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Landscape Design Richmond: Backyard Bocce Ball Courts, and Floating Pergolas

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Introducing The Space

In this Richmond, VA landscape design challenge, we set out to design a space that captured the modern-minded aesthetic you’ve come to associate with Water and Earth. Part of the excitement of designing spaces here in Richmond, VA is the opportunity to bring a contemporary feel to the East Coast.


These homeowners were eager to embrace a little bit of this funky West Coast feel in their Richmond backyard, and we were eager to get started. After talking with the homeowners, we created a list of must haves for their new outdoor living space.


These homeowners wanted a backyard redesign that brought together function, fun, and elevated versatility. On their wishlist was a modern pool and spa, outdoor kitchen space, covered living area, and a unique recreational space.


After brainstorming and considering a few approaches, we returned to the clients with two distinct design concepts.


2D Renderings

Before bringing any design to the 3D rendering phase, we are sure to present in 2D first. If you’re new to the world of design, you may be wondering why we bother to include this extra step when 3D technology can offer such a vivid look at a yet-to-be-built space. This is true, however, we think the best designs are collaborative.


When we work with clients, we are careful to make sure that they feel like a part of the design process. It’s critically important to us that homeowner’s feel they have an active voice in the direction of their design, and presenting in 2D first allows us to ensure this is the case.


To read more about our reasoning for utilizing 2D, check our blog on the topic.


In this Richmond, VA landscape design project, we presented two unique 2D designs that contained similar elements, featuring two distinct layouts.


Concept A

Concept A

Above is the first design, Concept A. In this design, the homeowners enter their backyard living space through one of two long side approaches. The right side approach is simply paved and bordered by landscaping. The left side approach features a more unique entertainment element–a Bocce ball court.


Moving into the central backyard space, the homeowners step from the left onto a large open pavers patio. Running parallel to the home is a pool, which is bisected on the right end by a luxury spa. The pool-edge of the spa uses a slanted edge and an overflow effect to create both movement and visual interest, tying the pool space and spa space together.


In this concept, bench seating runs along the left perimeter of the property, turning the corner into a series of concrete steppers that lead along a tanning deck to the other end of the pool. Stepping down, you are led into the new outdoor kitchen and living space.


In this concept, the kitchen is positioned along the back of the property. A feature wall with a built-in fireplace finishes at a right angle to the kitchen. This alignment leaves plenty of central space for cozy outdoor seating. We finished this design with xeriscaping along the back edge of the property.


Concept B


Concept B

From Concept A, we moved to present a second concept, Concept B. In this design, the side approaches with the previous landscaping and Bocce ball court remain the same. The paver patio continues underfoot, as in the first design. However, the general layout is considerably different.


Instead of the long, bisected linear pool and spa from the first design, the orientation in Concept B has changed. The pool touches the back edge of the property. The spa is now placed perpendicularly, forming a T shape, and filling what was open space for lounge chairs.


To the right of the pool are more changes. Where there were previously uninterrupted pavers, there is now a breath of green space. This turf contains the outdoor dining space, as well as a series of concrete steppers that transport the homeowners across the grass and into their new kitchen.


The kitchen in Concept B is laid out in the same L-shape, complete with sofa space and a fireplace. However, this kitchen and living area is now covered with string lights that attach to two poles. This overhead concept would come into play in the final designs.


3D Renderings


After viewing both options, the homeowners decided they were more excited about the layout of Concept A. We discussed what elements were working for them and what items they felt could be tweaked or changed. From there, we created the first series of 3D renderings of their space.

An aerial view of the initial 3D rendering, bringing the layout of Concept A to life.

Above you see the 2D concept brought to life. The divided pool and angular, overflowing spa, have come to life. At the left hand side of the frame iis the bench seating, flanked on both ends by a series of concrete steppers.


A look from the long linear concrete steppers back over the yard, towards the kitchen. The overflowing perimeter edge of the spa is visible in this image.

The composite tanning deck carries you along the length of the pool, leading you into the second half of the backyard living space. In the initial renders, you can see that the L shape of the kitchen and fireplace have been retained. However, the entire living area has been covered by a customer overhanging pergola to provide shape and privacy.

The bocce ball court, rendered.

One of the more unique elements of the space was the inclusion of green through a functional recreational element. The bocce ball court comes alive in 3D, providing space to play, as well as an injection of greenery to this hardscaping dominated design.

A closer look at the outdoor kitchen and fireplace. The space is covered with a custom pergola, finished with geometric concrete pavers.

The transition from 2D to 3D renderings is another opportunity to gather feedback from clients and make changes they want to see before greenlighting construction of the space. In this project, the clients were interested in adding covered living space above the kitchen and living area. We created an overhanging pergola that extends from the fireplace feature wall in a floating style.


After seeing these renders, the homeowners were excited about the direction of the space. However, seeing it brought fully to life allowed the clients to notice a few final changes they wanted made before confirming the designs.


To make sure everything was as they envisioned it, we created one final round of 3D images with their last changes and requests incorporated.


Final Design Concept and Renderings


The final design, sketched in 2D and then brought to life in 3D renderings.

For the final round of designs for this Richmond, VA backyard, we presented both a final 2D design copy as well as a final set of renders. There are a few notable changes in this set of designs that were not present in the first round of 3D.


An aerial view of the final design, rendered. The quantity of pavers to the left of the frame have been reduced to two. The new kitchen peninsula and bar seating is visible.

These changes are most visible in the final aerial render seen above. While we had initially designed the kitchen to be a simple L, wrapping from the back of the property around to a fireplace feature wall, this changes in the final round of renders. The fireplace was removed, and a peninsula bar was added to the kitchen. This continuous steel countertop offers additional space for guests and functional surface area for cooking.



A look at the revised outdoor kitchen. The bar seating and peninsula has been added, and the fireplace has been removed from the feature wall.

Above, you can see the extent of these changes to the kitchen and living area. The fireplace has been removed from the mock up of the feature wall and the pergola has been extended to cover the entire space. The countertop now hooks around to accommodate bar seating.


The tanning deck in these renders has been extended, while the number of concrete steppers next to the pool has been reduced.

Another change made in the final designs in the scaling back of the concrete steppers at the end of the pool. Instead of three large steppers, we reduced this number to two on both sides. This allowed the clients to have extended lounging and tanning deck space.


In the end, these are the designs the clients are most excited about. Not only do these plans capture all of the elements that the homeowners are looking for, but they do so without feeling stilted or out of place.


Explore more design inspiration.

Water and Earth is continuously excited about opportunities to bring a modern-minded, creative aesthetic to backyards right here in Richmond, VA. Design processes like the one above are just one example of the collaborative, client focused approach we take to all of our design projects.


If you’d like to view more design work by Water and Earth here in Richmond, check out the blog. For daily inspiration, be sure to follow us on Instagram.





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