Choosing the location of your Pool or Spa
An above ground pool offers homeowners many benefits they cannot get with a below ground pool. They cost less, are easily erected and can be taken down and moved when you move house. Most customers install the pools themselves or, alternatively, SPASA members that sell above ground pools will be able to direct the customer towards a trained installer.
Pools are normally located in the backyard, although some are placed at the side or even the front of the house. The main consideration is orientation. Following are some points to consider.
Positioning the Pool
Pool positioning is most important from a heat retention standpoint. Avoid windy spots if possible. Plan to keep the pool away from nearby buildings and overhanging trees. Trees not only cause problems with leaves, they and nearby buildings block sunlight and prevent the pool warming up naturally during the day. A pool with little or no natural sun will be up to 4°C cooler.
You’ll need around 1.2 metres of water under you for lap swimming so that you don’t touch the bottom when making your turns. In other pools, 1 to 1.1 metres is suitable for the shallow end of the pool. For the deep end, between 1.7 and 1.8 metres is quite satisfactory, though there is a growing trend for pools to be no deeper than 1.5 metres. Your SPASA member can provide you with advice based on their experience in the industry.
Pool manufacturers and installers have techniques for installing a pool on just about any site you can imagine. On extreme slopes, for example, concrete piers or retaining walls can be installed to support the far walls of the pool. The end result can be spectacular, with the far wall seeming to float off into space. In other cases, such as sloping ground which has been terraced, an above ground pool can be installed using the terracing as a natural feature. If you have an unusual site, don’t be deterred. Talk to several SPASA member pool installers. Ask to be shown pools in a similar situation to yours. You’ll find they’ve done it all before and can offer a solution to solving any site queries.
In the early days of pool ownership, big was beautiful. Today, however, more and more pool owners are installing pools to suit their requirements, rather than following a fashion. Smaller blocks, for example, will happily accommodate a smaller pool. Shapes, too, can be designed to fit smaller or irregular spaces. Pool builders have recognised the new trend and now provide pools to suit any requirement. As well as space, another consideration is the amount and type of activity you expect in your pool. If you have children and will encourage them to invite their friends to the pool, you’ll take their needs into account. How many friends and relatives will you be inviting to join you for a swim? Will there be older family members coming over on weekends, or during the week while you’re at work?
Most pool contractors in Western Australia can refer you to a good landscaper. Designing the landscaping concept around your pool is very important and greatly enhances the appearance of the pool. The types of plants used, amount of watering required and leaves that may drop, all need to be considered. A carefully planned garden will mean less time spent on pool maintenance and more time enjoying the pool. As much as we love the Australian bush, when it comes to pools, the outback is the best place for it. Australian native plants and trees tend to be messy around pools and are generally to be discouraged. Jacarandas are also frowned upon as they clog skimmers, leaf baskets and even block pump impellers. Setting a pool under trees not only leads to a messy pool, but a shortage of sun, resulting in a colder pool not used as often as it could be.
If you can’t avoid installing your pool in a windy spot, there are ways to protect against heat loss through convection. Hedges, for example, make excellent windbreaks, while at the same time forming part of your landscaping. Another technique is in the fencing you choose. As discussed in the article on fencing in this magazine, pool fencing is now required by law and here you have a choice. Providing you keep in mind the need for child supervision, you could install one section of solid type of fence to block the worst of the wind.
In Western Australia, around 80 per cent of pools are installed in sandy soils. Between fi ve and 10 per cent involve the removal of limestone during excavation, with the balance being clay, gravel or rocky sites. Disposal of excess soil is becoming more and more difficult. Contractors are always on the lookout for people wanting a "clean fill", as it is far cheaper than going to a council tip.
Most fibreglass pool manufacturers have their own display centres. Western Australia’s swimming pool display centres offer the most extensive range of pools on display anywhere in Australia. Some concrete pool builders have a small display centre or will use their own pool or recent clients’ pools for display purposes. If you would like to see a range of pools already in place, you could visit some of our display centres.
Considerations for Locating the Pool
- Sun | Does the sun reach the pool and areas intended for sunbathing or is it obstructed by nearby buildings?
- Shade | Will there be shady spots to escape the sun when it becomes too hot?
- Wind | Does the wind blow hard or swirl in the proposed pool area - will a windbreak be necessary?
- Vegetation | Are there trees and shrubs close to the proposed pool area? Overhanging trees in particular will shed leaves and insects directly into the pool.
- Supervision | Can the pool be easily seen and supervised from the living areas of the house?
First discuss your pool preferences with your family to determine the type of pool you would all enjoy. Then discuss your conclusions with a SPASA member. With so many different shapes and sizes to choose from, you’ll find there is a pool to suit your exact needs. Today’s pool construction techniques are all sound and will provide you with a pool offering you many years of fun and enjoyment. The one you choose will depend on your own preferences and circumstances.