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Large Patios and Last Minute Pools–Landscape Design in Willow Glen

Great landscape design is not always predictable. At Water and Earth, we embrace the evolving and changing nature of spaces, from initial 2D renderings, to fully finished backyards. However, once designs have been finalized, there are rarely huge changes that are made. In today’s San Jose landscape design challenge, we revisit a space that had a huge addition in the 11th hour.


Introducing The Space

For most of the design process, these clients were intent on including only a spa in their outdoor living space. As you will see throughout this walkthrough, initial renderings, 3D renders, and even the final plan all include a version without a pool. However, when push comes to shove, if you’re going to live with a space forever, you want it to include everything you’re dreaming of.


Thus, in a last minute swing of events, we were asked to modify. Some design companies might be resistant to this, or reluctant to make a change so late in the game. But we understand that a space without everything you want isn’t a space worth paying considerable money for. For this reason, we are eager to be adaptable and to help clients achieve outdoor living spaces and landscape designs that fit them and their needs perfectly. Let’s jump into the design process.


2D Renderings

When first speaking with these clients, their wish list for their new space was fairly straight forward. They wanted a covered living space with a fire pit, a luxury spa, a streamlined front yard, and plenty of space to lounge, spread out, and enjoy the outdoors. The home itself was very modern, and it was important that the final design looked like it belonged alongside the house. For homes with very distinct looks, we pay special attention to making sure that design is complimenting and not competing.


Concept A

Concept A

In Concept A, the homeowners begin in the front yard. The driveway has been refinished in contrasting concrete pavers. In this design, the driveway includes plans for a basketball court markings inlaid into the pavers themselves. Connecting the street to the home’s front door is a path created from long, linear concrete steppers. The remainder of the front yard is finished with turf, providing some green contrast to the rest of the modern hardscape.


Moving from the front to the back of the home, the clients walk along a long line of concrete steppers and into a side yard. This space is utilized in this design with the inclusion of raised vegetable beds. From here, the homeowner’s can continue toward the back right corner of the lot, and step onto a new tanning patio that looks over a brand new infinity spa.


From the spa, you step onto a concrete slab paver patio with plenty of space for outdoor living and dining. Moving towards the home, steps take you up onto a new interlocking paver patio, home to a new outdoor kitchen, living space, and covered living space.


In this design, the far left corner of the yard is devoted to green space, finished with turf and flowing into carefully designed privacy plantings and landscaping around the perimeter of the yard.


Concept B

Concept B

The second design direction took many ques from the first. However, some key elements have been changed or reimagined. In the front yard, the driveway and basketball court remain the same. The concrete stepper approach has been reimagined. Where it continues straight to the door in Concept A, Concept B sees this approach broken up by a bike path running from the driveway, around the corner of the front lawn, and out to the street.


In the back of the home, the layout has changed. The homeowners still step out of their backdoors onto a large concrete paver patio, complete with a tv and outdoor kitchen. However, the rest of the space is configured differently.


Along the right side of the house, a Bocce ball court has replaced the proposed vegetable planters. In the back right corner, a fire pit with a seat wall holds the place where the spa used to be.


This cozy nook gives way to a series of concrete steppers, leading our clients onto the lawn. From here, they can continue to the back left corner of their property, stepping up onto an upper paver patio with easy access to the brand new spa.


After thinking it over, the clients initially preferred the layout of Concept B. Using this as our guide, we move through an initial set of 3D renderings.


Initial 3D Renders

In this initial set of 3D renders, you’ll see how the space has begun to evolve even in the journey between the initially chosen design, and the final space.


The initial renderings of the new front yard.

In the front yard, the basketball hoop has been reoriented, mounted above the garage. The long concrete pathway is cut through by a bike path that wraps around and flows out onto the street. The space is finished with new landscaping, a bench for additional seating, and turf.

A look from the spa over the rest of the space

Above, you see how the proposed spa is elevated to the same grade as the patio off of the back of the home. This iteration of the design excluded the fire pit, in favor of more lawn space. The overall effect is a more minimal design with plenty of room to spread out, enjoy a lawn game, or just hang out.

