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  • A view from the upper level down over the fire pit and waterfall.
  • This backyard has it all - a pool and spa, pool house, fire pit, waterfall, putting green and basketball court.
  • Automatic covers help keep the pool water warm and extend the swimming season.
  • Natural boulders were incorporated into the pool's coping.
  • A natural stone waterfall and carefully selected plants add year-round interest.
  • The home's existing composite deck was adapted to provide direct access to the raised spa.
  • The fire pit is a recycled rock crushing cone that weighs 2,000 pounds.
  • An artificial putting green is elevated above the pool and waterfall.
  • A 60'x100' basketball court was installed on the level below the pool.
  • A before view of the yard, house and deck.

Project Highlights:

  • Location: Spokane, WA
  • Landscaped area: 1 acre
  • Budget: 100k+
  • Owners: Family with four children
  • Landscape firm: Copper Creek Landscaping

Once a bare sloping expanse of lawn nestled amongst mature pines, this property was transformed into the ultimate outdoor living space. "We got the referral for this job from a local nursery," explains Matt Barton of Copper Creek Landscaping. "The homeowners knew they wanted a pool, but other than that they really weren't sure," he continues. Barton began the process of designing their new landscape by studying the site, analyzing the existing architecture and getting to know his clients. "We spent time talking about their wants, needs, lifestyle and tastes," he says.

According to Barton the architecture of the home is a blend between Northwestern and traditional styles. The front façade features cultured stone and columns, while the rear of the home is fairly basic. But what inspired Barton most on this project was the home's natural surroundings. Much of the three acre property is heavily wooded with pine trees and a ravine cuts through the land. "I wanted to create an outdoor living space that would blend seamlessly into the native landscape," he explains. Barton presented an initial plan to his clients complete with a pool and spa, natural stone waterfall, fire pit, extensive boulder retaining walls and more. "They went for it all right off the bat, in fact they even added a basketball court later in the process," he recalls.

Landscaping Solutions

One of the most important tasks for Barton and his team was creating a landscape that could be used during the summer season and hold up year round. From June through August temperatures range from the mid-eighties to low-nineties, perfect weather for making the most of an outdoor living space. However, during the winter the hardscape materials and plants will need to endure snow, ice and frequent frost heaves. A long-time resident of Spokane, Barton is well aware of these conditions and made landscape design choices that are functional, attractive and winter hardy.

Racing Mother Nature

"Here in the Pacific Northwest winter weather can be a challenge," says Barton. Copper Creek wrapped up this project in December when snow had already begun to fall. "We had to bring in snow blowers so that we could lay the sod," he continues. Typically, the crews count on an 8 to 9 month construction season, and sometimes end up in a race against Mother Nature. However, Barton ensures that this challenge never negatively impacts the quality of Copper Creek's workmanship.

For the shotcrete gunite swimming pool, a cover was necessary to keep the water warm as long as possible. "The owners wanted an automatic, under track pool cover that would be virtually hidden from sight until the touch of a button," says Barton. To accommodate this feature, the shape of the pool had to be rectangular. "The straight lines of the pool give the landscape structure, but I wanted to break them up to avoid a formal appearance," he states. Boulders were set into the pool coping and curves were used for the interior steps and built-ins.

Barton chose stamped and colored concrete decking around the pool for its versatility, durability and affordability. The textured surface is slip resistant and mimics natural stone which was appropriate for the setting. "Because of frost heaves we used extra control joints in the concrete to prevent unsightly cracks," Barton explains. Copper Creek also recommends that decorative concrete surfaces be sealed annually to prevent moisture from penetrating the slab and expanding as it freezes, which can lead to spalling, or flaking, of the surface.

Plant List:

  • Trees: Quaking aspen, tri-color beech, clump birch, flowering dogwood, assorted Japanese maples, blue atlas cedar, douglas fir, scotch pine
  • Shrubs: Red twig dogwood, burning bush, hydrangea, blue star juniper, rhododendron
  • Perennials: coral bells, hosta
  • Ornamental grasses: blue oat grass, dwarf fountain grass, Karl Foerester reed grass
  • Groundcovers: periwinkle, tricolor sedum

Note: This is a brief selection of the plants used on this property, many other plants were used.

Year round interest was created in the yard with plants as well as a natural stone waterfall. Barton selected plants that would provide texture, color and structure during all four seasons. Specifically, deciduous trees provide beautiful fall color, evergreens provide winter greenery and structure and flowering shrubs and perennials provide spring and summer blooms. The waterfall, which provides visual and auditory interest, was constructed with aged granite quarried less than ten miles from the property. "The waterfall comes right up to the bond beam of the pool, but is not integrated," says Barton. This was done so that it could be run independently from the pool when it is covered for the winter.

Family Fun

Copper Creek had big plans for this yard - a pool and spa, a fire pit, a putting green and a basketball court. But before any of this could be installed Barton had to address the eight foot grade change. "Large flat areas were needed for each of these features, so we had to start with terracing," he states. A series of three four-foot retaining walls were built out of the same aged granite boulders used for the water feature. According to Barton, over 175 tons of stone were used. The boulders were dry stacked on top of a thoroughly compacted base with filter fabric and drainage rock behind. "The curve of the walls, as well as the moss and lichens present on the stone, helps reinforce the natural theme of the landscape," says Barton.

When it comes to family fun outdoors, this backyard has it all. On the far side of the pool is a structure that serves as a game room, kitchen and guest room. The pool equipment is hidden behind this building and there's also room for pool toy storage. On one end of the pool, there's a fire pit made of a recycled cast-iron rock crushing cone that weighs 2,000 pounds. The cone was plumbed for gas and filled with small lava rock. Elevated above the pool is a putting and chipping green with sand-filled artificial turf and fringe and below the pool is a 60'x100' basketball court. The court is post-tensioned concrete with a multi-colored Plexipave coating and professional quality 72" breakaway backboards. "The entertainment activities were grouped so that people on the putting green could interact with people by the fire pit, or people in the pool could interact with those in the pool house," explains Barton.

With the help of Barton and the Copper Creek Landscaping crews, this backyard went from nothing to everything. Now the family has a place to swim, socialize and play that fits beautifully within its natural environment. The new landscaping has truly extended their living space outdoors, helping them take advantage of the Pacific Northwest's comfortable summers without having to worry about how it will weather the winters.

Copper Creek Landscaping, Inc.
Mead, WA

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