Keyword Site Search

Making a Splash in Big Spring

Landscape Architecture by KDC Associates

Lifelong residents of Big Spring, Texas, enlisted KDC Associates to design the overhaul of nearly 98,000 square feet of their backyard, replacing drought-ravaged trees and an existing pool with a terraced entertainment area that features a new spa, pool, pergola, fiber optic lighting and multiple ponds and fountains. Water jets arc into the pool beneath red geranium plantings, and limestone wall caps around the spa and planters provide points of visual contrast against the aquatic background.

Nestled on the edge of the Llano Estacado in western Texas, Big Spring is an unassuming town rich in frontier history. Ranching and oil still dominate the regional economy, and lifelong residents Stan and Sue Partee are tied to both. When they decided to renovate their outdated backyard and swimming pool, they wanted their new yard to feel as if they had entered a resort and spa, far from the sometimes-brutal summer environment of West Texas.

Kelly Cook, ASLA, of KDC Associates in Midland, Texas, was the lead landscape architect on the project and developed designs for the renovation, which spanned nearly 98,000 square feet. The homeowners made it clear that flowing water, and lots of it, was essential to their desire for an exotic resort atmosphere. They wanted a space that they could relax in with the capacity to entertain large parties and events.


A glass tile tanning shelf was added to the pool so users could sit on lounge chairs without changing into swimsuits, and built in stone tables were installed between the chairs. Hadrian limestone caps from Texastone Quarry in Garden City, Texas, top the low wall that encloses the lounge area.

Design & Demolition
Designs were quickly drafted in AutoCAD, and the homeowners signed off on the renderings in just 20 days so construction could begin immediately. At the outset, Cook and her team had to grapple with the daunting logistics of the installation. "No one in the area could comfortably handle this project," Cook said. "Our primary contractor and his crews came from over 40 miles away every day for over a year, and the pool contractor came from almost 70 miles away. Getting services and commitments from anyone to travel that far every day is difficult." The project's timeframe was compressed by volatile Texas weather and the preparation required for the project's large scale, and the client set a fixed date for completion, as the homeowners were planning a large engagement party for their son in the newly expanded backyard. Construction took about 15 months, and was completed in time for the family celebration.


Instead of a diving board, the homeowners opted for a diving boulder. Bougainvillea provides a splash of color on the ledge above the 14-foot deep end of the pool, which the client requested as part of a "Caribbean snorkeling" setting.

The backyard had a pool that was more than two decades old; the new pool was relocated to better fit the new design. Several large oaks that died due to drought were also removed during the construction. The site had eight feet of elevation change from the upper level home to the lower level in very unstable soils, so a large substructure wall was added with stairs and flagstone paving over the retaining wall.

A 3,000 square foot brick patio on the upper level was removed to allow for the new dance floor and patio space. The 2,000 square foot pool cabana was thoroughly renovated, and air conditioning was added at the owner's request. The cabana's 16-inch concrete roof and 12-inch poured concrete walls made the renovation a challenge.


A bronze sculpture of the client's children was installed on a boulder beneath the pergola, in a new pond that was included to provide a setting for the statue. One-inch by two-inch frosted glass tile accents in a jungle green color (Glass Tile Oasis) were installed as accents around the pool's perimeter, along the tanning shelf and beneath the pergola. Almost 3,000 square feet of glass tile was installed throughout the backyard in total.

Water, Fire, and More Water
KDC Associates designed a 70-foot long, 30-foot wide crescent pool, and the client requested a deeper deep end that would be amenable to diving. "It's a bit of a Caribbean snorkeling feel," Cook said of the pool, which was extended to a 14-foot depth on one side. Instead of a standard diving board, a boulder was installed for use as a diving platform. Near the platform, the edge of the pool spills into a rock-lined basin punctuated by pillars for the fountain pots, creating a vanishing edge near the entertaining area.

"The boulder allows the user to get the exhilaration of diving into deep water from a more natural edge treatment," Cook said. "It's the subtle design aspects that make projects like this successful." Adjacent to the pool, a large tanning bench that accommodates 4-5 lounge chairs was installed on a ledge that allows users to recline without getting wet. Between the chairs, built in stone tables can hold drinks, magazines, and food that can be reached from the pool.


The pond's waterfall projects the sound of moving water throughout the backyard. The pond's retaining walls are natural Texas sandstone and fieldstone, supplied by Alldredge Gardens of Midland, Texas.

"We introduced fire and moving water into the site so that the owner could both see and hear the environs in the evening. The design relied heavily on the incorporation of copper fire/water pots sitting atop stone columns aligning one edge of the pool," Cook said. "Bobe Water and Fire Features was contracted to fabricate and develop these pots.

