Photography: Bob Narod
Landscaping + Outdoor Living: Case Study A couple who had purchased a custom home in Great Falls was faced with a backyard that was virtually a blank slate—just an expanse of grass and a few random trees. They asked Howard Cohen of Surrounds, Inc., to implement a wish list that included a pool and spa, a water feature, a built-in grilling area and lush plantings, all while imparting interest to the landscape.
Cohen and his team began by changing the configuration of the existing deck to better blend with the landscape, which now offers a beautiful vista that’s visible from the house. Because of the property’s slight slope, the pool was positioned down a step from deck level and over to the side. “The pool is cut into the hillside a bit,” Cohen says. “The grade changes made it work together.” A waterfall spills into the pool over rocks built into concrete to prevent leakage.
At the far end of the pool, a covered structure of pressure-treated cedar provides an attractive focal point; it’s open on three sides and houses a comfortable poolside sitting area beneath a cathedral ceiling of cedar. The fourth side is a stone wall that conceals a storage area for pool equipment.
Feathery grasses, liriope, nandina and hypericum separate the pool area from the patio, which boasts large-scale hand-sawn Tennessee flagstones that have been installed on gravel rather than mortar for a cleaner look. Grass steps with cobble risers lead from the patio into the grass; they’re flanked by an herb garden of purple sage and rosemary. The built-in grill area and fire pit provide places to congregate.
HOWARD COHEN'S TRADE SECRETS: