Create a backyard swim retreat

Like the idea of having an at-home resort in your own backyard? A pool or spa gives you a perfect spot to exercise, play or entertain. There are more benefits to water recreation than ever before. Asking the right questions before making that financial investment will help ensure years of worry-free enjoyment.

Q: What is hot in pools?

A: Energy efficiency is big. Variable-speed pumps can move more water with less energy than their traditional single-speed counterparts. They can even be turned down when less flow is needed, consuming even fewer watts. We use LED lights exclusively because they use less electricity, are smaller and easier to install, and allow color-changing options.

Q: What other technology is available?

A: Internet and smart phone-enabled pool control systems are being adopted quickly by top-end pool builders. These systems are not only exciting to the tech-savvy customer, but they also can make a very complicated pool system easier to manage for every homeowner. Imagine heating your spa up on the way home from work or changing the pool light color from your phone while on vacation.

Q: What factors should I consider when building a pool?

A: Although aesthetics is extremely important, it should always be secondary to the usability of the design. If you want to swim laps, keep benches or stairs away from the longest path of the swimmer. If you enjoy sunning, create a shallow area that will support a lounge chair. Non-swimming spaces around the pool are equally important. This includes fire features, benches and entertaining spaces.

Q: Can I install a pool on a hill?

A: It’s difficult in Atlanta to find any site that is perfectly flat. A steep hill requires special attention and careful engineering. There are several types of retaining walls that can help make a hill more manageable. Dry-stacked stone with a concrete block structure works well for walls up to 30 inches in height. Poured concrete walls, which are more expensive, can be built much higher. The cost of landscaping blocks has made them a popular option. If designed properly, the pool itself can serve as its own retaining wall. In any case, consult with a qualified pool builder to make sure the wall is properly constructed.

Q: How can I spruce up an existing pool?

A: Think about adding a waterfall. The sound of moving water is incredibly relaxing and can mask unwanted noise from a nearby road or air conditioner. Adding a simple water feature like a sheer waterfall or spray jets is relatively inexpensive and easily installed. Boulder waterfalls are becoming increasingly popular in pools with a natural feel. An average boulder waterfall is more expensive and requires extensive concrete and stone work. The best ones are built into an existing hill and incorporate appropriate landscaping.