Retaining Wall Built for a Lakeside, Cliffside Pool
By Alli Rael, LC/DBM
Installing a lakeside pool for this cliff top residence in Kelowna, British Columbia, was a daunting task due to the size of the available space. The homeowners hired Hampton Pools, led by Tim Valerioti, who completed the project, which included a retaining wall, steps up to the pool, and a deck, in about six months.
Before the Hampton team could begin to build, they had to first excavate the space. The site is at the bottom of a granite cliff face on one side, and faces a lake on the other, making access tricky. All of the debris that was created through the excavation had to be packaged in construction bags and removed via a barge on the lake for recycling or demolition. Excavating the site took a month in itself. "We had to crane and barge everything to the site," Valerioti said. That includes all equipment and materials: 4,000 pound pallets of retaining wall block, a mini excavator, a compactor and more. Once the materials and equipment arrived via barge, they were craned into the small construction staging area. "It was a huge endeavor," he continued. All of the hardscape products - Rosetta retaining wall blocks and steps - were supplied by
'Outcropping' blocks were chosen to build the retaining wall, as their natural look blends well with the 80-foot natural granite cliff that the pool backs up to. The blocks range from 2'-6' in length and 6"-24" in height, and weigh between 400 and 2,000 pounds. Complementary 'irregular' steps that have a natural, stone-like look and texture were chosen to create the path from patio to pool. Additionally, a small planter wall was constructed with 'Belvedere' stones, another natural looking product.
The staircase and deck were designed to look as if they float, with lights positioned under each step so they glow in the evening. The open tread step installation proved to be yet another challenge in this project, as it had to be done before the upper deck was built. Valerioti explained that to achieve the floating look, a suspended cast concrete beam was installed up the middle of
Native plants were chosen for the landscape, including barberry, blue fescue, hydrangea, Oregon grape and lavender. The palm tree is artificial, and was an existing feature of the landscape. The homeowners elected to keep it there because it would have been a huge undertaking to remove it.
In total, about 30 people worked on the project, from design to excavation to installation and completion. The homeowners, who live on the cliff above the pool, enjoy their space and access it via a lift built into the cliff side.