Creating a sublime summer retreat in Northern Va.

Real Estate,Patrick Crowley

Childhood summers spent in the family backyard pool inspired a Northern Virginia woman to want that same enjoyment for her family.

"I grew up with a pool in the backyard," said the Centreville woman. "I wanted a pool for our three children. We like to stay at home. Our kids are active and busy; we don't have a lot of time to go away. We wanted to make our home more enjoyable for the summer months."

Easier dreamed that done. There were challenges to overcome, including finding the right house for a pool, building on a wooded lot and complying with local regulations, before they could transform their backyard into a miniresort.

"I couldn't be more happy with it," she said. "We really use it and enjoy it. It's like a vacation home in our backyard."

The couple moved to Virginia four years ago eventually settling into a house with a wooded backyard large enough for a pool. They asked Don Nesmith, of Land & Water Design to draw up designs. The couple's new backyard featured a deck and a mass of scrub pine trees that led out to a community farm pond.

"I knew the pond could be a really nice element," Nesmith said. "I came up with a concept and marked all the trees that had to be removed."

Once the trees were removed, the view of the pond improved, providing a natural water backdrop for the pool area.

A big challenge came not from Mother Nature but from the Fairfax County government. Hard surface runoff water regulations led Nesmith to design an elaborate, $15,000 rain garden that allows rainwater hitting the pool's hard surface to flow to the pond.

"People need to know going in to a project that regulations are time-consuming and expensive," Nesmith said.

It is not uncommon for the permit process to take longer than the actual construction.

Nesmith oversaw the construction, working closely with two companies with which he has had long-term relationships: DR Design Build, the general contractor; and Classic Pools.

For the hard surface surrounding the 900-square foot pool, Nesmith went with Techo-Bloc, a proven Canadian-produced paver he has used for seven years.

"In our mind it's the best paver on the market," Nesmith said. "To best of our knowledge it is the only concrete paver with a color dye system through the entire paver. The pavers are thicker than their competitors and are resistant to salt."

The pool is constructed with Gunite, a mixture of concrete and water applied through a high-pressure hose.

"When the mixture comes through the end of the hose it is almost dry, just wet enough for the crews to form and shape the walls," Nesmith said.

The pool is approximately 850 square feet. From the shallow entrance to the deepest end of the pool is about 44 feet at its widest, narrowing to about 18 feet.

The pool, 8 feet at its deepest part, is finished with Pebble Sheen. The pool-finish product fuses colorful tiny pebbles that that have the look of granite.

"We picked an ocean blue for the color to give the pool a natural water feel," the homeowner said.

The project also included an outdoor dining area. Soft lighting was used in and around the pool and on some on trees. "It is very subtle, very relaxing," the homeowners said. Other amenities include a spa, or hot tub, and a waterfall.

The pool area is landscaped with mainly perennials, including lots of black-eyed Susans, a favorite of the homeowner. Other plants and flowers include catmint, broadleaf evergreens, inkberries, hosta and river birch trees. Nesmith also planted ornamental grasses.

Construction started in March and the family was swimming my mid-June.

"The beauty of this project is that it feels so natural," the homeowner said. "The landscaping has filled in, and the trees behind it are big and full, it looks much more natural now than it did at first.


General contractor

DR Design Build

Davidsonville, Md.



Landscape architect

Don Nesmith

Land & Water Design

Gainesville, Va.


Swimming pool

Classic Pools

Fairfax Station Va.




St-Hubert, Quebec J3Y 8Z8

Toll-free: 800-463-0450



Scottsdale, AZ 85260


View article comments Leave a comment