Backyard Biography – Here Comes The Bride

Backyard Biography – Here Comes The Bride

At California Pools & Landscape, we know that every backyard has a story, and this one centers on the Dardens from Goodyear, AZ. The couple moved to the valley from Las Vegas and built a home in the Estrella Mountain area from the ground up. They designed the home around their love of entertaining and wanted to enjoy Arizona outdoor living, with a new personal paradise in their backyard.

The couple also planned to get married in their new backyard oasis, with a small gathering of family and close friends in early March of the following year.

“I planned my wedding the year before, and so I couldn’t imagine not only building a pool but also getting married where your pool is and how stressful that was,” said Sara Dougan, Scheduling Manager at California Pools & Landscape.

“When they told me they had a hard date of March 10th for the wedding they were going to have in the backyard, my initial response was, well, let’s not do this,” said Designer Ryan Delfino, while laughing. “Let’s see what we can do to get this thing done!”

The couple started their search to transform their backyard from a dirt lot to a dream oasis by meeting with two other pool companies before turning to California Pools & Landscape. The customer service and backyard design from Delfino proved to be the deciding factors for the project, which featured a seamless outdoor living environment that was custom created for the Dardens.

“When we went to California Pools & Landscape, Ryan & I really sat down and really talked about the design,” said Gary Darden. “We took the other two designs and combined them while adding a couple of other tweaks and liked that.”

“We entertain a lot; we built the house from the floor up for a space to entertain with the pool being a focal point,” said Shelley Darden. “Making sure we had a space to entertain was a big reason we picked California Pools & Landscape.”

Building A Inground Swimming Pool During A Pandemic

Construction on the backyard project started in August 2021, following some record-setting monsoon rainfall in the Valley. During this timeframe, the construction field and much of the world were still working through labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and service delays.

For the Darden’s backyard and timeline, setbacks first arose following the initial excavation. The elevation of the yard required some changes to the design.

“One of the issues with doing a plot plan design is that you don’t see the grade change,” said Ryan Delfino. “Their property, in particular, had quite a big swell going up to the back wall that was unplanned for.”

“Ryan was on the phone that day doing a video chat with us and designed everything right there,” said Gary Darden.

The new design featured a retaining wall behind the pool that helped tie the pool, spa, and fire pit together with stacked stone and three scupper water features. The fire pit was also elevated up a foot, creating a raised seating area.

“It actually served the purpose of dealing with the yard elevation but also gave us some interest, movement, and flow to the design that I think worked out way better than the original one just having those elevation changes,” said Delfino.

Additional delays arose during the plumbing phase of the project with material shortages, followed by labor delays in the steel phase. As the ebb and flow of the project carried on, the couple adjusted their plans accordingly.

“We had planned on hopefully having it done by Christmas, having family down here, and that came and went,” said Gary Darden. “Then we wanted to have it up and running for my 60th birthday because we were going to have a big party, which we did anyway without the pool.”

The Dardens in particular, knew that the delays in the job’s progress were due to the circumstances of building a pool during a global pandemic.

“Honestly, at first, I was like they really don’t care,” said Gary Darden. “They’re missing this, and they’re missing that. But it was covid. There were reasons they were missing it. You couldn’t get any help; you couldn’t get people to come out to work; you couldn’t get any products.”

With their wedding day in sight, the couple reiterated their need to have the backyard ready for the big day.

“We said we’re getting married March 10th; that’s the day,” said Gary Darden. “We’re getting married by the pool, in front of the fire pit. You guys have got to get it done.”

“Invites were out,” said Shelley Darden.

Scheduling Manager Sara Dougan handled the coordination of crews on site once the shotcrete had been completed. With just over a month until the wedding, she accepted the challenge head-on.

“I told her, in the beginning, it’s going to be tight,” said Dougan. “It’s going to have to be one after the other. Just being able to look at the plan, understand the crews, who needs to go out there in what order, and whether they can work around each other or not.”

Superintendent Dustin Looker handled the construction aspects of the project, ensuring that all of the work being completed was according to plan and up to the CPL standard. With numerous subcontractors and in-house contractors due to be onsite in such a tight time window, it required a lot of communication.

