As the weather warms up it’s time to start thinking about fixing up your backyard for summer. Some of you might even consider installing a pool. When I was a kid the idea of having my very own backyard swimming pool was way up there with my dream of owning a pony. Unfortunately it remained a dream, but each summer my family would suddenly become really good friends with the neighbours who owned pools. Then these poor people would be subject to the seven of us coming over once a week to wreak havoc in their backyards.
Anyway, as people grow up, it’s only the truly diehard pool lovers who fulfil their dream of pool ownership. Many people have a serious think about the maintenance implications and decide it’s not worth the effort. If you decide that a pool will be a worthwhile lifestyle enhancement there are a few things to consider before you take the plunge.
Firstly you need to find out if a pool is possible where you live. Councils sometimes place restrictions that preclude swimming pools. For example you may be required to provide a minimum area of soft landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff and allow rainwater to be reabsorbed in your garden. Paved areas and pools cannot be included in this area. You may also need to offset your pool a certain distance from the boundary and you will definitely need to install a safety fence. Councils may also restrict the size of pools depending on water restrictions that are currently in place. You will need to call your local council at an early stage so these issues can be taken into account when you’re planning your pool.
Then you need to work out what type of pool you want. When I was a kid pools were big. My friend had a 50-metre lap pool in her 1930s backyard. It was light blue painted concrete and always ice cold. Another friend had the traditional kidney-shaped number with rocky waterfall at one end, and another the above-ground circle with timber deck. Pools which are meant to enhance your backyard and function as part of the landscaping will require a lot more research and design than one that is just to splash around in. It’s worth getting a pool designer to help you out and most pool companies will supply this service. A landscape designer or architect can also design a pool as part of a landscaping package, but will usually hand the detailed stuff over to a pool expert before construction.
Long, narrow lap pools have been popular for the last 15 years or so. They work well when you have only restricted space, but may be less popular with the kids as they’re designed for laps and not for fun. In the early 90s, architects Denton Corker Marshall, designers of the Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne, created one of the most high-profile rooftop lap pools. With its glass bottom it provided glimpses from the street below of guests doing tumble turns at the cantilevered Flinders Lane end. This inspired numerous copies and revisions and lap pools are now a common inner-city occurrence.
Whatever shape, finish or design you choose, you always need to think about the practicalities of locating the filter pump. You could install a purpose-built structure, which can also be used to house cleaning equipment and other supplies, or conceal it behind landscaping. Once again, the better the planning the lower the impact this unsightly equipment will have on your garden.
Basically your choice of pool will depend on your lifestyle and your garden. Whatever type of pool you decide on, good research and design will ensure that your pool is enjoyed for many years and will actually increase the value of your home.