Exterior Worlds
Contemporary Landscape Design
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Sugar Land Modern Landscape Design Project

This project, completed for a client in Sugar Land, Texas, was authorized by the homeowner and the architect and was done in conjunction with the efforts of the builder. Its minimalist approach to vegetation, its custom swimming pool design, and its unique hardscapes offer the reader an excellent example of contemporary landscape design. There were a lot of challenges to designing a pool that worked with the architecture of the home and fit the available space in the back yard.

To understand the unique nature of the pool, we have to take a closer look at the home. The house features a number of curved facades and unique angles. Instead of a traditional back porch, it features a custom stonework patio and an outdoor kitchen. The pool is elevated above the shrub palette to make it level with the floor of the house. This compensates for the drop in elevation on the way to a lake that is located just beyond the property line.

The back patio is made from sandstone laid over a concrete base. It double functions as a deck and as a floor of the summer kitchen that leads straight to the water’s edge. Such a fusion of human architecture with natural elements is common in contemporary landscape design. It is further reinforced by custom water jets built along the patio’s edge using a special construction technique. Our design team predetermined the location of each stone. Intersections of the stones were marked, and the pipes which eventually fed the jets were installed before setting the stone in place. This creates the very powerful illusion that the water is springing from the stone itself. It is perhaps the most effective method of extending the geometry of manmade forms into the natural world beyond as if to establish the supremacy of mind over the raw elements of nature.

To continue the home’s architecture, we had to build the pool in a rectilinear shape with a decidedly curved edge that reflected the unique facades of the home. This enables the pool to better connect with the landscape as it gently arcs through the vegetation. This works to establish the preeminence of home architecture over the entire yard. This is a common and very powerful theme found in most contemporary landscape designs. Guests standing on the back patio get the sense that the design of the home itself has been extended infinitely into the yard—making it appear as though it is an actual part of the home. The top of the coping slopes down to the water at a 45 degree angle, creating a marked aesthetic that mirrors the grade of the yard that slopes toward the lake in the distance.

This is an example of curved facades and walkway surfaces. The upper story and windows overhang the front wall and the contemporary style front door. We accented the scene with a small birch tree and low growth boxwood shrubs, dwarf yaupon, agapanthus, and nandina. We also planted Bermuda grass, which looks very good cut very short and retains its color. Bermuda grass is often used in contemporary landscape design to line stone walkways and to contemplate small shrubs.

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