June 2024

Cool in the Pool: Backyard Transformation

Howard and Lori love to entertain, especially outside. In 2015, the couple moved to Wilmington from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and settled into a spacious brick home. Eight years later, they embarked on a project that transformed a tired and dated backyard into a multi-level wonderland that included an upper and lower terrace, an outdoor kitchen, firepit and impressive pool and spa.

Lori and Howard’s home perches above an idyllic lake that serves as the perfect backdrop for their expansive project. They attribute its success to the expertise of Tracy McCullen who spearheaded every aspect of the undertaking. He instinctively knows how to bring out the best in any environment.

“He is a fascinating guy, truly. He would come and just sit and concentrate to get a feel for the yard to identify what style would fit it. Tracy is thoughtful and insightful and so creative.”

Selecting the right materials to complement the view was critical. Working with Emily, at the Stone Garden, they chose a unique Leathered Marble in Tayla Gray for the pool deck, coping, patios and wall caps. For the vertical surfaces, soft Silver Travertine Splitface panels pair effortlessly with the cool, gray tones of the floor tiles.

“We did not anticipate the impact of the white and grayish tones of the stacked stone with the marble. It’s beautiful.”

Tracy designed a striking fire table atop the upper terrace wall, using smooth black beach pebbles encased in a glass frame. It provides a perfect contrast to the expansive water view and greater flexibility for the layout of patio furniture. Guests are warmed by the flickering flames that create a magical ambiance as day turns to dusk. At night, the entire landscape is enhanced by the lighting artistry of George Hartner and his wife Jane Cockrell, who founded Outdoor Illumination in 2005.

By the lake a spacious enclave is surrounded with abundant greenery. A welcoming firepit, dressed in Silver Travertine and topped with a Leathered Marble cap, provides a special place for guests to linger and socialize.

All the plantings were installed by Cesar Carreon and his team from Mezquite Landscaping. With Tracy’s guidance, the crew carefully placed exquisite Zebra boulders around the curved edges of the ground-level pool. The plantings here echo the lush landscaping by the firepit circle.

“Tracy gave us so much more than we ever imagined. He is remarkable. His creativity changed the whole dynamic and opened up the view so much. It’s perfect.”

Throughout the process, Lori and Howard tell us that they received personalized attention from outstanding local craftsmen and women. All the stonework was skillfully installed by Pedro Velazco and his team from Aztec Masonry.

The outdoor kitchen on the lower terrace, built by Gene and Jennifer Robbins of Backyard Specialist, offers another intimate gathering area.

Phil Harris, of Caribbean Pools & Spas, installed the multi-level water palace with its masterful infinity edge. The sparkling water is a magnetic draw for the couple’s four children, seven grandchildren and ever-growing number of friends. Howard is especially proud of the unusually deep spa that plunges to five feet.

“The view from the hot tub where the infinity edge merges with the lake is spectacular. It’s wonderful to stand here, drink in hand, with jets entertaining my belly button. It’s as good as it gets!”


Minimize Weeds & Bugs This Summer

Get Out of The Weeds

Summer has brought many gifts, but weeds are not one of them. Synthetic turf is an easy way to:

– Eliminate weeding in the heat of the season

– Get rid of chemicals used to minimize them

– Gain more space in your garage or shed (by losing your mower)

– Stop having to replace and re-seed your grass in areas where it has died

– Reduce your landscaping bill


Curious? Interested? Want to Learn More?

– Visit our showroom and see our outdoor displays

– Have your landscaper get you a bid on our turf options

– Let us match you with an installer to provide an estimate


We are now a Golden Vale Synthetic Turf® stocking dealer. Get the turf without delays so you can get off the mower and go to the beach.

“Bucket of Doom” Can Manage Mosquitos

Check out this article from the New Hanover County Arboretum on how to minimize these pests from multiplying without harming the birds and bees. With a simple 5-gallon bucket you can create a solution that is incredibly effective.