Outdoor Home Swimming Pools: Complete Guide

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On a scorching hot summer day, having a pool in your backyard is a great way to cool off. However, most American homes don’t come with pools as a standard feature. Installing a pool in your yard increases the value of your property and the desirability of your home.

Pools come in different shapes and sizes to suit your requirements. If you have a large home, installing a lap pool is a great idea – can you imagine doing laps on summer mornings before you go to work? If you have a small yard, then a plunge pool is all you need to cool off on a blisteringly hot day.

Whatever your requirements, we put together this guide to outdoor swimming pools to give you some clarity on the topic.

Choosing Your Pools Location

Installing a pool at your home is more than giving you a place to swim when the weather gets hot. A pool changes the landscape of your yard, and the feel of your home. We recommend that you place your pool in the sunniest spot in your yard, away from trees.

You’ll also need to ensure that your ideal spot for your pool does not cross through any electrical or water mains. To find the perfect pool size, stake out an area in your garden using wooden stakes and string. This exercise gives you an idea of what size pool will fit in your yard, and how it will look in the proposed location.

Backyard Pool
A Backyard Swimming Pool

Selecting Your Pool Design

After measuring out your pool, you’ll need to settle on a design. Swimming pools come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to suit any homeowners dreams of owning a pool. Before you get started on your selection, it’s wise to work out a budget for the project.

After pinpointing your budget, it’s time to take a look at what’s on offer from swimming pool manufacturers. Here is a list of the most popular types of pools, choose one that resonates with you, and arrange installation with a dealer.

Above Ground Pool

Middle-class families, will love the affordability of above-the-ground pools. These pools are less than half of the cost of installing a pool in the ground. The affordable price tag of these pools makes them an attractive option for homeowners on a budget.

You can get blow-up plastic pools, framed plastic pools, both of which are movable to other areas around the yard. Some homeowners may select a built-in above-the-ground pool with a fixed structure and a fiberglass hull.

Buying an above-the-ground pool lets homeowners dabble in the pool market without committing to the full costs on installing a pool in the ground. You never know, you might think that the idea of a pool is fantastic. However, after you install it, you find that you hardly ever go swimming.

By taking an above-the-ground pool, you don’t waste your money, if you decide swimming was only a fad phase you were going through at the time. Some of these pools are portable, and you can move them around your yard to prevent the lawn from dying underneath.

Above Ground Pool
An Above Ground Pool set on concrete base

Infinity Pools

If you own an expensive home, and have the budget to spare, consider investing in an infinity pool. These pools have no defined edge, and the water drains off of the sides into a reservoir, where it pumps back into the pool.

The edge of these pools look like waterfalls, but you can’t hear or see where the water is falling. Infinity pools always require custom installation, and they are the most expensive option on this list.

Lap Pools

These swimming pools are long and narrow. Designed for doing laps rather than recreational swimming, they are an ideal tool to keep you fit and healthy. In most designs, lap pools are over 50-feet in length, but only six to ten feet in width.

Natural Pools

Most swimming pools require the use of chlorine or salt to keep microbes out of the water. However, natural pools are also an option as well, especially if you have allergies to chemicals like chlorine. A natural pool relies on a natural filtration system that runs over stones. These pools clean themselves and don’t require the use of any additional chemicals.

Natural pools look fantastic, and they add more aesthetic appeal to your home while increasing your property value.

Plunge Pools

If you own a home with a small yard, and can’t fit a standard pool, then consider installing a plunge pool to cool off when the weather gets hot. These pools are anywhere from three square feet to 10 x 6-feet in size. Many gyms install plunge pools in the change rooms, next to the sauna, and fill them with cold water. The pool provides athletes with somewhere to cool down rapidly after a workout or sauna session.

Saltwater Pools

Most pools require the use of a chlorinating system to keep the pool water clean and free of microbes that could make you sick. However, many people are allergic to chlorine. As a result, saltwater pools offer all the cleaning advantages of chlorinated pools, without the chemicals.

Saltwater pools were popular in Australia and South Africa, before moving onto other markets in the world.

Using Running Water as a Design Element

After settling on your design of the pool, it’s time to think about adding water features to make it more visually appealing. Building a rockery around the pool is an excellent way to enhance the aesthetic, and it adds further value to your property.

Water features also offer a tranquil sound of running water in your yard, and it drowns out the noise of the filter and pump. Create waterfalls or water displays in any design you like to compliment the features of your yard.

Always ensure that you use the pools water supply for your feature. Introducing a new water source to the pool dilutes the chemicals in the water, and turns your pool green in color.

Swimming Pool with Waterfall Feature
Swimming Pool with Waterfall Feature

Suitable Materials for Pool Decks

Water features aren’t the only way you can increase the aesthetic appeal of your pool. Adding decking around the edge of the pool enhances its visual appearance as well.

Many people opt for a wooden deck, as it doesn’t absorb the heat like a stone deck. With a wood deck, you don’t have to worry about burning your feet before you jump into the water.

