Tim and Karen Lott made a bold decision two years ago when they hired Scott Staimpel, a pool and landscape contractor, to fulfill their dream of a backyard oasis.
“Post-Katrina, we bought two lots next to us and incorporated them into ours,” said Karen Lott, who lives in Lakeview with her husband, Tim, an accountant for Wm. Reily and Co., and their youngest daughter, a senior at Mount Carmel High School. “Scott had worked with us in 2007 to landscape the backyard, but in 2017, we had new ideas.”
Staimpel, of Tropical Pools and Palms in St. Rose, was happy to oblige.
The idea was to create a welcoming — maybe even glamorous — place for the couple, their three daughters and friends to gather. A pool and hot tub were in place, but Staimpel, one of the exhibitors at the New Orleans Home and Garden Show this weekend, transformed the pretty backyard into a paradise.
Staimpel had planted an arc of palm trees during the first yard renovation in 2007. A pair of robellini palms flank a walkway connecting the pool area to the great, emerald green expanse of lawn.
Homeowners want low-maintenance landscaping, Staimpel said. While the Lotts’ palms survived last winter’s deep freeze, many other palm trees in the city did not. Cold-hardy tropical plants are in demand, he said.
“Scott did a few things for us that made all the difference. He installed the natural travertine decking around the pool and enlarged the patio area. He made the water wall a little higher and spruced up the pool. Now, we have a super shallow area on the fence side that we can put chairs in so we can stay cool,” Lott said.
In fact, shallow pools are a big trend in the home pool industry, Staimpel said. Deep ends are out. "Everyone wants to utilize their whole pool for entertaining, so (for many homeowners) the entire pool is shallow — 4 1/2 feet," he said.
The downside: a shallow pool heats up quickly in Louisiana's blistering summers. New electric heat/cool pumps efficiently keep the pool temperature comfortable, Staimpel said.
While work proceeded with Staimpel on the pool area, the Lotts engaged others to help them realize their dreams of changing the way their home connects to the outdoor living space and expanding the outdoor amenities.
The couple decided they needed a cabana, where family members and guests can shower after getting out of the saltwater pool, get dressed or just hang out in the air conditioning on hot days. The roof of the cabana extends over an outdoor kitchen, outfitted with a range and sinks, with a counter for eating and drinking.
“We put in a TV so that we can watch football games while we barbecue. You can actually see the TV from the pool,” said Lott.
An important modification to the wide and deep back porch made the connection of the house to the rear yard more fluid and welcoming.
“Originally, you would walk out the back door and down some narrow steps, straight to the garage. There were garden beds up against the porch and next to the steps, but we took them out so we could install steps across the whole width of the porch,” Lott explained. “They make it more inviting, and people can sit on them if they want.”
The garden beds beneath the palms are edged with boxwoods that encircle Lott’s favorite plant, ixora, as well as irises and agapanthus. Hollies are pruned into cone shapes to provide structure to the design. Topiary corkscrews combine with low growing roses to welcome anyone who enters the yard from the side gate.
Staimpel will be at the Home and Garden Show this weekend, offering advice to homeowners about getting the most out of their yards.
Meanwhile, the Lotts are looking forward to enjoying theirs.
“We finished everything last summer, so this will be the first spring we have everything in place,” Karen Lott said. “I’m ready.”
New Orleans Home and Garden Show
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome