It’s sometimes difficult to describe a design concept in writing.  I recently talked about why you should use plant groupings in your designs and felt this pool setting gave a nice example of this concept.

There is so much to gain by understanding and using plant groupings (or “plant massings” as they are sometimes called).

Design With An Appropriate Setting In Mind

“Uh-oh” you say, “he’s getting into subjective territory”.  Maybe so, but think about it.  To make something appropriate is: to make suitable; to make suitable for the context in which it occurs.

If something is unsuitable or out of the realm of what you’d expect, you’re not going to feel comfortable with it.

If there’s any experience you want people to have in your design, let it be a pleasant and comfortable one.

How do you decide on what is appropriate?

Hmmm.  Good question.  Again, we’re going to skirt on the notion of subjectivity, but maybe it can be viewed very simply.

You wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to a barbecue would you? (College years excluded.)  Of course not.  It’s just not appropriate.  It wouldn’t look right and it sure wouldn’t feel right.

Before putting a pencil to paper, survey the setting – look at the surroundings.

Consider the feature or intended use of the space (recreation, entertaining, interest garden, etc.).

With all things considered, if this intended setting was here and occurred naturally, how might it look?

In the pool setting above imagine what the property looked like before.  The large trees were existing and the land was raised going towards the back.

With the intent of designing a pool in an appropriate setting, how do you think this would naturally occur?

Conceptually the pool would be irregular in shape, it would more likely occur in a lower position relative to the slope, and it would be surrounded by naturalized plantings.

No doubt you’ll have specific feature requests that you must work with – like the paver bricks used for this pool patio.  (Irregular flagstone would have worked well.)  But if you always keep in mind your general concept of what’s appropriate in the design, you can’t go wrong.

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