An acre of untouched woods, dense clay and rock soil
Tumbled Old World pavers, South African thatch, hints of the
MASTERPIECE: A vast lagoon of pitch-perfect curves, a private
paradise for a discerning traveler
The backyard of this one-acre lot was host to dozens of tall pine and oak trees. It was a forest lover’s paradise.
It was not, however, what Eddie Bullock had in mind for the
yard of his new home. The owner of Pool Builders, LLC, is a veteran
vacationer who prefers the beaches of Mexico to Southern woods.
“When I go into my backyard, I want to feel like I’m on
a getaway,” Bullock says.
In a matter of days, he removed nearly 60 trees from his lot to
make space for a pool that now rivals any resort destination in
Cancún. “I knew I wanted a lagoon shape, and I wanted it
to be big,” he says.
The project, which was built during weekends, took more than a
year to complete. And the results far exceeded Bullock’s
imagination. Combining tropical shapes and plantings with other
global accents, the pool has taken on a life of its
“It gets used all the time by my son and daughter, and by
my friends. It’s got everything you can think of,” he
says. “Now I bring my customers over to look at it, and
everyone who has seen it has bought a pool from me.”
Creating the ideal environment wasn’t easy. Tree removal was
only part of the process. Once the land was cleared, Bullock and
his crew built a 250-foot-long stone retaining wall. Now covered
with Old English Ivy, the wall helped strengthen the foundation for
a more than 50-foot-long and nearly 50-foot-wide
The aquascape ranges in depth from 3- to 8 feet, though the
majority of it is shallow. “It’s got two sets of stairs
that [lead] down into the pool, both in the shallow end, but 40
feet apart,” he says. Inside the pool, three curved radii
form alcoves where guests can rest.
To unify the 2,000-square-foot space around the large pool,
Bullock installed a deck with tumbled pavers. “I like earth
tones, and this gave the pool a courtyard-type look. The edges are
dulled, which gives it an Old World charm,” he adds.
“The little imperfections make it look like the pool’s
been there awhile.”
The decision also worked well with the soil conditions.
“In this area, the ground often moves because of the clay,
and that tends to crack the concrete,” says Bullock, who has
built pools since 1973. “Pavers take the swelling and
heating, expanding and contracting, better than
Yet the installation was tricky. More than half of the backyard
was inaccessible because of the retaining wall. The crew had to
wheelbarrow in the majority of the pavers. Then they painstakingly
aligned them across the expanse of the pool.
“There are no straight lines in the pool’s
shape,” Bullock explains. “We basically put a grid over
the whole vessel, and matched up the lines of the pavers on one end
with the lines of the pavers on the other end.”
Creating a secret oasis
The pool’s sweeping lagoon shape was an inspiration from a
design book. Bullock then transformed the environment using
lighting, waterfeatures and landscaping.
Two artificial rock waterfeatures emulate the sound of a
distant waterfall. Pop-up fountains spray swimmers in the shallow
end, and three laminar jets shoot into the pool from each
Three in-pool lights in each of the vessel’s curves
create an ethereal quality in the water. In addition, a fiberoptic
perimeter lighting wheel makes the pool fun and festive during
The most stunning element of the pool area, by far, is the lush
vegetation. Palm trees of every size — including Majestics,
which tower 12 feet — create a tropical illusion. Crape
myrtles and flowering hibiscus add splashes of color and are
accented with low-voltage landscape lighting.
“I love plants with long leaves. At night, they blow in
the wind and look beautiful,” says Bullock, whose company now
specializes in lagoon-style projects, building 30 to 40 pools
annually. “I also put in a number of flowering trees that
bloom all summer long. We [left] some of the trees along the
perimeter of the lot to keep the yard
An inground acrylic spillover spa serves as a private,
year-round space for Bullock and his family. Installed underneath a
14-foot-tall, round palapa with a thatched roof imported from South
Africa, it’s used mostly during cool, rainy weather. A
larger, 16-foot-tall palapa nearby houses a bar, grill and seating
area for guests.
Chaise lounges and wide umbrellas create comfortable poolside
nooks. “For a big pool, it’s amazing,” Bullock
says. “I put a lot of my heart into it.”