THE CANVAS: Low trees, steep rocky slope, the big sky of Texas hill country

THE PALETTE: Bright sun, natural pine, welcoming shade from oaks and cedars

THE MASTERPIECE: Homespun haven in which to cool off, chill out and enjoy life

The homeowners wanted a large pool to help them cool down from the Texas heat. But with a limited budget for their backyard project, they weren’t expecting anything fancy. Enter Pat Walsh, president of Aboveground Pool & Spa Co. in San Antonio. Sure, the site had its challenges, but that didn’t stop him from turning the homeowners’ dream into an eye-pleasing reality.

“The back of the house was all rock and on a severe slope,” recalls Walsh, who has been working with aboveground pools and building backyard environments for more than 30 years. Installing an inground pool would have been a daunting — and expensive — task.

“Even if [they] could have afforded an inground pool, it would have ended up being 10 or 12 feet lower than the house, with no easy way to get to it,” he adds.

A 15-by-30-foot aboveground pool with treated pine decking proved to be an elegant and economical solution. Walsh’s design allowed the maximum amount of deck space without substantially increasing the project’s cost. However, installing an aboveground pool in a tight space on a slope required a little strategic planning.

Blending in

Walsh needed to find the right elevation for placement of the pool. He wanted everything to blend seamlessly with the home’s two existing decks. “If we used one grade on one side, it changed the level of fill or rock we needed to place on the other side,” he says. “Or if we increased the elevation here, we needed to knock two steps off the existing deck over there. Finding the easiest grade to use was the trick. Once we found it, the project was a piece of cake.”

His crew used a hoe ram and 100 yards of compacted road base to build a level pool pad.

The hoe ram chipped out approximately 2 feet of rock, and the road base was compacted in 2-inch intervals for a final height of 24 inches to level the site.

In the end, the project was worth the extra effort. The pool deck is easily reached from the house, and its height offers a breathtaking view of the rolling hill country. Walsh also fulfilled the homeowners’ request to frame the deck around the property’s cedars and oaks, providing some natural shade in the often broiling sun.

“Cedars are ideal because they don’t drop leaves and make a mess in the pool,” Walsh notes.

The filters and heater are camouflaged beneath the deck at a point farthest away from the house. The deck also covers the pool edging. This creates a clean, built-in look and maximizes recreational space.