An alpine plunge in the backyard

A seemingly natural mountain pool replaced an old oval pool in this backyard
Peter O. Whiteley

BEFORE: The cookie-cutter oval pool and its surrounding flat concrete slab offered little visual attraction. Overgrown landscaping blocked views.

AFTER: A landscape of manmade boulders colored and textured to mimic granite and interspersed with plants forms a ruggedly romantic setting.

To give the pool a naturalistic look, the designer covered the shell with a new coat of gray plaster--which darkens the water--and added broad, low artificial boulders to redefine the perimeter. Extending below the waterline, the boulders resemble an outcropping of granite, as if this pool had somehow been formed by glacial action. A waterfall at one end contributes to the mountain landscape effect.

By spacing the boulders irregularly and somewhat apart, the designer created a variety of pockets for plants and grasses, which helps to combine pool and garden in a unified design. The surrounding trees were heavily pruned to open the yard to sun and views.

DESIGN: Gary Sewell Jr., GMS Development Co., Pasadena (626/449-7898)