A Stroke Of Genius

Most of us dream about installing a pool, and when this wish comes true, it’s important make the most of it. Here, Annie Slevison chats with Ben Trend, landscape architect for Esjay Landscapes + Pools, about creating the optimal swimming experience.

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There is nothing quite like summer days spent splashing around the pool with family and friends, or relaxing on an inflatable flamingo. So, if you are about to embark on a new pool project, you’ll want a custom design that suits your individual lifestyle. A personalised design approach will ensure you maximise the usage of your pool and create the perfect swimming experience every time you jump in.

Practising the essential skill of swimming, enhancing the entertainment value of your home, and enjoying the outdoors more often are just some of the perks a pool can offer, but before you take the plunge, Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design shares some professional tips from an industry expert.

JUST KEEP SWIMMING

Swimming is not only a favoured pass time for its fun and soothing nature, it is also beneficial to your overall well-being. Known to help manage stress, improve your mood and sleep, build strength and endurance, and be kind on your joints, swimming can work wonders for the body and mind, and is a comparable alternative to land exercises. “Swimming pools add value to your home and your life as a relaxation, entertainment, exercise and social hub for your family,” Trend says.

Whether you enjoy butterfly or backstroke, or playing Marco Polo on a warm afternoon, it is all about getting your heart rate up, and your muscles moving against gentle resistance. Should you want to practise laps or simply splash around, the cooling activity has something for everyone.

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SWIMMING WITH IDEAS 

Creating an ideal pool that fits your unique lifestyle involves researching the market and collating advice from professionals to ensure you are making the correct choices for your location and usage needs. “The best approach for a pool on your property is to design it to fit the shape and size of your space,” Trend says. “The pool should fit aesthetically with your outdoor area as well, and the design of the home itself.”

Further, Trend explains that just as each client is different, so are the key features associated with their swimming experience. “When first discussing pool designs, Esjay Landscapes + Pools considers how the pool will be used and explore the ways in which we can design it to best achieve this,” he says. “Size, space and location, as well as features within the pool such as bench seats, become the key elements that help shape your pool and ultimately your swimming experience.”

DESIGN FOR YOUR LIFE 

There are many ways the design of your pool can help promote an optimal swimming experience for everyone who dives in. Features such as built-in spas with cascading water add a sense of luxury, while ledges serve as multipurpose additions that allow for swimmers to take a break, or non-swimmers to engage in the conversation and activities occurring within the pool.

In pursuit of the perfect swim, Trend recommends asking yourself a few important preliminary questions: “How are you going to utilise the pool? Is it for fitness, leisure, entertaining, or all three? The answer will help you design a pool that best suits you.”

Creating a pool that is relevant to your lifestyle is the entire point of the project, so when mapping out the area, Trend recommends identifying the features that are important to you and including these in the overall design. “These elements could be as simple as the aesthetics of your pool, from what colour and texture tiles you like, to heating, and structural inclusions such as bench areas and water features,” he says. While it’s usually easy to encourage kids to dive in and splash around, be mindful of certain ways you can enhance the aesthetic of your pool so that the whole family will want to take a dip. For example, if you want older children to take advantage of the pool more often, consider an imbedded relaxation area with waterproof deck chairs for a resort-like aesthetic.

PLACEMENT IS KEY

In addition to incorporating fun features, the placement of your pool will help you establish a welcoming and functional backyard. When building on a large sloping block with views to admire, an infinity pool is a great option, whereas smaller blocks are better suited to compact pools. If you have a backyard that is a particularly unusual shape, consider a custom-designed concrete pool that can be constructed to fit the area properly, with remaining room in the area reserved for other outdoor activities.

As each property is different and encompasses a varying range of benefits and challenges when it comes to pool positions, it’s important to measure the area and enlist professional help to choose a design that maximises its potential. “Homeowners should first do research on their block and understand where they can and cannot have a pool,” Trend says. “There are a few key factors to consider when choosing a location for a pool, such as the sun, and how light moves through the landscape at certain times of the day.”

Also be mindful of tree roots and the type of soil that you are dealing with. Trend additionally encourages you to consider your home, and how you are going to move from your house to your pool. 

“Doing so creates exciting opportunities for a landscape design that engages the two spaces and makes for a transition that is both functional and fun,” he says. In order to create a seamless aesthetic, Trend recommends spending time within your home at various vantage points to help visualise how the area’s internal and external features can come together. “Look outside and imagine what you could be looking at – remembering that a pool is also a feature of your home that will look fantastic from different viewpoints.” 

