A dining area overlooks the pool house, which was designed to integrate with the architecture of the home.
The pool nestles in a lush landscape of trees and shrubs.
The pool and adjacent sitting area are surrounded with oak leaf and billowing blue hydrangea.
Lounge chairs flank the pool, where a bed of autumn ferns softens the landscape.
A retaining wall conceals the pool from the main house.
The pool house offers changing rooms and a shady dining area.

Wooded Refuge

Richard Arentz transforms a difficult lot into a lush, secluded poolscape

Wooded Refuge Dissatisfied with their sloping, heavily wooded lot in Bethesda, a couple turned to landscape architect Richard Arentz to tame the wild yard into an inviting retreat with a pool and pool house. 

“My clients wanted a place to entertain their family and friends,” Arentz says. While they wished to enjoy the pool in the warmer months, they didn’t want to see it from the house in its covered state in the winter. 

During the project, Arentz worked to save as many trees as possible, including a beautiful beech and another specimen that holds the kids’ tree house. He sited the pool to give it ample sunlight while integrating it into its wooded surroundings, and built a retaining wall to conceal it from the house. When you’re poolside “you could really be completely in the woods,” he says.

To address the slope, Arentz created flagstone terraces linked by steps and fieldstone walls that border areas for entertaining. Steps down from the kitchen lead to an intimate spa. A barbecue, table and chairs make this a perfect spot to dine al fresco.  

Adjacent to the pool sits a pool house designed by architect Stephen Muse. Latticework adorns the front while the structure itself echoes the architecture of the house.

Roses, hydrangea, crape myrtle and old English boxwood accent the exterior of the pool house. “The garden relies on texture and quiet color rather than an overabundance of colors,” Arentz says. Sophisticated metal, teak and wicker furnishings add an elegant touch. 

Karen Watkins is a Bethesda, Maryland, freelance writer. Photographer Roger Foley is based in Arlington, Virginia

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: RICHARD ARENTZ, ASLA, Arentz Landscape Architects LLC, Marshall, Virginia, and Washington, DC. ARCHITECTURE: STEPHEN MUSE, Muse Architects, FAIA, Bethesda, Maryland

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