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A variety of elements create a sophisticated urban backyard

Grappling with grading

Grading was also a challenge; features had to be oriented to meet existing heights at the base of each of the trees and along the property lines. The pool and hot tub was situated to allow for the pool coping to be one step above the grade of the patio, while the majority of the pool nestled into the site’s existing grade. Galvanized metal edging, which was placed up-ground of the pool’s oversized coping, was chosen to retain the rear property line. This created a walkway and planting feature, with plants cascading along the edge of the metal, softening and spilling onto the coping.

The new, dark grey pool and hot tub were constructed in co-ordination with Betz Pools Ltd., and nestled into the surrounding lush landscape.

In addition, the pool’s length was visually elongated by the linear pieces of stone set perpendicular to the coping, creating drama by interjecting strong lines into the lush, layered foliage. Due to the stepped nature of the space, water and drainage of the main patio area was dealt with through a series of area drains, allowing water to be directed to the lowest areas of the site.

The pool and hot tub were constructed in co-ordination with Betz Pools Ltd., of Stouffville, Ont. The concrete pool, finished with dark grey marbelite, creates a striking green-blue colour that is aesthetically appealing and enjoyed by the client both day and night. A double skimmer was incorporated to account for leaf collection from the large number of canopy trees nearby. Additionally, coping was made wide, to allow for plant maintenance and ensure people could easily walk around the pool.
The hot tub has a dark grey slate tiled spillway that connects it to the pool area. Inboard stairs allow for access to the pool area from the planted stepping stone surround of the pool. Stepping stones surround the pool, creating a walkway to the equipment area and a lounge space that houses an oversized chaise.

A versatile screen

Horizontal cedar screening was also added to serve three functions: providing a backdrop for the pool, concealing the pool equipment and showcasing the planting along the rear property line. To add interest, square cedar horizontals were chosen, as opposed to the traditional rectangular pieces. Pool equipment is housed to the rear of the screening; an access door, created in the same horizontal screening and laying flush so it is only seen when opened, provides entry to the pump area.

Horizontal cedar screening serves as a backdrop for the pool, while concealing pool equipment and showcasing plantings along the rear property line.

The water feature chosen to centre on the back entrance of the house is a focal point of the landscape, which can be enjoyed from the kitchen and dining areas of the home. A glimpse can also be seen when walking down the central hallway of the residence, pulling the viewer towards the backyard.

Planting beds were defined with Indiana limestone on edge to match the pool coping, retain the gardens and allow walkways and patio spaces to be created. The main patio area includes a lounge space and dining area, as well as an outdoor cooking station complete with a custom-formed and polished concrete countertop and sunken wine cooler/ice chest. This feature has become a favourite for the clients, being used daily as weather allows.

An award-winning effort

The project turned out to be a wonderful collaboration between the clients and Oriole, garnering praise from friends, family and industry peers. Most notably, in 2010, the project was honoured with a Landscape Ontario (LO) an Award of Excellence for residential construction, along with the LO’s Casey Van Maris Award, which is presented for the most innovative and unique design and construction project as judged among all entries. The company is proud to have been a part of this project and looks forward to seeing it mature in the coming years.


Goettler_HeadshotSabrina Goettler is the senior designer and project manager for Oriole Landscaping Ltd., in Toronto. A graduate in horticulture and landscape design from University of Guelph and Ryerson University and avid supporter of the green industry, Sabrina sits on the Toronto Chapter board of directors for Landscape Ontario, offering her time organizing events for both members and the general public.

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