has
to look good year round.
The pool house is the key to the design. Its location and
main material became an extension of the existing wing wall
that divided the upper and lower rear lawn areas. Architecturally,
it mirrors the house with details, materials, and color.
A new brick walkway replaces the old concrete walk from
driveway to rear door and adds a utility area near the doorway.
The gas meter is hidden with a transplanted Manhattan euonymus
that the deer keep neatly "pruned" each winter.
The walkway was then extended out into the rear yard to
a proposed colonial 4 posted well (yet to be installed)
with inlay detail, where it turns and heads down the existing
slope using 6"x16"x48" bluestone slab steps
to the rear wooden step landing.
bluestone inlay detail for the colonial well is repeated
at the entrance to the pool. The brick patio area under
the deck was extended out to allow a 72" walkway to
the pool. The wide walk allows a double gate at the pool
to be left open during a gathering making the pool area
more inviting and better connected to the patio.
fencing is changed further as it now encloses the rear sand
mound as a level playing surface for the kids utilizing
the existing rear horse fence and returns to the house at
the upper lawn level. The concrete apron was cut at two
locations and removed for the pool house construction; the
new concrete was poured up to and around the remaining apron
allowing for a more usable space.Drainage for the apron
was accomplished by the use of a gravel edge to the apron
with piping beneath that exits beyond the filter equipment.
The filter equipment is hidden with appropriate and repeated
plantings which also become a focal point at the end of
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