What do you do with an aging swimming pool that's quickly becoming a money pit?
Turn it into a garden. At least that's what Keith and Maria Horcasitas did.
After 17 years in their Brookhollow Glen home, the couple had enough of the expense and time that went into maintaining their backyard pool.
Even though Keith Horcasitas still liked to swim in it, the pool needed big repairs. And the weekly cleaning service was expensive.
"We decided that, financially, the pool was not a good idea," Maria Horcasitas said.
One night when she couldn't sleep, Maria Horcasitas drew a diagram of a backyard garden she could plant if they ever removed the pool. Then, while working on a cleanup project at St. Frances Xavier Catholic School, the couple saw Rudy Mann jack-hammering some of the concrete in the school parking lot to make a repair.
"I asked him if he had ever jack-hammered up a pool," said Keith Horcasitas, a social worker who mainly works through the Veterans Affairs Clinic assisting veterans and the elderly. Maria Horcasitas is a former teacher.
Now, where once was a pool and its 35,000 gallons of water, a new garden flourishes, filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs.
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There's two fruit trees, blueberries, three varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, four varieties of peppers, kale, green onions, cantaloupes, satsumas and kumquats. Snapdragons grow tall among the vegetables, and there's black-eyes Susans, begonias, jacobinias, daylilies, Dwarf Yaupon Holly and roses. Herbs are grown in the garden and in pots where they can be kept under control.
To create their garden, they first emptied the pool and then Mann jack-hammered two 4-by-5-foot sections in the bottom to create drainage for the garden. The enclosed backyard made it impossible for Mann to use large equipment to bring in the river silt and topsoil needed to fill the pool, so he made more than 100 trips from the street with a Bobcat loader. The whole project took three weeks.
For weed control, Maria Horcasitas laid down garden sheeting and used pavers to form sections. The couple kept the original walkway around the pool to give them easy access and to give the garden a more finished look.
Because the garden is in the center of the backyard, it gets a lot more sun than a small garden Maria Horcasitas had planted for years along her back fence.
"That garden would produce but not like we will probably get this summer with full sun until around three in the afternoon," she said.
Keith Horcasitas has no regrets about giving up the pool.
"Two neighbors have offered to let him swim in their pools," Maria Horcasitas said.