Design objective: Create an Asian-inspired backyard. “I wanted to feel like I was going into a different world,” Blair says.
Lay of the land: Clean, striking, symmetrical forms establish the Asian influence. The narrow pool is straight on one side, but features a long, sweeping radius on the other. A raised wall runs along the back, stepping up in the middle to accommodate a Buddha statue and nine narrow scupper-type falls. They are flanked by two cast-concrete spheres. A square spa sits on one end, while an overflowing urn and floating stones mark the other.
Working textures: Hardscape and softscape materials work within the strong lines while adding texture. Smooth, glass mosaic tile blankets the pool, spa and raised walls. “The tile is 80 percent of the Asian feel of the yard,” Blair says.
He didn’t want to get carried away with symmetry, so he set the scuppers in uneven groupings. A cluster of four sits directly under the statue, flanked by a set of three on one side and a pair on the other. “Waterfeatures often aren’t symmetric in nature,” Blair says.
For decking, the designer created a contrasting grid, with smooth, jade green rectangular pads and grass in between. “You’ve got to put opposing textures together,” Blair says. “It’s like your soft, brushed wool slacks and shiny, patent-leather belt.”
Above the raised waterfeature wall, he used mostly linear or wispy plants to reinforce the long lines of the pool. Horsetail provides a backdrop for the Buddha figure while concealing the pool equipment behind it. “It’s an alternative to painting the wall green,” Blair says. “It’s a backdrop to accentuate the foreground.”
Smaller-leafed plants soften the corners created by the horsetail and concrete walls. Pampas grasses, with their fluffy white plumes, and delicately leafed Japanese maples reinforce this feeling.
At night, light and flame enhance the textures. The white pampas grass blooms pop, and the runnels look like smooth, neon tubes. The spheres give off flames, which add another layer.
Looking back: “The shape of the pool is linear and minimalist. It could just as well have been a modern-style or classic backyard. I don’t think the shape dictates the design. Most of the time, textures and colors, and the way they react to each other, dictate the design.”