So, you want to add a pool to your home? That’s great. Not only is a backyard pool a great idea for family fun; it could become the centerpiece of a multi-purpose outdoor environment. A pool is also a significant investment that can add immense value to your home, but only if you correctly plan, build, and install your pool.
There are many moving parts in a swimming pool project, more than most homeowners imagine when they first get the idea for a pool. If you jump into it without a sense of the big picture and a plan for project management, you may not be entirely happy with the final result. That’s why you need a landscape architect to help you think through the details and visualize the project. For example, if you went directly to a pool builder, you might miss the opportunity to discuss the full range of landscaping considerations that relate to pool design and installation.
It’s essential that you work with a landscape design firm that you can trust to pull together all the people and resources necessary to get the job done right. But that’s just the start. You also need accurate answers to some rather obvious but important questions to determine whether or not your swimming pool project is feasible. Before you can get started on your dream backyard pool, you need to answer three questions.
1 Does My Backyard Have Enough Room?
Yes, it’s true that almost any size backyard can fit a pool, but the size and location of your pool are critical. Unless you plan to make the pool the focal point of your entire backyard, you need to sit down and discuss the details with your landscape architect.
Your pool is not a standalone feature. It has a very close relationship with your house and other landscape features. Your goal should be to make a fully cohesive backyard environment, which comes with some major considerations:
- How far away from the house does the pool need to be?
- How will my family and guests access the pool safely?
- How large of a pool makes sense considering the full picture?
An experienced landscape architect can make a detailed evaluation of your backyard and determine what type of pool will best fulfill the vision you’ve expressed. They’ll also help you decide the best location for the pool, considering everything from aesthetic value to safety, accessibility, functionality, and future additions to the landscape plan.
2 Will My Swimming Pool Project Require a Permit?
You might have grand ideas and plans for your backyard pool, but that doesn’t mean everything is possible. All Washington DC metro area counties have regulations that limit the amount of impervious surface on a homesite. Impervious surfaces include driveways, walkways, the footprint of the house itself, and other hardscape surfaces. If installing a pool would put you over the allowed percentage of impervious surface on your lot, the county sometimes will deny a permit for construction of a swimming pool.
On your own, getting permit approval isn’t easy–and if you get turned down, your dream pool could be put on hold. The good news is that a landscape architect can help you overcome those challenges.
If your original pool project exceeds your county’s regulations, an architect can design water gardens, swales, or other landscape features that feed rainwater to plants and control runoff. Including these features in the landscape design can compensate for a reduction in the permeable surface area. Many times, if you can prove that your property won’t contribute to erosion or overloaded waterways, your pool permit will be approved.
3 Are There Site Challenges We’ll Need to Overcome?
A backyard pool is a massive investment, and the last thing you want to have to worry about is going over budget because you didn’t plan well for the site. The truth is that there are many site challenges that can increase the difficulty of building your dream pool and require extra steps such as re-grading and excavation.
For example, you might think that a steeply sloping lot will derail your plans for installing a swimming pool, but that’s not the case. A smart landscape architect can turn that negative into a positive, actually creating a far more appealing area by capitalizing on the slope. They can add retaining walls, terracing, or waterfalls, or they could construct your pool with a zero edge (vanishing edge) effect, all of which is possible because of the slope.
Whether your lot drops away from the house or slopes upward, a landscape architect can help you design a pool that takes advantage of the site challenges in the best way possible. In the end, the extra design and construction will be worth the effort and investment.
Your Dream Backyard Pool
Adding a backyard pool can be a dream come true, enhancing your lifestyle and daily enjoyment, but only if it’s thoughtfully planned, designed, and executed. This requires you to hire a landscape architect who will not only listen to your ideas but will take into consideration the practicalities of building and using your pool.
These three questions are the ideal starting place for your pool, but they’re only the first step. Next up, we’ll talk about the four key design features you’ll need to consider for building your dream backyard pool. Stay tuned.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in a landscape design project, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.