Harmony in the Garden Blog

Replacing a Pool with a Garden

turning a pool into a garden

Over the years, more and more people have asked me for help with replacing a pool with a garden.   

Maybe it’s because of California’s ongoing drought?  Maybe it’s because of kids who have grown up and flown the coop? 

Either way, removing a pool and replacing it with a garden is a hot topic these days.

So as we enter into another cold and wintery weekend, I thought you might like to nestle in, make yourself a cup of tea, and gather a little inspiration from one of my favorite recent before-and-afters.

 

transforming a pool

BEFORE

This is the garden of one of my best friends and is one that I’ve wanted to get my hands on for years.

Sure, we’ve had some amazing memories with various birthday and girl scout pool parties, but once the kids moved out to start families of their own, the pool sat there year after year with very little use.

turning a pool into a garden

AFTER

After years of going back and forth regarding keeping the pool or removing it, a decision was made – remove the pool!

Removing the pool is never an easy decision: there are emotional hurdles to overcome (all those fun family memories!), financial hurdles (it’s pretty pricey), and inconvenience hurdles (it’s incredibly invasive, noisy, and messy.)

But in the end, it’s so worth the headaches.

 

Here’s what to expect if you’re thinking of taking out your pool: lots of loud equipment trampling your existing garden, digging for days and days, and a mess like you’ve never seen.   I won’t lie – it’s AWFUL.

But trust me – it’ll end soon enough!

removing a pool
removing a pool
removing a pool
turning a pool into a garden

Since the entire family was pretty nervous about the HUGE decision to remove their beloved pool, it was critical that I design their new garden with elements that would help create a whole new batch of family memories.

We achieved this by including something for everyone in the family.

We gave this patio a facelift by creating a more spacious Connecticut bluestone dining area to accommodate lots of impromptu entertaining.

Surrounding the new patio is a low retaining wall which also doubles as extra seating, when needed.

We made sure to leave lots of space surrounding the table for their daughter’s seasonal containers (a budding passion of hers, which of course thrills me!)

turning a pool

The overflowing containers on both sides of the dining table are amazing.

On one side are scented, old-fashioned roses, geraniums, and citrus.

On the other side of the table is their ever-growing collection of succulents.

turning a pool into a garden
turning a pool into a garden
turning a pool into a garden
turning a pool into a garden

Adjacent to the patio is the focal point of the garden – a stunning fountain conversion from an antique olive jar from Eye of the Day Design Center.

Nestled around the fountain is a mix of lemon thyme, dwarf lavender, and blue fescue grass. 

Instead of lawn or bark chips as a ground cover, we decided to use small, smooth La Paz pebbles, adding a wonderful feel and sound when walked on.

GreenBar

turning a pool into a garden

It’s a somewhat simple process to convert almost any type of container into a fountain. 

Click here to see another example, as well as find information on how to do this.

And, when Halloween rolls around, just add a little dry ice and the fountain becomes a party focal point!

turning a pool into a garden

Near the fountain are lounges for the sunbathers in the family, as well as a pair of heated Galanter & Jones chairs. 

Yes, I said heated!

I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly comfy and cozy these chairs are when there’s a chill in the air – my favorite chairs ever.

replacing pool with a garden

Each year, her husband grows heirloom tomatoes from seed, so he wanted a space where he can continue to grow them (along with other crops of beans, peppers, and corn.)

 

replacing a pool with a garden
replacing a pool with a garden
turning a pool into a garden

The garden is small, but we were able to create a space at the very end that would have enough sun for his vegetable beds, complete with a see-through fence to keep out their rambunctious puppy.

The fence was built with redwood and corten steel.

We created a see-through grid, leaving it open not only for air circulation but because we didn’t want to visually ‘block off’ the garden, which would make it appear smaller.

turning a pool into a garden

Next to the fenced vegetable garden are two stacked-stone raised beds designated for cutting flowers and herbs.

They’ve had so much fun over the years trying different cutting flowers and herbs.

 

transforming a pool

These raised beds not only provide plenty of bouquets for the house but also protect the plants from marauding puppies!

turning a pool into a garden
turning a pool into a garden
turning a pool into a garden

Removing a pool is certainly an expense, and a long process, but in the end it’s worth every penny and every Excederine!