Looking from the Bocce ball court over the rest of the yard. The large, elevated patio is visible off the back of the home. The raised spa is seen in the distance.

Looking from the other direction, you see one of the more unique proposed elements of this design–the bocce ball court. This built in game space is just one great way you can make your outdoor living space a better entertainment hub. From this angle, you can see the way in which the large, covered patio is raised above the rest of the homeowner’s lawn.


When the client first saw these images, they were excited to get the construction of the space underway. We went to present the final, detailed design layout and assumed that we would move from there directly into construction without any major changes. We were wrong.


The First “Final Design”

As we mentioned, sometimes the direction of a project can change course when you least expect it. In this backyard, the curveball came late in the game. As we presented these final designs to the homeowner’s, they left us with a request we were not expecting–Can we put in a pool?

The first “final design”, depicted above with a lawn and no pool.

We’re never ones to shy away from a challenge. Although the request caught us off guard, we quickly went back to the drawing board to see what we could do. How could we add a pool without disrupting the elements of the space that homeowner’s loved, such as the raised deck, and private spa.


After working for a while, our team figured it out and we presented a new, final design direction to the homeowners.


The Final, “Final Design”

The design we returned with was one that truly encapsulated everything our clients were looking for in their new outdoor space. Here’s how we made it work.


The final, final design, complete with the newly added custom pool.

The front yard remained unchanged. However, the side approach has been altered in order to allow the homeowner’s to have access to the lawn without sacrificing the inclusion of a pool. Instead of a bocce ball court, this space is now open turf.

Where previously there was a long open stretch of turf, a new pool has been added in its place. This new pool has been raised in elevation to match the large paver patio and spa, which still are accessible directly off the back of the home, or by stairs from the lawn.


The spa itself has been repositioned slightly to nestle in next to the new pool, and behind it there is more patio space with plenty of room for a table or set of tanning chairs.


After seeing this new layout, the clients were thrilled. They knew now that they were truly going to be getting everything they were looking for in their outdoor living space. While it was an adjustment to make so late in the game, we were more than happy to do it for an outcome that our clients would love for years to come.


The Finished Space

When construction was complete, we couldn’t have been more thrilled with the outcome. Renderings and imagination can help you envision the potential of your space, but there’s nothing like seeing it all come together in front of your eyes.


A look at the front yard, complete with contrasting, inlaid basketball court pavers, and a new front approach.

This modern design has a flair for the unique, with an elevated focus on entertainment features. Even in the front yard, functionality and fun merge in the new paver driveway. In the picture above, you can clearly see how contrasting inlaid pavers create the lines of a half basketball court. The front of the home is radiating with curb appeal, while still managing to put the homeowner’s needs first.

A look from under the elevated, covered patio out toward the pool.

In the backyard, all of the pieces have come together to create a hub for family and friends to enjoy. The new paver patio is fully covered, and complete with an outdoor kitchen, TV and living space, and fans to circulate a cool breeze even on the hottest summer days. From this vantage point, our clients can see every inch of the space without ever stepping down onto the lawn.

Looking out over the new pool toward the spa.

As for the last minute pool, it looks like it had been included in designs from the jump. Its elevation keeps it even with the paver patio. This way, homeowners can step directly down into it using the stairs, or jump in and dangle their legs from the patio or any of the wide coping edges.


The new tanning space beside the luxury spa.

The luxury spa features an overflow water feature, and allows users to relax while keeping an eye on what is happening over their shoulder in the pool. Just behind the spa is a swath of uncovered patio, perfect for tanning chairs and soaking up the summer sun.


At the end of the day, you can’t always predict how a space will end up. What started as a minimal spa and fire pit design transformed to include a large, luxury pool the homeowners can enjoy forever. Water and Earth welcomes the unexpected, the original, and the unique.


We pride ourselves on being great problem solvers who truly value feedback from clientele. This attitude is what helped this backyard transform into a modern outdoor living space perfect for swimming, tanning, diving, cooking, playing with the kids, or just kicking back and relaxing.


Explore More Design Surprises

No two designs are ever the same. Explore more design walkthroughs for unique spaces like this one on our blog. From the outdoor design questions you need answered, to works in progress, and more, visit our blog today.


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