The homeowners wanted a pool with two separate areas: a shallow space for adults to lounge and a diving section for their children.
“They needed someplace where they could be outside and enjoy the yard, and then have a spot for the kids to go,” says John Hackett, president of Dynamic Environments Inc. in Boerne, Texas. “But the wife is really fair-skinned, so she’s light-sensitive and burns easily. And she doesn’t like insects. So doing it enclosed was the main feat.”
But the owners also had a vision: They wanted to add interest to the largely flat property, and display some favorite pieces of Japanese yard art, including a small Buddha statue.
So the enclosure could in no way limit the aquascape’s aesthetics.
Hackett wanted the “adult” areas to fall in the center axis of the yard, allowing for easier supervision of the children.
First, he designed a patio cover that comes directly off the house. Parents could then congregate underneath, among the three sofas and nearby fire pit. He placed the shallow lounging pool, with depths ranging from 3- to 5 feet, just in front of that.
In fact, this rectangular vessel was set to run parallel with the house. A spa is centered on an axis from the home’s back door.
To keep the aquascape compact, Hackett placed the deeper diving pool on one end of the shallower vessel.
He also sought to create a Zen feeling and selected delicate plants such as Japanese maples, dwarf mondo, grass and variegated ginger.
The enclosure itself presented the greatest challenges — in design and engineering.
To address aesthetics, Hackett chose a darker bronze enclosure as the backdrop.
“It’s a dark charcoal bronze metallic,” he notes. “It tends to disappear more. White becomes a really big impediment visually when you look at it. It all starts competing.”
It was impossible to build a screened enclosure large enough for the entire area, so Hackett compromised by also utilizing a covered patio, leaving ample room for entertainment.
His crew tore out the existing back porch and built the covered patio with a vaulted ceiling, which they then joined to the screened enclosure.
“We were limited by the size of the aluminum members, on how far they’ll span,” Hackett says. “So we designed the porch out 18- or 19 feet to get it closer to the pool with a big support beam. That way we could fabricate the type of support structure we needed in the actual patio cover to hold the load of the screen enclosure.”
Hackett consulted Sun Fun Enclosures in Stafford, Texas, to design and build the structure. Soon enough, engineering and aesthetics came to loggerheads.
“They kept wanting to put a column in the middle of the dam wall that divides the two pools,” Hackett says. “It took two or three drafts to get a clear span over the pool. They just could not get the load all the way to that end wall with the size members we had.”
With some clever engineering, Sun Fun managed to place two columns behind a raised wall fountain in the back of the pool.
To support the enclosure, Hackett’s crew poured a 12-inch grade beam around the entire pool area, including where the enclosure and patio cover would meet.
A gutter system was incorporated to take water from the roof to the ground beneath the deck.
“They’re what they call a super gutter,” Hackett says. “So the water’s not coming down through the screen and dumping all kinds of organic debris on top of the screen. Then there’s a subsurface drain line all around the pool. The area drains to take the water out.”
The screen itself carries a 10- to 15 percent shade factor to temper any glare.
On some projects, Hackett may use a screen that’s darker on top and lighter on the sides. That way, homeowners can enjoy the shade without that closed-in feeling often created by more opaque-looking walls.
Here, though, the surrounding trees provided enough shade, so he used a lighter screen density on the top and sides.
Hackett placed a square, perimeter-overflow spa directly behind the covered patio.
As in most vanishing edges he builds, he angled the weir walls in toward the pool.
This method, Hackett believes, helps prevent delamination problems and reduce calcification in the long run.
Delamination from vanishing-edge weirs is caused by the constant hot-cold and wet-dry cycles that the weir must endure. Hackett believes you can reduce this effect by angling the edge in toward the pool.
“The cool water is over the top of the wall,” he says. “The water is covering the whole width of that wall, moderating the temperature. It doesn’t have half the heat load as if it’s on an angle facing the sun. When the [vanishing edge] fires up, you only have a vertical face you’re cooling off. So the ones that I’ve done like this, I don’t have service calls on.”
Some believe that makes the edge more visible, removing the illusion that it vanishes into the horizon. To minimize the issue on this pool, Hackett brought the exposed aggregate interior finish back to the very edge.
The crew then honed and polished the weir to form a perfectly level knife edge. This keeps the finish consistent rather than breaking it up with a new material.
And because water always will cover the top of the wall, there’s no need to use tile or stone for the edge.
This angle works particularly well in perimeter-overflow spas, too, allowing bathers to rest their arms on the dam wall.
Much of the aquascape was finished with a type of stone called Durango Viejo marble. Large, 12-by-12-inch tiles were used on the waterfeature wall, and set in a diagonal pattern. Outside the spa, the crew set 6-by-6-inch pieces.
The stone also was used on the coping, and formed the border around a series of floating steps. Each of the floating stones features an inset made of Verde beach pebbles imported from Indonesia.
“We hand-laid those in there,” Hackett says of the pebbles. “They carry the green motif, and there’s a contrast vs. the slick marble.”
They also feel pleasant on the feet, and create slip resistance, he adds.
Beyond the coping line, Hackett used a spraydeck material. “We just didn’t want it competing with the pool,” he notes.
A green quartz aggregate blankets the pool and spa interior. Considering the light color of the deck, waterfeature and spa, Hackett chose a medium tone for the pool interior to help reduce glare.