Designing a pool and garden for your home that is simply stunning


Contributing Editor

I have wanted a swimming pool in my back yard since we built our home more than 25 years ago, and as much as I wanted a pool, my husband did not.

He grew up with a pool in Florida in the 1960s and associated a swimming pool with a lot of work. He was right! But the pros outweigh the cons. A pool with the right scale and landscape design can enhance a home, provide a place to exercise and provide the perfect backdrop for entertaining Ponte Vedra-style!

So where do you begin? You might start with looking through design magazines and putting a portfolio together of pages of designs that you like. That is what I have done. In fact, I have an article that I have kept since it was published in Traditional Home magazine in 2006. The pool and garden featured were designed for a home in Birmingham, Alabama and the landscape architect – Southern Living Garden Design Editor Norman Kent Johnson – created a stunning space that I simply love!

I have met with pool designers and consulted with landscape designers, but my home and property is unusual. Situated on a corner lot, my home sits diagonally on the property. I have hesitated to go forward with this project until now. I decided to call the architect whose designs I have admired for years and ask for his guidance. Here are a few of the tips he shared for planning the perfect back yard oasis:

Clear your mind of preconceptions. “Spend five to 10 hours of not looking at magazines,” Johnson suggested. (I shared with him that I had invested years in doing the exact opposite – perhaps explaining why I have taken so long to start my project!)

Look at your garden as an enhancement to your home and property. “You don’t need a pool nearly as large as you think you do,” he said. “It should be part of the garden – not a Buick parked in the back yard!”

Approach the design as if you were planning a rose garden. Get past the idea of a grandiose swimming pool, Johnson suggested, and plan it as part of the overall garden design.I began to understand what he was saying. The line I recall from the article I saved was “planning for a purpose.”

I accomplished more in this short conversation than in all the articles I have read and saved and all the consultations I have had with numerous pool companies. Johnson and I made plans to meet in early June to begin my pool and landscape design that is long overdue.