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Pool Planning–5 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Swimming Pool

At Water and Earth, pool planning is something we take seriously. Among our clients here in Richmond, a growing number are interested in planning and installing a new pool as part of their outdoor design. A critical part of the pool planning process is sitting down with clients and figuring out what their dream pool looks like.


Over years of having these conversations with homeowners, we’ve realized that there are some common misconceptions about what makes a good pool design. If you are interested in making pool planning a part of your upcoming landscape design renovation, then it’s as helpful to know what NOT to do, as it is to know the opposite.


Here are the top five most common pool planning mistakes we encounter.


1. Placing Your Pool Too Far From Your Home

There’s a saying in the industry, “the farther it is from the backdoor, the less you are going to use it.” While this refrain can be applied to just about any outdoor living feature, it is especially true of pools. Let’s face it–human beings love convenience. And part of making something convenient to use is keeping it within arms reach. This is why placing your pool at any sizable distance from your home can make you far less likely to use it.


Of course, we understand why some homeowners with larger lots may find a certain appeal in the idea of tucking your pool away in the corner of your yard. Maybe you’re not thrilled with the idea of looking at it every time you glance out your back windows. But those who want their pool out of sight should remember that, more often than not, this means keeping your pool out of mind, as well.


The best pool is the one that you and your family are actually excited to use. Creating a trek to get back and forth from your home will introduce an element of effort, which can lead to low use. And for something as expensive as a brand new pool, getting your money’s worth from your investment is important.


2. Your Pool Doesn’t Fit Your Overall Design

A standard pool salesman has one goal–selling you on a pool as quickly as possible. We understand how easy it can be to get caught up in pool planning. You meet with a contractor or company you love. They show you a beautiful, finished pool design and before you know it, you’re sold. Only to get home and realize that you may have no other part of your yard planned or designed. Why is this a problem?


In order for a backyard living space to feel seamless, it needs to be designed as whole, rather than as several parts. We explore this theme in depth in our blog on phasing a project, and the same sentiment applies here. If you are sold on a pool design before the rest of your backyard has settled, then not only can it look out of place, but it can throw your backyard design out of alignment as well.


A pool-first design doesn’t get the luxury of knowing how the rest of the space will be laid out. You may end up with a design that is contrary to the flow of foot traffic. Perhaps you’ll realize that you don’t love having your new outdoor kitchen so close to your previously planned pool. Whatever your goals are in your living space, it’s always best to take your time and ensure that the pool you are being sold on is the pool that will align correctly with the rest of your landscape design.


3. You Didn’t Do Your Research

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of pool planning. Most of our clients are insistent on getting their backyard living space from start to finish as quickly as possible. We understand their excitement, however we think it’s always important to remind people that taking your time with an investment as large as a new pool is important.


One of the worst things you can do is simply go with the first “decent”, available contractor. Even if you are feeling great about the designs and the costs being presented, when you fail to look at other options, you are effectively ensuring that you will never know if a better competitor exists.


Any time you are giving the green light to a project as large as planning and constructing a new swimming pool, make sure you have shopped around. If you’re working with a local Richmond, VA landscape design company like Water and Earth, then it’s likely they can do some of that leg work for you.


However, if you are simply reaching out to contractors on your own, make sure you do your research and due diligence. Knowing the market and understanding your options puts the power of information and negotiation in your hands.


4. You Didn’t Consider Sun Exposure

It’s all fun in the sun until someone gets a bad sunburn. For that reason, many homeowners love the idea of having a pool that is covered at least partially by some shade. This is a great idea, however how this is achieved is important. Failing to optimize sun exposure and how shade is cast can create a less than favorable environment.


For example, attempting to achieve shade by building beneath a large, leaf bearing tree can seem like a “natural” solution to the problem. And while this may be fine for parts of the year, inevitably tree litter will catch up with you. Before long, homeowners find themselves spending longer than they’d like fishing leaves and debris out of their pool.


In other scenarios, contractors may forget to plan for changing sun exposure all together. In this case, a pool goes in and the homeowners realize that the ample sun they believed they would be receiving never comes. Instead, the pool is blocked for much of the day by long shadows cast by their home, or other taller design elements in the yard.


All this said, we encourage homeowners who are looking for partial shade in their pool to pursue lower maintenance, more predictable solutions such as a pergola or other covered structure. These elements can be carefully planned in relation to the sun’s path across the sky making sure the same amount of shade is provided throughout the season, without the hassle of picking leaves off of the surface of your brand new pool.


5. Your Pool is the Wrong Size

The size and shape of your pool is directly related to how well it serves you and your family. A pool that is too large for a backyard may monopolize space that could be better used as seating or play space. A pool that is too small might not leave enough room to accommodate more than a few people at a time.


Knowing what the right size pool is for your family means predicting how you will use it. If you are a homeowner on a property where no kids are present, a smaller pool might make perfect sense for your lifestyle. Larger families, or clients who want to throw pool parties or regularly invite the neighbors for a swim will benefit from their pool’s footprint being larger.


At the end of the day, the size, placement, and style of your pool is not one size fits all. Every family, backyard, budget, and lifestyle is different. Considering all factors will help you and your contractor or designer create a swimming pool that is perfect for your space.


Planning a pool? We can help.

If you’re working on turning your dream pool into a reality, or are simply looking for some pool-spiration, Water and Earth can help. For more nitty-gritty on the pool building process, as well as tips and tricks you should know, visit the blog.


For daily inspiration and to keep up with our latest projects, here in Richmond, VA and across the country, follow us on Instagram.

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