Tree Hugger

The Team

Architect/deck installer: CG&S Design-Build, Austin, Texas,
Pool subcontractor: The Swimming Man, Austin,
Arborist: The Davey Tree Expert Co., Austin,

The Idea

The homeowners wanted a pool and entertainment space built in a backyard with a steep incline, but they didn’t want to lose the shade provided by existing Texas live oak trees. “Because shade is such a premium in Texas, if you have a tree, you really want to work with it,” explains Gregory Thomas, AIA, senior project architect with CG&S Design-Build.

Dave Madden, an arborist with The Davey Tree Expert Co., consulted on the project to protect the Texas live oak trees during construction. Fortunately, the species is hardy and can withstand some root impaction and major root cuts though any wounds need to immediately be protected from oak wilt, a quickly spreading fungal disease.

After the pool was cautiously dug to protect tree roots, a series of ipe decks was built around the trees. “We built the decks so as much water as possible could get to the tree roots,” Thomas adds. “In some ways it’s probably better for the trees because those roots are now shaded.” Deck boards were cut to provide a fairly wide gap around the trees and a trim piece was installed, leaving about 2 inches between the deck and tree. As the oak grows, the trim piece can be removed, cut back and reinstalled.

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