Bethesda Pool Makeover

Formality Matters

Bethesda Pool Makeover

A formal, imposing house calls for a formal-style landscape, and that’s one reason why the old swimming pool on this Bethesda property had to go. When designer Julie Patronik arrived at the site, she encountered an old, irregular-shaped pool surrounded by a chain link fence.

It definitely needed an update. The homeowners had completed major renovations to the house and wanted a formal landscaping plan with a swimming pool large enough to use for exercise. “One of the oddest things about the project,” says Patronik, “is that the lot is very unusual and the pool is in the front yard.”

Since the house sits back toward the rear property line, a back yard pool would be impractical. Luckily for the homeowners, the old, existing front yard pool made it possible to “grandfather” in the permit for the pool renovation, since it was in the same location.

McHale ripped out the old pool, enlarged it, changed the shape to a rectangle, and added a spa at one end. They installed a new flagstone pool deck and enclosed the entire area with brick pillars and wrought-iron fencing. Two large iron gates now frame the front door of the house, and when they’re open, they invite visitors to walk down a narrow flagstone path through the front lawn to the pool. Tall Leyland cypresses screen out neighboring properties and simple, clean lines and lots of boxwood enhance the stately look.

Washington, DC-based writer Jane Berger is publisher of

Design: Julie Patronik, McHale Landscape Design, Inc., Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Photography: Erin Brooke Bogan