The cascading rock waterfall is the main attraction in this sloped backyard retreat, but its status as centerpiece didn’t come easily. Designer Paul Como and his team had to remove more than 400 yards of soil and a half-acre of trees from the hill to provide the mold for this showpiece.

After building a retaining wall for support, the crew constructed the surrounding pool frame, leaving one of the walls open to allow access for the larger equipment. This was needed in order to take on the massive waterfeature.

“If you’re trying to build a waterfall from the far side without getting the machinery that way, it’s very hard,” Como explains. “So we drove the backhoe into the pool and placed these rocks one at a time.”

Como’s crew spent four days just putting in rocks for the waterfeature. The two-tiered waterfall peaks around 10 feet, with a sheer descent at the very top. It’s made from a combination of Long Island boulders and morse rock, bringing a rough, natural exterior to the surrounding plantings.

The waterfall is perfectly complemented by the pool’s freeform design, which Como created by manipulating the paneling into a lagoon shape.

“We set up the forms, and basically twisted and turned them … to accommodate the full feature of what we wanted,” Como says.

The natural borders of the pool are anchored in part by rockwork along the far-side coping. This design is mirrored on the other side of the aquascape, highlighting the raised custom spa.

Adjacent to the spa is one of the project’s most striking features — a giant sun-shelf/step combination that lets the homeowners take a chaise lounge into the pool to catch some rays. The shelf is well suited to take the weight, as it’s supported with crushed concrete and rebar.