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Free-Form Oasis Pool with Custom Landscaping in Columbia, MD

Project Description

Nestled in a secluded forest conservation area, this project is situated within a 1/3-acre lot on a quiet residential street in Columbia, Maryland. The clients chose this property over 10 years ago with the dream of eventually building an outdoor oasis for their growing family to enjoy.

They outlined three primary objectives for their custom landscaping project:

We observed that the back of the house faced due south and lacked relief from the hot afternoon sun. So, we recommended that the unused area below the deck be converted into a covered lanai area that provides additional seating and a stronger connection to the basement walkout doors.

The Oasis Pool & Custom Deck

We designed the custom deck to introduce angular sight lines and architectural interest to an otherwise plain façade. The free-form pool is located on the uphill side of the lot in order to work with the topography and to provide as much open lawn space as possible. The curvilinear outline of the oasis pool reflects the natural randomness found in nature.

The clients upgraded to a Pebble Tec® aggregate pool finish, giving their oasis pool a luxurious deep blue color that stands out within their Columbia, MD landscape. Random Pennsylvania flagstone steppers placed through the lawn connect the custom deck, free-form pool, and patio spaces.

Easy Maintenance Landscaping

With demanding careers and busy family schedules, our clients wanted custom landscaping that’s easy to maintain. The surrounding conservation area provided a green backdrop for the project. We focused on using a mix of plantings and flowers to establish seasonal interest around the pool and create shade for the custom deck.

We designed overlapping sweeps of dwarf fountain grass and salvia ‘Caradonna’ to soften the edge of the raised beam of the pool. A Weeping Alaskan Cedar serves as a focal point with viburnum and hydrangea as a backdrop. A boulder wall forms a planting bed filled with Nepeta, Yarrow, Shasta Daisy, and Gulf Stream Nandina, adding to the natural look the clients wanted. A Shademaster honey locust was planted in the front of the custom deck to provide some respite from the hot summer sun Columbia, Maryland often experiences.

Although the custom landscaping was primarily something our clients saw as a place for their kids to have fun, they find themselves stealing away to the quiet corner of the pool to relax in the Adirondack chairs and listen to the soft cascade of the waterfalls as the birds chirp in the background. Dream to reality….a truly successful endeavor!!

Project Challenges

Grading & Drainage

As with any construction project, this Columbia, MD landscaping project was not without its set of challenges. To begin with, the lot had a 5’ change in grade across the potential location for the oasis pool. In order to fit the pool into the slope and minimize the amount of grading needed, we designed the free-form pool with an integrated raised beam that holds up the slope. Three sheer descent waterfalls were installed into the raised wall for visual interest.

Next, we had to deal with a drainage swale that ran straight through the middle of the lot, dividing the deck and the pool. A stepping stone path through the lawn connecting the pool to the deck was the perfect way to remediate the situation without adding a lot of additional overhead to the project. This also allowed the client to upgrade the pool interior finish.

The Home Foundation

The most challenging aspect of the project, however, came when we excavated for the lanai space and discovered that the home’s foundation footings had not been poured deep enough to meet frost line requirements. In order to correct the situation, we consulted with a structural engineer who drew up plans to “under-pin” the foundation. We had to excavate 24” below the existing footing in 3’ sections. Then we installed steel rebar and poured concrete section by section. We repeated this process around the entire lanai perimeter. It was laborious but well worth it since the shady lanai is now a favorite spot to entertain.

Project Schedules

Our last major obstacle involved scheduling. We broke ground early in the fall with the goal of getting the grading finished in time to install sod before winter arrived—but that goal was severely hampered by continual rainfall and soggy ground conditions. In a last ditch effort to meet the deadline we covered the entire backyard with plastic tarps to protect the ground from passing rainstorms. This effort helped us get the sod installed and meet the completion goal.

Custom Landscaping & Oasis Pools in Columbia, Maryland

Despite setbacks along the way, we were able to successfully create an oasis pool of award-winning quality with a custom deck and landscaping in this wooded nook of Columbia, MD. We can do the same for you. At Botanical Decorators, we welcome any challenge the DC metro area has to offer and can provide you with a custom design to incorporate all your needs and desires. Whether you are interested in an oasis pool similar to the one pictured here or you have a creative touch of your own in mind, we will do everything we can to execute your wish list—on time and according to your exact specifications.

To learn more about what Botanical Decorators can do for you, contact us to request a consultation. We serve residences in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC.


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