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Landscape Design Richmond:–Modern Pool vs Spa

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Introducing The Space

Today we are taking a look at another Richmond, VA landscape design challenge. In today’s design deep dive, we were working with a rather uniquely shaped backyard. Many yards are traditionally laid out with narrow side yard approaches and a larger general backyard space. This sizing gives us a generally rectangular area to work with, and incorporate all elements that our clients are looking to feature.

In this Richmond backyard, we were working with a slightly different layout. The backyard space for this home was distributed not only to a large rectangular space in the back, but also a sizable side yard. Instead of looking at this as inconvenience, we saw it as an interesting opportunity to break up the space.

During initial design talks with the homeowners, we created a list of important items to include in the final space. Some features were definite. The clients wanted lawn space, a covered seating area, an outdoor kitchen, and a focus on landscaping. Other elements they were less sure of.

These clients knew that they wanted a water feature in the space, however they were unsure in what form. They went back and forth between the idea of a pool or a smaller scale spa. To help them understand what both options would look like in their space, we created two design comps that considered the space from both angles.

2D Renderings

The 2D design phase is always critical, as it is the first step towards homeowners understanding what is possible in their existing space. 2D designs help give our clients a handle on how their new backyard can come together, without locking them into one design concept from the start.

In this project, we created two distinct designs. The first centered around a full pool layout, while the second incorporated a spa-only design concept.

Concept A

Concept A

In Concept A, seen above, homeowners step out of their back doors and directly into their new pool space. A paver patio leaves plenty of room for tanning on deck, while their long rectangular pool design includes an elevated tanning shelf in the upper righthand corner. At the far end of the pool, a custom dive rock brings a natural element to the modern space.

Moving to the corner of the yard, the homeowners step off of their pool deck onto a second paver patio. This patio is covered by a pergola, and houses the brand new outdoor kitchen and dining space, contoured on all sides by new landscaping.

From here, the clients step onto an aggregate walkway that leads them through intricate landscaping, space for vegetable beds, and back through to the front of the property. Tucked away into the corner, bordered by privacy planting and outdeco screens is an auxiliary deck to provide some private seating.

Concept B

Concept B

Concept B, seen above, takes on a different, spa-only approach to this Richmond, VA backyard living space. Instead of stepping down the back stairs into a full pool deck, the homeowners are ushered down onto a paver patio that holds their brand new outdoor kitchen, and has plenty of room for additional seating.

Moving further into the space, the homeowners step onto a pergola covered deck that is the home to their new luxury spa. This takes the place of the pool, offering less recreational area in favor of more space to unwind. Also housed in the deck space is a central seating and living area, as well as a fully operational outdoor gas fireplace.

From here, the design is largely reminiscent of that in Concept A. The homeowners continue around to the large side yard using an aggregate pathway that leads them through lush landscaping and space for vegetable beds, out to the front of the home. However, in this design the private deck has been swapped for a paver patio.

Initial 3D Renderings

Oftentimes clients review the initial design concepts and are immediately drawn to one particular design. In this case, the homeowners still were not fully decided on what layout made the most sense for their lifestyle. Luckily, 3D renderings can help bring the design to life and make these tough decisions easier.

In the initial renderings, we decided to pursue the spa-only design, seen in Concept B.

The layout from Concept B. Homeowners step down onto a paver patio with outdoor kitchen, and up onto a covered deck with a luxury spa.

The renders for this design bring the concept to life. Lush landscaping surrounds the new patio and covered deck, and the homeowners begin to get a feel for how much space this concept will require from their current backyard.

A large amount of lawn space is left available in this spa-only direction.

It quickly became apparent that the spa-only direction left more than enough lawn space available. While they liked the layout, they realized while reviewing these renderings that they were in fact interested in seeing the space rendered with a pool.

The initial rendering of the side yard, including aggregate pathway, vegetable beds, and lush landscaping leading around tot the front of the home.

Even after deciding that they had space for a pool, there were elements of Concept B that they wanted to incorporate into the final design. These included the covered deck, as well as the more central positioning of the outdoor kitchen directly off the back of the home.

Keeping these points in mind, we moved to the final design, and revised the round of 3D renderings.

The Final Design

The 2D rendering of the finalized design plan.

Seen above is the final 2D rendering of the backyard living space. This design works to merge elements of Concept A and Concept B to create a space that the clients can see themselves in. You’ll notice that although the long, linear pool from Concept A has been added, the centrally located kitchen and covered deck from Concept B remain.

This was the layout we proceeded with as we moved into a final round of 3D renderings.

A look over the pool toward the house. The pergola covered deck and fireplace from the initial renderings remain, sans the spa.

The final renderings brought this Richmond, VA landscape design to life. In these images you can see how the two initial concepts were truly fused, leaving just the right balance of green space and functional, hardscaped outdoor living.

In this final round of design, we included a split pergola. The fireplace is completely covered, allowing the clients to enjoy it rain or shine. The decking nearest the pool is covered by a slatted roof that provides shade while blocking out the harshest rays of sun.

A closer look at the vaulted ceiling of the pergola. The outdoor fireplace is finished in white, and the whole space benefits from the cool breeze of an overhead fan.

A huge element in this Richmond, VA backyard was landscaping. We wanted to maximize landscaping potential by using flowering plants to inject life and color throughout the property. This was most apparent in the design of the side yard.

The organic gravel material of the pathway fused with modern lines blends the two aesthetics together while leaving space for vegetable planters. Outdeco screens create textured visual interest, allowing each turn to feel like a new space, while drawing the eye around the design.

Vegetable planters and Outdeco screens take shape in the side yard.

From any angle, this finished design incorporates a blend of organic and sleek design sensibilities. The clients can walk through organized green green space, punctuated on all sides by a perimeter of flowering plants. In the main yard, a full sized pool leaves room for plenty of lawn, and room for kids to play.

A view from the aggregate path toward the backyard. Retaining wall planters and path lighting details are highlighted

Sometimes, homeowners know exactly what they want from the very beginning. Other times, additional design exploration is needed to confirm exactly what combination of elements will create the perfect space.

In this Richmond, VA backyard, it took a bit of time and experimentation to land on a design that fit all of the homeowner’s needs. Water and Earth is always happy to work with our clients and ensure that the final design concept is one that they are entirely excited about. We believe that every revision brings you another step closer to your dream outdoor living space.

Find More Outdoor Inspiration

If you’re inspired by what you’ve seen here, check out our blog for more design walkthroughs. For day to day project updates, or to keep tabs on what we’re working on, follow us on Instagram!

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