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Reasons to Hire a Landscape Architect to Design your Swimming Pool

Landscape master Plan
Landscape Master Plan with Swimming Pool, Pool House, Patios and Landscape Plantings

If you are considering a swimming pool, start by calling a qualified landscape architect or designer who has experience with custom swimming pool designs. If you call a pool construction company first, they will encourage you to install one of the standard pool shapes that are easiest and cheapest to build. The pool company will also encourage you to put the pool in the easiest place to build it. Sometimes those are the right answers, but most of the time some more thorough and professional landscape design attention could be applied to the project. If you are looking for a custom swimming pool that is fully incorporated into your total outdoor living design, then a landscape architect is the right person to work with. However, it is important that you review the designer’s previous work and make sure they have experience with outdoor living projects and custom swimming pools. Not all landscape designers are created equal and many landscape architects have little if any skill with residential outdoor living projects. The most skilled landscape and custom swimming pool designers tend to be associated with landscape design companies who also manage landscape construction projects. The designers and project managers have learned from firsthand experience the elements of design that are most successful in a built project and result in the greatest quality outdoor living spaces.

Once you have hired a qualified landscape designer for your swimming pool project, then it is time to review the elements, character and locations of the swimming pool in relation to the other elements of a landscape master plan. Will an outdoor kitchen be integrated into the project? If so, will the outdoor kitchen be in the swimming pool area of associated with another outdoor living space at the back patio of the house?  Will there be a pool house or pool side cabana either now or in the future? Is the pool meant for lots of family activity and play? If so, then there needs to be plenty of pool decking in various areas around the pool to accommodate outdoor dining areas, outdoor furniture arrangements, chaise lounges, umbrellas and kids toys. Or maybe the pool is a classic design surrounded by lawn and meant as an architectural feature in the garden. Such a swimming pool may be ideal for a swimming pool that is more often viewed than actually used. Will there be fire features around the pool? How does the overall landscape lighting plan fit into the swimming pool lighting plan?

The above questions and concerns are part of the approach a professional landscape designer or landscape architect will take when designing a swimming pool with a client. This approach tends to dig far deeper into the entire range of design considerations required to design the most successful swimming pool project. Then once the pool is designed, the client is open to interview multiple swimming pool companies in order to get the best product at the best price.  Garden Design Inc. has the professional design experience to guide you in this process. Call Frederick and ask to review his portfolio of swimming pool designs and installations.

Custom Swimming Pool Design

Custom Swimming Pool, Allentown Pa
A natural swimming pool in the Lehigh valley

There is nothing more refreshing than a cool swim on a hot summer day. If you are thinking about building a custom pool, the first step is to pick a landscape architect or a professional landscape designer. Do not start with a pool contractor. Very few pool contractors employ landscape design professionals who are trained to look at the big picture of the entire project in the context of the existing landscape, the house and the overall site. A professional landscape designer will work with you to answer a series of questions about the location, size, style and elements of the pool you desire and then incorporate that into a master plan for the project. Once the plans are complete, then it is time to get estimates from pool contractors, hardscape contractors for the decking around the pool, fencing contractors and landscape contractors. You may want to work with a designer from a professional landscape design & construction company since they will pull together all of the pricing into one contract then manage the entire project saving you time and money while ensuring the best result.
One of the first major decisions is where to locate the pool. Consider the opportunities and constraints of the property and how you see the pool being used. When will you be using the pool and where will the sun and shade will be during those times. Will the pool be an extension of the house where friends and family gather to play? Or is the pool its own outdoor room and a private destination? Often people are inclined to place the pool right out the back of the house. This can work well for families with children since the pool remains visible from inside. It may also fit your families entertaining style being closer to the house. Keep in mind thought that in colder climates the pool will be covered for many months and is not particularly attractive from the inside views. For this reason, you may choose to site your pool in a less central location and make the pool area a destination.
The form and the style of a pool should be based on your own personal preferences. Some people love the natural character of free form pools with boulder waterfalls, while others prefer the elegant sophistication of a rectilinear or formal pool. If the pool is going to be located in a direct relationship to the house, consider carrying the style of the homes architecture into the style of the pool design. If you have a home with a strong architectural character, a formal pool will generally be the most aesthetically appropriate. How the pool will be used may also influence the form. Free form pools work well when the pool is actively used by children because they tend to be more playful in character and provide dynamic interests when inside.
What elements do you want to incorporate into your pool? A spa is a popular element to include, but in colder climates the spa won’t be usable in the off season and for many people that is when a spa is most appealing. One option is to place the pool and spa in close proximity, but to separate the water and mechanical systems in order to use the spa year round. Sun ledges have grown in popularity. These are area of the pool that is 12” underwater, and big enough to place a lounge chair and umbrella. A beach entry eliminates the steps and creates a smooth transition into the pool that is especially nice for younger children. Waterfalls, spillways and water spouts can create visual and auditory interest. Playful options include slides, diving boards and dive rocks. Maybe you want to include a pool house or cabana providing some luxuries and amenities at the pool area.
If you are considering a swimming pool and want to enjoy it this year, then hire a design professional in the winter or early spring and get started. It can take two or three months to get the plans done, get the estimates together, hire contractors, and get the required permits to begin the actual construction.

Landscape Design

Landscape Design Lehigh Valley
Professional Landscape Design in the Lehigh Valley

Successful landscape projects require quality designs. This is true whether you are building a simple patio and walkway or an extravagant porch addition, pool, outdoor kitchen, fireplace project. Design is the process of unifying a range of factors including a family’s needs and desires, their budgets, natural elements of the property, and municipal building/zoning regulations. Plans are the designer’s tool for expressing everything from the concepts of the designs to the layout and the construction details. A skilled, professional designer and a quality set of plans will make a project smoother from the permit process though to the finishing details.

The first step is to choose a designer. That choice revolves around a potential candidate’s education, experience, creativity and chemistry. Does the designer have an accredited degree in landscape architecture or a related degree? How many projects has he designed and seen built? Does he have hands on experience with construction materials and techniques? Do examples of his work express a unique creativity in each project? Chemistry is the most important factor in choosing a designer, once you have determined a candidate is generally qualified. Design is a process of working together as a team from start to finish. Look for a designer who really listens to you, respects you, makes you feel comfortable and communicates well with you. Projects can be long and stressful at points, but the right designer will help the whole project go smoothly.

Design is a team effort. It starts with a conversation between client and designer. What are the family’s needs, what are their desires, what design ideas do they have, how do they currently use the spaces. During that initial conversation a designer may throw out some ideas, but the best ideas and true quality design requires a more reflective design process. The designer needs to survey the property and generate a base map of existing conditions, accurate and to scale. With an accurate base map, the design team can work out ideas with a series of trace paper overlays exploring a variety of possible design solutions in order to resolve a successful conceptual design. Once a concept design is complete, the design team can present the ideas to the clients. The clients will provide critical feedback that guides the process of revising designs. And so that cyclical process goes until a final design is resolved.