Pool lights aren’t only necessary for safe nighttime swimming, but they can completely transform your outdoor living space at night. Though one of the more expensive pool accessories, choose the right type of lighting and you’ll quickly agree that it is a worthwhile investment.
Above Ground Pool Lights
Above ground lighting is less expensive than inground lights, and can be incorporated into a number of outdoor decor and design ideas:
- Floating Pool Lights: Often LED lights, these lights are incredibly bright and are a great way to add some sparkle to your pool. As they do move around, however, they aren’t ideal when it comes to even light distribution and safety. There are many different types of floating pool lights to choose from, including disco light and fountain options that can really provide a beautiful effect.
- Magnetic Lights: Best for soft sided swimming pools, these lights are the better safety lighting option for above ground pool lights. These lights are easy to install and illuminate the entire pool at an economical cost.
Don’t forget that the lighting around your pool also plays a large role in bringing your home and garden to life at night. Get creative with themes and colors this holiday season and have fun with string lights, flickering LEDs and more.
When it comes to pool maintenance and closing, there are a few dangerous myths that we’ve heard from well-intentioned pool owners over the years. We’re going to share what those myths are and why these not-so-good “how to clean a pool for the winter” ideas should be completely avoided:
Myth #1: Drain Your Pool
Misguided pool owners believe that part of winter pool maintenance includes completely draining the pool. This could potentially be the most dangerous action that you can take with your pool. Apart from minor problems that can arise (i.e. a shrinking pool liner) you can destroy the foundation of your pool.
Cleaning should very seldom be a reason to drain your pool, and even then should only be performed by a professional pool maintenance company. For the most part, the only time you’ll need to drain a pool is if a repair is needed, or if the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) need to be stabilized.
Myth #2: Cooler Weather Will Kill Algae
If you’re trusting on cooler temperatures to keep pool algae at bay, then you’re guaranteeing yourself a green pool come spring, especially here in Mississippi where the average winter temperature is in the mid-fifties. Though you may be “closing” your pool for the winter, you’ll still need to regularly test your pool chemistry and make sure that it’s balanced, paying particular attention to your pool’s pH levels which should sit anywhere between 7.0 to 7.4ppm.
Myth #3: Don’t Refill the Pool
In some instances you may need to drop the pool’s water level ever so slightly to accommodate different types of pool covers. That said, the water level of your pool should never drop 18” lower from the top of your pool. This can not only result in increased pool maintenance and repairs, but it can also destroy your pool cover (i.e. covers can stretch and rip, anchors can pull out of your pool decking).
Finding yourself regularly refilling your pool? Or maybe there’s that one mysterious damp spot that’s been growing in your yard. These are two telling signs that may indicate that you have a pool leak, but before you call a pool maintenance company, you can begin to do some investigative work on your own and determine what’s causing the leak and what level of repairs may be required.
1. The Pool’s Plumbing
A leak in the pool’s plumbing system is the most common area for a pool leak to spring. The first areas to check out: your pool’s pump and filter. You can confirm your suspicions by seeing if there are puddles or damp areas around these components. Oftentimes the leak is a result of a worn out plumbing connection which can be replaced by a pool owner and not need to be done by a pool maintenance company.
If those two components prove to not be the culprits behind your leaks, then be sure to look over every connection that’s part of the plumbing system. Still no signs? Then be sure to look at any water features or your pool’s autofill system, and check for drips, puddles, and dampness.
2. The Pool’s Foundation
Owners of above ground pools can spot leaks in the shell of their pool almost immediately, but in-ground pools can be harder to detect. Large leaks are typically indicated by spongy or wet areas in the yard, though smaller leaks can be hard to detect and find. If you suspect a pool leak and haven’t been able to fix the problem yourself, be sure to call a pool maintenance and repair company as soon as possible. If left unchecked, that leak – no matter how big or small – can wreak havoc on your pool and outdoor living area and result in costly repairs.
Round or rectangular? Freeform or geometric? Different pool shapes set a different tone and atmosphere. Depending on the outdoor living space you’re trying to create, your pool shape can either make or break your backyard’s ambiance.
The “Round” Personality
Ideal For: Homeowners wanting to create a more organic and harmonic, lush outdoor living area
Smooth and natural, rounded pools such as oval shaped, kidney shaped pools and free form styles create a sense of relaxation. The curvy lines of these pools allow these lagoon-like waterways to create a contrast with their surroundings, and provide a more softer and creative look than many of the more rectangular designs.
The “Square” Personality
Ideal For: Homeowners who have an appreciation for modern aesthetics, or well-groomed minimalists who enjoy working within strictly defined spaces
Rectangular pool shapes are the most classic swimming pool design, and are suitable for almost any home and garden given that houses are also often rectilinear in shape. This shape of pool is also ideal for those who want to use their pool to swim laps. It’s simple, well defined, and depending on the features and finishes, can look incredibly modern and luxurious. It doesn’t even have to be a pool; a hot tub is a perfect alternative for those who want clean lines with the added therapeutic health benefits of a hot tub.
