This backyard design is the ultimate place to play. Space to swim, gather, cook, and even golf on the putting green. For the resources list, scroll to the end of this article.
By David Lennam | Photos by Jody Beck
What began as a simple outdoor daily visits of voracious renovation and landscaping project in Saanichton expanded into something much more grand. And more practical.
Though a hot tub, outdoor kitchen — and even a putting green — weren’t part of the initial conversation, their inclusion turned out to be exactly what a couple with a passel of grandkids needed.
Malcolm and Tricia Banks bought into a development of nine homes north of Brentwood Bay, looking at the heavily treed enclave on a quiet, dead-end road and imagining spending their retirement in tranquil repose. There were just a couple of minor tweaks needed.
One was protection from hungry deer. An avid gardener, Tricia wanted deer control fencing to keep the buds and blooms from the daily visits of voracious interlopers.
“The deer were decapitating anything she planted, usually overnight,” recalls her husband.
There was also a large lawn which guzzled water and fertilizer and demanded hours of mowing. So the decision was made to remove the lawn and add a pool, along with a backup generator as a remedy for frequent power outages.
That probably seemed like enough. But let the imagination soar and you’re suddenly well past a deer fence.
“It kind of grew,” notes builder Phil Wilson of Philco Construction, who worked closely on the project with Ryan Hoyt Designs. “Once we got going, (Tricia) just kept asking me what I would do. Next thing we were hot tub shopping, adding putting greens with lights in them and we kept going.”
Bringing the Indoors Out
Upon completion, seven months later, the result is a spacious and sumptuous backyard, set up for playtime.
It’s hard to say whether the centrepiece is the 14- by 33-foot saltwater pool or the full outdoor kitchen snuggled up against a new detached garage, that not only acts as car storage in the winter, but as a place for all the pool toys and houses an indoor/outdoor game room with a Ping-Pong table.
That kitchen features a gorgeous White Princess quartzite countertop above weather- resistant stainless-steel Napoleon OASIS series cabinetry. A built-in gas grill and a charcoal barbecue make it difficult to decide just how to perfectly cook those steaks.
Plus a 55-inch flat-screen TV to divert attention from all that grilling.
After a meal, there are several areas to relax, each with its own distinct possibilities. The most inviting might be snuggling up around the fire-bowl, or, if the sun’s still out, poolside.
From Lawn to Luxury
The in-ground pool by Viking is fibreglass, optionally heated by propane or a heat pump. An automatic retractable cover rolls open or shuts at the push of a button. And with lots of little ones about, the cover is a safety feature offering peace of mind.
The most whimsical element of the backyard design is the custom practice putting green, sloped for added challenge, and greenskeeper smooth with a carpet of zero-maintenance SYNLawn synthetic turf. (“Just blow the leaves off,” says Wilson.) For a round at night, or maybe just to add to the generous landscape lighting, each of the putting green flags has an Integral LED light in its cup.
“I’m an avid golfer,” admits Malcolm, “so the putting green was my treat using what was otherwise a wasted area of the property.”
Finally, an energy-efficient Beachcomber hot tub invites grandparents worn out from a day of chasing the kids around the pool.
The entire backyard design — ready to cook, play or just gather — is a huge patio, accentuated throughout with elegant stonework, much of it cleanly and fluidly curved.
The project was not without its challenges, however. Wilson was staring at a blank palette of level lawn when he began — no landscaping, just grass. A lot of soil was trucked out, a series of five-foot retaining walls were built and gravel was then brought in as the grade was changed and adjusted.
With the pool, and concerns like bearing capacity and the burying of pipes, plus power and gas lines, there were geotechnical considerations and engineers on site.
“There’s definitely a lot of pre-thought when you’re burying all these pipes for pool pumps and stuff like that,” explains Wilson. “There’s a lot going on underground there.”
Ultimately, he says, the client wanted the best, “and it was a lot of fun.”
Malcolm says the new outdoor facilities of the backyard design have received rave reviews from the couple’s grandkids. “We enjoy entertaining, love barbecuing, love our grandchildren, and this new facility allows us to enjoy the outdoors in spring, summer and fall,” he says. “It’s a long way from the simple lawn it replaced.”
BUILDER: Phil Wilson, Philco Construction
DESIGNER: Ryan Hoyt Designs
INTERLOCKING PAVING: Brad Lewis, Bedrock Paving
SWIMMING POOL: CA Pools
HOT TUB: Wildwood Outdoor Living Centre
QUARTZ COUNTERTOP: Stone Trends Marble & Granite
LIGHTING: McLaren Lighting
ROCK WALLS: Heritage Masonry
ARTIFICIAL TURF: SYNLawn
PAVING MATERIAL: Slegg Building Materials