landscape design

To pool or NOT to pool……is that the question?

Yep. That’s the appropriate question. But how you come to a conclusion might be more important than the question itself.

courtesy Iguana Pools

Working with my landscaping clients over the last two decades in deciding whether or not they NEED a pool, the answer is easy: no.  No one needs a pool; pools are a luxury.  (I have to admit I’m talking out of both side of my mouth on this….I hate being pool-less so much we’ll meet next week about installing one at our new house.)  Being a gardener in Texas – for part of the year – is a delight.  Then there’s summer, lasting from it-isn’t-as-cool-this-morning till it’s-finally-cool-again-this-morning.  In between, there are a few rough days, too.  (If you call Phoenix home you might say I have no idea what hot is, but I’ve tasted your HOT. “It’s a DRY heat” is a valid comment.  There’s nothing dry gardening in Houston’s heat, including my t-shirt!) So here are a few questions you should ask when determining if a pool is right for your yard.

Above ground pools are less expensive, but not as long-lasting. Photo courtesy
A built-in spa/water feature might be just the right size to wet your whistle while warming your buns! Photo courtesy

1) WILL I USE IT?  I don’t mean “will I see it?”  I mean will I get in it and swim, or is it just a way to take the edge off the heat.  Is the idea of a pool the objective? What KIND of pool do I want: one for laps or is a diving board a must-have.  Maybe a spa, a water feature, an above-ground pool or even an outdoor shower will solve the dilemma. Try a kiddie or blow-up one from the dollar store for a few days to test if it’s the right direction for your family instead of diving in head first.

2) WILL I MAINTAIN IT? Pools are hard work.  Yes, there are pool cleaners that run around like the toilet scrubbing bubbles, but the best pool cleaners wear shorts.  And have great legs.  Oh wait.  That’s another story.  The point is someONE has to not only look at the pool regularly, but check its pH or pay the consequences that look like a B-grade 50’s movie.  Maintenance can be costly; however, not doing it is even more expensive.  No longer is chlorine the only option for water purity, though. There are alternatives now when it comes to the type of swimming pool sanitation systems available, from UV to salt water (now up to 90% of newly installed pools, according to a friend of mine who’s a long-time pool builder),  ozone to natural filtration, such as beneficial microbes.  Not all systems are widely available, and remember that often the “research” has been done by someone trying to sell that particular system.

Make a splash to drown out ambient noise, like traffic or the neighbor's barking dog. Photo courtesy of The Southern Bulb Company.
Pools are limited only by your imagination and budget.

3) CAN I AFFORD IT?  Permanent pools are expensive.  Not just the initial financial expense, either.  They cost time AND money on a weekly basis. It could become your new hobby, edging out golf clubs and everything else on your free-time list. Another consideration I’d like to offer is “can I afford NOT to have it?”  If you have older kids, a pool might mean your home becomes the gathering spot. On a hot summer afternoon, I knew exactly where my daughters were and probably much more than I should have known about their friends.  That’s been a huge pay-off, in my book.

If you are considering installing a pool, ask questions not just of the pool experts, but of the TRUE experts: pool owners.  And don’t ask the guy that put in a pool two months ago.  Ask the one with the bleach stained shorts and nice legs.  He’ll answer the RIGHT question!


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