Landscape Design: The Gardeners
Pool Installation: Easton Pool & Spa
Build: Godwin Construction
Jason Pontbriant of The Gardeners (formerly known as Duxbury Gardeners) has a special talent for turning slopes into settings. When Ronaldo and Jeanne de Andrade decided to add an outdoor oasis to their Cohasset home, it was The Gardeners they called—and it was Pontbriant who capitalized on the grade changes.
The Punch List
Part of a new development, the contemporary Colonial-inspired house sits on a small lot flanked by neighboring homes—one of which is elevated, giving it a direct sight line down onto the de Andrade’s property. Pontbriant was charged with designing a highly functional, private pool area that would accommodate the couple’s penchant for entertaining while providing cozy spaces to lounge for the family of three. The couple was also interested in using the space on a nearly year-round basis, and they wanted a new deck, a pool, an outdoor kitchen and a fire pit.
Pontbriant set to work. His program called for multi-tiered spaces that would work with the sloping topography. (Even the pool is on two levels.) “It was amazing the way Jason took this little piece of land and carved it all up to make an architectural landscape,” says Jeanne, who, as a graphic designer, has an eye for effective forms. Pontbriant carried the clean straight lines of the home’s interiors into the landscape, which is at ease in its quintessential New England environs despite its contemporary feel.
The concrete-walled liner pool by Easton Pool & Spa is centered off the veranda and features a silver travertine pool deck and Rocky Mountain blue granite stonework and veneer. “One of the great things about silver travertine is that there are so many colors within the stone itself,” Pontbriant says. “Every piece is unique—all the colors that you find in stonework are found in the travertine—light grays, dark grays, browns, creams, beiges, etc. So I can blend any stonework off of it.” To interrupt the vast expanse of travertine, Pontbriant added bluestone accents in the form of caps on columns as well as around the fire pit and water features. “I used colors that would keep things consistent while adding new elements to break up the majority of the flatscape,” he explains.
Because the couple wanted a larger than usual entertaining space, Pontbriant ensured plenty of room to gather beyond the pool proper. Godwin Construction replaced the pre-existing, second-story 10-by-10-foot deck with a much larger Azek deck, beneath which is the veranda. With its ceiling heaters and close proximity to the outdoor kitchen with seating for 14, it is a popular social space, particularly when the cool weather sets in. (Its success has meant late-season football games enjoyed outdoors.)
“First and foremost, I try to design for life beyond the pool season,” says Pontbriant, noting the importance of having different zones—whether for kids or adults, quiet or active, day or night. “It’s really an extension of our living space,” says Jeanne of the landscape’s entirety. Even their 90-pound Berniedoodle has a place to romp—on the slice of lawn they decided to keep.
The de Andrades agreed to a few unexpected elements, too, such as the spilling water focal points and Bobé fire bowls and scuppers. “At first, we said no to them but the alternative was to put flowerpots there and I thought, ‘Oh no, I want fire,’” Jeanne recalls.
Privacy is Paramount
As privacy was imperative, Pontbriant sourced large-caliper Hawthorne trees to be planted on the perimeter line off the deep end of the pool, as well as fast-growing pear trees for screening. At the periphery, he went with Okame cherry trees, clumping birches and Japanese Stewartia. Two Coral Bark Japanese maples provide multi-season interest—one is sited by the fire pit, the other by the putting green, which was put in for their daughter, Ellie, a competitive golfer. Bloodgood Japanese maples are under-planted with Golden Mop cypress for red-yellow contrast—something Pontbriant relishes.
“When you can play off red as a dominant color, it really draws your eye to a point we want it to go,” he says. “I try to keep the specimen trees in lines of sight with the focal points of the landscape.”
In the end, the sloping grade that initially posed a problem now supports a promontory overlook of the pool. Of the final result, Jeanne says: “We couldn’t be happier—not only with the look of it but also with the way it functions for us. We work a lot, so we aren’t able to travel as much as we might like to. Having this as our backyard is a way to get away.”