You approach to your swimming pool will largely determine the kind you end up with. Some owners are hands-on, doing as much research as possible and getting involved in every decision, and maybe even installing the pool on their own. Others prefer to leave it to the experts, letting them do everything from picking the location to cleaning the pool.
If you’re working with a pool builder, they might ask what you prefer, or take all the work off your hands. Most pool builders will ask you what type of pool you want in terms of size, shape, and chlorination. Modern pools can use chlorine, salt water, or you could order an environmentally friendly pool that uses minerals instead of chemicals.
The pool itself could be above-ground, in-ground, or somewhere in between. It could be constructed from concrete, fibreglass, or vinyl, and could be a long lap pool or a uniquely shaped leisure pool. You could surround it with landscaping, hardscaping, or an attractive mix of both. You could even design your own artificial lagoon with an infinity edge, or a tropical paradise complete with rock paths, fountains, and waterfalls.
North and South
When you think about the position of your pool, you’re probably focused on the size of your yard and your privacy considerations. You know you’d prefer it in the back yard, so that strangers on the street don’t spy on you. Still, it might be a good idea to get a compass and think about the aspect.
We’re in the southern hemisphere, which means we have winter while Europe and America have summer, and our aspect requirements are equally polar. This means we want our pools to face north, which is warmer because it’s closer to the equator and further from our closest polar ice cap. However, just like European and American pools, a pool that faces West is warmer than one that faces East, because of the sun’s movements.
Basically, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, so a west-facing pool will be in the sun’s oncoming path all day. Also in general, a northern pool is warmer than a western pool. An interesting point is the direction the pool faces really depends on the shape of the pool. A flat-bottom pool will receive consistent solar heat, while a pool with a deep end needs maximal sunlight on the deeper side, because it takes longer to warm up.
Shades and shadows
The amount of sunlight your pool gets is important, because it can lower your heating bills and make your swimming experience more pleasant. Even on a blazing day, water that is slightly warm offers a more pleasant swim. The water is cool enough to soothe your overheated body, but not so cold that it withers your fingers, chatters your teeth, activates the sniffles, or gives you goose bumps.
For this reason, position your pool for maximum solar exposure. If your house, walls, or fences cast a shadow, check the intended pool location at different times of day to see if or when the pool falls into the shadow of the house. Do this before you install the pool, since it’s unlikely you’ll move the pool afterwards. Technically, above-ground pools can be moved, but it’s a hassle you’ll probably procrastinate forever.
You should also consider tree shades and hedges. In addition to limiting sunlight, they will also shed leaves into the pool, and can give insects and pests easier access to the pool. If you’re installing a pergola or canopy, keep it away from the pool, and double-check where its shadow falls as the sun shifts throughout the day.
Keep in mind that a big part of the swimming experience is sunning yourself dry. If you have a deck for people to lie on, be sure that it’s in the direct path of the sun and out of the shadows. You can still have seating areas under a tent or ledge, where you can rest when it gets too hot or if you need some shelter from the rain.
While you can’t really control the wind, you can consider wind-breaks like fences, screens, or even your house. A cooling breeze can be nice on a hot day, but in a pool, it can increase evaporation, meaning you have to refill your pool faster. It will also lower the water temperature, and give swimmers an uncomfortable chill when they come up for air.
If your area is windy, you can put up a glass balustrade or privacy fence to slow the wind before it gets to the pool. You could also locate the pool in a space where your fence holds off the wind, keeping your water warmer and your swimmers free of the shivers.