A very private River Oaks couple who loved the simple life purchased a lot and decided to construct a house that reflected their ideals. They wanted the home to be surrounded by as much greenery as possible, with the lawn itself forming a sort of grass courtyard on both sides of the house. They also wanted landscaping around all lawn edges, an aesthetic and concealed drainage system, and a very unique, custom swimming pool designed to preserve as much greenery as possible.
The front yard of this home led out to a major street and was characterized by rich San Augustine grass and massive oaks in the front near the sidewalk. The problem was there was no way of draining water from this lot, and the architect had hit a roadblock when it came time to develop a drainage system for the house itself. Standard gutters could not be inDrainage Systemsstalled on the home because it had been constructed with exposed rafters that extended past the sides of the roof. The architect asked us to develop an alternative way of moving water off the property while still maintaining the natural aesthetic of the house and surrounding landscape.
We determined that the best way to accomplish this would be to surround the entire front yard with a French drain made entirely of gravel. We laid down the gravel in the shape of a picture frame, creating the aesthetic of a grass courtyard made entirely of natural elements. Functionally, it offered an even greater, hidden value as well. Gravel is a natural drain that quickly pulls water away from vegetation and man-made structures with equal efficiency.
On the other side of the home, we were asked to do something even more unique—build a swimming pool surrounded by only a grass courtyard. The owners did not want any more paving than was absolutely necessary, because they wanted plenty of natural play space for their children and pets. So, rather than use paving, we used sod and grass instead to soften the entire area. The only concrete used was what we needed to build a low-profile pool coping. We also designed the skimmer throats with no lids in order to make the pool look flush with the grass. We placed simple water jets on one side of the pool so water would arch over its surface yet remain contained within its boundaries.
A variety of plant species were used to add a sense of color variation and containment to our grass courtyard design. In the very front of the yard, we used some very innovative tree preservation strategies to install up lights under the oaks and landscape lights for the front yard. We also created a green border around the French drain using boxwoods interspersed with Crepe Myrtles that added height and floral coloration. In the back, we decorated the far wall with Lantana and Caladiums and planted larger Japanese blueberries illuminated with up lights. Along the wooden fence between the far wall and the house, we trained a Star Jasmine to begin growing across the surface of the wood.
This has been to date one of the most popular custom pool designs Exterior Worlds has ever done in Houston. We believe it is because it combines two very distinctive disciplines—pool construction and landscaping—into a new aesthetic that harmoniously blends water and earth.