THE CANVAS: A dramatic slope overlooking protected woods

THE PALETTE: Delicate strands of water, luminous green tile, neon turquoise water

THE MASTERPIECE: Three tiers of neo-Moorish flavor in the Texas Hill Country

Then the clients first met with the Land Design team, they had just visited the Alhambra, a 13th century Spanish palace.

The courtyards there are known for their elegance. “Everything seemed to be long, linear with maybe a circle at the end, or a fountain and a spout arcing up,” says Michael Logsdon, president of Land Design.

The homeowners wanted to evoke this feeling in their own backyard. There was only one problem: The Alhambra’s network of round basins and long, narrow runnels sprawled over flat terrain. But the clients’ property was full of drastic elevation changes.

To make the concept fit the space, Logsdon and lead designer Nicholas Thompson deconstructed the elements that made the Alhambra so appealing and reassembled them in the backyard. They ended up with this three-tiered installation. In place of a round fountain basin, the team crowned the aquascape with a circular spa featuring 12 individual spouts. A mid-level vessel spills over a 5-foot-tall vanishing edge into the lowest and largest pool.

The designers placed laminar jets on the lower deck and at spa level, with both sets pointed toward the middle pool.

“The Alhambra had waterfeatures shooting back toward each other on a much smaller scale, much closer together,” Thompson says. “We spread them out and applied that concept to the multilevel aquascape.”

Activity levels

In addition to their stylistic preferences, the clients were abundantly clear about something else: They had no interest in swimming, but their grandchildren would.

“They wanted a lounging pool that would be separate from the splashing and jumping of the grandkids,” Thompson says.

To provide these different areas, the spa and mid-level pool were designed to serve as an adult haven. A deck on the upper level allows them to enjoy the view of a protected wooded military camp. The lowest pool would entertain the children. It ranges in depth from 3 1&Mac218;2 - to 8 feet, and comes with a diving board. The clients, who are older, asked for a stainless steel handrail for those rare times when they would use it.

Material issues

While the homeowners wanted a Moorish flavor for their overall aquascape, they requested a lighter feel inside the pools. “We had picked a glass tile that I thought looked a little Moorish, but it was too dark for them,” Logsdon says.

Instead, they hoped to replicate the water color that they had on their previous pool, another Land Design creation. The smooth, greenish plaster left the water an almost neon shade of aqua. To connect the three levels, Logsdon and Thompson designed stairs that meandered with the property’s terrain. They chose an Oklahoma flagstone to blend with the house, even using small rectangles of the materials to cap the banisters.

With the plans complete, everyone knew it was the right fit.

“We hit the design, but not the budget,” Logsdon says. “But when we sat down with them, the gentleman was all smiles.”