By taking design cues from existing structures and the land itself, Peter Falkner creatively integrates a saltwater pool, outdoor room, and fireplace into a backyard garden footprint.
ABOVE While the graceful garden is divided into distinct areas, the spaces flow together seamlessly with no indication of what is new and what was original in the garden plan.
It may have all started with a pool, but it ended up more like a slice of paradise with an outdoor room, water fountain feature, fireplace, and eye-catching vistas at every turn. “The Ashfords first contacted me about putting a pool in their backyard,” says Peter Falkner of Falkner Gardens. “The project just evolved along the way. Barbara decided she wanted a place in the shade where she could still keep an eye on her grandchildren swimming, so we designed an outdoor room.” And why not extend the season with a fireplace for added ambiance? “Our goal was for everything to be cohesive and look like it had been there all along, not just tacked on,” continues Peter. “The property was naturally suited to adding these separate entertaining and relaxing areas, so we worked with it rather than trying to change it.” The design scheme also incorporates an existing Hawthorn tree that Peter and the Ashfords wanted to keep in the landscape. “It may be as old as the house (almost 100 years). I love its sculptural form,” says Barbara.
A rose-covered pergola and a shed were the only existing garden structures when the project began. Peter and builder Chris Franks looked to those and the nearby carport for inspiration. The cupola on the outdoor room mirrors the one on the shed, and the lattice treatment is in keeping with the carport. The outdoor room also sports a tin roof to match the garden shed. Bluestone and brick paver detailing join all the outdoor areas together for a uniform feel throughout. The same stone was also added to the steps of the existing pergola to make it blend in more with the new spaces. The change is elevations is the one thing that gives each space an individual presence. “You step up to access the outdoor room, pool, and pergola, but they are all connected to the fireplace and sitting area,” says Peter. “You can’t tell where the old garden ends and the new garden begins; it all flows seamlessly,” notes Barbara.
The understated color palette of primarily green and white was planned around the saltwater lap pool. “We wanted the surrounding landscape to complement the blue pool, not fight with it,” says Peter. A long hedge of green velvet boxwood helps define the pool, while more boxwoods abound throughout with the addition of limelight hydrangeas, lavender, creeping fig, ferns, phlox, and ornamental grasses—a glorious backyard paradise that just happens to have a pool. “At first, I was a bit hesitant to give up my beloved garden space for a pool, but it fits in beautifully and has the feeling of a garden fountain,” explains Barbara.
ABOVE LEFT The charming moon gate includes a scalloped arch on the wooden gate that mirrors the architectural arch overhead, creating a frame around the view beyond.
ABOVE RIGHT Abundant ferns and boxwoods surround the settee in the rose-covered pergola with its iron topiary from Barbara’s store, Henhouse Antiques.
ABOVE The addition of an outdoor fireplace extends the enjoyment of the backyard garden into the fall season. Oversize pots from Elegant Earth at the Arbor are filled with evergreen boxwoods trimmed to a neat sphere shape.
ABOVE LEFT A water feature spills from a bluestone ledge in the pool for pleasant garden music.
ABOVE RIGHT The outdoor room provides welcome shade in warmer months. Its cupola, tin roof, and lattice detailing mirror other nearby structures.
ABOVE Hundreds of New Dawn rose blossoms cover a lush pergola that looks out over the pool.
ABOVE LEFT An abundance of limelight hydrangeas brings a soft hue to the peaceful surroundings.
ABOVE RIGHT Black-eyed Susans were a perfect choice to line the outskirts of the garden. The blooms nicely tolerate summer heat.
Landscape Design and Installation Peter Falkner of Falkner Gardens • 205.871.5999 falknergardens.com Builder Chris Franks, Franks Building Company • 205.966.6917 franksbuildingcompany.com Outdoor design Henhouse Antiques • 1900 Cahaba Rd. 205.918.0505 henhouseantiques.com