“I talked to Shelley every day; you know this is the gameplan; this is what crew is going to be out there,” said Dougan.

“Communication has been key, and I think that was the only way it was going to get done in time,” said Shelley Darden.

“Sometimes the magic aligns, and it’s easier to meet those drop-dead dates,” said Sara Dougan. “Sometimes you see a date, and you’re like, how am I going to make this work? What am I going to do?”

Countdown To Wedding Day

With two weeks to go before the big day, the Dardens got a call that changed the look of their project and threatened their looming deadline.

“Two weeks before they called us and told us they’d run out of the travertine, our travertine was not in stock,” said Gary Darden. “If we wanted to get it done by the deadline, we had to come to pick out new travertine.”

“Your heart sinks when you get that tidbit of information because you have it all lined up right,” said Sara Dougan. “Then you get a curveball, an unknown of, hey, I went to get that material, and they actually are out. It’s definitely a sinking feeling because we were already in crunch time.”

“It was when we were starting to hit the ground running, and then it was like, whoa, wait a second, pull it back,” said Ryan Delfino.

Thankfully the Dardens were able to find a travertine that was in stock that fit the aesthetic they were going for in the backyard. The new travertine also meant they needed to reselect a new waterline tile and stacked stone, adding to the stress of the time crunch.

“Luckily, they came to pick out a new selection, and then it was just telling our crew to stand by,” said Sara Dougan. “We have to pick it out, get it delivered, and I’ll get you that square footage by the end of the day.”

Given the delays that had occurred on the project and with the wedding date fast approaching, the couple was suddenly wondering if they needed to consider an alternate plan for their upcoming ceremony.

“I think Ryan was the one who said, Shelley, get a plan B,” said Shelley Darden. “I kept asking do I need a B and C or just a B? Sara kept responding no, no, no.”

“For me, there was no plan B,” said Sara Dougan. “We are going to get this done for you, and we’re going to make it happen.”

With the help of more than a dozen crews, strategic scheduling, and daily visits from Superintendent Dustin Looker, the project was on schedule to be completed leading up to deadline day. The completion seemed like a reality, as dedicated craftsmen stayed late to ensure the backyard was ready.

“You were out here putting this grass in the night before at 5 o’clock,” said Gary Darden. “The guys were out here with scissors clipping it to make it even.”

“The turf guys stayed late to make it happen; they knew she was getting married the next day,” said Sara Dougan. “I was nervous the whole time; that was a relief to come in and just a gratitude of seeing how hard they worked to make her wedding happen.”

With the turf completed, there was one final element to complete, which took some extra coordination on the morning of the wedding.

“We coordinated for her to be home the morning of her wedding because you have to be home to turn on that gas,” said Sara Dougan. “They turned on the gas, and we were talking her whole wedding morning. When she said the gas was turned on, I was like ok, we’re good; go get married!”

“It’s a special case, not every day that you have a wedding in your backyard,” said Ryan Delfino. Here at California Pools & Landscape, that’s our culture. We want to help and do everything we can.”

“Their level of care about getting it completed was astonishing. They really wanted to get it done for us,” said Gary Darden.

Wedding Day

On March 10th, 2022, Gary and Shelley held their intimate wedding ceremony in their new dream backyard, just like they’d planned. Their family and closest friends surrounded them with love and support in a space they’d built together.

“I got to walk through the house out to see all my family and our beautiful yard,” said Shelley Darden. “It was complete, the pool was going, and it was being heated; you could hear the gas going. To walk out and have it done was awesome; it was a big achievement. My house was built, my yard was done, and we got married!”

The pastor helped integrate a piece of the backyard into the ceremony with a unique rendition of unity. The filler for the fire pit had yet to be distributed and happened to feature two different color shades.

“The pastor suggested we put the rocks in vases, and at the end of the ceremony, you go back there, and you mix the rocks together in the firepit. Then no one can touch those because if they do, they’ll get burned. So if they try to mess with your wedding or with your life, they’ll get burned. So that’s what we did.”

