Top landscape design ideas for your pool

Backyard pool design is a field that features numerous and various designs. Whether you plan to build a pool in a small backyard or you have a huge outdoor space, the possibilities are limitless. We shall show you a variety of inspiring backyard ideas which will be helpful in the search for the best pool design for your backyard.

After winter is gone and the weather is getting warmer by the day, it is really hard to resist the idea of gathering friends and family in the open air around the pool either for a couple of lazy hours, for a cocktail or dinner party. Naturally, you would like your outdoor space to be as comfortable, inviting and functional as your living space. The garden pool is always a major feature and investment, so the backyard pool design requires some careful thinking and planning. What is the available space? What is the pool shape that you like the most? Do you plan to have additional water features or equipment? How about some modern ambient lighting to increase the spectacular look and magnetic appearance of the pool? A backyard certainly has a lot to offer – numerous opportunities for various activities, closeness to nature, social activities and relaxing time on a Sunday afternoon.

The purpose of this article is to introduce you to some fundamentals that will help you make good decisions when planning an inground swimming pool project. Although it may be the focal point of a landscape, a swimming pool is frequently just one of several related activity areas that contribute to the overall outdoor environment. Inground pools must be designed, so they fit the characteristics of the site and the broader landscape.

That’s why it’s best to work with a landscape designer before contacting a pool builder. The designer will determine the best location for the pool and develop a landscaping concept that will position it in a fully integrated design plan. Also, a landscape designer should be able to recommend and collaborate with a top pool construction company once the design is approved.

We are going to do two things in this article to help you prepare for your swimming pool project. First, we’re going to list some points to consider in regards to construction, materials/finishes, and accessories. These will help you decide on the direction you take with your pool project. Second, we are going to outline a couple of key things to avoid, some common mistakes if you will that any landscape designer worth their salt would help you navigate. Hopefully, by the end of this piece, you’ll have learned some helpful tidbits of information to get you started on designing the landscape fo your dreams. And of course, if you’re in Melbourne and looking for award-winning landscape design for your backyard or garden, the team at Seyffer Designs are always available for a chat.

Different pool materials

There are a range of pool materials on the market, each varying in aesthetics, price and functionality. The cheapest pools on offer are above ground, which doesn’t particularly exude sleekness. On the opposite end of the spectrum are stainless steel pools, which you will need a pretty penny or two for. Let’s stick to the most common pool materials and how they stack up against each other. Concrete pools require excavation and a lot of time. Concrete pools have the advantage of durability, but the disadvantage of a lengthy installation. Once your concrete pool has been installed, a pool lining needs to be added – the lining can either be tiles, a mosaic or a pool liner. Tiles or a mosaic is the ideal option for those with a keen design eye; however, bear in mind their susceptibility to accumulating algae or bacteria. Pool liners are cheaper and easier to install than tiles; however, scratches, knicks in the material and natural wear and tear can lead to water leakages and a billowing liner in time. Consider the pros and cons of each option and make your decision from there.

Another option in pool materials is plastic pools, which similarly to above ground pools are inexpensive. Plastic pools still require a base plate and concrete parameters to give the pool it’s shape and functionality. However, the plastic component is easy to install and easy on the wallet. The one limitation here is colour. However, a shade of blue or green is, without a doubt, an option. Laminate or fibreglass pools, commonly known as composite pools, is also another material to consider. You’re more limited in terms of design and colours, but they’re quick to install and don’t require set brick walls. It’s a process to install, more so than a plastic pool, for instance, but with the right pool installer, it can be a job well done in a week. And lastly are ceramic pools, which is a type of composite pool, and one of the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch. Ceramic pools are incredibly dependable as they are made from a combination of laminate layers, ceramic layers and carbon fibre mat. And similarly to fibreglass pools, ceramic pools can be installed pretty quickly, particularly if it is low season and the manufacturer has everything in stock.

