5 Pool Design Tips & Trends

Updated Feb 12, 2015
Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and LandscapingCipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping

Pools come in all shapes and sizes, but what landscapers might forget about is all the extras.

From different apps and to saving energy, here are five tips from Belgard Hardscapes and pool designer Aaron Bluebaugh.

Remote control

Automation is a huge trend in swimming pools. Nearly all new pools use some kind of electronic component and apps have been created to control almost every aspect of the pool: lights, lap currents, water features, even water temperature. With automation, you’re in charge and in a way that is unimaginably convenient. Turn on the waterfall without leaving the comfort of your chair around the fire pit.

“Pools aren’t just for parties and the weekend; they’re for Monday through Friday as well,” says Blubaugh, owner of Lifescape Designs in southern California. “The best way I wind down after work is relaxing in my spa. Having the ability to watch our favorite TV show from the pool and spa is something that our whole family enjoys. Creating a gorgeous backyard escape makes the outdoors part of the quality time I get to spend with them.

“It’s easier than ever to care for pools, too,” he says. “Whether you’re at the office or out of town on vacation, you can manage your pool, features and energy usage from wherever you are.”

Saving energy while looking good
Variable speed pumps help conserve energy in the pool area; the pump runs at a low RPM during the filter cycle throughout the day, and it revs up to the desired RPM while you’re using the pool features. Blubaugh, who has been in the outdoor living and pool design industries for 20 years in Florida and California, says the timers that were new technology just a few years ago are now antiquated by comparison.

Pool lighting is changing, too, in options and efficiencies. While most new pools have a color wheel, energy-saving LED lights have started to become more prevalent. With 14 color modes, these lights offer more color variety. Additionally, nicheless LEDs are low voltage, add lighting to shallow water – in past years, only deep water received lighting accents – and are suited to feature areas in new and remodeled pools. Offering lighting accents to water features, bench areas, and sun shelves that were not available before.

Don’t forget the diving board

With an overall decline in diving boards, swimming pools have become more aesthetically pleasing. In place of the diving board, oversized natural boulders and faux rocks serve as a jumping platform for kids, yet assure the pool still melts into the landscape, which is a wish list item for people installing new pools today.

Length and landscape
Blubaugh says some of his customers want to convert their outdated rectangular pools to freeform or lagoon shape, and still others seek new, rustic rectangular pools that work with the ebb and flow of the backyard. It’s all a personal preference, he said.

One commonality in pool landscape design is making sure the pool deck choice marries style with performance.

“We’re seeing lot of people look to tumbled pavers to give their pool a more natural look that integrates it into the setting without sacrificing performance,” says Ken O’Neill, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Belgard Hardscapes.

Earth conscious? No problem. O’Neill says permeable pavers, available in the look of stone, brick and concrete, are installed in a special manner that directs splashed pool water back into natural underground reservoirs.

Sun and shade combine

On the one hand, you’ve got the sun shelf trend. These shelves, sometimes called baja shelves, are replacing stairs and beach entries. Set at a water depth of about one foot, an average-sized pool can offer an 80-square-foot shelf area that can accommodate a small group of chairs and sun bathers. On the other hand, people also are installing umbrella sleeves – a hole perfectly sized for the umbrella pole – on the shelf’s floor or elsewhere around the pool’s edging; before you know it, you’re paddling out of the heat and into a soothing bit of shade.

“The sun shelf with built-in umbrella sleeves is the perfect solution for families with small children,” Blubaugh says. “The kids can splash in the pool under the careful eye of their parents while everyone is protected from the sun.”

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