The property features a natural pool, a hot tub, a library, and an apothecary.
Untreated fresh water is pumped between the pool's swimming and filtration zones, which are separated by an underwater wall.
At twilight, a fire pit beckons under a starry sky.
The owners and their guests enjoy games of bocce amid the greenery.
Untreated fresh water is pumped between the pool's swimming and filtration zones, which are separated by an underwater wall.
At twilight, a fire pit beckons under a starry sky.
The owners and their guests enjoy games of bocce amid the greenery.

Private Spot

A natural pool and its lush surroundings celebrate the great outdoors

A couple thinking outside the box approached Miles Barnard about designing a pool and gardens in a six-acre meadow on their verdant, 34-acre property near Chestertown, Maryland. The landscape architect pitched the idea of a natural pool. Unlike conventional pools that rely on chlorine to sterilize the water, natural pools harness the relationship between beneficial bacteria and underwater plants to filter out nutrients and impurities.

Once his clients decided to take the plunge, Barnard set out to design their eco-friendly habitat. He conceived a free-form pool with two zones separated by an underwater wall; a shallow regeneration zone is situated on one side with a deeper swimming area on the other.

The plan also included a library and an apothecary/clinic used by one of the owners, a registered herbalist and nutritionist who grows more than 50 species of native medicinal plants on-site. Clad in reclaimed barn siding, the outbuildings lend a rustic touch—as does the cedar hot tub near the pool’s edge.

Barnard also created a lush landscape teeming with native vegetation and stone outcroppings. He partnered with contractor Ben Herr, who built the pool and hardscape and installed every plant, stone and boulder to mimic Mother Nature. “On a project like this,” notes Barnard, “I draw as much of it as I can, then have to trust someone like Ben to put these natural materials together in a way that’s going to look right.”

The owners are delighted with their pond-like pool and its pristine environment. Herr sums up its appeal best with a question: “Who wouldn’t want to jump into their own fresh mountain lake?”

Landscape Architecture: D. Miles Barnard, ASLA, RLA, South Fork Studio Landscape Architecture, Inc., Chestertown, Maryland. Landscape Contractor: Ben Herr, Anthony’s Flowers and Landscaping, Chestertown, Maryland.