Landscapes for different pool materials

The pool itself is just one part of the landscape puzzle – albeit a big one – but that’s not to say the rest of the pool area should be left unattended. A landscape designer or a landscape architect will be able to help conceptualize your dream landscape before it is made a reality. The pool and the surrounding landscape should complement each other and be designed as a whole rather than two separate entities. When this happens, there is a lack of harmony between the pool itself and the general milieu of the area. And as previously mentioned, because pools are quite costly, it’s imperative to give time to your pool and landscape design, rather than rushing one before the other and being displeased with the result. There are a couple of rules of thumb when it comes to designing the landscape for your pool area. Firstly, avoid fads. This isn’t to say don’t choose what’s on-trend, but it is to say that your pool is an asset that will be with you for a long time, so consider the aesthetics longevity before choosing it. Secondly, understand that the pool material you choose should have a symbiotic relationship with its surroundings. Different materials emanate different looks, so when deciding on the material of your pool, consider what type of landscape will accompany it.

What’s on-trend landscape designing pools for 2020?

Even though the fads should be avoided, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should turn a blind eye to what’s on-trend. It’s a new year, and with this new beginning comes budding trends. And who’s to say you can’t have the latest and greatest? (Certainly not us – we’re already jealous of your new pool!) So, the first trend – darker pools. Just like it is for kitchens, the dark look for pools is in. Commonly, pools are light shades of blue and green to emulate a tropical oasis. However, this year will see the rise of deeper tones, like navy and blacks. Why? Dark tones are sophisticated and dramatic. Practically speaking too, your pool will warm more quickly if it is darker as the sun is attracted to these tones. Another trend, which we truly are a fan of, is built-in ledges or sun shelves. You’ve likely seen these in hotel or resort swimming pools; they’re a wide ledge submerged in ankle-deep water which serves as a precursor to the depths of the pool itself. The idea of this trend is to bask in the sun on some suitable chairs, bringing a little slice of paradise into your pool! And lastly, another burgeoning pool trend is infinity pools; perhaps the hardest look to achieve, yet the most striking. They are perfect if you have an outlook over the ocean where you want to obscure the lines between where one body of water finishes and the other begins.

swimming pool, infinity swimming pool, c

Complimentary flora

Flora around pools has three primary roles – to look good, to give the space privacy and to brighten up the area. The one piece of advice to remember when deciding on plants is to avoid trees and plants that drop a lot of leaves! For colour, we suggest hibiscus. They are tropical looking, supremely colourful and flower all summer long. For flowers that look good, we say opt for agapanthus – they are drought tolerant (perfect for an Australian summer), colourful and bushy. And for screening and the utmost privacy camellias are the way to go. They flower outside the summer months too, making your pool area easy on the eyes all year long. Not to mention, they are maintainable and have the bonus of being extremely pretty, all while keeping your pool nice and private!

Taking it one step further

Another component you can add to your pool landscape is a deck, gazebo or patio. All of these will increase your budget but will undoubtedly be an invaluable addition to your landscape. Decks are perfect places to entertain in the summertime and gazebos, or a patio, are ideal for keeping yourself protected during the unrelenting summer sun. If your block is on a slope, perhaps a deck would work better as a lead into your pool area. If you’re on a relatively flat block of ground, opt for a gazebo or patio to shade the space that edges into your pool area.

Wood Deck Ideas for Above Ground Pools

Wood decking is the most popular material for above ground pool deck ideas. These structures can be nearly any kind of deck suitable for sunbathing, playing, and lounging. A wooden deck around an above ground pool is no different from other freestanding wood deck ideas. It simply accommodates the shape of the pool wall. Your above ground pool deck may completely encircle your pool, or stand along only one side. While a partial wood pool deck may not be as visually stunning as a full deck, It is more affordable. A simple square pool deck design can be adjacent to your above ground swimming pool instead of wrapping around it. Wood deck pool surrounds ideas can transform an above ground swimming pool into one that feels more like an inground pool. When built properly and enhanced with landscaping, it can be hard to tell an inground pool from an above-ground one. Purchase a pool kit with a liner that looks like mosaic tile for an even more convincing inground pool appearance.