“We couldn’t have done it without everybody being on board,” said Sara Dougan. “Definitely one of the funnest projects that I’ve built; I’m so glad we were able to do it. I feel like I was in the wedding, a party planner and a pool builder. That one’s going to go down in history.”

“I can’t say enough about our scheduling department and our superintendents,” said Ryan Delfino. “The teamwork here is why I’m here at California Pools, the culture of teamwork and helping each other do better. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I love this company, and that’s the culture that keeps people staying.”

If you’ve been dreaming about creating your backyard oasis, you can learn about working with California Pools & Landscape. If you’d like to learn about another California Pools & Landscape backyard story, check out this stunning Scottsdale backyard.

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    Think You Know Calpool.com? Our Fresh New Website Is Set To Make Waves!
    You said you wanted a more robust experience. You said you like to do consumer research before making big decisions. We heard you! Check out the new calpool.com  3.0 and...
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    Pool Party Perfection
    California Pools & Landscapes works with each client individually to understand their hopes, dreams, and objectives for their ultimate backyard. Our team brought this client’s vision to life and the...
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    Sunken Bar Party Pool
    This backyard has it all and a little something for everyone! This gorgeous outdoor retreat was built for clients who recently had retired to Arizona from San Francisco. They were ready...
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    Lakeside Negative Edge
    This lakeside gem was a spectacular example of California Pools & Landscape’s seamless blending of a beautiful natural landscape with a modern backyard oasis. The stunning lake at our client’s...
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    Desert Gem
    At California Pools & Landscape, we realize that each client is unique and will approach their project in their own way. Our design team can accommodate any level of involvement...
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    Your Ultimate Backyard Builder
    California Pools & Landscape is Arizona’s ultimate backyard builder! More than just pools, our award-winning designers create a master plan for your outdoor living space. We consider every option to...
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    The California Pool and Landscape 34 Year Legacy
    California Pools & Landscape has a 34 year legacy of building award-winning backyards and providing sterling service to our clients throughout the valley! Family-owned and operated, we were founded on...
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    The California Pools and Landscape Culture
    At California Pools & Landscape, we believe that culture matters. Our business was built on the conviction that we are building more than backyard living spaces for our customers. We...
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    Award Winning Design
    Our award-winning designers are experts at bringing our clients’ visions to life. We take immense pride in our master plan approach, which enables us to truly envision a space in...
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    Funding Your Backyard Dream
    California Pools & Landscape offers financing options to make your dream backyard affordable. Every client starts with both a vision and a budget, and our job is to meld those...
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    Mortgage Financing For Your Pool
    Considering how to finance your backyard vision? Mortgage financing is a popular and economical way to pay for your pool. Read on and let us guide you through this cost-effective...
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    The California Pools and Landscape Story
    How We Began California Pools & Landscape was founded on the principle of making pool building a better experience for people. We were motivated by a sincere desire to create different...
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    What Our Customers Are Saying
    At California Pools & Landscape, we take immense pride in our approach to customer service. Service is at the very heart of our business and we go to great lengths...
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    California Pools and Landscape
    California Pools & Landscape is your ultimate dream backyard builder! With our 34 year legacy of craftsmanship, quality, and customer service, we have the experience to bring your backyard vision...
  • Artificial Turf is the New Pool Deck
    Artificial Turf is the New Deck
    For a fresh take on designing your new swimming pool and patio area, consider an artificial turf lawn for the deck instead of traditional materials like pavers or concrete. A...
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    Swim Up Bars and Sunken Structures
    If your family is craving a reprieve from the relentless Arizona sun, consider a shade structure over a swim-up bar. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that was...
