Australia builds more domestic swimming pools (per capita) than any other country in the world! In early 2019 research revealed 2.7 Million Australians owned a swimming pool – that’s over 10% of the population and the trend of installing a pool has only been on the increase since then.
I’ll admit I’m one of those people and I don’t think I could have survived the Covid lockdown and summer holidays without it, with it being great fun for the kids and a place to cool down and relax too. Swimming pools can be a very expensive exercise to install so you want to make sure you have covered all options and are comfortable before the digging begins.
Selecting the right spot is imperative and there is no one answer that fits all as every block is individual, it’s a good idea to speak to a landscape designer and a pool installer to work out the best spot for the pool. Obviously, you don’t want a pool directly under a tree that will drop lots of debris into the pool. You should also consider the amount of sun it gets, where the plumbing has to be located, how the pool fence will impact the design, does the proposed area integrates the pool nicely with the existing landscape or will that be an additional item that also needs to be budgeted for.
The style of the pool needs to fit into the style of the garden or house too, so it doesn’t stand out and look like an afterthought. You should also consider the scale and proportion of the pool in the garden and the available lawn area. Too small and it will look out of place and too big and the rest of the garden becomes useless.
The cost of installing a pool is another massive consideration and the unknown cost of excavation and what is beneath the ground is something that can be scary for a lot of people as it can be a guess until you start digging. Using a local pool builder who has dug pools in the area should be able to guide you on a reasonable estimation.
If you are looking to lower the cost when installing a pool, fiberglass shells over poured concrete ones are a way to lessen the outlay however they can be restrictive in their size and shapes which can have an impact on the overall design of a space. Personally, for me, I prefer the look and feel underfoot of a tiled or rendered finished pool but saying that in the middle of summer both feel great to be in.
The colour of the finish inside the pool, irrelevant of what it’s made from will transform the colour of the water in the pool. Black tiles will give a reflective quality to the water whereas white will give that pure aqua colour, like you’re on holiday in Fiji. The lagoon feel can be achieved by a beige coloured finish that surprisingly can be very inviting!
The colour of the water has an impact on the design of the whole space and the surrounding hardstand including the coping (the tile that surrounds a pool) should tie in effortlessly. The most modern and trendsetting pools are using the same tile that surrounds the pool in the swimming pool – this gives the appearance that the pool is scooped out of the earth as the format is so large. If this is something you would like to try, I suggest a hardwearing ceramic tile as natural stones can have a bad effect on the filters and pumps.
The system of filters and pumps you use depends on what you want from your water. Saltwater chlorinators are most common however I am seeing a real push towards Magnesium filtration for the added health benefits including relieving aches and pains and less of the kids complaining about sore red eyes. Natural filtration is also becoming more common, you need a bit of space to do this and it works by pumping the water through biofilters and reed beds to give you spring-like clear water – perfect for those with any skin allergies or sensitive plants surrounding the pool.
Plants obviously work perfectly with swimming pools as they help them to nestle into the landscape but selecting the right plant for the right spot has a few more limitations around the pool. These plants need to be able to take the water being splashed on them and around their roots, including any chemicals in the water. You want to use hardy plants like Indian Hawthorn, Looking glass plant, Pride of Madeira, and other plants you might see growing close to the coastline as they are used to harsh conditions like salt.
My absolute favourite look for a pool is the European style of the lawn right up to the edge of the water with just the coping stone between lush green grass and the cooling water. To me it just says summertime and takes me back to laying in the sun, playing on the grass and being able to jump straight in the water. Of course, this was at a friend’s house in the UK, so the water was near freezing – but I do like the look!
Keeping a lawn healthy around a pool is about selecting the right lawn variety for the application – it’s like picking the right plant for the right spot. If you want something hardy that can tolerate the water type, and sun as well as being hardy to foot traffic – I highly suggest TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda for this. If you are looking for something that can tolerate high levels of salt and also shade, requires less mowing and will beautifully compliment the landscape and pool, Sir Grange Zoysia is another terrific option.
The maintenance of grass around a pool can be tricky – if you don’t have a full-time gardener who can crawl around the edges cutting them with nail scissors to prevent the debris from flying in the pool (if you do please let me know how you made that happen) I suggest a grassed area off to the side of the pool with enough room of paving or decking in between to minimise loose clipping entering the pool. It’s also a good idea to water your grass well if you have lots of splashing to dilute any chemicals or salts in the water and fertilise regularly to create strong hardy turfgrass.