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Ellicott City, MD Award Winning Luxury Pool with Custom Stonework

Project Description

Emerald Valley Residence

Initially, the owners of this Emerald Valley residence wanted to focus on creating a backyard retreat they could enjoy at home. So they commissioned us to design and build their own private backyard oasis in Ellicott City, MD. Their main request was for an outdoor living space that felt intimate yet could accommodate gatherings for 100+ people.

They wanted the materials to look natural but refined. They also asked that some of the plantings come up to the edge of the pool, tying into the natural setting of the site. Other requests included:

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Ellicott City Landscape Design & Custom Swimming Pool

Our clients wanted to be sure that the mechanicals would be low maintenance and as energy efficient as possible. They felt it was best to give us, the landscape architects, complete control of the project. Our team came up with the following project specifications for this Ellicott City landscape design:

Swimming Pool Dimensions:

The overall size of the custom swimming pool is 20 x 42 ft. and the depth ranges from 3 to 8 ft. It holds approximately 21,000 gals. The custom swimming pool is a ‘free form’ shape to work with the grade change of the project area and the surface area is approximately 690 square ft. Other dimensions include the 24 in. raised bond beam and 8.5 ft. diameter spa that spills over into the custom swimming pool area.

Landscape & Pool Materials:

Irregular PA Flagstone was chosen for the patio surface around the custom swimming pool. The large, natural slabs of brown and grey color stone evoke a ‘natural’ feel.

The custom swimming pool interior is finished with Ocean Blue Pebble Sheen, which creates a deep blue oasis look and blends with the Mater Tile “Rainforest” water line. Other noteworthy landscape and pool materials include:

  • 1⁄2 in. #4 steel rebar in the raised beam
  • 14 in. wide gunite bond beam pool walls
  • the 2 x 14 in. PA Bluestone coping, custom cut to follow the radius of the pool edge

Hydraulic Information

We used the following hydraulic equipment:

  • Pentair WhisperFlo 2.25hp pump
  • A 1.2hp booster pump for the Polaris cleaner
  • Two top inlets
  • Two dual zone independently-plumbed skimmers
  • 2 in. high flow pressure PVC
  • Jandy 2.5 inch schedule 80 valves
  • Dedicated cleaner line
  • Three independent floor returns for maximum heater efficiency

Safety Features:

We added Hayward Dual anti-vortex drains, formed in place bench swim outs in the deep end, brass ‘J’ boxes, and electrical bonding on steel rebar in the deck.

Sanitization system:

The sanitation system includes Pentair purex Triton FNSPlus 60 filter, Nature 2 Pro G Plus mineral water purifier, and Nature 2 Pro G Chlorinator.

Additional Specs: RayPac Rp2100 405,000btu digital heater, Polaris EOS complete wireless remote control, Pentair SAM Automatic Color changing pool light. The steel reinforcement is set 6 in.OC in the deep end, pool walls, and transition edges.

Project Challenges

Drainage Swale

Our main challenges in developing this Ellicott City landscape design included the drainage swale in the middle of the yard, the 6 ft. of grade change, and the proximity to a forest conservation easement. Coming up with a creative design in such a limited and restricted space was the most challenging aspect of the entire project.

The Custom Swimming Pool Design

Every measurement and elevation point had to be precise for the landscape design to work correctly. The custom swimming pool was the main hub of the design. The 45 degree orientation of the pool captured the long views the site had to offer and made the space appear larger.

To work with the grade change, the space was divided into three levels: the upper level which mainly serves as pedestrian flow/gathering area, a dining/spa level which is the main entertaining space, and the pool level. A raised bond beam was constructed between the main gathering area and the custom swimming pool to provide a separation between the two areas and a waterfall for the spa.

Selecting Landscape Materials

With the design process complete, it was time to select materials for the project. The home had a formal feel so we used random geometric flagstone with bull-nose wall cap and step tread for the upper level close to the house. Down at the gathering/dining and pool levels we switched to irregular/broken Pennsylvania flagstone for the patios with a flame torch relief edge for the wall caps, coping, and step treads.

Smooth Pennsylvania river boulders and a local Maryland quarry stone matching the facades of the home were used for the walls. By repeating the existing material found on the home, our landscape designers made the area feel like an architectural extension.

Outdoor Fencing

Because of the natural feel and grade change throughout the site, the fencing installation was critical, making the fencing one of the more notable challenges during this Ellicott City landscape design

Black Alumi-Guard industrial grade fencing was chosen for its ability to blend with its environment and its architectural connection to the homes’ existing materials. With the level lines of the patio and retaining walls, it was important to get the fence as level as possible.

We worked with Frederick Fence in Frederick, MD to install the fencing. Custom brackets were welded to portions of the posts so we could mount them on top of some of the retaining walls, creating a fencing structure that matches the style of the surrounding landscape.

Landscape Designs in Maryland, Virginia, & Washington, DC

This Ellicott City landscape design was recognized mainly for the custom details, effortless transition between spaces, and the custom swimming pool’s relationship to the surrounding landscape. When we asked for a quote to close out the job our clients responded: “If we’d known ahead of time what we wanted, this would have been it."

Are you looking to transform your landscape with a custom swimming pool or other design elements? Contact us to start enjoying your landscape today!


The information on this website is for informational purposes only; it is deemed accurate but not guaranteed. It does not constitute professional advice. All information is subject to change at any time without notice. Contact us for complete details.

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Botanical Decorators
5011 Olney Laytonsville Rd, Ste B, Olney, MD 20832