Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Only 145 days until summer...but who's counting?

As I sit through what has been declared as an "historic storm" here on the Northeast, I find myself dreaming of pools! While I do love a good snowstorm and the idea of snuggling up by the fire with my family, I can't help but fantasize about some really fun and exciting pool designs.

If you are dreaming of installing a pool in your yard this year, it's best to get started on your plan, at least visualizing it, sooner than later! 145 days may seem like a long way until summer, but it will be here before we know it!


Here are a few tips I like to give my clients before we embark on a pool design project:

* Pools do not necessarily bring greater value to a property, but if they are esthetically pleasing and akin to their surroundings, they will certainly bring greater value to the homeowner and in turn, perhaps the property.

* Make sure you are well informed. Pools generally cost more than you think! Take into consideration hardscape, drainage, slopes, plantings, lighting, fencing, and waterfalls. You may also want to think about special add-ons like Pebbletec finishes, salt water systems or floor vacuums. While not all of this has to happen at once, it's smart to take it into consideration. Sometimes pools are like homes, it's better to see how a space lives and breaths for a while. I do recommend getting in as much decking material (which can also be grass) as you can in the beginning, as kids seem to be able to track in mud from a mile away!
* A planting tip we learned was to keep large leaf plantings away from the splash line. When the large leaves get wet they can get burned by the sun. Low grasses are a good choice.

* If you aren't going to hire a professional landscaper, I would at least suggest getting a consultation. While many plants, trees and shrubs look good right now, your want your pool to last a lifetime. And it is costly, in more ways than one, to move that Norwegian Spruce later on down the road!
Novi Landscape Architects
* Just like you would with an interior design, you should space plan for your pool design as well. Track the sun, take into consideration grade. It will shock you to see how sloped your flat backyard really is! How far should the pool be from the house? Attached spa or not? (If you live in the Northeast, I'd recommend detached. We cold weather people seem to love to hop in the spa when the snow if flying, not when the mosquitoes are out!) Kids or no kids? Diving rock? Where do you like to sunbath? How much seating do you need? How about other activities? Fire-pits are very popular and help extend the season. Pergolas and outdoor seating for dining are among other popular features.

Take a look at a few of the pools I designed last year! In this award winning pool design our goal was to make the pool look as if it belonged there all along. Using the existing surrounding landscape as our inspiration and guide, we set off to use as many earth elements as we could.  

In my opinion, what makes designing outdoor spaces truly special is that it's live! As many of you have heard me say, "What does the house want? What is it saying to us?". It is even more important to listen outside. You must be in harmony with what your site has been and what it wants to be. Sourcing locally and using native plantings just makes good and common sense. Understanding your soil and the impact that the construction will have on your site is important too. What will the impact on the wildlife be?

True story...after installing my own pool, we had to start a daily frog patrol. In the end, we built a relocation pond on the other side of the property for repeat offenders. Frogs were happy, we were happy!

Two of my favorite days during a pool project are the day we choose our boulders and the day we place them. I am a firm believer that everything has an energy, a life. Stone also has a history, a story to share. Quite often I will see a rock from afar. Next I try to examine it from all of the angles I can see (it's actually exciting that you can't see all of the sides, you just never know!). I will then just sit with it, hands outstretched on it and listen. Sometimes for quite a while! (This is the point where the nice young forklift operator starts to give me strange looks and wonders if I'm ok!). That is exactly how I ended up with the wonderful diving rock with blast holes in this photo. It fits perfectly into the space and has a nod of approval. We even noticed in the photo that there's a little ghost fish, popping up to take a look! How fitting!

As always in any of my designs, I do my best to incorporate the earths elements and to also use green, recycled materials.


Maybe it's time you sit in your backyard and listen with all of your senses (ok, maybe wait until the snow melts!). It will tell you what to do!

Don't forget to also check out my Pinterest board Pool & Patio Design for more photos and inspiration!