Swimming Pool Design - More Than Just a Pretty Place
Sometimes, having just a simple hole in the ground, filled with water, is good enough. But sometimes, you would like to be creative, make a statement, and be unique. Here are a few ideas on how to inject some pizzazz into your swimming pool design, how to insert some sensibility into your pool construction, and how to avoid paying for things unnecessarily.
Let's Start with.. Making a Mini Volcano
During the pool construction, make a mini volcano!
We all know what a typical inground swimming pool construction site looks like. It's a big deep hole in the ground, and it's depth is directly proportional to how deep the pool is going to be. If we have a six foot deep section outlined in our design, then our hole will six feet deep plus a bit. Basic stuff.
But what if we did something a little different? What if our swimming pool design called for a pool with a deep end of six feet, but our hole was only four feet deep? What would that do for us?
Now imagine that you do have a hole only four feet deep, and around this hole, the dirt has been built up and piled into a wall so that your pool construction looks more like a mini volcano than a place to put your swimming pool.
So now, when the six foot deep pool is constructed, it will be raised about two feet above ground level. Yes it's odd, but this is exactly what you want! This is exactly how you want your pool to sit.
Once your pool is completed, hire a landscaping company and have a small retaining wall built around this elevated area outside your pool. This will shore up your elevated pool deck.
And why would you do this? Look what you have! A beautiful inground pool (partially exposed and on a short pedestal) which has a natural and very effective barrier against annoying grass clippings from spitting lawnmowers and troublesome debris blowing across the yard. (Less dirt in the pool means less maintenance on your part.) With its raised foundation, it will look more like a luxury spa than just a plain ol' pool.
It's simple but effective!
Vanishing Edge Pools
'X' marks the spot
So as you are completing your pool design, you will need to decide where to put your pool? Obviously, a fairly level spot which isn't too rocky would be ideal, but it isn't an absolute necessity. If you have a hill or a piece of property which is a bit higher than its surrounding terrain, you can build a stunning "vanishing edge" pool. With this, one or more sides of the pool will have lowered edges so the pool water flows over the top, giving the illusion that your pool goes on forever.
These pools are magnificent, but significantly harder to build, and it takes a certain skill set to get this pool design "just right." Not getting it right can lead to excessive water loss. And, excessive water loss can lead to enormous water bills, soil erosion which compromises the stability of your pool's foundation, or a dry system which causes the pump to cavitate. The critical piece of this design is the catch basin found outside of the "overflowing" edge, and to ensure that it is sized properly. There isn't a standard size for this as each pool is unique, so it must be correctly calculated for each site. (If you're a number cruncher, and would be interested in some of the logistics behind these computations and engineering, you should hop over here to "Designing a vanishing-edge catch basin" and read up.)
One thing that bears mentioning, as it's generally assumed but not readily understood, is that the success and quality of your swimming pool is not so much the type or location of your pool, but is in fact directly proportional to the capabilities of your builder. This is true regardless of your pool design, regardless of construction material, and regardless of size. It is ALL about the builder. Ensure that you go through the rigor of finding the proper builder to do things right, or you will regret ever thinking about a pool. For some help on finding a trustworthy pool builder, go to "Finding a Quality Swimming Pool Builder."
To Build on a Hill
Now, if you are considering building your pool into the side of the hill, you'll need to do some legwork before you can determine if this is viable.
The intent of a hillside pool design is to make the pool look as if it belongs there. And you must ensure that the site is stable enough and not prone to sliding or collapse. It may be necessary to incorporate a somewhat pricey substructure construction and will most certainly need a specialist for this design. You'll require a retaining wall to make the yard level and may need a combination of retaining wall and elevated pool. If you're interested in a good technical discussion on an award winning swimming pool design, visit "Building on a Slope" to read more.
How about a quick tip on the orientation for the swimming pool? If the swimming pool is constructed on a straight east to west axis, then during the course of the entire day, the people in either one end or the other will have the sun directly in their eyes. If you could slightly angle the swimming pool to not be on a direct east-west axis, then your opponent can't claim that the sun was in his eyes when you whip his posterior at pool volleyball! Nice!
During the design phase is also the time to think about whether you would like to install an automatic pool cover, or if the old fashioned manual pool blanket is good enough. Keeping your swimming pool covered offers a number of benefits as it can help to warm the pool, it slows down evaporation which saves both water and chemicals, and it keeps out dust and debris, or in my case, keeps out the birds. Covering the "manual" way involves unrolling and pulling the cover across the waters surface until you get it in place. It isn't that difficult, and can easily be done by a single person, it's just that sometimes it takes a bit of specialist. An automated cover is mechanized, and with the punch of a button you can draw the cover across the swimming pool's surface.
There is one other type of cover worth mentioning, and this cover allows you to use your pool virtually all year round! It's a retractable pool enclosure. Now this is some serious stuff! Imagine a large glass bubble over your pool, or a huge greenhouse which houses your pool instead of a jungle. These can be retracted/opened during the summer, allowing you to enjoy the fine weather, and closed during inclement weather, so you can enjoy your pool despite the nastiness outside. A pool enclosure will save you the trouble and expense of opening and closing your pool each season, it will cut down on evaporation which cuts down on chemicals, and many reduce UV rays. And since it traps solar energy, you will have a comfortable swim all year long! The only drawback here is the price. For a good retractable pool enclosure, you will pay just as much as you paid for your pool. Perhaps more. These can be installed after the pool construction is completed, so it doesn't necessarily need to be in the design, but you should keep it in mind to have a deck large enough to accommodate. (If you think you might want to have a pool enclosure, you may want to go check out Aquashield or Dynadome to see a couple of different options.)
One last suggestion that might save you a little money...(and this does need to be in the swimming pool design.) Your builder estimate should include a certain amount of poured concrete around the pool, for your deck. For example, let's assume that this would be four feet around the entire pool. Now, four feet is really not enough to sit in your lounge chairs and put your feet up, so you will probably want to do at least six or seven feet. This will be an additional cost,..... unless your builder is willing to "redistribute" your deck. In other words, he may be willing to pour only two feet around two sides of the pool, and give that concrete to the side where you want your deck. That way, you can get enough room to lounge around, and not need to add any additional expense. Make sure you work out the details prior to making a commitment and have the specifics drafted into the contract.
So, hopefully, you're beginning to get some idea on what you would you would like for a swimming pool. If you would like to do some additional reading on some of the physical considerations in the design, I would recommend you read "Swimming Pool Design and Pool Construction - Here's What it Takes"
Then "Go make a some waves!"