Choosing the Best Pool Design for Your Home

September 2, 2022

Installing an inground swimming pool enhances your home while adding resale value, but any large investment deserves serious consideration. Below we outline pool design basics.

Installing a pool and surrounding environs can be great fun: do the research and imagine your perfect oasis. Before consulting an installation team and landscaper consider these important points:

  • How much do you want to spend? Create a budget and adhere to it.
  • Concrete, vinyl-lined and fibreglass pool designs each bring pros and cons, including initial and lifetime cost differences.
  • Is your pool for exercise or leisure? Are there children splashing about? Do you plan on throwing parties or laying poolside with a good book?
  • What special features do you envision?
  • Do you want to swim in chlorinated, salt or chemical-free water?
  • Your landscaping choices express style, personality and can save you money and help the environment.

Concrete, Fiberglass or Vinyl

Fiberglass, vinyl liner and concrete pools offer distinct differences, advantages and disadvantages and are directly related to budgetary considerations:

  • Fiberglass pools cost more upfront, at least $10,000 more than vinyl liner pools and about the same as concrete pools. Because the fiberglass shell requires minimal upkeep, with no liner replacement or resurfacing, lifetime costs are low. Fiberglass pools are durable, smooth underfoot, and can be installed quickly. Because they’re factory molded, shipping constraints limit size and customizability. You can do amazing things with a fiberglass swimming pool, such as beautiful colored finishes, water features, classy lighting and so much more.
  • Vinyl liner pools are unlimited in customization and carry smaller upfront costs but higher lifetime costs: On average, a vinyl liner will last 5–9 years. Each replacement can cost $2,500–$3,500 plus the cost of water. It usually adds up to $4,000–$4,500. Vinyl liners are prone to rips and tears, so care must be taken, particularly with kids, dogs and tree limbs due to the liner being 20–30 mils thick, or a few sheets of paper.
  • Concrete pools are highly customizable, unlimited in size, shape, or depth. Concrete pools incur higher lifetime costs, require more chemical disinfection, longer install periods and require renovation every 10–15 years. This involves resurfacing and retiling the pool at an expense of $10,000–$20,000 or much higher, depending on your design.

Pools Types, Shapes and Features

Pools come in various sizes, from the smallest spa pools, which can be used for everything from soaking or swimming endless laps, to diving pools with nine-foot depths or actual lap pools. Pool shapes include classic rectilinear and Roman style (semicircular cutouts on one or both rectangular ends), round and oval pools, kidney and figure eight shapes, multi-sided, i.e., hexa- and octagonal, L-shaped and lagoon pools.

Additional features include waterfalls, custom tile work evoking exotic, tropical climates and vacation destinations, economic and eco-friendly LED lighting, outdoor audio systems, water slides, retaining walls, grottos or even a swim-up bar. These additional features, pool sizes and shapes, depend on your needs, intended usage, children and your property’s slope and contour. Local regulations might dictate additional gates, fencing, barriers and other safety measures.

If your plans include large parties or small gatherings, you’ll need to consider outdoor seating including benches, lounge chairs, and weatherproof sofas. Other options include planters, firepits, dining sets, poolside storage and gazebos, pergolas and pavilions for sun and insect protection. You’re limited only by your space, budget and imagination.

Natural Swimming Pools (NSP)

If you find chlorinated swimming unappealing, natural swimming pools (NSPs) are filtered organically. They don’t need chemicals and require less pool maintenance, but more gardening. A second smaller pool (a regeneration zone) filters water with aquatic plants. The water from the larger swimming pool circulates into and back from the regeneration zone, rivaling chlorine for sanitization. NSPs mimic natural water bodies, like ponds or lakes and require less maintenance over their lifetime but can cost more at installation and need more space to accommodate the regeneration pool.

A compromise between chlorinated pools and NSPs is saltwater pools, which have an electrolytic chlorine generator that breaks down the salt in the pool to generate chlorine. Saltwater pool chlorine doesn’t produce the same strong smells, eye redness, and skin irritation as store-bought chlorine.

Poolside Landscaping

Landscaping around your pool depends upon the pool size and style, but also personal taste, local environment, entertaining needs and budget. Some ideas include:

  • Eco-friendly: eco-conscious landscaping is more a mindset than a particular style. Utilizing elements such as native plants and trees acclimated to local weather and climate saves money, water and maintenance. Mulch adds soil nutrients and regulates soil moisture, aiding your plantings and cutting your water bill, while groundcover alternatives like moss, clover, creeping plants and herbs need little maintenance and water and offer beauty and fragrance. Artificial turf (synthetic grass) can be an eco-friendly groundcover using no resources other than occasional cleansing and take no maintenance.
  • Island Platforms: Gardens, bars, dining, or lounging, island platforms utilize space within your pool, sort of like thinking inside the box!
  • Lighting: from tiki torches to moonlighting, illuminating your pool, the patio, and the plantings, stairs and structures around the yard offers endless possibilities.
  • Planters: no matter your plant choice, the planter creates mood and expresses taste and style. Planters come in numerous shapes, sizes and materials.
  • Privacy: Trees, large plants, hedges, etc., can be strategically placed to offer privacy and wind protection. Correctly spacing the plants for your natural privacy screen is crucial. Proper spacing ensures the plants will get the nutrients they need and enough space as well to reach their mature size.
  • Custom Decks and Patios: from flooring to furniture, layouts, patterns and railings a custom deck is a uniquely designed structure that meets your specific needs and preferences.
  • Natural Landscape: Creating a natural look with a rock garden or rockery can be used to create a focal point in an area that would otherwise be forgotten, or worse, invaded by weeds. It's also a brilliant solution for areas prone to drought, as many popular rock garden plants are well suited to a drier climate.

Make your yard a private paradise away from stress and strife with pool and landscaping designs. Be creative, let your imagination run wild and most of all…Have fun!

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