February 2011 AQUA Choice Award Winner: A Stone Garden Spa In West Olive, Mich.

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0211 Choice

The challenge of the AQUA Choice portable hot tub category is to integrate a man-made spa into a natural setting. Landscape Solutions West achieves that difficult task in this installation with artfully placed boulders and subtle splashes of green plantings which do not hide or overwhelm the spa but add to its enticement.

Still, this carefully crafted ambiance would be ruined by an awkward access panel route. Hiding that necessary maintenance entry point was part of the fun, says Tom Czerniak, owner of Landscape Solutions West.

"The backyard was small enough as it was," Czerniak says, "so we had to utilize the hillside to its fullest potential and build vertically instead of spreading horizontally. This thought process led to the idea of cutting into the hill for the tub to save on patio space.

"The creativity really came in when we built a pit out of 6-by-6 treated timbers and included a bump-out and trap door for the mechanical access. The trap door, which hinges upward, was covered with building felt and then dyed mulch. We cut a hole in the middle of the door and dropped in a large basket filled with lightweight growing media, which helps keep the evergreen shrub alive. This helps keep the location of the door a secret."

The landscaping timbers are concealed by Pennsylvania fieldstone, which also forms the steps up to the tub. These boulders had to be cut, shaved and shimmed to provide total concealment while maintaining a naturally finished product — no small task, but one the company managed gracefully, as is evident in the pictures above.

With all this accomplished, the tub was set in place with a crane based 50 feet below the far side of the hill.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

Submit your pool project for the 2012 Aqua Choice Awards at www.aquamagazine.com. Deadline is Oct. 1.

Landscape Solutions West

West Olive, Mich.Category: Portable Hot Tub

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