In addition to this, having a direct line of vision to the pool from a range of areas will enhance the safety of the space, especially for young swimmers. Be sure to also include appropriate fencing that is suitable to the size and shape of the pool to satisfy safety laws; glass is a wise option to ensure your view is not hindered.

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SHADY SOLUTIONS 

Jumping into a cold pool on a hot summer’s day is one of life’s little pleasures; however, it is important to protect yourself from the harsh UV rays synonymous with the Australian climate. Fortunately for us in the lucky country, having such a harsh environment means there are ample shade selections available for all types of pools. When considering shade for your pool, Trend recommends following a few simple steps that will help unlock the potential of the area. “Consider how the sun interacts with your landscape, and understand how it plays with surrounding trees and buildings, then utilise this information when deciding on shade options,” he says.

“For smaller portions of shade, there are plenty of great umbrella options suited to all styles of pools,” Trend says. Produced in various shapes and sizes, the umbrella can be imbedded in the ground, or freestanding, which allows swimmers to control their sun exposure without committing to a permanent fixture. 

Outdoor umbrellas are also a very cost-effective choice and have a minimalistic design that complements most homes and backyards.

For a large family pool, Trend suggests including sturdier forms of shade, that cover more of the exposed areas. “There is always the option of building structures such as pergolas, alfresco and cabanas, where optimum positioning can give you plenty of shaded relief through certain parts of the day,” he says. “However, be careful when introducing too much coverage to avoid turning the space from an outdoor area into something that feels like an additional room.”

Shade sails and retractable awnings, are also elegant additions, and can be custom-made to suit your unique pool area, with architecturally designed pieces proving popular in modern settings. They not only limit direct sunlight from reaching the pool, but also rain due to their waterproof fabric, which is ideal for tropical locations. Retractable awnings can also be connected to your home’s control panel to help reduce sun exposure with the push of a button.

SURFACE VALUE 

Deciding on a pool interior depends upon your personal style, and colour scheme, as well as the texture you feel would best suit your daily needs. It is also important to choose interior surfaces known for their longevity, as some products have relatively short lifespans, and require more maintenance than others due to staining or chemical erosion.

Once you have chosen your interior surface, you can tie the aesthetic together with your pool surroundings. Consider renowned options such as natural stone, which will not only stand the test of time, but look great, too. “There are plenty of natural stone options that provide a great surface around the pool, and are also safe,” Trend says. 

“When selecting a stone, not only does Esjay Landscapes + Pools take into account colour, but also the texture and feel of the material.” The flooring around your pool is not only for design purposes but to ensure the safety of all swimmers. Remember to incorporate materials that are slip-resistant, and can cater for wet feet, such as timber or tiles.

QUALITY WATER CARE

Maintaining a high standard of water quality is essential to keep swimmers healthy and safe. To keep your pool clean and provide the best swimming experience for you and your family, it is important to use a combination of good sanitation and high-tech cleaning methods for optimum results.

“In-floor pool cleaning is a great addition to your pool, and helps sustain clean water,” Trend says. “While you can maintain a pool yourself, it’s usually best to acquire the services of a professional. There are plenty of pool maintenance companies that provide professional servicing and maintenance, ensuring you have a clean and functioning pool all year round.”

Trend also recommends using a pool cover to save yourself some hassle when your pool is not in use. “Often the hardest time to keep water quality high is when you are away from your pool, and a great solution to this is a pool cover,” he says. “There are ample pool-cover suppliers around Melbourne which provide great products that are safe and can be hidden in a well-designed pool area.”

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Combining the powers of a cleaning device and pool cover eliminates the need to manually scoop out debris, and gives you more time to enjoy the pool itself. The beauty of swimming often lies in enjoying the outdoors, staying fit and healthy, and having fun.

Whether you are practising a much-loved hobby or trying to improve your aquatic fitness, creating a pool area that meets your unique wants and needs will help you reap the benefits daily. Consider what is best for your lifestyle, and then choose elements that will make you want to dive straight in.

To find out more about how you can create an ideal swimming experience in your pool, visit www.esjaylandscapes.com.au.

Images courtesy of Aegean Pools, Oceanscape Pools, Aquastone Pools & Landscapes, Artesian Pools