Multilevel Above Ground Pool Deck Ideas

One way to make your above ground pool area stunning is to craft a multilevel decking design. A terraced deck provides several levels and might be necessary if your yard is hilly. One level could be a sun deck, away from the splash zone. Another level could be for grilling out and dining. The different levels of your pool deck could consist of different materials. For example, your ground level could consist of concrete, pea gravel, or paver stones. Your upper levels could be wood or a composite deck material that looks like wood. You can also use stone or brick masonry to build a wall around your above ground pool. Using the same type of material for the decking gives the illusion of an inground pool. While some multilevel swimming pool decks have functional purposes for each level, this isn’t required. Many homeowners choose multi level decking simply because it opens up more design possibilities. Experiment with different above ground pool design ideas until you find a multilevel combination that works for you.

resort, marine, pool

Composite Above Ground Pool Deck Ideas

Composite materials are great for pool deck ideas because they are durable and water-resistant. Composite decking surfaces can resemble real wood or masonry. These materials are ideal for a pool deck because there is no risk of splinters or sharp stones injuring bare feet. Even if you choose real stone or concrete for a patio surround, composite panels can be helpful. Use them to cover the ugly sides of your above ground pool. Doing so transforms an ordinary above ground pool kit into a beautiful garden feature. To save money on decking, build an above ground pool deck out of composite planks. Then use coordinating composite lattice panels to hide the bare pool sides. It’s a bonus if you can also find coordinating composite fencing to protect your backyard swimming pool.

Wrapped Around Decks for Above Ground Pools

Wrapping your deck around the circumference of your above ground pool makes for a refined backyard deck appearance. When a pool deck completely encloses an above ground pool, it feels more like it’s inground. It elevates your backyard swimming experience to a higher level. A wrap-around deck makes any size pool look as though it belongs there. It eliminates the need to climb a ladder to get into the above ground pool, although there may be steps to climb to the deck surface. A wrap-around above ground pool deck doesn’t have to be huge to be functional. Even just a few feet around all sides of the pool is adequate. Having a full-circle deck allows you and your guests to jump in easily, or sit and dangle your feet in the water.

Above Ground Pool Deck Ideas With Railings

Railings aren’t always required around an above ground pool, but in most cases, they’re a good idea. Besides providing a handrail on what could be a slippery surface, deck railings help protect your pool from unwanted visitors. If someone in your home is elderly or physically impaired, a handrail is essential for safety. You can get creative with above ground pool deck railings. They can coordinate with your backyard fence or take on a look all their own. Glass panels are an elegant railing choice that doesn’t obstruct your view of the pool. Glass panels supported by metal railing posts are popular deck railings behind minimalist or contemporary homes. Any fencing combination can work well as decking railings. Use wooden posts with thin metal rods between them, or go for an all-wood traditional deck rail. Having rails around your pool deck also provides a place to hang your pool skimmer, hoses, or life preservers.

Semi Inground Pool Deck Ideas

As its name implies, a semi inground pool is somewhere between an above ground and an inground pool. You’ll find them behind homes built on a hill or slope. They may be the only pool choice available on lots with difficult terrain. Even so, anyone can have a semi-inground pool. Dig down about half the depth you would need for an inground pool, then build up the decking as needed. Your deck can be the feature that gives the illusion of a level yard and a traditional inground pool. Semi inground pool decks work well with multi-level decks. Your main deck may be level with the backyard door on your home, with deck steps leading to higher and lower levels. The higher level may house a hot tub or covered dining area, while the lower level may be a poured concrete patio.

Small Above Ground Pool Deck Ideas

A small deck may be enough if you have a smaller above ground pool and a limited backyard pool area. A small above ground pool “deck” may consist of a wood platform and steps leading up to it. A lap pool provides all the exercise of swimming laps but has an exceedingly small footprint. These rectangular pools create a current to swim against. They are a great choice for yards too small for a classic round pool set above ground.

swimming pool, outdoor, hotel

Consider some of these following ideas with caution when designing a pool landscape

Be Strategic if Using Plants with Thorns

Trees or shrubs that have thorns must be used as “interior plantings” in a pool landscape design. As mentioned, we like to use rose bushes around a pool area, but they are used as interior plants. For instance, this might mean using a row of roses that are “blocked” to touch (not visually) by a row of boxwoods. By containing a thorny rose bush as an interior planting, you get to enjoy its beauty without being worried about the thorns.  Certain holly trees and shrubs can also be prickly and should not be extremely close to the pool area. Some locust trees also have thorny fallen branches that should be kept away from the pool.

