Because the backyard sprang, fully formed, from the designer’s head like a mythological figure. Because the shallow, copper fountain basin inadvertently mimics the pool’s lily pads. Because it looks like a reflecting pool. Because the designer is the landscape architect for the World War II Memorial. Because the narrow pool is long enough to swim laps in without encroaching on the design or the space. Because the meticulously designed copper basin yields a one-of-a kind tri-stream cascade. Because the wispy plants soften the hard lines of the structure, creating a balance between man and nature. Because carefully placed grasses and trees add a sense of roominess to an otherwise closed-in space.

The minute he sat at his client’s dining room table and looked out at the backyard, landscape architect James van Sweden could see the future aquascape in front of him.

“[The lot was] horrible when I looked at it the first time,” says the president of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates Inc. in Washington, D.C. “It was just some old brick overgrown with grass and junky shrubs. I looked out the dining room window, I saw the lily pool there.”

The elevation drop told him there would be steps, and he immediately envisioned a waterfeature that would tie the smaller lily pond with the pool. “I think that’s what made it unique,” he says.

The centerpiece of the aquascape is the custom-made copper bowl that works as a waterfall basin. The craftsman hammered the bowl to emit a unique spill pattern, with a wider sheet in the middle, flanked by two narrow streams, all falling in a “V” pattern.

The client wanted to swim laps, but the pool would have to fit into a small space. So van Sweden drew from his 35 years of experience and education to proportion the pool perfectly, with enough length for laps without completely taking over the yard.

He placed the pool, built by Crystal Pools of Rockville, Md.,within inches of the lot’s back wall. To soften the transition between the pool and the red brick wall, van Sweden used grasses and other plants. Pennsylvania bluestone and the pool’s rockwork, installed by Serra Stone Corp. of Washington, D.C., added a natural, yet elegant, feel.