At Home - Pooling resources
Backyard pool creates cottage-like atmosphere and landscaping challenges
By: Susan Jones
| Posted: Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 06:00 am
Cheryl and Murray Brosnikoff’s backyard pool certainly makes a splash, but it’s the way the yard has been landscaped that provides the beauty.
Walk into the backyard and the pool is not the first thing people notice. Instead, it’s the perfume of the flowers and the garden art.
Where other people might have the green, green grass of home, the Brosnikoff’s have blue, blue water and weathered-wood decking.
That made the adding of extra colour and personality to the yard a bit tricky, but Cheryl solved the problem by using multiple groupings of potted plants combined with folk-art-style sculpture around the entire perimeter of the yard.
Huge old trees shade the biggest part of the yard that’s not covered by water, but Cheryl used the yard’s east-west positioning to make the most of every drop of sunshine.
“I wish we had evening sunshine, but instead, we get the sun in the morning,” Cheryl explained.
In the shadiest corner she planted several varieties of hostas along with ground covers such as violets, sweet potato vine, pulmonaria and variegated, showy-leafed plants like lamium. There are a few small blooms, but for the most part, differently coloured leaves that add texture as well as pattern to the yard provide the show.
Fragrant, edible leaves include chocolate-mint, which is contained in a pot.
“The mint is over there in the shade duking it out with the rhubarb. Both need to be kept from spreading,” Cheryl said.
A willow loveseat located under the trees provides the perfect spot for shade lovers.
“We do use that spot because it’s nice and cool and out of the sun on a hot day,” Cheryl said.
Even the art seems appropriate to the shady spots and a big clay turtle and frog, which are souvenir gifts from Mexico, seem almost camouflaged against the leafy background.
Rosemary and thyme
The sunniest place is in the pool, of course, but the deck and seating area takes up the one hot spot in the yard. The deck is ringed with pots of oregano, different varieties of basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme. Cheryl grows tomatoes in a pot and next door, in her neighbour’s yard, she has a row of peas, carrots and potatoes.
“I like to rub the leaves and smell the herbs. I also freeze what we don’t use and save it for winter,” Cheryl said.
Different sizes and shapes of pots add interest, too. A teapot, with a hole in the bottom for drainage, is a perfect pot for some impatiens. Almost every pot has something pretty in it, like a butterfly or a sculpted wire figure of a woman. The wire figure provides a base for a climbing vine.
Cheryl painted leaves on some old galvanized tubs and planted flowers in them. She also roughed up the edges of some inexpensive rectangular mirrors and placed them here and there throughout the garden.
“It’s fun to experiment. We distressed the edges of the mirrors to make them look old. They catch the light,” she said.
The Brosnikoff’s pool was there before they purchased their home 20 years ago, and it’s the reason they stay.
“We use the yard and the pool every minute we can. We open it up on the May long weekend or if it’s too cold, June 1, and it stays open all summer,” Cheryl said.
Murray admitted they recently toyed with the idea of moving, but updated the house with a few renovations instead.
“If we moved, we wouldn’t have a big yard like this and we wouldn’t have a pool,” he said.
The pool requires some maintenance, but he’s developed a routine to keep it clean.
“We have a solar cover and a big 300,000 BTU furnace, just like you would have in the house,” he explained, as he showed the furnace and the sand filter mechanism inside the pump house.
“That filters the sand 24/7,” he said.
In the fall he treats the water with special antifreeze and covers the pool with a big tarp and the yard is kept secure from small visitors with a locked fence.
Cheryl sometimes misses the visits to the lake cottage where she spent her youthful summers, but now the couple seldom leaves their own backyard.
Instead, they’ve pooled their resources and their gardening energy to make the best of their own backyard.
“It’s like our own little private park,” she said.