Long view

When Paradise Pools owner Earl Hardouin and landscape architect Brian Sublette of Daly Sublette Landscape Architects collaborated to design Ravi Kanagala's Northshore pool, their main goal was to create a beautiful linear view from house to pool. The hot tub is raised to the grade of the house, so it appears to extend seamlessly from the window. Floating steps allow passage from one side of the patio to the other and delineate the hot tub from the pool, but both pool and hot tub are one expanse of water. At nearly 1,000 square feet, it's double the length of an average pool. Raised flower beds planted with Savannah hollies and seasonal flowers create a corridor effect that frames the pool and makes it the yard's focal point. An infinity edge finished with iridescent, copper-colored glass mosaic tiles and a water wall serve as the backdrop of the elegant pool and patio.

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Julie Breitmeyer always wanted a stream running through her Uptown yard. When a grandchild wanted a pool, Breitmeyer saw her chance. "I didn't want to look at an expansive blue rectangle," Breitmeyer says. "I always wanted a babbling brook and this was my opportunity to get it." Landscape architect Rene Fransen designed the pool to look like a natural part of the environment with a U-shape, organic curves, irregularly shaped flagstone borders, a black bottom, a "sandy beach" leading into a shallow, kid-friendly area, a waterfall, graduated depth and a ledge for seating.

  "It's a wonderful progression for children to get up to the swimming stage," Breitmeyer says of the pool, which has been used by her grandchildren as toddlers and teens. The pool is shaded by oak, magnolia, gardenia, Japanese maple and Chinese fringe trees and complemented by a pool house (which includes a catering kitchen and a large shower) and a three-sided breezeway with louvered doors on one side. Greenery along the water's edge includes agapanthus and giant ligularia, which are similar in appearance to water lilies. "I ended up with what I pictured in my mind," Breitmeyer says.

Classical references

Two grand houses figured into the design of Ann Soniat's small Uptown pool. The first was Longue Vue House and Gardens, where Soniat fell in love with a statue of mythical Pan. "We tried to identify the original sculptor but couldn't, so we had it copied," Soniat says. The second was an antebellum house in Natchez, Mississippi called Montaigne, which has been in Soniat's family for many years. Both the pink tones of the flagstone around the pool and the fish spouts are inspired by Montaigne. Landscape architect Rene Fransen designed a pool with classical elements that are in sync with Pan's ancient origins, the neoclassical characteristics of antebellum homes and a nearby garconniere the Soniats renovated in the 1980s. The oval pool is set against a stucco wall, a raised fountain and a ledge. It's accented with a fragrant mix of blueberry plants, camellias, gardenias, boxwood, magnolia and irises. "It satisfies me on so many different levels," Soniat says.

Green Design

Four years ago, the lush, living wall exterior of Paris' Musee du quai Branly left a lasting impression on Sally Suthon. When Suthon added a pool to her yard last year, landscape designer Michael McClung of Four Seasons Landscape suggested a living wall as a focal point. There was an instant meeting of the minds. Suthon's mandates included tropical greenery (which she describes as organized chaos), a small pool for cooling off rather than swimming, and the soothing sound of water. McClung responded with a square cocktail pool with a ledge for sitting, a leafy living wall of monkey grass, electric lime coleus, lamium, dichondra plectranthus, and a custom sculpture by artist Evelyn Jordan that functions as a fountain spout. Loropetlum vilburnum frame the yard. Grayish-green flagstone, chosen as an extension of the neutral-colored house and porch, surrounds the pool. An adjacent flowerbed contains Princess Caroline grass, perennials, annuals and a metal sculpture by artist David Borgerding. The end result marries Suthon's love of gardening, art and hosting informal gatherings. "It's easy to be spontaneous about entertaining when you have a great outdoor space," Suthon says.

Elegant Symmetry

The owners of this Garden District pool had multiple requests when they hired landscape architect Peter Raarup: they wanted the largest pool the yard could accommodate, ample lawn space for kids, a spa, a water feature and a formal greenscape. The focal point of Raarup's elegant design is the cross-shaped pool. Urns planted with citrus trees and four corner fountains frame the pool. The lawn, flagstone decking and garden are integral to the design. "The deck ties it together and provides easy access to all the different levels," Raarup says. Camellia sasanquas and Savannah hollies border the yard and provide privacy, boxwood hedges and balls lend a formal element, parsley hawthorn trees shade the deck and sweet olive adds fragrance. The landscaping also incorporates variegated brake fern, gardenia, angelonia, needlepoint holly, confederate jasmine and a dwarf magnolia.

Garden Oasis

When Rita and Thomas Ward requested Rene Fransen incorporate a pool into their home's landscape design, they knew the limited space would pose a challenge. "We have a narrow Charleston-style side yard," Rita says. Rene's garden-pool design — small, neatly tucked away and surrounded by formal, manicured greenery and flowers — exceeded their expectations. Rene designed the pool with an irregular border by building flower beds that extend into the pool. The result is one of niches, some of which receive full sun. Others are shady, cool and favored by the Ward's grandchildren. Arizona flagstone surrounds the pool, which is edged with raised brick flowerbeds. The pool also has a seating ledge. The mix of flowering shrubs and trees — gardenia, azalea, a lemon-lime tree, Eagleston holly, irises, agapanthus and seasonal flowers — ensures there is always something in bloom. "Every time something dies, something else pops up," Rita says.