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In recent years, the backyard has become the focal point of many homes. With quarantine limiting travel, folks were left in the confines of their homes – leaving many with plenty of time and reasons to finally conquer their long-desired home improvement projects. For many homeowners, desperate to regain some semblance of normalcy and life outside their four walls, these projects focused on making their backyards places of happiness, beauty and relaxation. People wanted a way to vacation without leaving the house, a way to exercise without going to the gym and eventually a place to host guests once the pandemic subsided. The solution? Pools.

From installing new and improving existing pools to building up the space around their pool with hardscaping and landscaping, homeowners have taken a renewed interest in elevating their space. After all, who wouldn't want to watch the sunset by the pool after a long, hot day?

With new customization options and rising design trends, it's easier than ever to achieve the pool space of your dreams. Working with experienced pool professionals can even help to combine both design and cost saving measures – making those dreams a reality while keeping costs to a minimum.

House & Home spoke with some of the area's leading pool companies to solicit their advice on the best way to start the process, maintain your pool and turn your simple pool into a hosting space everyone will love.

When is the best time to get started on a pool project for it to be summer-ready?
"The best time to get started on a pool project is in the fall or winter, since the permit process could take four-to-six-months with engineering and zoning. If the customer is installing something other than a fiberglass pool, which can be installed in one day, the customer can plan for a two-to-six-month installation, which would eliminate the entire swimming season. If a customer began the process now, and purchased a fiberglass pool, it is still possible to have the pool in toward the middle of the summer."
- Derek Blasker, president, Pool Designs

"It"s best to start as soon as possible. Like any home improvement project it takes time to plan, design and build. Coming up with a design plan and then finding the best contractor to make that vision happen is a process. You have to give yourself ample time to research, interview prospective contractors and allow for a realistic time table to accomplish the work."
- H.P. Wertman, director of operations, Premier Pool Renovations

When is the best time to open a pool?
"If a pool owner has a gas heater for their pool, they can open the pool as early as they are ready, but the size of the gas bill may prohibit such early openings. The pool owner should generally plan for at least two-to-four weeks to get the pool in swimmable shape, but a good closing and cover can cut down on this timeframe. If the pool owner has a solid or tightly woven mesh safety cover, it is likely that little to no debris will be in the pool and the water quality will be substantially better than a standard mesh safety cover or tarp cover."
- Derek Blasker

How can design elements come together to make your pool feel like part of the yard?
"This all starts with the design process. The placement of the swimming pool, terrace and the different features of the project are imagined by our architects and designers to create an amazing and functional outdoor space."
- Sam Waddell, president, SLS Landscaping

"Swimming pools used to be a separate item in your yard completely disconnected in most cases from the design elements of the house. Now, many people want a pool and surrounding area that is used for entertaining and is completely integrated with the home itself. Continuity is easily maintained by choosing materials and elements that flow from the pool to the outdoor entertaining areas and even to the home itself. This is best achieved by utilizing similar surfaces, color palette, design elements, lighting and finishes throughout which will make the pool area seem very connected to the home. If your goal is to have your outdoor entertaining spaces and pool area feel very warm and inviting then they need to be an extension of your particular design taste."
- H.P. Wertman

What are some of the more unique pool elements folks could incorporate to take their pool space to the next level?
"We have created many unique and amazing swimming pools and environments over the years – including elements such as fire bowls, waterfalls and sheer descents, grottos and spas, and swim-up bars to name a few."
- Sam Waddell, SLS Landscaping

"A lot of people are going with sun shelves where it's 18 inches deep and you can put chairs in there. LED lighting allows people to change colors for ambiance and has become very popular. In addition, a lot of people are going over to salt generators for sanitation. Installing a salt generator means your chlorine is always the same and you never have to buy pool shock or anything ever again, so it's a money saver."
- Walter Beyer, owner, Stardust Pools

What are the best ways to take care of your pool?
"The best way to take care of your pool always starts with maintaining your water chemistry. If your pH is off balance or your sanitizer is low, the water will turn quickly and you will spend your free time testing, balancing, re-testing, rebalancing, and testing again. Similarly, alkalinity and calcium hardness need to be balanced to not only maintain water quality, but the quality of your pool surface. In addition to balancing your water, pool owners need to be diligent with cleaning the pool floor and walls. If you leave debris on the floor for prolonged periods of time it can lead to stains that may not come out easily or may be permanent. If the pool owner has the financial capability to afford a robotic cleaner for their pool, it will greatly reduce the amount of work required to keep the pool surface clean and the filter on the robot will also aid in cleaning the water."
- Derek Blasker

How can pool owners transform their space to accommodate for hosting?
"A pool and surrounding area is a great place to lounge or relax with guests but it needs to be so much more. This is achieved by having seating areas that have plenty of shade and protection from the elements; large market umbrellas, pergolas and pavilions are great at accomplishing that. Having fire pits, fire tables and fireplaces are key in having inviting areas that can be used at night and even when the pool season is over. Outdoor kitchens, grill areas and pizza ovens are a big trend in outdoor entertaining. Much like the kitchen is the main congregation point in the home this can be the same outside. Gaming areas are also now a huge element in the outdoor entertaining space. Having designated areas for games such as cornhole, horseshoes and ring toss is a great way to get adults and children alike participating in fun activities. Music is a huge part of any entertaining space and now with ever-improving technology there are more choices than ever to make this happen anywhere in your yard. Wireless speakers, or even waterproof underwater speakers in the pool are all great ways to get the music anywhere you are active."
- H.P. Wertman

What are some things pool owners should be mindful of?
"When somebody's going to shop for a pool, they should see how long the company has been in business, if they're registered with the National Pool and Spa Institute and should check with the Better Business Bureau. They need to do their homework these days because times are different. There's a lot of companies opening up and working out of their garages with no insurance. You want somebody that's been around a long time, has plenty of references and is abiding by all of the National Pool and Spa Institute rules that are out there."
- Walter Beyer

Resources

Pool Designs
Yardville, N.J.
(609) 324-9900
PoolDesignsInc.com

Premier Pool Renovations
Doylestown, Pa.
(610) 825-8808
PremierRenovations.com

SLS Landscaping
Lumberton, N.J.
(609) 518-5263
SLSLandscape.com

Stardust Pools
East Brunswick, N.J.
(732) 254-3330
Stardust-Pools.com

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 24, Issue 4 (March 2024)
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here.
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To advertise in House & Home magazine, call 610-272-3120.

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