Photo courtesy of Gibbs Landscape Company

Gibbs Landscape Company likes to incorporate water features to enhance outdoor living spaces. However, the company recently worked on an outdoor living space design where water features took center stage.

An Atlanta-based homeowner heard of Gibbs based on the company’s reputation in the community, so they called the Smyrna, Georgia-based company and requested a design that included a very large water feature for their backyard.

“They wanted something big,” says Peter Copses, vice president of Gibbs Landscape. The company ranked 84th on Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 list in 2017, with $28 million in revenue.

The homeowner knew she wanted a backyard design with a water feature that would serve as an entertaining space, but Copses says they needed Gibbs’ help to smooth out the details.

The homeowner’s backyard features a slope, so she wanted a waterfall to stretch from the top of the slope to the bottom, ending in a pool that measures 20 feet x 30 feet. In addition, Gibbs suggested incorporating a spa next to the large pool at the bottom. By the end of the project, Copses says the water feature was 10 times larger than the average water feature Gibbs installs. The entire project cost between $200,000 and $300,000.

“It was extremely large,” Copses says. “I would say most (of our) water features are a tenth of the size of what we did there.”

Before Gibbs started the project, the backyard featured a lot of natural stone.
Getting started.

When starting the project, Gibbs met with the client to come up with a design that would work well. The backyard, which measured about 1 acre, had a large, natural slope that leveled out at the bottom.

A staircase and thin brook stretched from the top to the bottom of the slope. There was a tremendous amount of natural stone of varying sizes for designers to work with. Copses says some stones were small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand, and other stones were 2- to 3-ton boulders.

The end of the yard touched the edge of a river that flows behind the properties in the Atlanta neighborhood. “The river behind the project really tied it all together,” he says.

“You don’t want to build something that looks like it wasn’t naturally there. The natural look is best.” Peter Copses, vice president, Gibbs Landscape
Authentic look.

Gibbs aims to achieve natural-looking designs that blend in well with the surrounding topography. Sometimes, Copses says the company has worked on landscapes that had features that seemed artificial compared with the native area.

“You don’t want to build something that looks like it wasn’t naturally there,” he says. “The natural look is best. In the end, that’s often what the customer wanted.”

With this project, Copses says a very large water feature looked natural because of the native elements already in place.

“The lay of the land and the way it slopes down would help to tie it together, making it look dreamily natural and like (any added water feature) has been there. The river works with it, pulling everything together to make it look extremely natural,” he says.

The slope and brook in the backyard allowed for a natural-looking waterfall to spill to the bottom. Gibbs placed a waterfall next to the staircase, designing it with four spills that fell into a large pool at the bottom.

The backyard also had lots of natural stone to mix into the design, but Copses says arranging the stones in a way that seemed authentic was difficult.

“When you get into smaller boulders and stones, it’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together just right to create that natural look,” Copses says.

Gibbs also placed a spa next to the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. Copses says the homeowner was unsure about this at first, but, after the company showed her some pictures of similar designs, she was sold.

“It was one of those ‘aha’ moments,” Copses says. “At the end, that was one of their favorite parts of the project.”

The spa is heated, so it can be used as a cooling place in the summer and as a place to keep warm in the winter. Next to the spa, Gibbs installed a stone patio with a rustic fire pit and a few chaise lounge chairs. “The client can sit with family and friends at the bottom and look up at the water feature,” he says.

As a final touch, Gibbs installed plant material that blended with the design, such as irises, cat tails and other plants that can be found near rivers and streams.