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Pools: Types, Features and Uses

By Ed Ball | Published on May 22, 2021 | 2 min read

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As temps climb, it’s easy to envision having a pool in your backyard where you could not only cool off but also create a stunning focal point in your landscape. Depending on how you intend to use your pool, there are many choices beyond merely inground or above ground – different materials, design choices, and uses will factor into the final project.

With so many options, let’s start with an essential question, how do you want to use your pool? Will you be doing laps for exercise, or do you want a place to cool off? Will this pool be for family fun or an architectural feature? How you answer these questions will help determine the shape and size of your pool.

Plunge pools are small, shallow pools that can also have an area for tanning. They are meant to be used to cool off, and some incorporate cold water therapy. If you have a small space or just want to cool off, a plunge pool may suit your needs.

Lap pools are typically long and narrow, designed for exercise. They can be compact and architectural, built just large enough for a single swimmer. If you want a compact tool that also provides workout opportunities, a lap pool may be perfect.

Infinity pools are designed to appear as though at least one side of the pool has no edge. Instead, the water flows over the edge and into a catch area where it recirculates. Infinity pools can be showstoppers in any landscape and designed in many sizes.

Family pools are often multi-use or recreational pools with varying depths and large enough to hold several people swimming at once. They can have diving boards, slides, sun decks, games, or waterfalls, depending on the desires of the family.

Spas and hot tubs can tuck into most landscapes and provide therapeutic and relaxation benefits. Spas can be inground or above ground, and their compact size allows them to be closer to the house and use year-round.

Once you’ve determined how you want to enjoy your pool, it’s time to start thinking about materials and design. The best return on investment will be an inground design, yet there are still several considerations.

Concrete pools are the most common and have been around for many decades. The hole is dug and rebar added in nearly any shape imaginable. Once formed, gunite or shotcrete is sprayed to provide a smooth, durable finish. Tile, stone, and aggregate materials can be added to create unique and beautiful designs.

Fiberglass pools are pre-made, arrive in one piece, and are typically lowered into place by a crane. While the building process is quick, fiberglass pools don’t have the longevity of their concrete counterparts.

Next, come practical decisions such as pool covers and types of water and filtration. Be honest with your landscape architect regarding exactly how much effort you want to maintain your pool. Also, do you have small children and safety concerns? Dogs who love to swim? Let your designer know your family’s specific needs.

In warm climates, adding a pool to your home can upgrade your summers for decades to come and add dimension and interest to your landscape. Please work with your landscape architect to design a pool that functions as well as it is beautiful.