The first example was a contemporary house that used contemporary landscaping. There aren’t as many modern houses on the market as other styles of homes. This example falls squarely into the more traditional residence type. It isn’t a true colonial but it is definitely in the colonial revival camp. When I met with the owners they were interested in adding a pool in their backyard. They wanted to do something that felt newer than the current look of the house.
The backyard had challenges for a pool. First, it was on the side of a mountain. Second, the backyard wasn’t very big. Zoning requirements for the offsets of a pool from the property line and primary structure meant we couldn’t vary the location of the pool very much. Before I met with the owners, they had spoken with contractors about the pool. The contractors had suggested making the entire backyard flat and then building a 4 to 5ft retaining wall along the back of the property. Trucking dirt offsite is expensive. Retaining walls that are more than 4ft tall require more engineering and are more expensive than shorter versions. When I started the design process with them, the challenge was to find a more elegant solution that could eliminate these additional costs.
What came from our meetings was to use the slope as a focal point and allow one side of the pool to be almost exposed with the other sides in-ground. We completely eliminated the need for any retaining wall taller than 3ft with this approach and saved thousands of dollars of trucking fees because we left most of the dirt where it was. With the dirt we did remove, we created a bioswale at the side of the house to address stormwater issues.
We kept the cost of the retaining walls down even more by using concrete block for the construction. To dress the walls up, we covered the block with wood giving the backyard a spa-feel or something from Santa Monica, California.
The initial design and construction was in 2017. This year in 2018, we continued the home’s transformation by adding a new cladding and a green roof to a portion of the roof.