by Christy Heitger-Ewing | photo Adam Gibson Photography

It’s always fun to stare out the back window of your home and daydream about putting in a pool. Before you pull the trigger, however, it’s wise to meet with a seasoned landscape architect who can help you plan out and pull together the entire space, including pool, hardscape, landscape, and lighting.

“Oftentimes people are focused so much on the pool itself and not how everything around that pool should function,” says Ryan Coyle, owner of Vive Exterior Design.

When Coyle meets with clients, the first thing he asks them is how they plan to use the space. Will they entertain regularly? How many people? Do they prefer a modern or rustic style? During that initial meeting, Coyle gathers an understanding for the client’s overall vision for the space.

“Landscape architects are very similar to interior designers who ask about your living room, kitchen, dining room, etc., so they can pull it all together,” says Coyle. “We do the exact same thing with the exterior.”

It needs to be more than just placing a pool and patio in your backyard and this is where we can help with the process.

“Landscape architects and designers think about the overall function of the entire backyard,” says Coyle. And while you do need to think about the orientation of the pool as you want it facing south for best lounging, there are a number of other things to consider as well. “The planning, design, and style is really important upfront when planning your pool.”

Once he knows a client’s vision, he asks about budget so that he can gauge how to properly design a space.

“If you have a $100K budget, but you’re envisioning a pool, pool deck, fire pit, and pergola, you’re talking about a $200K project,” says Coyle. This isn’t to say that you can’t get all you want, however. The project may just need to be completed in phases.

“If you tell us you want A, B, and C but currently only have $150K on a $200K project, we can design a full master plan and complete it in phases,” OUTDOOR LIVING says Coyle. “That master plan is essential because the last thing you want is to put a $150K investment into your backyard and then in phase 2 have to tear some of that out because you didn’t plan properly.”

Primary elements for phase 1 would be the pool, some landscaping, and your hardscape, whether concrete or pavers. Pergolas and firepits are often secondary items for phase 2. Lighting can be put off until phase 3 because it’s easy to add later, as is landscaping.

“Again, the whole idea is to think outside the pool,” says Coyle, who softens the space by incorporating natural elements like boulders into the design, including jumping boulders by the pool.

“Years ago, diving boards were popular but no more,” he says. “They aren’t attractive the way natural elements are. I’ve got three big jumping boulders that sit straight on the edge of my pool. My boys love it!”

In addition, all drainage has to flow away from the pool. Coyle’s team will get creative with dry creek beds that the drainage goes into, which is seamlessly incorporated into the landscape.

Given that Indiana homeowners tend to use their backyards in the spring, summer, and fall, Coyle suggests putting in landscaping that offers continuous bloom such as ornamental grasses, perennials that bloom all season long, and hydrangeas that have a nice white bloom throughout the summer.

“People love a continuously blooming or changing landscape,” he says.

If you would like to build a beautiful backyard vibe, call the team at Vive Exterior Design to help make your vision come to fruition!

For more information, call (317) 773-9933 or visit