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Landscape Design

An Unused Hillside Becomes a Statement-Making Swimming Pool

A family in Northborough, Massachusetts avoids moving when their backyard dreams become reality

  • With the help of Aqua Outdoor Environments, these homeowners are now aware of the potential their sloped backyard had.
  • A view across the spa shows the variety of materials used on the project: textured concrete, fieldstone and boulders.
  • The waterfall takes advantage of the slope and is visible from the driveway.
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Project Highlights:

  • Location: Northborough, MA
  • Size: 1 acre of a 5 acre property
  • Budget: $350K

What do you do when your children hit preschool age and want to spend hours playing outside, but your backyard is nothing but a huge slope? Faced with the decision of moving to a new house so their children could have more space to play, the owners of this property contacted Aqua Outdoor Environments, a company that specializes in creating custom gunite pools, in a final effort to see if they could transform their backyard hillside. “This was a unique situation because they had five acres of land, but little of it was usable because of the topography,” says Rich Capachione, principal of the company. The family really didn’t want to move, but they weren’t sure they could have the pool and outdoor entertaining space they’d always wanted.

Capachione and the team at Aqua Outdoor helped them turn their dream into a reality. “We started by getting to know the clients and determining what type of lifestyle they wanted to lead,” he says. He learned that they wanted a statement-making swimming pool and space to entertain their family and friends. From there, a few different designs were presented and a final decision was made. The pool would be set into the hillside with a few stone walls and lots of boulders helping to retain the slope.

Construction was far from easy on this site. Due to access Capachione’s crew had to start at the rear of the property and back their way out. “We leveled out an area for a lawn before starting on the pool so that we wouldn’t block the access for our heavy machinery,” he explains. The pool was built with gunite and has a river rock pebble finish. A cascading waterfall and raised spa sit up on the hillside, making the design more dynamic with multiple levels. “The waterfall is visible from the gateway at the driveway, making it an attractive focal point from the front yard also,” he adds. The pool equipment, water features and lighting can be operated remotely via a remote or smartphone.

One of the driving principles on this project was to use stone from on-site or local sources. “Most of the boulders, nearly a couple hundred tons, were found on site and moved where we wanted them,” says Capachione. The New England fieldstone walls were built with stone reclaimed from old walls in the area. “In Massachusetts there are a lot of old stone walls, anything along a property boundary can’t be touched, but if they are interior walls, the stones can be salvaged and reused on new projects,” he explains. These stones have a worn, aged look and sometimes are covered with moss. They are perfect for adding a sense of maturity and place to new construction.

Decorative concrete was used to pave around the pool and for the patio below. “We have a partner company, New England Hardscapes, that specializes in installing architectural concrete that came in and installed the pool deck.” The process involves pouring the concrete, using a special mat to texture the surface, then carving the flagstone pattern in by hand, followed by the application of stain for color. “This allows us to tailor the concrete to existing stone on site, making them blend nicely,” Capachione comments.

Thanks to Aqua Outdoor Environments this family was able to stay in their house and got the backyard they wanted. Now their kids have a place to play and they have a space for entertaining friends and family. Capachione says it’s always rewarding to exceed the customer’s expectations. “Our goal is that they enjoy every step of the process, from first contact to the moment they step into the clear water of their new pool—we definitely achieved that here.”

Aqua Outdoor Environments
Acton, MA

Contributing Author:

Sarah Hutchinson, contributing writer for Landscaping Network

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