Keep it simple, and choose things that will work for you--not the other way around. Those are the keys to this low-maintenance gathering space.
Call it practiced restraint or willpower, if you wish. This family’s backyard has just what they want: A roomy place to entertain, a pool for swimming laps, and a maintenance list that is short enough to fit on a sticky note.
“The success of this garden is more about what we didn’t do than what we did,” says landscape architect Jeffrey Carbo. What
you won’t find are sweeping beds of azaleas or rows of fussy flowers (though there’s nothing wrong with those). But here,
it just wasn’t in the cards.
Instead, Jeff and his team opted to play up the Alexandria, Louisiana, property’s number one asset: wide-open space with views that seem to go on forever. To do so, they drew from the land’s agrarian past, bringing it to the present.
Surrounded by fields of cotton and corn, Richard and Pauline Arsenault’s land has only one natural boundary--the bayou that runs along its back border. The expected Southern garden would have taken years to install and mature, so that was out. “We flipped the scenario to our advantage and embraced the land,” says Jeff. This led to a minimized palette. “What we did, we chose to do nicely,” he adds.
From the parking area, you enter the backyard through a grove of ‘Shademaster’ honey locusts (Gleditsia triacanthos inermis ‘Shademaster’). Planted in orchard fashion, they frame the pastoral setting and tree-lined bayou beyond.
Elevated 2 feet above grade, the pool offers a commanding view of the landscape. “We made the steps long and linear, like farm rows,” says Jeff. Even the copper fountain spouts are reminiscent of those that might have once irrigated crops.
“The test of good design is timelessness,” says Jeff. “Use authentic materials, and your design will never appear dated.” Here, bricks salvaged from local buildings, reclaimed timbers, and a hand-hewed beam take on new life as a pool deck, pavilion rafters, and the fireplace mantel.
Jeff’s plan for the pool pavilion echoes the style of the home, which was designed by Al Jones. Measuring 20 feet square,
the pavilion provides shade during the summer and a warming fireplace when the air turns cool. Kitchen conveniences run along
a sidewall. Set back beneath a lean-to roof are a bath and areas for prep and storage.
“We love what’s here,” says Pauline. “It gets prettier each year.” When friends and family come over, they honestly enjoy themselves, because this space brings people together.
Invite friends over for an impromptu gathering, as the Arsenaults often do. Here are 10 ideas to get your outdoor living space