Designing the Perfect Pool

When it comes to designing the perfect pool and backyard retreat many homeowners first consult a swimming pool contractor to discuss how the pool will relate to the home and the property. There can be many considerations that affect the pool design, such as trees, easements and build lines, utility lines, and elevation. A good pool contractor will design around these challenges and explain why certain features or designs will or won’t work for your yard. In addition to understanding your property, you’ll want to have a good idea of what features you’d like to have in your pool. Its easiest to determine what features you are wanting once you know what is available and a little bit of pool terminology.


Tanning Ledge

A tanning ledge, also called a sun shelf or baja shelf, is simply a flat, shallow area in the pool. It’s often where a lounge chair is placed so that a person can be both in and out of the water at the same time. Because of its extremely shallow depth, it can be a good place for children to splash around. It also commonly features bubblers to add a water feature to the area or an umbrella sleeve to be able to shade the area if desired.
tanning ledge

Beach Entry

A beach entrance is a long and gently sloping entrance into the pool. It is similar to a tanning ledge except it has a slope from the coping to where the first step would end on a normal entry. It is typically finished with flagstone as it is not a slippery surface but there are many different material options available depending on taste and design.

beach entry

Zero Entry

A zero entry is commonly called a beach entry but it differs in that it has no steps at all. With a zero entry, you walk directly into the pool without having to step down. This type of entrance mimics a beach you’d find in a lake or ocean, and it’s considered an easy way for children to enter the pool as well as people who have difficulties with stairs.

zero entry

Lighted Bubblers

Lighted bubblers are bursts of water and air that start under the surface of the water and create a nice bubble effect on the water. It’s not as powerful as a spray fountain, but can be integrated with colored lights. The purpose is mainly decorative and can add a nice sound of moving water. They also help to circulate water on sun shelves and move debris.

lighted bubblers

Cocktail Tables

A cocktail table is a built-in table in the pool. Most cocktail tables are designed with built-in seating and the purpose is to give a perfect spot for eating, drinking or playing games inside the pool. Visually, this table is a great spot to highlight with colored tile or patterns to draw the eye towards it.

cocktail tables

Fountains or Laminars

Fountains in a pool are purely decorative but they do add an extra water feature that is fun for all ages. Many homeowners love fountains in their pool as it adds that spectacular water feature that their yard needs while maintaining an elegant clean look that has become so popular today. Fountains can be placed in the pool or just to the side of the pool. Laminar fountains are specially designed deck fountain that removes the air from the water in order to produce a perfectly round jet of water. This type of design can be programed with colored lights and synchronized in a pattern.

water fountains


A grotto is an imitation cave, usually constructed with rock (either real or imitation) and designed to be a shaded and reclusive spot in the swimming pool area. Some grottos are fitted with jets and some grottos are designed around a waterfall, a slide or an outdoor shower system. A grotto can add an exotic and peaceful area to the overall swimming pool design.

pool grotto

Infinity Edge

An infinity edge, or negative edge pool design is one in which the edge of the swimming pool seems to disappear. Instead of a traditional ledge or coping, the infinity edge allows the water to spill over the lip and into a reservoir that is even with the surface of the pool. The effect of an infinity edge pool design can be dramatic, especially if the pool is built up on a higher spot on the property.

infinity edge pool

Lazy River

A lazy river isn’t something you see in a typical backyard swimming pool however, it is becoming a more common request among residential pool projects. A lazy river is a narrow area of water in which the water moves quickly, similar to a river. This is accomplished by carefully engineering the plumbing of the pool to create a constant current that generates enough flow to mimic a river. This allows you to hop on a raft and relax while floating around the river without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

lazy river

Material Types and Colors

When it comes to swimming pools, there are many material types and colors to choose from. Gunite, plastic or fiberglass are among the most common materials used. In a Gunite application, the Gunite is topped with an interior finish to not only waterproof the pool interior but also achieve the blue pool color the homeowner is looking for. Many homeowners like the look of a cool, blue pool, but even with blue there are a multitude of shades to choose from. Other colors like black, tan or sand-like colors are also popular. Darker color pools attract heat and can add a few extra degrees of warmth to the water, they are also more reflective. Some pools change their underwater hues with the addition of colored lights.

materials and colors

Specialty Lighting

Lighting can be incorporated into the swimming pool design in a number of ways. Lights can be added to fountains and waterfalls, it can be added beneath the surface, or down the steps inside the pool. Remember that lighting affects safety around the pool, and if using the swimming pool at night you’ll want to make sure there is enough lighting. Outside of the pool you can incorporate step lights in the decking or landscape lights throughout the property to help light the outdoor living space in the evening.

speciality pool lighting

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