In ancient Persia, popular pleasure gardens were designed to please the senses and provide relief from the otherwise oppressive climate. Like an oasis in the desert, these privileged places were a refuge to all who entered. So much so that the English word paradise, often used as a synonym for heaven, is derived from their timeless term for such a cool and quiet space.
But the ancients had nothing on League City’s Knuth family. In the far, southeast corner of Galveston County’s largest and fastest growing city, Marland and Jamie Knuth have constructed a complex and pleasing backyard paradise that can accommodate up to 150 neighbors and friends.
“Being in the business, I see a lot of ideas and concepts,” said Marland Knuth, who owns Elite Pools and Spas, which serves League City, the Clear Lake area, Galveston and other surrounding communities. “So I took little pieces from each and created a place for our kids. It’s done in a style we call ‘Texas Hill Country.’”
The completed creation, brushed with muted earth tones, is centered around a 1,600-square-foot pool and boasts an artificial, flooded 10-by-10-foot cave with 11 feet of headroom. The cave in turn feeds into a 30-foot tunnel/water slide, which delivers swimmers into the pool’s deep end, which is also equipped with a rope swing. Centered in their design is a spa pool for adults, while a complete swing set and playground is placed a few yards away next to a large, comfortable game room/pool house. All these elements are drawn together with year-round foliage selected for its perennial color and robustness.
“It’s mostly evergreen, but the flowers bloom all year long,” Knuth said. “We have birds of paradise, knockout roses, hibiscus and bottle brush.”
Year-round usability was key for the Knuths, so their plan included two fire pits, one fired with natural gas on the elegant patio and a second one burning solid fuel near the gunite, pebble-finished pool. These provide subtle, infrared warmth during cold snaps.
The original plans were practically perfect. Jamie Knuth only made two additions after initially sharing the space with family, friends and neighbors.
“We added a round table in the pool with benches for the adults and an umbrella on top,” she said. “We put a fishbowl on top of it to protect their cellphones. It’s user-friendly and inviting. We both love to entertain.”
Has there ever been trouble in this paradise? Maybe twice, the Knuths said. First, some children have been so taken with the choice of activities that they have forgotten to stop for food. And a few visitors may have decided lingering here is more tempting than heading home on time.
But the main feature that makes the Knuth’s backyard such a magnet for children, prom guests, golf cart poker runs and frequent neighborhood get-togethers is all but invisible. In fact, it was only noted when it malfunctioned.
“We have an automatic mosquito misting system,” Marland said. “The other day a feed pipe broke. We didn’t know it wasn’t working, until the mosquitoes tried to drag us away.”
• Backyard spas/pool/play designs range from $32,000 to more than $300,000.
• Professional designers can provide advice suitable to your neighborhood and available space.
• Outdoor kitchens and spas can be customized to complement your house and décor.
• Planners can pre-calculate sun angles to allow the best, squint-free sight lines for you and your guests.