Combining the Elements
No one has to strictly be a “roundy” or a “squarey”. In fact, most homeowners combine elements and pool shapes from both round and rectangular pools when creating their ideal pool. Taking inspiration from rectangular-shaped pools can provide guidance when building a pool for fitness, while incorporating freeform or rounded designs can allow you to creatively blend relaxation into that very same aquatic space. Take your time and consider what it is that you really want for your pool. Explore the many options available to you by perusing pool pictures and speaking with pool builders and contractors to uncover your true pool shape personality.
Grilling and enjoying outdoor living are two of America’s favorite pastimes, which is exactly why you can never go wrong when it comes to throwing a backyard barbecue. If you’re hoping to really thrill your family and friends, then these outdoor living ideas are sure to spice up the party:
You don’t need to go “all out” to impress your guests with expensive and fancy decor, but a few key pieces to help set the tone and ambiance will go a long way. For the fall months, autumnal-themed colors and items like pumpkins, hay bales and scarecrows are perfect for a more laid back barbecue, while wrought iron accessories and chandeliers are a great way to dress up your outdoor living space.
As much as your guests will be spending their time chatting up a storm at your party, you’ll want to make sure that your outdoor living area includes some key entertainment pieces. If you have a pool, take off the cover and consider heating it up (if it’s not already heated) and encourage guests to bring their bathing suits and take a dip. Plan some pool games, or buy some pool accessories that won’t break the bank like pool noodles, beach balls, and portable fountains.
Aside from the pool, make a couple of other games available. Some that are sure to be a hit are basketball, bocce ball, and good old fashioned touch football.
You know your guests best and will likely be able to determine what foods to put on the grill. If you’re throwing a larger party with some unknown guests, be sure to serve a fairly large variety of meats and salads (i.e. Tossed salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, fruit salad, etc.), and try to include snacks that will be complimentary to what you’re serving. Finally, be sure to give yourself ample time to prepare. If there are any foods that you can prepare or cook in advance, take advantage of that so you have more time to enjoy all of the outdoor living splendors our area has to offer with your family and friends.
Outdoor living spaces are becoming a premium in this country, but this doesn’t mean that those with a smaller backyard can’t have their own private oasis. We’ll look at both pool types as well as pool sizes to help answer the question of what type of pool is best for smaller spaces:
What Type of Pool is Best?
When it comes to the material of an in ground pool, homeowners have three choices:
- Vinyl lined
The problem with fiberglass is that because these pools are manufactured, homeowners don’t have a whole lot of leeway when it comes to swimming pool design. Many fiberglass shapes may not be able to accommodate your smaller space, or the shape may not be complimentary to your outdoor living area. For this reason, concrete, vinyl lined pools, or even above ground pools are likely a better choice as they can be built in a variety of pool sizes and depths.
Don’t Rule Out the Spa!
Despite being short on space, homeowners with smaller yards need not completely rule out spas and hot tubs. Pool designers have become quite clever in incorporating spas into smaller pool designs, or consider jumping in on the “spool” trend (a spa/pool hybrid design)!
What Swimming Pool Design is Best?
Pool sizes and designs really depend on the preference of the homeowner and the shape of the backyard. Some things to keep in mind:
- Rectangular-shaped pools allow homeowners to capitalize on space (ideal for serious swimmers)
- Curvy pools (i.e. kidney shaped pools and free-form pools) will result in a loss of water space, but allow for greater decking space
Also keep in mind when considering pool sizes and designs that a minimum of 7 feet of decking is necessary for mixing and mingling, with more space required if you plan on including tables, chairs, and more.
The kids, grand kids, and the children of friends and neighbors from around the neighborhood are all good reasons to build a kid-friendly pool. Below are some of the hottest kid tested and approve pool accessories and features for kids pools:
Pool slides are a classic and staple accessory for kids pools. Today’s water slides aren’t your typical straight white or aquamarine plastic slide, however; pools can now be incorporated into rocky grotto schemes, can include unexpected twists and drops, and feature unexpected waterfalls that send a cascade of water over you before they even reach the pool. Add a cave to that rocky grotto and you have yourself a pool that will have kids begging to come over to your home.
As mentioned, waterfalls are a huge hit with kids as they not only provide a whole new water element that they can play with and around, but it inspires creativity and allows children to indulge their imagination. However, waterfalls aren’t the only swimming pool design feature that are a huge hit with youngsters. Deck jets, bubblers, and fountains are all beloved water features that will provide hours of extra fun and play.
