A Natural Poolscape

Surrounds transforms a sloping lot into a green oasis with a lagoon-style pool and a party-ready cabana




Surrounds brought in tons of boulders to fashion
a waterfall that spills into the pool.

Landscape architect Howard Cohen likes to work with his clients and translate their dreams into the perfect landscape. When this Oakton, Virginia, client called him after an eight-year hiatus, she said she was finally ready to go ahead with the swimming pool they’d briefly discussed years before.

The two-acre lot slopes down steeply from the rear of the house, so Cohen built a five-foot tall wall 100 feet long to create a level area for the swimming pool and surrounding patio. He brought in—literally—tons of big boulders to fashion a waterfall that spills into the pool from the slope above it. “We wanted to give it a very lush feel,” he said, “and make it look like a natural rock outcropping” rather than a retaining wall.


An open-air cabana offers shade and contains a sink and
refrigerator to make entertaining a breeze.

Cohen installed an open-air cabana that mimics the design of the existing upper deck, and although it is constructed of pressure-treated wood, it is wrapped in ironwood to match the deck. The spacious cabana includes a storage area for pool equipment, as well as a sink and refrigerator to make outdoor entertaining a breeze.

All of the four-season plantings are deer-resistant. They include bayberries, skip laurel, leatherleaf mahonia and Sungold hypericum. For groundcover, Cohen used an unusual ornamental raspberry that looks like ivy and also is evergreen. Dwarf crape myrtles were added to a planting bed at one poolside edge to match the existing crape myrtles on the surrounding hillside.


Stone stairs lead up the slope to the house.

A wooden gate leads from the driveway to a raised patio
with a hot tub.