If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Tommy and Martha Antoon are about to receive the ultimate compliment. We suggest you follow their lead in your yard. Though the look is high-end, the techniques are adaptable when thoughtfully executed. Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects designed this resort-like haven for the Alexandria, Louisiana, family, and the firm certainly didn't hold back on design details that make a difference. Here are several that anyone can do.
A change in levels can add interest to a deck or patio and provide seclusion for relaxing or dining. A bench along the edge offers seating and doubles as a railing while maintaining the view. When the distance to the ground measures no more than 4 feet, a bench such as this may suffice for the railing.
You can mask the chatter of neighbors, drown out road noise, and even re-create a sound that was once there. In this case, water falling over the spillway at the end of the pool mimics the sound of Bayou Rapides that once ran fast along the back of their property until a dam constructed downstream slowed it down. The trickle of running water can also make a space seem cooler than it really is, and a simple fountain may be all you need to get the same effect.
Sounds obvious, but this oh-so-easy trick is often overlooked. For extra drama, add spiky or vertical plants, such as ornamental grasses or caladiums, to your pots. Group several containers together in prominent locations, and stagger heights, if possible, as done here on the steps.
Shrubs don't always have to be planted right next to the house. Brought out 5, 10, or even 12 feet from the home, a billowing mass of azaleas softens lines and frames views to and from the pool. Low-growing mondo grass and ferns planted next to the foundation look airy and have a less congested feel than a too-common skirt of shrubs.
If a pool is not yet in your budget, try out its shape with grass. (This is also a good idea for patios.) An artistically designed lawn lets you test-drive a space before making a pricey commitment. Who knows? You just might change your mind.