Photo by Chipper Hatter

Thinking of adding a pool? Here’s the one thing you might want to leave out

If you’ve ever run barefoot across a concrete pool deck, yelping and hopping as your toes felt as seared as a piece of salmon in a skillet, you know the negatives of having a heat-absorbent surface facing up at the south Louisiana summer sun. Natural stone like travertine turns down the temperature a little, but its porous nature calls for a high level of maintenance. There’s an elegant solution to this dilemma, however: ditch the pool deck altogether, in favor of a lush lawn that leads right up to the water’s edge.

“I really don’t think you need a lot of paving around a pool,” explains landscape architect Jeffrey Carbo of Carbo Landscape Architecture. Carbo and his team went minimalistic when creating this backyard landscape for a young family. They outlined the pool with lilac-colored bluestone, and on one side of the pool, they incorporated a low infinity edge that led to a mulched walk and a wider area filled with native grasses and slender silhouette sweetgum trees.

“This is a young family, the pool is used a lot, but this is a lifetime house,” Carbo says. “I told them, your kids are going to be grown and gone and you’re going to be left with a pool, and you want to sit by something that you enjoy looking at. So the idea is that it works through life cycles and it becomes more of like a garden tool and a visual feature.”

The no-deck pool style is popular in areas like the Hamptons—those charming villages on the east end of Long Island where New Yorkers love to spend their summers—but the look has been slower to catch on here in the South. That’s ironic, notes Carbo, considering that we’re the ones with the outrageously hot summers. “It’s a much more elegant approach than 8 or 10 feet of stone all the way around the pool, especially in our climate, because heat radiates off that stone,” Carbo says. “It’s also more of a sustainable approach—we try to encourage people to minimize paving, and also to use porous materials on their driveways.”

According to Carbo, the key when commissioning a new pool or any outdoor space is to keep an open mind. After all, your reward might just be an environment that suits you not only now but for years to come. “Part of what we like to do is show people the potential beauty of things they weren’t expecting,” Carbo says. “We like to just try to expand people’s horizons.”

Read more about this pool and landscape project in this article from the July 2021 issue of inRegister