Brian Van Bower, Genesis co-founder and president of Aquatic Consultants in Miami, Fla., had a request from an architect that he bring grass straight to an perimeter overflow pool. But then the question is how to do this without killing the lawn from the chemically treated water. In exploring the options, Van Bower not only found a way to bring turf directly to the slot on a ground-level perimeter-overflow pool, but he worked with a manufacturer to create a product that will help others do it, too.
In general, Van Bower often prefers using stainless steel plates on his perimeter-overflow systems, so he look to this material for a solution. He had custom-fabricated stainless steel trays made that would bolt onto the back wall of the gutter, sitting low enough to create the appropriate depth for a few inches of soil. The tray system also included a vertical component that formed the backside of the slot. This part sits ¼-inch higher than the water level, in order to help contain more of the wave action in the pool.
“It doesn’t stop splashout, but if you move toward the side of the pool and send a wave [that] goes over the edge and misses the opening — which takes some pretty good movement — the ¼-inch differential is enough to stop most of the water.”
The pieces were carefully welded and sealed, to make sure no mud from the soil could migrate into the gutter.
As an added measure, Van Bower made the notch wider than normal, at 1 inch. “I do it larger for the grass edge in order to capture more water, and knowing also that if you have grass hanging over the top of it, that space is not as noticeable,” he says.
For a second project, Van Bower contacted Bobe Water & Fire Features in Phoenix to help figure out a way to create a reproducible system. It needed to support the weight of wet soil and of people who would walk directly to the pool’s edge. The steel sections also would have to be joined together in such a way that no mud or water could seep from the soil into the gutter.
As a result, the manufacturer now offers the system in addition to the designer handrails that also bear Van Bower’s name. The line features ribbing and bracketing for strength.
There have been variations of the lawn scenario. In one case, Van Bower and a landscape architect chose a different ground cover, called peanut grass, that doesn’t grow as quickly and, therefore, doesn’t need as much trimming.
For another project, which recently was recognized in PSN’s Masters of Design issue, a builder approached Van Bower for help, and they decided to use artificial turf for a homeowner who wanted the lowest maintenance yard possible.
“Today, some of the artificial turf looks pretty good,” Van Bower says. “It doesn’t look like carpet — it looks pretty realistic.” Some varieties even feature blades that look as if they’re browning for added realism.
While live lawn is a beautiful option, Van Bower always warns clients about the risk of browning from the chemically treated water, especially if there will be a lot of splashing, volleyball or the like. “I would explain that it’s a trade-off,” he says. “It’s a cool look but that potential exists no matter what.”