Six 2017 pool design trends to watch for this summer

Updated Apr 4, 2017
Consumers like to include a number of outdoor amenities when designing their pools. Photo: Mountainscapers LandscapingConsumers like to include a number of outdoor amenities when designing their pools.
Photo: Mountainscapers Landscaping

We already covered what some of the overarching landscaping trends will be for 2017, but with summer just a few months away it’s time to look at what trends will be hot for pools.

As the temperatures start to rise, people will be looking for that outdoor oasis that can beat the heat. With outdoor living areas in general continuing to gain popularity, consumers aren’t just looking for a standard pool with a lawn around it, they want to be transported to a resort style space and here are just a few of the features that will help enhance that feeling:

Knife edge design

Infinity edge pools are commonly associated with luxury and knife edge pools evoke a similar response as they create mirror smooth reflections of still water. The concept was created by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s students, John Lautner, and it is one of the most complicated pool designs when it comes to construction.

The difference between infinity edge pools and knife edge pools is infinity edges have visible ledges while the knife edge spills over into a slot right at the top inside edge of the coping, collecting in a gutter hidden from view.

“People want to be wowed,” said Sean Andersen, owner of Mountainscapers Landscaping based in Phoenix, Arizona. “They want what looks impossible and that’s what knife edge does. The water looks like it’s floating midair. That’s the go-to in a trend; can you create something that is ‘oh my gosh how did they do that?’”

LED lighting

LED lighting is popular in any part of the landscape thanks to its energy savings, but in the pool it truly becomes dynamic. Pool guests can have a personal backyard light show and advances in LED lighting now allow for the whole gamut of colors imaginable instead of four or five color options.

“LED is great because of all the different ways you can use it,” Andersen said. “I can’t wait for them to come out with longer LED strip lighting that disperses the light evenly so it illuminates the pool consistently.”

Fire features

This fire feature combines the elements of both fire and water for an interesting visual. Photo: Mountainscapers LandscapingThis fire feature combines the elements of both fire and water for an interesting visual.
Photo: Mountainscapers Landscaping

Another feature that elicits awe, when done right, is the mixing of fire and water. This can vary from fire pits to barbecue grills being integrated into the pool design, but the contrasting elements are certain to be popular this year.

“Fire and water is an ‘oh wow, how’d they do that’ kind of thing,” Andersen said. “That’s what you want to do on every project.”

Opposites attract and on an elemental standpoint fire and water can create a very compelling visual, but fire features also serve the practical purposes of providing both heat and light. Andersen likes to use tiki torches often to illuminate spaces for a medieval lighting feel.

Contemporary colors

While light blue will always be the obvious choice for a pool surfaces, some clients are opting for more contemporary colors of white, dark blue or even black. While darker shades may be beneficial for warming pools in northern climates, Andersen advises his clients to avoid them.

“The darker colors attract more heat and that can defeat the purpose of a pool,” he said. “They look good from an aesthetic standpoint but from a practical standpoint they aren’t very smart. You can achieve a contemporary coloring with a stark white and I would advise that over a stark black.”

Unique hardscaping

Concrete is obviously the most cost-effective option when it comes to surrounding the pool and travertine has been a popular option for pool decking recently, but one of the issues that comes with natural stone is the variability of the material. Andersen has seen it happen firsthand where the client wasn’t happy about how two batches of travertine appeared different and the trend he is seeing on the rise is porcelain.

“With porcelain you don’t have that problem because it’s a manmade product so you can control the look,” he said. “It’s great for contemporary style spaces because everything matches. Another thing is how it isn’t slippery. Travertine is very slippery. Porcelain looks super smooth but it has some texture to it.”

Homeowners are also interested in decorating the pool edges with attention-grabbing finishes with glass tile, granite or pebbles. Glass tile particularly is popular as it helps reflect the sun and the movement of the water.


Just like how customers want to control every other portion of their landscape remotely via apps, they also want their pools connected to the Internet of Things. There are now systems that can remotely monitor chemical levels, manage lighting and heating and report on efficiency levels.

“People like to control things from their phones,” Andersen said. “It’s just a high-tech way to program it. You can turn on your cleaners while you’re on vacation.”

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