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Not a koi pond, it's a people pool.

Because of their size and exposure, swimming pools are often an aggressive feature in a garden. But this one--its edges softened with plants, stones, and gentle lines--seems to have been there longer than the surrounding landscaping.

Owner Jess Telles of Fresno, California, asked landscape architect Robert Boro to create a natural-looking, Japanese-style setting around his older house. To fit into this scheme, the new pool resembles a large koi pond.

In nature, ponds collect in low-lying spots. By contrast, swimming pools generally can't be recessed below grade. To achieve the natural feeling, Boro mounded soil, low shrubs, and trees near water's edge and used dark plaster in the pool. Embedded in a wide exposed-aggregate apron, rocks and round cobbles shape the pool's edge. River-rock steppingstones combine with moss-like ground covers to make a path to the house.

Tall horsetails (Equisetum hyemale) and zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus') make a bog-like screen between the pool and a small hidden deck.

Trees include a bonsai Japanese black pipe (Pinus thunbergiana), Japanese maple, and saucer magnolia. Growing on mounds are mugho pine, sasanqua camellia, dwarf nandina, 'Wheeler's Dwarf' pittosporum, fortnight lily (dietes vegeta), dwarf gardenia, mondo grass, green carpet (Herniaria glabra), and blue star creeper.

These photographs show the garden only 1-1/2 years old. Fully grown, the plants will obscure much of the pool so that it's never completely visible from the house.
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Date:Jul 1, 1984
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