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Brooks Residence



Design Objectives
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 in half.



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.

The 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.

The 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 the pool.

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