UHS: Outdoors

Project by Liquid Assets

Alise O'Brien

KEEP IT CONSISTENT. Many times, we're asked to do outdoor areas where we get involved with everything—fireplace, hot tub, outdoor kitchen… It's nice to have one designer or company design the whole thing. That way, you can use all the same stone for the entire area.

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. The GloBrite LED pool lights shine really brightly; it's more like a flashlight than a typical pool light. They can all be the same color, change colors, or even rotate colors—you could get a little light show in your pool.

SALT-FRIENDLY. To me, it's always better to use something natural, like salt, to kill bacteria. The metal on volleyball standards and basketball hoops used to corrode from the pool's salt, but new this year are salt-friendly options.

-John Jacobson, Liquid Assets

Other ways to enhance your outdoor space:

GREEN TRENDS. Some current outdoor trends are: sustainable landscaping; planting for pollinators such as butterflies and bees; permeable pavers and rain gardens to help control water runoff; high-efficiency irrigation systems; organic turf care programs; and self-sustaining agriculture such as vegetable and herb gardens.

WATER AND LIGHT. Outdoor lighting can turn your home and garden into an entirely new setting at night, and water features add a great natural touch.

SIZZLING SUMMER. Especially in the heat of the summer, people tend to forget that their well-established plants—large trees and shrubs—also can benefit from being watered a couple times a week. The stress of the summer heat can lead to issues in the future.

-Rebecca Eisele, Quiet Village Landscaping

TIE IN THE LANDSCAPING. If you’ve got a landscaper that you've traditionally used, bring him on board after the first few pool design concepts are out, and start opening that dialogue before the pool design is set in stone.

SURFACE PROTECTION. An important part of salt-water pools, from the maintenance standpoint, is to rinse the salt off the patio after you’ve swum. Don't let that pool water evaporate on your furniture or water feature. Rinsing it off once a week would help with the longevity of everything in your backyard.

SERIOUS SAFETY. We use a product by Guardian Pool Fencing, and it locks into the deck around the swimming pool. One of its products is designed specifically for toddlers; it's only about 3 feet tall. It's for very small children who would by chance walk out that back door.

-Ray Holt, Baker Pool and Spa

ARTFULLY INCLINED. I feel that art is very important when considering the design of your outdoor space. Art can be a lot of things, such as a unique pot or a sculptured boulder. One thing I consider art is plants that are unique and trimmed in different ways. For example, trees trimmed in the Hindu Pan style, such as a bonsai tree or some of the Chamaecyparis and Juniper trees we have here at the nursery

TAKE IT UP A NOTCH. An easy way for someone to take their outdoor space to the next level would be adding a small collection of specimen-type plants, incorporated with a feel of water and fire by using a small fit pit and small fountain with a splash of annual color.

MAINTAIN, MAINTAIN, MAINTAIN. Remember that some water features need to be winterized. Also, additional plant beds require the maintenance of fertilization, weeding, and trimming to ensure the viability and the desired effect of newly installed plant material.

-Jim Graeler, Chesterfield Valley Nursery

BRING IT ALL TOGETHER. A beautiful deck and landscaping around your pool can make such a difference and create an entirely new environment. Your swimming pool is your main feature, but your backyard can include so much more.

ALL ABOUT YOU. Keep in mind how and who plans to use your pool most often. We have built many 'sport dig' pools where each end of the pool is shallow so that you can hang out, play volley ball or basketball, and the like.

WE'VE GOT CHEMISTRY. Minor issues, such as cloudy to green water, can occur with unbalanced water—all the way up to major issues, such as ruining your pool equipment. We suggest either hiring a pool professional to maintain your pool or we offer free 'pool school.'

-Jamie O'Brien, O'Brien Swimming Pool Service

More Design articles.