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.