It’s been a while since designing a landscape simply meant planting beautiful flowers and rolling lawns. Today, homeowners are looking for much more than a thriving garden: They want stunning poolscapes, elaborate stonework and charming water features—and these are often just the beginning. Starting on page 164, landscape professionals weigh in on how to incorporate these elements into their clients’ properties—illustrated by their own completed projects.
Set in Stone
For a patio design in Great Falls, Howard Cohen of Surrounds, Inc. (surrounds landscaping.com), chose reddish porphyry stone, installed using mortar with a concrete base. The stones are incredibly durable and stain- and chip-resistant. The downside is that they have to be imported either from Argentina or Italy—which makes them expensive. “Think of cost down the road, not just cost now,” Cohen says. “The longevity of better-quality stone will give you a return on your investment.”
Techo-Bloc (techo-bloc.com) pavers were the key to the look of a landscape design in McLean by Josh Kane of Kane Landscapes (kanelandscapes.com). Made from manufactured stone, the random-pattern pavers were used around the pool in warm Mojave Beige. “We usually recommend pavers in pool areas,” explains Kane. “They’re installed on compacted gravel, not concrete, so they can be lifted in case equipment underground needs to be fixed.”
Brian Hahn of Botanical Decorators (botanicaldecorators.com) relied on stonework to add interest to a nondescript side yard in Alexandria. Borrowing from the architecture of the house, he created rectangular and circular borders out of mini-granite cobbles that convey a connection between the lawn and the house. “Borders create a feeling that the lawn is flat,” Hahn says. “They invite you onto the grass.”
Make a Splash
When Mike Prokopchak of Walnut Hill Landscape Company (walnuthilllandscape.com) saw his client’s property perched along the Chesapeake, he immediately suggested an infinity pool that would emphasize the dramatic bay view. While the owners wanted a pool deep enough for diving, Prokopchak typically recommends a depth of 3.5 to 5.5 feet. “That way the whole pool is useful for pretty much everyone,” he explains. His designs also incorporate a solar shelf or bench.
Before designing a pool in his client’s compact Alexandria lot, J. Mark White of GardenWise (gardenwiseinc.com) considered the function and flow of the yard. “A pool should be properly sized for access and for views from the home,” he says. “A rectangular pool has an automatic focal point at one end.” He also plans for lounge seating, fencing, plantings, privacy and light. “Engage a designer to make sure it all gets done right,” he advises.
Julie Patronik of McHale Landscape Design (mchalelandscape.com) asked her clients how they would use their space before embarking on a pool design for their Bethesda property. “We talked about lifestyle, entertaining and exercise to figure out what would suit them best,” she recalls. The result was a rectangular pool flanked by a water feature and surrounded with travertine pavers that retain less heat than the more typical flagstone. “It’s a place of cool and peace,” Patronik says.
When Jane Luce of Through the Garden (throughthegardeninc.com) was called on to enhance a McLean project with plantings, she worked around a sleek water feature that was already being built. With a three-tiered waterfall spilling from a wall tiled in stones, the feature doubles as a spa designed to complement the modern house, but it requires plenty of upkeep. “Select your water feature with your eyes open,” Luce says, “Don’t only think about what’s going to feel special about it, but also about the time and effort to maintain it.”
By contrast, a rustic water feature by Greg Powell of Inviting Spaces (inviting-spaces.com) appears completely organic. Asked to create a watercourse that would empty into a manmade pond, he built a berm, giving the flat Middleburg property a slope, and concealed the inner workings of the feature behind mature plantings. For a natural look, he haphazardly placed a variety of stones, all native to Western Maryland. “Take advantage of any existing grade if you want a naturalistic effect,” he advises. “If you have flat ground, go with something more formal like a fountain. Don’t fight the way the ground naturally goes unless you have a lot of space.”