Desert pool is a modern oasis

Norm Plate
Brittlebush, bursage, fairy duster, and mesquite trees form a casual backdrop to a contemporary pool.
Creative use of turf enhances the poolside experience

Lawn has its place ― even in the desert. One of its best applications is as softscaping around a pool, as illustrated here in Anne Mariucci's Phoenix garden. "Extensive hardscape around a pool is pretty awful in the desert," says Christy Ten Eyck, the landscape architect who designed the garden. "The glare is tremendous, and walking on it when it's hot isn't much fun either." A plush carpet of hybrid Bermuda like this one, on the other hand, is soft on the eyes as well as the toes.

Using desert plants in the rest of the landscape helps compensate for the lawn's high water usage. In addition, Ten Eyck says, the contrast of rugged and craggy against smooth and lush is delicious in itself.

The formality of the pool also enhances the contrast. Though Mariucci's pool has the graduated depth of a typical swimming pool (3 feet, 5 feet, 3 feet), its simple rectangular shape, slate blue-tiled interior, and slight elevation make it look more like a reflecting pool. In addition, the pool coping and caps are stone, and so is the pool's entry, an elegant but playful grid of multisize stones set on concrete.

Design: Christy Ten Eyck, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Phoenix (602/468-0505)

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