Keep Messy Trees or Shrubs at a Distance

As mentioned, certain trees, such as the cherry tree, have the ability to create a mess in your pool area. Any trees that have messy blooms that will land in the pool or berries that can fall onto your patio and get crushed (causing stains) should be strategically placed, particularly downwind from prevailing summertime winds. Besides, while a Crepe Myrtle is a beautiful tree that looks nice in a landscape with a pool if this tree is used, strategic thought must be given to the placement of this tree. That’s because it drops petals that can have an unpleasant odour. A landscape designer would know to place a tree like this in an area where it can be seen and enjoyed from the pool but where it won’t be dropping petals all over the patio. Other messy trees include needle-bearing evergreens and large deciduous trees, which are going to drop a lot of leaves. It’s not that these trees cannot be used at all. Frequently we will install a crepe myrtle as part of a new poolscape. But where it is placed is key. Those swimming and lounging in the pool area can enjoy the beauty of a crepe myrtle even if it’s placed at a safe distance where its petals will not wind up on the patio. It all comes down to smart landscape design for the pool.

Don’t Select Trees with Invasive Roots.

Trees with aggressive root systems have the possibility to do a lot of damage. The last thing that you want is to plant a tree close to your pool area and have the roots ultimately grow underneath the patio and start lifting it. Aggressive roots can also grow toward pool plumbing and wiring and begin to cause complications. The trouble is, without the assistance of a landscape designer, you might not consider the future growth of the tree. But you must always be thinking about the future of your pool area. Trees to avoid nearby a pool, include some of the following, which are known to have very invasive root systems.

  • Willow
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Elm

Avoid Plants that are High Maintenance

Your choices for your pool landscape design should also be plants that are easy to maintain. After all, you want your backyard pool to be a sort of retreat. The last thing that you want is to have hours and hours of maintenance involved because you’ve chosen plants that require a lot of care.

It’s also important to note that even low maintenance plants require at least some care, which still may be more than you want to do. Services such as pruning or plant bed maintenance can be handed off to a professional who will ensure they’re done right. This will help keep your plants in the best possible shape so that all you have left to do is enjoy them while swimming or lounging poolside.

summer, swimming pool, tropical

Making the Best Landscape Design Choices for Your Pool

Knowing which plants to use in your landscape pool design isn’t easy without a lot of background knowledge of trees and shrubs. That’s why working with an experienced landscape designer will help you to make wise choices from the very start. You might have certain trees and shrubs that you love, but that may not be the ideal choice for a pool area. A landscape designer might be able to direct you to a slightly different alternative that’s a great choice for a pool area. A designer will have a good eye for design as well as knowledge and experience of working with a wide variety of plant material. Instead of worrying that the plant material you’ve chosen will negatively impact your poolscape, you’ll feel confident that you have the very best variety and selection of plants for your backyard retreat. That means that all you’ll have left to do is enjoy your beautiful space.

If you have been thinking of reimagining your backyard, chilling in the sun next to your brand new pool, the envy of all your neighbours, reach out for a free consultation. We would love to give you some advice on how you can transform your Melbourne landscape into the backyard of your dreams.

To happiness and health,
The Seyffer Designs team.

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Director James Seyffer's love and passion for gardens began at Melbourne University's Burnley campus in 2006. Inspired by this platform, James realised his dream of creating live canvasses that captivate and delights his audiences. His drive and passion were soon rewarded after receiving an award at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in 2011. His designs showcase his love for plants, variations in natural textures and hard surfaces.

In addition, James has over a decade of experience as a qualified tradesman in landscape construction and horticulture. This experience cultivated a sound understanding of how to construct aesthetically pleasing landscapes which are now baked into his design philosophy.