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this pool’s transformation, as much as I enjoyed helping to create it!

 

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34 Comments

  • Welcome back and thanks for the beautiful and inspiring post. I will add that our front yard is looking very good as it grows up. The olive trees will have their first shaping at the end of this month!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jo, and I’m so glad to hear your front garden is looking great. Send pics sometime!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • I had just been thinking that it is time for a blog from Rebecca and then it came. I hope your year of taking time for your father
    was full of wonderful memories. Your use of the pool space is creative and appealing. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • This past year has flown by, that’s for sure – so nice to hear from you Sylvia. I hope your daughter is doing well – tell her ‘hello’ from me! xoxo

      Reply
  • Dearest Rebecca, so good to have you writing again. Fabulous makeover on the “no more pool” garden! Look forward to more wonderful stories from you!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Sabrina – I’m glad you liked the makeover. I sure do miss you two! xoxo

      Reply
  • So nice to “hear” your voice again, Rebecca. I’m sorry for your loss and sadness. I am planning to see you at the Garden Show in Seattle on Feb. 20th. I’d also love to host you on Bainbridge if you have time…Bloedel Reserve? Hugs to you. I truly enjoy your talent.

    Reply
    • Gigi, you are SO sweet – thank you for the generous offer but my mother and I are flying in and out after my talks and I won’t have any time for a Bainbridge Island trip. I was there a few years ago and LOVED IT. And you know, I’d love to see your garden. Next year let’s plan this for sure, okay? p.s. I love looking at your painting – it has a home nestled in my new bookcase and is stunning. 🙂

      Reply
  • Welcome back, Rebecca. Your thoughtful words and beautifully sensitive garden style has been missed, but understood. The transformation of this space from a large pool play area to a different kind of family relaxation area is perfect. The raised stone planters are not only great to look at but a brilliant design with pups racing and chasing! The dogs don’t get into trouble and the family gets to enjoy their new family space plus their new gardens! It’s a winner!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Sheila, I really appreciate your comments. You really ‘get’ this garden (no surprise, being a dog lover!) I hope you’ve settled into your new life and are loving it? I was thinking of your beautiful garden in Denver the other day and wonder how the new homeowners are enjoying it – I bet they love it. We had such a fun time, didn’t we? Sending you lots of love.

      Reply
  • I was wondering why there were no blogs so was pleasantly surprised when this popped up!
    My sympathy on the loss of your father, and glad you were close to your Mother. The garden redo was very inspirational, well done, and glad you are back.

    Reply
  • The garden is lovely but sorry you took out the pool…especially with a Lab puppy…there is nothing they love more than water of any kind. I know, I have two.

    Reply
    • Yes, the puppy would’ve loved the pool for sure. He came a year after the installation, though, otherwise they might not have taken it out!

      Reply
  • The ‘something for everyone’ theme is perfectly expressed in this new garden – wonderful! And the puppy has stolen my heart.

    Reply
  • Gorgeous garden! So happy you are back and blogging again. I’m so sorry this past year has been so challenging. I know how close you were with your dad. But, it looks like you are ready to bloom again…just in time for spring. The sparkle in his eye as he looks down on you will surely provide the light to help you grow even fuller. xxo

    Reply
    • Thank you, Christina – you’re so right. This year has been the toughest one of my life, for sure, but finally having the energy again to blog and to garden is a sign that life continues to move forward (with or without you, right?) I hope all is well with you and your new life in LA!

      Reply
  • Welcome back Rebecca! I’m so glad that you took the time to heal your heart and soul.

    The color in the two stacked-stone raised beds is gorgeous! Looking forward to your “DON’T SNUB THE SHRUB!” presentation on the 20th!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Rachel, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and please stop by and say ‘hi’ – it’ll be good to see you!

      Reply
    • Thank you, Debra, I’ll miss seeing you. Gosh, it’s been a LONG time, hasn’t it? xoxoxo

      Reply
  • Absolutely beautiful Rebecca! I would never have guessed there was a pool there. Sending (((hugs))) your way.

    Reply

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