Swimming Pool Design
The best kids pools are those that are designed to accommodate a variety of different swimming strengths and comforts. Older children who are strong swimmers and want to dive right in will greatly appreciate a deeper pool (8 feet or so), while younger kids will appreciate a gradual entry or a tanning ledge. Tanning ledges are another way for homeowners to incorporate a shallow kid and adult-friendly area in the pool so guests can still partake in the fun and conversation without taking a dip.
Nothing discourages people from swimming more than peeling back the pool cover and discovering algae-ridden green pool water. Proper pool maintenance is key to preventing a murky pool, but you can get rid of it by performing any one of these three pool water clearing tactics alone or in a combination with one another.
Green Pool Maintenance Tip #1: Scrub-A-Dub-Dub!
Before adding any chemicals or cleaning products to your pool, the sides and bottom of the pool must be scrubbed down. Algae loves to cling to surfaces, so use a wire brush on plaster pools or a nylon scrub brush on vinyl pools to break it up. This will allow the chemicals to work faster and better. After a scrub, be sure to vacuum the bottom of the pool and run the filters. In some instances, running the filtration system for 24 hours after scrubbing the pool will completely eliminate green pool water.
Green Pool Maintenance Tip #2: Shock Your Pool Clean
A shock with 70% available chlorine should be able to completely wipe out algae and clear up your green waters. Depending on how much algae has built up in the pool, you may need to repeat the shock process more than once.
After your chlorine levels are 5.0 or lower, treat your pool with an algaecide and allow it to do its job for at least a full 24 hours. Then be sure to clean your filter by spraying it down with your hose to remove any dead algae (this will prevent pressure buildup).
Green Pool Maintenance Tip #3: Maintain a Steady pH
A pH level that’s off balance will almost always result in green water as a pH that’s too low or too high creates an environment where the other chemicals, like chlorine, aren’t able to do their job and properly clean and sanitize your pool. Sodium carbonate can be used to increase the pH, or sodium bisulfate can be used to decrease it, so that the pH levels are within the 7.0 to 7.4 range.
Many homeowners think that the first step building a pool is to contact a pool contractor. Wrong! The best thing that you can do for yourself to help you keep on track as you come up with pool design ideas and landscape plans is to sit down and consider the following 3 points so that you’ll build a pool that you’ll love – and that will last – for a lifetime:
1. How Will Your Pool Be Used?
Is your pool being built to provide a space for cooling and relaxation? Or are you an avid fitness enthusiast who’s looking forward to his or her personal aqua gym? Or perhaps what you seek is a balance between the two. Figuring out how you’re going to use your pool will help you define the shape as well as the location of the pool.
2. How Much Do You Have To Spend?
Now it’s time to bring your dreams to reality. An in-ground pool can cost anywhere from $20,000 or more depending on the size, shape, and location of the pool. Keep this in mind when coming up with the design of the pool prior to contacting the pool contractor,
3. What Features will You Add to The Pool?
When planning for your pool prior to contacting a pool contractor, don’t just plan for the pool itself. Factor in the other features you’d like to have incorporated into the pool design. This may include rocky grottos, water slides, diving boards, water or fire features, as well as decks and a patio area. Consider you lifestyle factors and think about whether the features are necessary, whether they’d be a “nice to have”, or whether they’re completely unnecessary. As an example, for some, an outdoor kitchen included in the pool design would be a waste as the pool may be located close to the indoor kitchen or they may not entertain. For those who love to entertain and have the pool located a distance away from the home, however, having an outdoor kitchen stationed near the pool would be nice if not a necessity.
Any small outdoor space can be transformed into a beautiful backyard escape with these small backyard landscaping ideas:
Decorate and Design with Long, Straight Lines in Mind
Of the small backyard landscaping ideas, this is one that every small backyard owner can utilize. Homeowners can create the illusion of having a larger garden than they do by simply subtly slanting the far lines of their backyard towards one another. Add some large shrubs along the outside of the yard and it will look substantially larger than it actually is.
Paint a Pretty Garden with Brightly Colored Plants and Flowers
Having brightly colored plants and flowers placed right in front of your garden where they can be easily viewed won’t only enliven your backyard, but they’ll immediately catch the attention of yourself and any guests and draw less attention to the size of your yard.
Invest In Unique Pots for Plants
Boldly colored and uniquely designed potted plants are not only a great way to keep plants easily contained, but it allows those with a smaller space to add a variety of greenery and foliage to a backyard area that may not have area to plant in. If you happen to have a pool or spa, potted plants are ideal for easy pool landscaping.
Create Your Own View with Arbors and Pergolas
When it comes to small backyard landscaping ideas and tips, arbors and pergolas are almost always on the list. Both offer homeowners a great way to not only create a shaded spot in their backyard, but they create a frame in you backyard which naturally creates a view. This helps give you tinier backyard a grand view.
TIP: You can also create a view by getting creative with the placement of small trees, lush shrubs, or even DIY garden art!