High-Tech Pool & Landscape
This backyard’s pool, water features, fire elements & more can be controlled with an iPad or iPhone
This is not your average Midwest swimming pool. From high-tech remote controlled equipment to specialty lighting, it’s got all the bells and whistles. Designed for a couple with young children, this pool encourages family fun, provides a beautiful view from the home and is easy to maintain. Artistic Group Inc. out of St. Louis, MO designed and installed the pool as well as other outdoor living elements on the property. Recognized in the past as being a company that produces landscape projects with “wow factor” they’ve done it again for this family.
- Location: Godfrey, IL
- Property size: 1.25 acres
- Budget: $350k
Artistic Group Inc.
St. Louis, MO
Centered in the middle of the home’s backyard, the freeform pool is beautifully finished with 4” thick natural stone coping and decorative masonry. “We spent a lot of time working on the layout of this project,” says Derek of Artistic Group. In the end the customer decided on a bi-level design with steps leading down to the pool. “Placing the spa on a higher level gives the whole project more character and works with the existing grade of the property,” Derek explains.
Learn more about pool placement
In today’s swimming pool industry, it is not uncommon to see a built-in water feature, but this pool goes far beyond that. There are three different types of water features that can be run all at once or independently. At the rear of the pool, water spills continuously from two copper waterfalls installed in a raised planter. “These features create soft sound which helps to establish a serene atmosphere by masking noise from neighbors or passing traffic,” says Derek. Across the pool, on the shallow play deck, bubbling fountains provide a fun place for the kids. Two sleeves integrated into this deck make it so that umbrellas can be erected if shade is necessary. Finally, three streams of arching water shoot out from the upper deck, adding interest and movement to this portion of the pool. Pentair’s MagicStream® Laminars were used for this effect.
Read about water features for pools
The focal point of the pool is a raised planter that doubles as a fire and water feature. “The combination of fire and water are very popular in today’s pool designs,” states Derek. The fire basin, which sits atop a small masonry column, is what Derek calls a show feature. “It’s not like a traditional fire pit where people can gather around,” he says. Rather the fire basin is intended to draw the eye and light up the surrounding area with a warm glow.
As far as the planter itself goes, the overall goal was to get plants close to the pool. “It’s all about the landscape,” says Derek, “no matter how amazing the pool is you’ve got to finish it off with attractive plantings.” He likened this theory to following a recipe - you have to use all the ingredients to get the right taste. For landscapes, you have to address all the components to get the right look. Because of this, Derek knew that an attractive backdrop would be necessary for the planter, fire basin and water feature combination. “We created a tall berm that hides the fence, arranged a few boulders and planted three blue spruces and a variety of flowers.”
Get a list of swimming pool plants
At night, lighting transforms the pool and landscape. High-voltage path lights from Kichler are scattered throughout the property, while four pillar lights top the retaining walls which flank the steps leading to the pool. “To produce a unique effect we lit the masonry features and stonework with fixtures from Integral Lighting,” says Derek. These lights are designed to install under wall caps, but Artistic Group also used them below the spa coping and beneath the stair treads. Although they can’t be seen, these fixtures wash light over the face of the stones, showing off their natural beauty. Flood lights were also used to highlight trees surrounding the pool.
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As if this pool isn’t impressive enough already, there’s more to it than meets the eye. The entire backyard, including the pool pump, water features, fire basin, landscape lighting and more can be controlled from anywhere in the world via an iPad, iPhone or computer. The Pentair Intellitouch system that makes this possible is so advanced that it automatically tests the pool water every hour and adjustments to the chemical levels can be made remotely. “I or the homeowner can log on with a password and add salt to the pool with the click of a button,” Derek explains.
Another high-tech feature of this pool is its dual heater system. “Most pools are heated with a gas powered heater that costs around $10 an hour to run,” says Derek. This client opted for a heat pump that costs as little as 25 cents an hour to run. However, heat pumps only work in temperatures 50 degrees and warmer. Since the family wanted to be able to heat their pool year round this meant they would also need a traditional gas heater.
Swimming Pool Cost: Estimate how much you will spend on your dream pool
Artistic Group also helped the homeowners create a multi-level outdoor living space adjacent to the house. Brick pillars support a concrete porch that aligns with the home’s second story. Beneath this porch an outdoor kitchen and fireplace were installed. The fireplace is fueled with natural gas and has an electronic ignition.
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Sarah Hutchinson, contributing writer for Landscaping Network