Swimming pool design ideas

Infinity edge swimming pool with outdoor room
ARTICLE Jason Burgess IMAGES Scott Espie

Whether you want to recreate a hanging Balinese terrace, Frank Sinatra’s piano pool or the Marina Bay Sands’ rooftop infinity pool, the future of your exclusive bathing zone is limited only by your imagination.

The value of a pool adding to your home is one thing. The relaxation and pleasure that it will bring to your family and friends is priceless. But, before we get ahead of ourselves let’s begin by thinking how will a pool work in with your landscape, lifestyle and budget.

Half-circle pool with landscaped gardens surrounding it

Pools can be made in-ground, floating and natural. For continuity and flow, shape the pool to fit the scale and contour of your property. Size is not everything. Even on a restricted site, a small pool makes for an intimate atmosphere. More substantial pools are practical for families and those who like to entertain. No matter what shape or size you envisage your swimming pool to be, situate the pool where spring and summer sun shines in.

Now, ask yourself, why do you want a pool? Is it for exercise and fitness? Then you’ll probably opt for a conventional rectangle, but this could be cantilevered or suspended off an upper-storey and finished with a transparent Perspex-end or as an infinity edge overlooking a view.

It could be a rooftop swim tank with a plexiglass bottom to allow light into the home below. If it is at ground level, then you might like to add a poolside home gym and sauna that doubles as privacy and windbreak.

Traditional rectangular pool with sauna at the end

Entertainers might consider softer-edged pools with a more organic shape. Space around the pool should be factored into the overall landscape, for loungers, chairs, tables and sun umbrellas. Alternatively, a poolside pergola or cabana make ideal entertaining zones.

On cosier locations, a shallow shelf within the pool will provide space to park up in water loungers.

For a resort twist, serious entertainers might consider a water level bar with in-built submerged seating for your guests.

Likewise, if you are creating a waterpark for the kids to play, then you might allocate some space in your landscaping plan for out of water activities, including a hideaway for the toys and extra towels.

Decide an overall theme for your pool area. Think indoor-outdoor flow that compliments your home, and keeps wet feet out. Glass balustrades can provide effective childproof barriers, while offering unimpeded views connecting your pool area with the rest of the home. Breezeways, fencing and timber screening will add an architectural finish. Savvy landscaping specialists can save big bucks on soil removal by combining tailings from your in-ground pool digs to create natural-looking raised privacy, wind barriers and water features.

Don’t restrict pool designs to a single level body of water. A well-conceived pool on bi or even triple levels can provide varying depths for bathers and work in with sloping sites. Cost effective Retaining walls can become feature walls. These incorporate water walls or waterfalls to circulate pool water. The Chinese design philosophy of Feng Shui advocates the many virtues of flowing water. Its sound has a positive effect on health and wellbeing.

Grottos and intimate coves in and around your pool can be created using ornamental rocks, whilst cleverly hiding retaining and other infrastructure. In the case of natural swimming pools, the aquatic planting in the adjacent landscaping not only complete thematic aesthetics, they also oxygenate the water and act as living filters. No more chlorine.

No matter how simple a swimming pool may be, it will take careful designing. Your landscaping specialist will need to involve a pool company and multiple tradies, including engineers, landscapers, builders, possibly an architect and electrician. Once the budget is set and the plans drawn, they are then lodged with the local council for building and, where applicable, resource consents. While the weather can impede some pool construction, the upside is much of the landscaping can still be achieved during that time.

Peanut shaped pool

A concrete pool is usually more expensive than a pre-shaped fibreglass pool. Concrete is durable and will give you the most flexibility in terms of size, shape or out-of-the-box design. There is a wide range of colours to finish with too; from beach whites to night sky, using textured and marble like plasters, such as Quartzon and Hydrazzo. Advances in fibreglass technology have improved the strength and durability of fibreglass pools, which means that in most cases they match the life span of concrete pools with less maintenance. Natural pools can take on any shape. Adjacent filtering vegetation introduces textural planting possibilities from the waterline out.

To set the mood, add some lights in and around your pool. Coloured underwater LEDs will create a sense of depth and drama, while neon-like fibre-optic offers flexibility above and below water. Remember a pool need not be just for summer. You can heat with gas, solar or electric pumps. Maintenance-wise think automated sensor dosing systems; ionizing, UV light and natural pool filtering to keep the waters crystal clear. An automatic pool sweep or in pool self-cleaning circulation system will negate the need for the ‘pool boy!’

You might be interested in reading: Things to consider before installing a swimming pool.

Get in touch with Zones to discuss your landscaping project

If you would like to discuss swimming pool options and ideas for your outdoor landscaping project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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