Enter a Swimming Pool's Oasis

It's not just a place to splash or tan. It's a lush, little getaway out back.
Steve Bender

Too often, pools and gardens are like distant cousins who have never been introduced. Oftentimes, pools are plopped into the most convenient available space with little thought given to integrating them with their surroundings. But this one in particular is a shining example of how water features and gardens can work well together.

Small Space, Big Impact
Landscape architect Harold Leidner of Dallas and Pool Environments of Plano, Texas, collaborated to make this pool special. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of its design and construction was the constricted confines of the backyard (roughly 50 feet long x 25 feet wide). This size suggested a long, narrow, rectangular lap pool set formally into the middle of the yard. The shape provides plenty of room for swimming, while the location makes it the centerpiece of the design.

Upon entering the garden from the back door and descending the brick steps, you arrive at a sitting area at the head of the pool. You can relax in a small rectangular spa or walk around the left side of the pool to a sitting area directly in back.

Lush and Green
Notice the dark ribbons of dwarf mondo grass that fill the cracks between flagstones. The mondo grass creates a cooler, less reflective surface and reinforces the natural-looking appearance of the space.

That same thought provided the impetus for the pair of 'Little Gem' Southern magnolias trained against a large brick wall. The deep green leaves visually soften the masonry and reduce the heat radiated from the bricks. Evergreen crossvines are draped across the privacy fence surrounding the pool.

Trees Add Screening
Tall houses nearby necessitated the fence, but local ordinances limiting the height of such structures also would have limited the screening. Tall-growing 'Capital' Callery pears and crepe myrtles planted at the base of the fence solve the problem. Azaleas, caladiums, and other plants tucked in at the foot of the trees add color and frame the pool.

The Finishing Touch
A trio of spillways, set into a low retaining wall on the right side of the pool, provides the irresistible, refreshing sound of splashing water. On a warm summer day, you can't wait to hop in and splash around yourself.

Pools and gardens shouldn't be strangers. Think of them as a happy family, and you'll be happier too.


This article is from the July 2005 issue of Southern Living.