Exterior Worlds
River Oaks Landscaping
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Case History: River Oaks Stepping Stone Patio & Pool Remodel

We were contacted by a family in River Oaks who requested that we completely remodel their pool and the yard that surrounded it. They wanted to get rid of the pool’s “L-Shape” construction and have it redesigned with a curved, linear structure and rounded ends. They also wanted to surround the pool with something very different than the traditional wooden deck or concrete surface. Instead, they wanted a stepping stone patio that would look like a part of Nature itself and cause the pool to look more like a part of the landscape.

Stepping stone patios of all sorts are common in landscape design. They are at all difficult to construct. However, creating a french drainage system can often be a challenge depending on the constituency of the soil. Water can create mud between stones and on accumulate on their surfaces, making it unpleasant to walk across the patio after a rain. To make such a structure work as a pool patio, it was necessary for us to build a concealed drainage system underneath the stone elements and use organic material to conceal it. What we did to accomplish this was to pour individual pads of cement that worked as bases upon which to mount the flat stepping stones. We built the drainage system at the level of these concrete bases, and then planted grass between the individual stepping stones.

This concealed the patio’s manmade origins, and created the illusion that it was much older than it actually was. The grass looked like it punched through the rocks and established a tenacious foothold in the spaces between them.

We then continued the natural theme by building a walkway out of the same material we used to construct our stepping stone patio. We designed one end of this walkway to hug the side of the pool, functioning as a 30” coping that gave plenty of comfortable pool access, transit space, and an aesthetic link between the water and the land. We were able to curve its direction by cutting the stones into pie shapes, then fitting them together by hand individually. Once completed, the walkway arced around the sides and ends of the pool, ran through the end of the yard, and passed under a garden trellis into a sculpture garden.

This sculpture garden also played an important role in this landscaping project. It too, involved the construction of a new hardscape. Because this was a formal gathering designed around a European garden theme, we built a circular flagstone patio off the end of linear walkway. This became the central seating area, with smaller, diagonal pathways radiating at angles back to the side doors of the home. Between these smaller pathways, we constructed a water fountain that was shaped like a fireplace, but that had a lit waterfall falling into its rectangular brick basin. At night, guests can sit in a semicircle facing the fountain and enjoy the ambiance of a lighted waterfall.

Throughout the property, we planted a variety of flowering plants and ground cover around our stepping stone patio and walkway. Jasmine was used profusely to control erosion and to prevent encroachment from weeds. Monkey grass was also used for weed and erosion control. Agapanthus and golden globes were used in places near brick walls and around the perimeter of the stepping stone patio to help color its borders with seasonal blooms. We also added height and elegance to the landscape with Italian cypress, and planted Camellias throughout the property to provide blooms for the winter season when other seasonal were dormant.

Exterior Worlds is located in the memorial area. They have been serving the Houston area including River Oaks, West University, Bellaire, Memorial, Tanglewood since 1987. Call Exterior Worlds at 713-827-2255 to discuss the a complete landscape renovation.

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