When you think of essential summer icons a few things spring to mind - BBQs, tinnies, eskys…and let's not forget the backyard swimming pool. With over 750,000 pools in Aussie homes, this is one major love affair! Given our long, hot summers, it's easy to see why. Those stinking hot days are just far more bearable when you can cool off with a refreshing plunge.
Swimming pools haven't traditionally been the most attractive of backyard features. But that's now changing thanks to developments in design technology.
The popularity of the backyard pool in Australia surged with the new air of hope and prosperity that followed World War Two, mirroring developments in California at the time. With land at a premium, suburbs grew rapidly and the fibro house on the quarter-acre block allowed space for pools for the first time. Things really took off in the 50s and 60s when a booming beach culture meant more and more of us wanted to escape the crowds and chill out at home.
Those original designs were pretty much limited to the rectangle and kidney shaped pools. Often aboveground and made of plastic, they were available in blue, blue …or blue! Pool design today is more about total environment fitting into the garden as one, as opposed to the old days where the pools were literally dropped into the backyard. And pools are no longer confined to the suburbs. As people have migrated back into the cities, pools are popping up everywhere - in hotels, high rise apartments and terraces.
With the increased demand, pool design has also been revolutionised. Advances in concrete technology mean our pools can now be pretty much any shape we want them. We're also seeing a big shift in the average size of pools - smaller blocks mean bigger is no longer necessarily better. Plunge pools and lap pools - some with swim jets - are becoming the go.
Tension hung designs are making, or rather, not making waves. These are the pools where the water level meets the ground and can create the illusion of a disappearing horizon. Sheer luxury.
The choice of pool finish has also become mind boggling: pebblecrete alone comes in a variety of shades, while a fully tiled interior comes in striking colours like black, jade or mosaic. Add some pool lighting and your plush pool will be a long way from the plastic aboveground paddling pool.
And what of the future for pools? The trend is increasingly towards fully incorporating this outdoor room into the home with the indoor, heated pool. Not only does this allow year round use, but these pools are easier to maintain and offer all important protection from the sun. This significantly reduces evaporation and water conservation is a big factor to consider when planning a pool these days.
So, the options are endless but price always makes decision-making easier, if somewhat less fun. The average pool costs $20,000. But add some fancy finishes, lights and heating and you could easily be looking at a few hundred-thousand dollars!
An investment of that scale is a big decision to wrestle with but if hours of backyard fun is what you're after - go ahead - take the plunge!
Ted Whitley - Landscape Architect
Sacred Grove Gardens
Tel: 0417 219 109