  • Sea Glass Pebble Interiors
    Sea Glass Pebble Interiors
    From sparkle and durability to colors and value, this interior pool surface is a dream come true Looking for a smooth, durable and sparkly interior surface for your pool and spa?...
  • Pool Light Shows and Themes
    Pool Light Shows and Themes
    Pool lighting can transform your outdoor environment and enhance your family’s pool experience. Customized lighting options allow pool owners to change the mood and highlight water features and architectural elements....
  • Five Backyard Design Ideas For Fun Under The Sun
    Five Backyard Design Ideas for Fun Under the Sun
    Your backyard should be an enjoyable retreat your entire household can appreciate. However, homeowners with children often choose to redesign the backyard to accommodate the needs of their little ones...
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    Everything Water Features
    It’s one thing to install a functional swimming pool to help get you through the long, hot summer. It’s another thing entirely to build a true backyard oasis — one...
  • Fire Pits and Fire Places
    Fire Pits and Places
    Let’s face it; fire is something we humans have been gathering around for ages. It’s warmth, and bright snaps of flame and loud crackles is what makes it easy for...
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    Planning the Perfect Outdoor Living Environment
    When the homeowners of this Chandler property contacted California Pools & Landscape, they had a pure grass backyard and a plethora of inspirational pictures to help articulate their vision. Their...
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    Financing your Backyard Dream is Easy
    At California Pools, we know that a pool is an investment — in your home and in your family’s lifestyle. That’s why we offer pool funding options to help make...
  • Benefits of Having One Contractor Design & Build the Entire Yard
    Pros to Using One Contractor for Design and Build
    To make your house into a home that you and your family can truly enjoy, you need to make it a comfortable and safe place to be. Although interior decorating...
  • The California Pools and Landscape Experience
    California Pools & Landscape seeks to improve the lives of our clients by building premier outdoor living areas. We believe that the experiences our clients enjoy with family and friends...
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    Creating the Good Life
    What’s your idea of the perfect backyard haven? Is it the greatest barbecue and pool party setting ever? Is it a tranquil garden designed for relaxation and the enjoyment of...
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    5 Best Sources for Swimming Pool Financing
    If you’re like most homeowners who are interested in installing an in-ground swimming pool, paying cash would be a difficult (if not impossible) proposition. It is quite common for pool owners to finance the cost of building a swimming pool,...
  • 4 Secrets to Your New Pool
    4 Secrets Most Pool Companies Won't Tell You
    Whether you have just begun thinking about a pool installation or you are nearly ready to sign on the dotted line, make sure you check out the following secrets about...
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    Using Your New Pool: What to Ask Your Pool Company
    Whether you’re just seeking information about building a swimming pool or you’re nearly complete with your pool project, there is a critical last step to take before you dive in:...
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    5 Deck Options Your Pool Company Should Offer
    If you’re in the process of looking for a pool company to build your in-ground swimming pool, no doubt you’ve carefully researched and thought about different construction options for your...
  • 10 Questions About Your New Pool
    10 Questions Your Pool Builder Should Ask About Your Lifestyle
    People have different reasons for wanting a pool, and your reason is crucial to ensuring you choose the right options. A savvy pool builder will ask the right questions about...
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    What Type of Inground Swimming Pool Is Best for the Arizona Heat?
    Arizona’s dry heat is one of the many reasons that people enjoy living in this southwestern paradise. However, you need to consider the weather when choosing your landscaping and swimming pool...
  • Pool Building 101 Learn The Lingo
    Pool Builder 101: Learn the Lingo
    If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re conducting research about installing an in-ground swimming pool. Below is a handy list of basic pool construction terms you are likely to...
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    5 Backyard Design Ideas for Families
    Your backyard should be an enjoyable retreat your entire household can appreciate. However, homeowners with children often choose to redesign the backyard to accommodate the needs of their little ones instead...
  • Your Pool Company Guide
    Your Guide to Hiring a Reputable Pool Company
    Selecting the right pool company to design and build the swimming pool you’ve always wanted is a big decision and probably the most pivotal one you’ll make in the whole...
