Rock Star: A Stunning New York Pool

A cramped patio is transformed with terracing, an outdoor kitchen and lots of style.
This mahogany pergola offers both shelter and style.

Plush Pergola

This poolscape in Wannabuc, NY, balances the warmth of a fireplace with cool lighting.

Photo by: Image courtesy of TRG Designs

Image courtesy of TRG Designs

This poolscape in Wannabuc, NY, balances the warmth of a fireplace with cool lighting.

This backyard in Waccabuc, New York got off to a rocky start, carved into a steep, woodland slope where forbidding outcroppings jutted from shallow soil, creating runoff problems and cramping the patio. The homeowners wanted more elbow room for their active lifestyle of exercise and entertaining.

“They didn’t have one, single look in mind, but they had a ‘wish list,’ and their tastes are pretty extravagant,” says Tom Dieck, landscape designer for TRD Designs, Ltd., in Katonah, New York. “The intent was to create an outdoor area that appears as an extension of the inside living space, done in a mix of modern and traditional. Visitors can step easily into an open-air dining area with a centrally located outdoor kitchen that gets a lot of use.”  

First to go were the bruising rocks – 1,200 tons, to be exact. 

“We ended up removing a massive amount of rock, which then was used for their neighbor’s pool, so it was a green initiative in that we recycled the rock and didn’t even have to haul it far,” Dieck says. “Plus, we had so much stone left over that, as an afterthought, we added the pergola.”

Then, smoother, more decorative stones such as Chinese granite and bluestone were brought in to create the look of an otherworldly glen that is friendly to bare feet.

The terracing also optimizes previously unusable space, with the upper shelf featuring a 20’ by 50’ swimming pool highlighted by four sheer-descent waterfalls that cascade from the rear retaining wall. After visitors dip in the pool, they have only a short walk to a relaxing soak in the custom therapeutic spa. 

Both water features are festively illuminated with a color-changeable LED lighting system that can be customized for any occasion—twilight is especially atmospheric. On chillier evenings, family and friends gather under the mahogany-covered pergola to warm by the fireplace, the focal point of this al fresco lounge.

All of the plants from the pre-existing design were saved and re-used on the property, with a few evergreens added to shield the pool equipment from view of the interior living room. Deer-resistant fencing protects the numerous raised planter beds. “We wanted some continuous color throughout the year,” Dieck says. “Summer is especially nice with Montauk daisy, hibiscus and rose of Sharon. Then in fall, there are ornamental grasses, and for winter, we used staple plants such as gold junipers and cypresses over the top of the pool.

The runoff problems that previously had plagued the site were solved by running new drainage into an environmentally responsible drywell. 

“As with all of our projects, we tried to transform this yard into a sanctuary worthy of a stay-cation,” Dieck says. 

“Why leave home if your backyard is this beautiful and comfortable?”

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