Lewis Aquatech pool scape.
McHale Landscape Design, Inc., combined stone and turf around this pool area and patio.
John Shorb Landscaping helped clients design and build their sprawling backyard.
Through the Garden designed this multipurpose outdoor living area.
The owners of a home on Fishing Creek decided to situate their pool and patio waterside.
An urban pool scape designed by DC
Great Falls Landscapes created this patio with a fire pit.
Surrounds, Inc., enlivened a large, patio with a series of retaining walls.

Planting a Seed

Design pros reveal eight creative solutions that transform basic backyards into resort-like havens at home

Planting a Seed


Cutting Edge

To extend the contemporary style of their house outdoors, homeowners hired Don Gwiz of Lewis Aquatech in Chantilly, Virginia. The landscape company gave their pool scape new life with an expanded travertine deck and coping made from Chinese granite in a strong color and subtle texture. A streamlined pavilion topped with handcrafted arches provides relief from the sun, while hidden rain curtains to either side create the sound of trickling water. A fire pit made from a decorative granite bowl adds warmth.

An Intimate Expanse
Critical Area Law presented a challenge in a waterfront project in Annapolis. Setback laws made construction problematic on the property, which was designed by DC-based Oehm Van Sweden and built by McHale Landscape Design, Inc., of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Because impervious coverage such as hardscape was limited, Steve McHale and his team combined stone and turf around the pool area and patio. The 55-foot lap pool is nestled into a retaining wall, creating an intimate yet expansive landscape in a difficult location. 


A Formal Vision

Elaborate balustrades, columns and ornate statuary inspired Potomac homeowners, who tapped John Shorb of John Shorb Landscaping in Kensington, Maryland, to help them design and build their sprawling backyard. Shorb’s challenge was to complement the formal, Grecian-style exedras and surrounding sculptures with plantings chosen to enhance the distinctive, formalized look the owners wanted. He and his team planted carefully clipped boxwoods, spiral-shaped evergreen shrubs and a formal rose garden, interspersed with neat beds of hydrangea and impatiens.


A Two-Tiered Solution

Michael Yeomans of Through the Garden in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, was tasked with designing a multipurpose outdoor living area. The elaborate space would incorporate a kitchen/barbeque, bar, patio area and two-tiered pool with a floating pathway around the barbeque island. Clients requested that he conceal the pool equipment, so Yeomans designed a “ruin” wall feature. The wall screens the equipment while creating an intimate, partially enclosed area that also includes a luxurious outdoor shower. 


Decorative Elements

For Howard Cohen of Sterling, Virginia-based Surrounds, Inc., the task of enlivening a large, bland patio provided a challenge. He and his team bordered the space with a series of retaining walls that would house garden beds, and erected an arbor overhead to inject a sense of scale into the expanse. They finished by installing a simple decorative water feature for visual interest and soothing sound: three large vases that recycle water from an underground reservoir and are illuminated at night.


Evening Ambience

The owners of a home on Fishing Creek decided to situate their pool and patio waterside. They tapped Annapolis-based Walnut Hill Landscaping for the job, and they in turn enlisted Bill Strickland of Terra Nova Design in Crofton, Maryland, to create the lighting plan. Strickland emphasized both safety and aesthetics, conveying low-level ambience with soft, indirect lighting of cast aluminum. Uplighting highlights the treetops, outdoor fireplace and retaining wall. Downlights, intentionally directed below eye-level, illuminate walkways in the dark. 


Space Saver

A narrow, urban setting provided the backdrop for a pool scape designed by DC’s Fritz & Gignoux Landscape Architects and installed by Joel Hafner with Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., of Poolesville, Maryland. Though the yard is only 24 feet wide, it accommodates a patio, lap pool and spa with a water feature. Arborvitae and columnar hornbeams conceal a brick wall on one side and the house on the other. At the far end of the pool, a picturesque stone wall blocks the street beyond. 


Perfect Symmetry

On a steeply sloped property, Jeff Gunther of Great Falls Landscapes in Sterling, Virginia, contended with a hodgepodge of elements from previous landscaping efforts to create a hospitable backyard for his clients. He constructed a 70-foot long retaining wall about four feet high to contain a harmoniously symmetrical patio with a water feature as its focal point and panoramic views of the streambed below. The fire pit, a perfect spot for gathering, doubles as a table when not in use.  

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and landscape design ideas.  Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas, and outdoor spaces to life.