Solid Structures has been installing hardscaping, decking, and other landscaping features around pools since the company started. We’ve also worked with several landscaping partners who are extremely talented at what they do. Therefore, we can attest to the fact that many homeowners make the mistake of hiring a pool installation company with little to no thought from a final hardscape and landscape perspective.
Some swimming pool builders or pool installers may strongly recommend a specific location in the yard for the pool based on it being the easiest location for them to access. Unfortunately, this may place the pool in the least desirable location for the landscape designer or landscape contractor to deliver the best possible end-product. There are so many variables to consider in what goes into a professional design. As the saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail!” A well-thought out professional design includes some of the following considerations:
- Pool size and location relative to daylight sun direction (for sun bathing as well as for organic growth of grass, trees, gardens, etc.)
- Pool installation height relative to the final desired yard grading
- Pool installation height relative to desired features and 3D aspects of the design (retaining walls, raised patios, bulkheads, etc.)
- Drainage (yard drainage and directing roof runoff)
- Irrigation system installation or rerouting
- Accent lighting
- Electricity outlet installation
- Gas utility installation
Some, if not all of these things need to be planned out ahead of time or you may miss an opportunity to easily incorporate it into your final project.
With that said, let’s cover the most important point of this blog right up front…and that is…
DO NOT: Have a Pool Installed Until you have a Completed Landscape/Hardscape Plan
Have an idea of what you want your outdoor living space to look like but don’t know how to bring it to life? The outdoor living design team at Solid Structures guides you through a planning questionnaire to identify what’s important to you. We bring it to life with our proven design process from over 15 years of experience. You get the outdoor living space you want without stressing the details. Learn more about our design services here.
If you decide to hire a pool installation company and landscape company separately, ensure they are communicating prior to contracts being signed. The decisions made by a landscaper can often affect the price of the pool installation. The decisions made by a pool builder may restrict a landscaper’s design. For example, perhaps the landscaper envisions the pool set at 1 foot above grade so that a retaining wall could work as a canvas for shrubbery and landscape lighting while resolving an existing yard draining problem. If the pool installer does not know this detail, the pool will be installed at a default grade level, leaving the design you approved with the landscaper unattainable.
Our strongest recommendation is to work with a company that operates with a single point of contact, such as a project manager, to ensure nothing is lost throughout the communication process.
DO: Hire a Landscaper with Previous Pool Experience
Installing hardscape and other features around a pool requires professional experience. You’ve invested a lot of money at this point and the last thing you want is someone ruining the part that everyone sees the most. Poorly installed concrete, uneven pavers, incorrect construction adhesive for pool copings/steps, and improper yard grading are some of the most expensive problems to correct after the fact, so have them installed professionally the first time!
Another scenario we’re seen in the past are pools being set too low relative to other areas of the backyard being much higher. A pool installer working in complete isolation from any landscape subject matter expert may not take the time to assess the entire property and only focus on the job of installing the pool so they can get to their next pool installation. The pool height is essentially “ground zero” and impacts the entire yard design.
You don’t want a landscaper installing whatever happens to be on clearance sale from the local nursery because many types of plants and trees don’t work well around pools. If you want your pool to remain crystal clear with minimal maintenance, ensure the plants do not shed too much “stuff” into the water, attract bees/insects, etc.
Again, working with one company that facilitates the design from start to finish is something you should strongly consider.
DO NOT: Forget to Factor in a Landscaping Budget into your Pool Project
When that excavator and skidsteer break ground start driving over your front lawn, you’ll be thinking a lot more about the cost to renovate your landscaping if you did not already. When planning out pool features such as a pool heater, pool automation, lighting, water features like cascade waterfalls or laminar jets, make sure you will have enough dough to complete the required landscaping…because a pool installation will result in a lot of “collateral damage” even when the installers make every attempt to keep things as neat as possible. For example, maybe having a paver walkway built around the side of the house and some additional landscaping features would be more beneficial at this point than a pool heater that can be added later. Consider what the price of grass, sod, or artificial turf will be in addition to truck loads of fresh topsoil to have everything professional graded. Bottom line, the price you are quoted for a pool installation has other “hidden” fees, so it is best to work with a company that is quoting a final project cost with clearly a defined scope of work.
DO: Consider Sod Installation or Artificial Turf Installation
Often times, pools are not installed during the optimal time of the year to successfully grow grass. Even if they are, the process to establish a thick lawn from seed takes time and a lot of patience. The lawn may be very thin, muddy when it rains, and easily fill with weeds until it is thick enough to prohibit weed growth. Considering factoring in the price of fresh sod or an artificial turf. The instantaneous gratification will be worth it in the end.
DO NOT: Forget about Landscape Lighting and Fire Features
Landscape lighting and fire features can completely transform the ambiance of your backyard oasis. The last thing you want is your backdoor spotlight completely illuminating your pool project. Have it softly lit in the necessary spots for an overall professional look. Fire features are another way to bring your landscape design to the next level. While these types of upgrades aren’t for everyone, it is worth noting that the plan for these should be set before any work is done. Depending on where the features are being installed (maybe in the middle of a patio), underground conduit needs to be set and inspected by the city to ensure the installation is as per local codes.
DO: Consider Privacy Screening Features
Pavilions, pergolas, sheds, shrub hedges, shadesails, and other types of solid structures with a wall provide privacy screening for your new pool installation. The strategic placement of these structures may affect the overall location of your pool. This is yet another reason to have a complete plan up front that was done by a professional with requisite knowledge of local building codes. For example, in some areas of Virginia Beach and Cheasapeake, Virginia, structures have to have a specific offset (sometimes up to 8 feet!) from a fence or from an easement area. All these considerations are implemented into a professional design using your property survey. Can you image having a pool installation company install your pool in the worst possible location ever for your end result but the best possible location for them? Happens all the time!
DO NOT: Sign a Contract Until You are 100% Confident in the Terms and Conditions
In the end, THIS is why Solid Structures started installing Fiberglass Pools and Concrete Plunge Pools…because we wanted to hardscape and landscape them to their full potential. To do that, we had to design and install them ourselves with a creative and experienced mindset. Most homeowners want the best quality work as possible for the most competitive price from a pool builder, pool contractors, and from landscape companies. Try not to work with a pool installer and a landscaper in complete isolation. Communication is required for any successful project. If you would like to speak to a professional here at Solid Structures, we can surely get you on that path to success with a design consultation. If you are in the Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake areas of Virginia, feel free to setup an appointment to meet with us in person. In the meantime, check out our gallery of professionally designed and installed pool projects with landscaping factored in from the start!