  • Hidden Costs of a New Pool Build
    Hidden Costs Your Pool Builder Should Include in Their Quote
    Before moving forward on that beautiful swimming pool you’ve fantasized about installing for ages, it’s imperative to meet with and obtain quotes from several pool builders. Otherwise, you may not be...
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    6 Things You Must Decide Before Hiring a Pool Company
    While you may impulsively purchase a new bathing suit or a pair of sunglasses, you likely aren’t going to build a new swimming pool on a whim. It’s a major...
  • How Long Do Pool Companies Finance For
    How Long Do Pool Companies Finance For?
    A backyard swimming pool can transform any house into an enjoyable home if chosen correctly. A backyard swimming pool can transform any house into an enjoyable home if chosen correctly. However,...
  • 5 Things to Ask Your Pool Builder About Excavation
    5 Things to Ask Your Pool Builder About Excavation
    When it comes to installing a swimming pool, one of the most important stages happens before construction even begins: excavation. What many people sometimes don’t initially think about is that construction...
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    Go Green: Ask Your Pool Company About These Energy Saving Options
    Nobody wants to think about splashing around in a green pool — ew, algae! But that’s not the kind of green we’re talking about here. Instead, green means eco-friendly and...
  • 8 Fun Features Pool Builders Offer
    8 Fun Water Features Pool Builders Offer
    It’s one thing to install a functional swimming pool to help get you through the long, hot summer. It’s another thing entirely to build a true backyard oasis — one...
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    Backyard Designs: Fire Pit vs Fireplace
    Let’s face it; fire is something we humans have been gathering around for ages. It’s warmth, and bright snaps of flame and loud crackles is what makes it easy for...
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    International Torch Award Winner: BBB Interviews Jeremy Smith, California Pools
    Jeremy Smith, President of California Pools, talks about what makes his company worthy of a Better Business Bureau International Torch Award. California Pools & Landscape – Through The Eyes Of The Judges California...
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    Phoenix Pool Contractor is a 2014 BBB Business Ethics Award Winner
    The Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern and Western Arizona announced the winners for the 2014 BBB Business Ethics Awards Wednesday night at its 13th annual dinner celebration.  California Pools...
  • AZ Pool Builder Is a 2014 BBB Business Ethics Awards Finalist
    AZ Pool Builder Is a 2014 BBB Business Ethics Awards Finalist
    2014 BBB Business Ethics Awards Better Business Bureau (BBB) announces that California Pools & Landscape is one of only 15 Arizona companies selected as a finalist for the 2014 BBB Business...
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    Swimming Pool Builder Gets Best Of Houzz 2014 Award
    Annual Survey and Analysis of 16 Million Monthly Users Reveals Top-Rated Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals Chandler, AZ, February 4, 2014 – California Pools & Landscape, swimming pool builder of Chandler, AZ...
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    AZ Pool Builder Donates Pool To Conservation Center
    By David Brown.  Mike Smith, founder of California Pools, will be out at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale April 17 to build a pool for its resident bears. The...
  • Queen Creek, Here We Come!
    California Pools & Landscape Opens Largest Pool Design Center in Arizona
    We are pleased to announce the Grand Opening of our new state-of-the-art Arizona pool design center located at 4320 W Chandler Blvd Suite 1 in Chandler 85226 conveniently located close...
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    Review of California Pools
    We had a pool built about 2 years ago. The entire process was very smooth from the start. The salesman listened to what we wanted and listened to our budget....
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    California Pools Not Affected in Drain Recall
    The MDX and SDX safety drains that California Pools installs on all new pools ARE NOT involved with the recent recall. In case you have a pool built by another pool...
  • California Pools & Landscape featured in House 2 Home Magazine
    California Pools & Landscape featured in House 2 Home Magazine
    California Pools Helps Create Cherished Memories By Tinka Davi, Contributing Writer At the top of my list of New Year’s resolutions is “spend more time with family and friends.” I know that’s...
  • arizona dream pool and backyard
    Arizona Dream
    Family Fun Poolside Do you have that “Arizona dream” that includes enjoying sunsets and starlight from your own back yard paradise?  Can you picture yourself barbecuing in a complete outdoor kitchen...
  • House 2 Home Magazine features California Pools
    California Pools is being featured in the October edition of House 2 Home magazine. I thought our loyal readers would like a sneek peak! Is Your Pool Builder Learning with Your...