A curving pool with a vanishing edge and flagstone coping melds beautifully with its protected natural setting.
Bright red furniture adds a pop of color to the circular stone patio.
Water flows gently from the pool's vanishing edge.
In the front yard, Adirondack chairs occupy a lush cottage garden.
A picturesque waterfall cascades into the pool.

The Great Outdoors: Woodland Style

Botanical Decorators creates an idyllic pool scape in a secluded backyard retreat

Landscape designer Morgan Washburn of Botanical Decorators faced a daunting challenge: His clients wanted a pool for entertaining on their heavily wooded lot in Alexandria.  “It was an extremely difficult site,” Washburn says. “Much of the yard was virgin forest and had to be protected.”

He met the challenge by carving out a 12-foot space behind the house and transforming this limited area into a patio, pool and garden that meld seamlessly into the natural setting. Guests approaching this forested property probably wouldn’t guess what waits behind the classic, country-style home. 

“The fact that there is a dramatic pool is an exciting garden surprise,” Washburn says. The curved pool with flagstone coping and a vanishing edge complements the surrounding trees, conveying an organic sensibility. Water from the round flagstone hot tub splashes down over large boulders, creating a waterfall that filters out suburban noises. The homeowners entertain guests on a circular flagstone patio two steps down from the pool deck. 

The red patio furniture infuses the scene with color. A pair of stone columns lends a formal touch, while lush ground covers, sweetbay magnolia, evergreens, hydrangea, perennials and grasses provide texture. The outdoor living space is complete with a kitchen and flat screen television. Tall containers spilling with annuals add height and color.

Karen Watkins is a freelance writer based in Bethesda, Maryland.

AWARD: GRAND AWARD, Outdoor Living Area (Design/Build). LANDSCAPE DESIGN: MORGAN WASHBURN, Botanical Decorators, Olney, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY: ROGER FOLEY.