"The fire from the pot provides a wonderful contrast to the water cascading more than four feet down into the pool, which projects great sounds into the sitting areas of the backyard." A raised stone hot tub with a 10-foot diameter was installed approximately 20 feet from the pool's edge. In the center of the hot tub, another copper fire/water pot was placed so that the owners can sit in the hot tub and still have the feeling of being near the fire. "We felt it was critical to continue the ambiance of the fire into some of the more intimate areas of the site and not just at the pool's edge," Cook said. Plantings included red geraniums, bougainvillea, mandevilla vines and potted seasonal flowers. The flora was selected for its ability to withstand the West Texas heat while providing the owner with ample color.


The new pond and pergola delineate the edge of the pool and entertainment section of the backyard. The pergola is stained rough cedar, and covers 3,500 square feet.

The owners needed a large area for tables during events that would allow space for a dance floor, so a level area was constructed directly outside of the residence's game and entertaining room. The patio is elevated six feet above the pool level, and provides a vantage point from which visitors can take in the entire site. "This area was critical to the site, but we were worried it would be too harsh and have a negative aesthetic impact to the yard," said Cook. "We decided to break the space up by introducing yet another fire and water feature."

A custom fire/water pot, in excess of five feet in diameter, towers above the backyard at the center point of the radius design. The large feature's combination of fire and water provides a backdrop for bands to set up and play for guests on the terrace.


About 13,000 square feet of Pennsylvania bluestone was used to surface the main patio and entertainment terrace. A copper firepot (Bobe) decorates the center of the hot tub.

The main patio and entertainment terrace were surfaced with approximately 13,000 square feet of Pennsylvania bluestone. Alldredge Gardens of Midland, Texas, supplied the paving surface, as well as the Texas moss-covered sandstone and fieldstone that were used to construct the retaining walls of the pond beneath the pergola. Texastone Quarry in Garden City, Texas, supplied Hadrian limestone wall caps for the planters, spa and pool lounge chair shelf. The jungle green frosted glass tile that lines the lounge chair shelf was also used for accents around the pool perimeter and pergola supports; nearly 3,000 square feet of the tile, supplied by Glass Tile Oasis, was installed throughout the backyard.

The stained rough cedar of the pergola stands over 3,500 square feet of the backyard, providing a visual end point for the terraced portion of the backyard and a setting for an additional pond with a waterfall, fountains, and a bronze sculpture of the homeowner's children, which was placed on a boulder above the water level. Planters hang from alternating pergola supports, between Mallorca fixtures (Minka-Lavery) with 60-watt candelabra bulbs.


Adjustable bubble geysers (PEM Fountain) provide acoustics in a trough near the bedroom of the residence. A treated and painted brick rowlock course lines the top of the fountain.

KDC Associates strategically placed two-inch round copper cannon scuppers throughout the walls and terraces of the backyard. Some fall into the swimming pool, some into brightly colored freestanding urns, and some into smaller pond features. One eye-catching water element was the incorporation of eight laminar fiber optic stream fountains (Fiberstar). These fountains produce a steady flow of water that arcs gracefully five feet into the sky and then down into the pool.


Water flows from and through 56 different areas in the backyard, including cannon scuppers that empty into a small trough near the pool. Mandevilla vines (right) add color to one of the corners of the patio.

Each water stream is internally lit with fiber optics, and the system incorporates a color wheel so the owner can change the color of the fountains based on the seasons or event themes. The lighting controls extend into every riser of the yard's steps, providing an enjoyable lighting effect at night. A pool controller (Pentair) is smart-wired to control all aspects of the site from the interior of the house.

"We have water emanating in some form or another from 56 different locations around the pool area," Cook said. "Almost anywhere that you walk around the entertaining areas of the backyard, you will encounter falling water, which is what the owners were after - their own personal oasis on the West Texas plains."


Fire/water pots and fiber optic lighting illuminate the pool and gathering spaces at night. Mallorca series light fixtures with 60-watt candelabra bulbs (Minka-Lavery) were affixed to alternating pergola supports.

Team List
Landscape Architect: KDC Associates, Midland, Texas
Kelly Cook, ASLA, Principal
General Contractor: Hector Ramirez, Midland, Texas
Pool Contractor: Aranda Pools, Odessa, Texas


The large upper terrace was designed for entertainment and dancing. The fiber optic lighting system, which includes the steps from the upper terrace to the pool area and the illuminated pool fountain jets, uses a smart-wired controller (Pentair) with a color wheel that allows the homeowner to change the color of the lights and fountains based on the seasons or event themes.


Comment Box is loading comments...

Search Site by Story Keywords

Related Stories

August 18, 2019, 12:56 am PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy