Take The Plunge
The traditional image of a swimming pool is large and sprawling, occupying the space of an equally large property. A plunge pool challenges this notion, offering homeowners the luxury of a swimming pool within a compact backyard. Sitting down with Neptune Pools’ residential pool manager Dean Jones, Tegan Lyon explores the rising popularity of plunge pools and the advantages of incorporating this feature into your lifestyle and outdoor landscape.
A plunge pool boasts many of the same benefits and functions of a standard-sized swimming pool but on a smaller scale. For homeowners living on properties with a limited footprint, this compact design offers families the enjoyment and tranquillity of their very own swimming pool without sacrificing yard space.
The Attainable Australian Dream
A swimming pool is one of the ultimate luxuries for any Australian homeowner. Often synonymous with substantial backyards and expansive properties, many homeowners with size-restricted dwellings forgo the dream of installing a swimming pool without considering alternative sizes and design possibilities. “With land becoming more valuable and yards generally getting smaller, we find that the plunge pools are becoming more popular,” Jones says. “They allow clients to have the best of both worlds, saving on backyard space whilst [having] a place to cool off and have fun.” In newer builds, particularly around inner-city Melbourne where space is at a premium, the plunge pool is the perfect outdoor accessory. One of greatest advantages of a plunge pool is that it can be designed around the contours of your home, without overwhelming your backyard. “Plunge pools can be created in many shapes that can be catered to fit in with the existing landscape – saving space and enhancing the house and landscaping design,” Jones confirms.
Of course, plunge pools aren’t confined to smaller backyards. In fact, these compact sizes to be quite popular within larger properties for their convenience, manageable upkeep and minimal interference within an existing yard. “Although more popular in smaller backyards, larger [backyards] are also opting for plunge pools so they refrain from compromising all of their space,” Jones notes. For large property owners that don’t wish to commit to a full-sized swimming pool, a plunge pool is a low-maintenance alternative that allows homeowners to spend less time cleaning their pool and more time enjoying it.
While smaller in size, a plunge pool still offers the fun and relaxation of a standard pool, with homeowners able to customise their design with desired features. One of the defining characteristics of a plunge pool is generous built-in seating areas – perfect for rejuvenation and basking in the sun. In addition to integrated bench seats, entry steps and splash decks make for the ultimate outdoor indulgence, while Jones also urges pool owners to consider adequate heating for year-round use. “Heating is an important feature the allows for use no matter the weather and [transforms] a traditional pool into a multifunctional space.” Jones has also seen a recent demand for plunge pools amongst retirees. “They can be used by the older generations as hydrotherapy pools for exercise and rehabilitation,” he explains. “We can [also] install exercise rails and massage jets to assist.” As well as physical therapy and exercise for elderly homeowners, swim jets offer great swim training for young children, building their skills and confidence within short, safe parameters.
Concrete and fibreglass plunge pools are available in a variety of designs, shapes and sizes to accommodate the layout of your backyard. Neptune Pools boasts an excellent range to suit your preferred specifications, with the most popular sizes being 4m x 3m and 5m x 2m, with a depth between 1.2 to 1.5 metres. Concrete pools offer great design flexibility for challenging outdoor areas where specific shapes are required. As fibreglass pool moulds are created before installation, there are fewer options in terms of shape and design.
From conception to installation, the timeline for a concrete plunge pool can take several months as it is completely poured and constructed on-site. Conversely, a fibreglass plunge pool has a prefabricated shell that is placed into the ground after excavation. The fibreglass shell can be installed in a shorter timeframe compared to concrete which requires adequate time to set. Whether you opt for concrete or fibreglass to construct your idyllic plunge pool, either material is going to offer durability and longevity for many summers ahead.
The ‘Wow’ Factor
The beauty of a plunge pool design is its versatility; it can act as the focal point of your backyard or work in tandem with your landscaping to create an opulent outdoor haven. “Landscaping elements can be made to enhance the plunge pool’s features and create a real standout backyard space,” Jones says. There are myriad possibilities for landscaping around plunge pools, although the most common features are water walls, spillways, tiling, lighting and wet decks.
Some homeowners prefer a pared-back approach to landscaping, while others create visual cohesion between their alfresco area and plunge pool by planting the same greenery, using similar colour schemes or repeating materials like timber and concrete. “Pools are seen as extensions of the outdoor living space, and it is therefore important that they blend seamlessly with outdoor living areas,” Jones adds. Take inspiration directly from your home design to marry with your outdoor zones. For a modern home, utilise clean lines and minimalist styling for your landscaping, introduce native plants to mimic the surrounding landscape of your rural property, or consider a beach entry for your plunge pool to complement your coastal abode.
It’s important to incorporate safety measures into your landscaping, including fencing, non-climbable zones and non-slip surfaces and areas that offer direct pool access and contain space for lounge chairs and other furniture.
In previous projects, Jones has also used the pool fence as a design element where a glass fence acted as a window to the water. “Rather than creating a barrier between your pool and outdoor area, [your fence] is seen as a water feature that blends the two together,” he elaborates. Discuss your landscaping vision with your builder and they can refer you to a professional landscaper to help you develop your blissful outdoor retreat.
Shut Up And Take My Money
While design, size, colour, materials, site location, landscaping, heating and filtration systems will affect the upfront and ongoing costs of your pool, a plunge pool is more cost-effective than a traditional size – in the short and long term. “Although building, administration and equipment costs are the same [as a standard pool], material and labour costs are less because of the smaller pool,” Jones says. Taking the above variants and individual preferences into account, the upfront cost of a plunge pool ranges anywhere between $13,000 and $50,000. Plunge pool owners can anticipate less maintenance and upkeep as fewer chemicals are required to clean the smaller surface area. Consider robotic cleaning equipment to streamline pool cleaning ever further, and in winter, your pool can be easily covered. With a plunge pool, you can spend more time relaxing and decompressing, without the hassle of expensive, heavy-duty cleaning.
Be Kinder To The Environment
As we strive to improve sustainable practices and minimise our environmental impact, a plunge pool provides many of the same luxuries as a standard pool, with a reduced footprint. Due to their compact size, plunge pools use less water and fewer balancing chemicals. Plunge pools are similarly efficient when it comes to heating and filtration, as these systems consume less energy when warming and purifying a smaller body of water. Any pools constructed from fibreglass – a natural insulator – will also retain more heat, further reducing your energy consumption. While it’s vital to look after our own wellbeing, its equally important to be energy conscious; a plunge pool offers both.
Promoting wellness and improving physical and mental health, swimming pools are the ultimate addition to the Australian home. Many homeowners may struggle to accommodate everything they want in a backyard when space is at a premium, but with a range of economical sizes and low-maintenance options available, there is a plunge pool design to enhance every backyard and enrich any lifestyle.
Images Courtesy of Neptune Pools