Pool Decking in Wood
Pool Decking in Wood

Pool Colors

Traditionally, pools have either a light or dark finish to the rhino-lite or plaster lining the walls of the pool. A dark-colored finish looks deep and peaceful, and it also helps to heat the pool when the summer sun starts to shine. Light-colored pools suit hot countries where you want to keep the water temperature as low as possible.

Recently pool designers started to incorporate the use of color tinting in the plaster. As a result, you can now get your pool in almost any color you desire. If you have a shallow pool, then the use of light blue coloring in the plaster helps to provide a sense of added depth to the water.

Cleaning Equipment

As a pool owner, you’ll need to keep it clean. Every pool needs an automatic cleaner, often know as a “Creepy Crawly,” which is a suction device connected to a long hose that mounts to the filter inlet in your pool. The cleaner scours the floor of the pool and collects any debris, sending it to the filter basket.

Swimming Pool "Creepy Crawly"
Swimming Pool “Creepy Crawly”

A skimmer helps to remove the debris from the surface of the pool, and it mounts to the jet. These two devices will help to keep your pool clean all summer long, but you’ll also need some manual accessories as well.

A wire brush mounted on a long handle helps you scrub algae off the walls of your pool, and a net enables you to collect any leaves or debris from the surface of the water.

Pool Toys

If you have children, then get them used to the water by adding a few pool toys to your shopping list. Inflatables are the best option, and if you have kids, then get them a basketball net to stick at the deep end of the pool. Having fun with your kids is the best part about owning a pool, and inflatables make it more interesting for the youngsters.

Pool Furniture

It’s relaxing to stretch out on a lounge chair by the pool on a hot day. Read a book and then take a dip to cool off when you’re feeling hot. However, too much pool furniture can make the area seem cluttered. We recommend that you stick to a few lounge chairs.

Purchase an umbrella for around the pool, and enjoy some shade on a hot day before you jump in the water.

Pool Security

If you have young children, then it’s advisable to install a fence around the pool with a locking gate that they can’t reach. It may surprise you to learn that over 350-kids drown in unprotected pools each year. Don’t let your family become a statistic – install a pool fence and keep the kids out of harm’s way.

Swimming Pool Safety Fence
Swimming Pool Safety Fence

Heated Pools

Some homeowners that live in colder climates may think that the environment is not ideal for a swimming pool in their yard. However, heated pools offer are a viable option for anyone living in colder parts of the country.

Heated pools feel marvelous, but they add to your electricity bill. Consider installing a solar-powered heater to cut your electricity costs while keeping your pool water warm. With a heated pool, you can even swim during the wintertime, provided that temperatures don’t get to freezing point.

Diving Boards

The thought of adding a diving board to your pool may seem tempting. However, if you live alone or have children, it might be a bad idea. Diving boards are slippery surfaces, and you might slip and hit your head on the diving board or the edge of the pool. If you lose consciousness, then there is a real risk that you could drown.

Teach Your Kids about Pool Safety

Installing a pool in your yard is an exciting experience for you and your family. In the first few weeks of owning the pool, you’ll struggle to get your kids out of the water. However, while kids enjoy swimming, they also need to understand the risks involved as well.

Sit your kids down and teach them about pool safety. Never swim alone, and if anything goes wrong, make sure they call for help immediately. Avoid running around the edge of the pool, as this presents a slip-and-fall risk.

Plants to Grow Near Your Pool

Landscaping the area around your pool is a great idea to enhance its visual aesthetic. However, there are do’s and don’ts when selecting the right plants for your pool area.

Avoid spiky plants like cactus and Mexican fan palms, as well as plants that attract bees. The bees will get caught in the pool and could sting someone. If that person is allergic to bee stings, it could cause a life-threatening situation.

Planting ornamental grasses is a good idea, as they don’t lose any debris into the pool. Make sure that you only plant hardy species around the pool. If the chlorinated water gets on the soil, it causes flowers to wilt and die.

Swimming Pool Plants
Swimming Pool Plants

Do You Need a Pool Cover?

Pool covers are essential. If you live in a warm climate and have kids, then consider fitting a pool net across the surface. The net catches you kid if they accidentally fall in the pool, preventing drowning. If you live in a colder region of the country, then a vinyl cover will help prevent your pool from freezing solid in the winter. Pool covers also keep leaves and debris out of the pool during the fall and winter, prolonging the service life of your pool pump and filter.

The Final Word – Replace your Filter Sand

Every pool needs maintenance to keep it sparkling. You’ll need to change the sand in the filter unit every three to four years. Failing to replace the sand will drop the efficiency of the filter and result in cloudy water filled with algae.

Robin Watson

Robin owns his own Landscape Gardening company based in the UK and has over 10 years professional experience working outdoors, creating beautiful landscapes for his clients in the UK. He is also a keen garden-grower and maintains his own fruit and vegetable gardens. He also has a level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture from The Royal Horticultural Society and is currently working on his first book about gardening. Contact him at Robin@gardenbeast.com

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