Here are a few other helpful hints for planning your pool.
A pool should be a fully integrated feature of the landscape, which means the location you choose needs to be right from the start. If you are lucky enough to have a wonderful view, you’ll want to make sure the pool is in a position to take best advantage of the vista.
One of the most effective ways to connect a pool and home is to choose materials, textures and colours for the pool area that take their cue from the design of the house. In doing so, you’ll have a thematic link that ties the whole package together.
This is particularly important when it comes to hard landscaping, such as paved areas, paths and retaining walls. When it comes to paving, for example, you not only need to choose pavers that will be hard-wearing and slip-resistant, but something that will either blend with, or complement, any paving around the house or in any nearby entertaining areas.
To achieve a truly integrated and inviting look, the landscape design needs to be worked out from the very beginning — well before the pool is installed. This should be an integral part of the initial pool plan which should be comprehensive and take into account everything from the concrete pour for the pool to the paving, fencing, planting and any poolside structures, such as pavilions, gazebos, lounging areas, swimouts and spas.
The plants you choose will be largely determined by the overall style of the house and pool but as a general rule, the more limited the range of species and colours, the more cohesive and dramatic the effect.
Landscapers recommend planting in three tiers for a structured look that will have the maximum impact. This means some form of ground cover at the lower level, plants that grow to between one and one-and-a-half metres at the middle level and taller plants to form a backdrop or mask a wall at the higher level.
Plants should not be placed within the pool’s splash zone; this will prevent them from becoming damaged by pool chemicals or salt. If you do want plants to nestle close to the pool surround, choose a hardy variety. You could also use an auto-dosing chlorine system to keep the chlorine levels low and the pH balanced so that the water will not be harmful to surrounding foliage.
Planting trees and shrubs too close to a pool can also leave you at risk of having fast-growing roots disrupting the paving or snaking under the pool. And on the subject of trees, although they are a delightful form of shade, if the canopy extends over the pool you’ll have trouble with falling leaves. This is why deciduous trees, which drop their leaves just once a year, might be the wisest choice.
Providing shade is critical, however, especially if the pool is away from the house and you can’t just duck inside for respite from the sun. This can take many forms — a gazebo, cabana, thatched hut, shade sail or large umbrella — but will probably need to be placed within the fenced area of the pool so you’ll have to make provisions from the outset.
Of course, there are many other considerations, such as lighting, that will need to blend with the rest of the landscape, but perhaps one of the most important is the pool safety fence.
You don’t want to obstruct the view by using bulky fencing, so if you have a view to die for, completely frameless toughened glass fencing, or rail-less glass with slim metal posts, may be the way to go.
In fact, when it comes to poolside fencing, the options are amazingly broad. Powder-coated galvanised-steel pool fences continue to be the most popular choice, however, largely because of the huge variety of styles available — everything from decorative period scrolls to loop tops — and the wide selection of contemporary colours.
Other options include stainless-steel wire, wrought iron and aluminium, a combination of solid and tubular fencing, custom tubular fencing, traditional tubular fencing and Perspex.
In recent times, the trend has swung away from traditional fencing to glass, which creates a much more open feeling and can be combined with an in-ground ‘operator’ to avoid the use of posts on the gate. Frameless glass fences can be installed in a number of ways, including in-ground, bolted to the side or inserted in a special channel on the top or the side. Glass is available in clear, tinted and sand-blasted versions.
The rail-less glass features a clear line appearance with either aluminium or stainless-steel posts. The glass fits neatly into the glazing rebates inside the posts, eliminating the need for unsightly tabs and brackets.
But as with all other elements of your pool, if you want to get maximum use and enjoyment out of your massive investment, the fencing has to be planned early in the process — and this includes placement.
10 Top Tips
1. Ask your local council about any regulations that might affect building a pool. Remember, the council will have to approve your pool plans. Also check with council regarding tree preservation orders.
2. It’s wise to check what the law demands regarding pool fences and child restraints, and to talk with your local water authority to ensure the pool won’t impinge on drainage systems or pipes. What’s more, if power lines pass over or are close to your pool, you’ll need to contact the local authority responsible for electricity line placements.
3. Consider getting a geotechnical survey to pinpoint rocky areas or unstable foundation soil, which can increase costs dramatically. Get a site plan to help work out how and where the pool will be built.
4. Work out what you need from the pool — is it for private relaxation, entertainment, exercising, accommodating throngs of children? Canvas the whole family’s opinion.
5. Look through magazines to get an idea of what pool design you want and what materials you’d like to use.
6. Consider your landscaping needs, plus any additional outdoor structures or connecting pathways that will need to be built.
7. Armed with all this information, have a pool designer or builder come up with a basic plan.
8. Get quotes from at least three builders. Each quote should include the same equipment and works so the comparison is fair. Builders must be licensed, so check.
9. Your builder must have insurance and a warranty certificate should be provided before you pay any money and before work begins. The builder’s name on the certificate should be exactly as shown on the contract. The builder should also have risk insurance covering your property and your neighbours’ properties.
10. Before making your final choice, check out the builder’s references, look at pools the company has installed and talk to former customers. You might also like to ask if the builder is a member of the Swimming Pool and Spa Association.