Building a swimming pool is an exciting venture for homeowners, but with a wealth of inventive design options available, it’s vital to consider what type of pool will enrich your existing landscape and lifestyle. Here, managing director of Liquid Earth Pools & Landscapes, Nate Clifft, shares his expert knowledge with Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design on how to use your locale to your advantage.
With countless pool designs readily available and leading industry experts just a direct message away, homeowners have the freedom to build their dream pool to their desired specifications. Even with this flexibility and accessibility, homeowners should first envision the type of pool that is best suited to the size of their property. “The Aussie dream of homeownership nowadays comes with some real pressure,” Clifft notes. “Design and building fads are prevalent on TV and social media and it’s very easy for clients to get swept away with grand dreams.” Thispractical thinking isn’t a hindrance, but an excuse to get truly creative and allow your location to facilitate the transformation of your backyard.
Inner city properties may not naturally lend themselvesto a swimming pool, but the architectural challenges of a smaller site should be embraced, as this is where designers and prospective pool owners can really let their creativity flourish. “Inner city can offer wow factors like no other if the structure allows something completely out of the box,” Clifft says.
An inner city pool can be tactfully designed to maximise the available space, without overtaking your entire backyard. Lap pools and plunge pools offer versatility for inner city dwellers; designs that can be shaped around the contours of the home to give the illusion of a larger footprint. Cantilevered pools are in a league of their own with a breadth of design potential and a unique vantage point for inner city views. “With all of the advances in engineering, we can now create spaces where there is almost none,” Clifft says.
Before embarking on a new build, homeowners should consider the practicality of these designs and how they will enhance their current lifestyle. Clifft warns homeowners that plunge and lap pools can become a “stressful experience” for parents with young children manoeuvring around sharp edges and deep water. Even with these practicalities in mind, Clifft’s passion for pushing boundaries is palpable – offering reassurance to Melbourne’s inner city homeowners seeking to enjoy a slice of the Australian dream in their backyard.
A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY
The sprawling landscape of rural and bush properties affords homeowners great design potential for their idyllic swimming pool. Pools built in rural or countryside properties are in a prime position to take advantage of picturesque views. Negative, glass and wet edge pools are the perfect vessel for enjoying outdoor scenery. As well as being a stunning choice, these designs also help to overcome the sloping challenges often associated with rural blocks.
With greater available space and minimal neighbourhood disruption during installation, there are few design restrictions for these types of sites.
Myriad design possibilities can seem daunting when undertaking a new build, so to avoid building largefor the sake of building large, homeowners should stick to one basic principle; creating a pool that meets the needs of their family. Clifft uses this ethos as the driving factor behind rural pool designs, “With lots of space comes the urge to over-exaggerate your design,” he explains. “Large sites also require very strict budget control … with large spaces come large quantities of materials [and] large invoices.”
The size and scope of your pool should be dictated by how often you and your family will realistically use your swimming pool. Are you building just for you and your partner? Do you throw large outdoor parties with extended family and friends? Do you have young children who are likely to spend every summer’s day swimming? These are just some of the questions that potential pool owners should be asking before consulting a designer and builder to avoid their pool ending up as an expensive, neglected water feature. “I endeavour to keep the large sites in respect to the house and the family living in it,” Clifft says. Although it might be tempting to splash out on an elaborate pool if the space permits, your funds should be channelled into creating an oasis that will be used on a daily basis during those scorching Melbourne summers.
Rockin’ The Suburbs
Straddling between a limited inner-city footprint and expansive rural land, suburban homeowners should prioritise functionality and privacy when designing their pool. Of course, privacy doesn’t have to equate to shutting out neighbours with a fence that borders every square inch of your property. “Screen and fences may give you the immediate pay off [but] often clients are underwhelmed once they are erected,” Clifft says.
Instead, homeowners can experiment with their landscaping to establish greater privacy for their families. This can be executed with hedge plants, wisteria and Boston ivy – plants that will give your backyard a lush feel without hardening your landscape.
“Well designed garden beds, planters or even pots can bring privacy, softness and life into an area,” Clifft says. “Investing in plants and greenery will pay off in spades in the long run.” These natural elements are key in designing your own personal retreat to escape life’s daily grind.
Clifft also stresses the importance of designing with a clear head and recognising that not all shapes and sizes are going to be functional in a suburban
setting where space is a factor. “The design [is] paramount in these tighter scenarios with building restrictions and knowing what can be achieved without consuming too much valuable backyard space,” Clifft says. Lap pools or concrete freeform pools are an exceptional choice for residential sites as the design can mirror the shape of your backyard to optimise space.
For residential homeowners concerned that their surrounding neighbourhood landscape is lacking, Clifft reminds readers that with the right design, your pool can the most eye-catching feature on your property. “It’s good to keep in mind that you don’t need an amazing natural amphitheatre to create a good view from your pool,” he says. “Sometimes the greatest view can be right under your nose in the amazing body of water that is your pool.”
BASKING BY THE BEACH
There are few greater luxuries than swimming in your very own pool with a stunning view of the beach. Beachside abodes are privy to some of Victoria’s most breathtaking landscapes, so your design should capitalise on these natural surrounds whilst offering a haven from the bustling coastline. Clifft echoes this sentiment, “I have found that designing pools for a beachside environment is about creating an ‘after the beach’ scene … your own private island to escape the crowds.” Achieving this careful balance starts with creating optimal conditions in your pool and landscape – factors that are out of your control on an actual beach. Unfortunately, a pool by the ocean goes hand in hand with cold breezes, so installing a wind break will protect your pool (and its inhabitants) from prevailing winds.
Your pool should offer an uninterrupted view of the inbuilt landscape; infinity edges are tailor-made for such coastal properties, creating a dreamy blur
between your pool’s edge, the ocean and the horizon. With this stunning visual effect, homeowners can opt for pared-back landscaping, allowing their pool design to truly sing.
THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
Weather conditions will determine the types of features and landscaping that should accompany your pool. Being aware of such conditions allows homeowners the opportunity to take the right precautions before construction is completed. In cooler climate areas, pool design should focus on retaining heat. “Cooler climate pools are all about extending your swimming years,” Clifft says.
Heaters, pool covers, and heat pumps are the natural solution to combat against a cooler climate, but Clifft also recommends creating wind breaks. This can be achieved by using plants in your surrounding landscape or with the strategic placement of your pool fence. A darker lining or tiling can also retain heat, while wide ledges and shallow sections can also improve heat exposure during sunny days. “Protecting your pool from environmental factors that make your heating systems have to work harder is my first port of call,” Clifft says. “There is no use in having the best heater and cover in the world if your pool is constantly being exposed to chilling southerly winds.” Swimming pools constructed in warmer-climate areas can also use landscaping to their advantage with pergolas, water features and planting to establish cooler areas within the backyard.
Strategic placement of your pool can also battle against a hot climate. “Perching a pool on the highest point of the property can help bring in the cooling winds,” Clifft says.
While there’s no doubt that constructing and maintaining a pool is a big commitment for any homeowner, choosing the right design will eliminate any lingering risk. “There is no avoiding that building a pool and landscape is a costly investment, but any investment that you’re going to spend your hard earned money on needs its insurance,” Clifft says, “and that’s what design provides; insurance that every dollar you spend has been planned, quoted
and detailed before you even break ground.”
Images courtesy of Liquid Earth Pools & Landscapes