Swimmin' hole

mtnrdredux_gwJanuary 25, 2014

Personally, I have always liked perfectly simple rectangular pools with grass up to the edge (practicality is not my strong suit).

But I also think that looks best on very flat land, and in a formal setting.

For the house in Maine, we have a large wonderful lawn, but it undulates from the verandah down to the edge of the ocean. Where we have decided to place the pool is pretty close to the ocean. The are is bordered on one side by an old stone wall, one side by the neighbor's cedar split rail fence and on side by beach grass vegetation. The fourth side we will probably repeat the split rail fence.

I believe this site calls for a free form pool. I like this one (though the boulders, not so much)

Farmhouse Pool by South Berwick Landscape Architects & Designers Charles C Hugo Landscape Design a>

We put in a pool 14 years ago in our Montclair house, but it was very formal. We had a grey painted gunite, to make it more natural looking and I really like that. We had blue mosaic tile (eh).

So, what do you think about the shape? BTW i know usage dictates shape, fyi we don't want anyone diving and we don't want to make it too deep because you figure in Maine, even in the very south of Maine where we are, you will have to heat it alllllll the time.

Any tile ideas? I don't want anything overwrought, but 2x2 cobalt, a bit boring.

I'd also appreciate any other pool tips. The pool forum is mostly tumbleweeds it seems.

Thanks in advance.

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Agree generally about pools-- plain rectangular is the best shape. But in the setting you describe I would definitely do a more "natural, " pond like shape. Love the split rail fence look, especially with climbing fairy roses. For tile I would use a brick look/shape/color and/or stone look/shape/color. If you are going with a natural look, regular pool tile will totally ruin the look, IMO. We used actual brick in Florida as coping tile for our pool, and that's a look that won't be going away any time soon.

You don't actually need tile on the inside surface of the pool; the Marcite or pebbletech (or whatever they are using now)can come right up to the top edge of the pool. I think tile was just a way to break up the expanse of surface, add decoration and expense to the job, and define the water line.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Really nice rock-edged pool -- pin from Pinterest ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Pin from Pinterest

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:39PM
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Can you do some photoshopping with the different shapes? My gut feeling is that a plain rectangular pool might work better with your traditional house and setting.

I tend to associate free form pools with resorts and McMansions. They can be really lovely but they always seem to have an unnatural Disney feel to them.

The free form shape could work in your spot but you would need an extremely talented pool designer and landscape architect to get a natural fit.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:49PM
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I agree that your new pool should have a more natural form and shape. Love the example you have posted, the Pinterest one not so much (too many rocks around it I think). But I do like a few boulders around it or nearby wouldn't be such a bad thing, especially some flat-ish ones for sitting or sunning. Your kids would probably love to congregate away from the adults on the rocks with their friends. How tall is the old rock wall and how close is it to the pool site?

I totally understand the need for a heated pool, but will your kids use it as much if there isn't a place for some jumping?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:57PM
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How about black?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 1:58PM
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Deee, I really don't have enough photos of the area where the pool will go to photoshop it in. The thing I think would particularly ruin the pure rectangle look is that I doubt it will be totally flat, so there would be some sort of retaining wall on one side.

I agree you need to have a very subtle hand to avoid the mcMansiony thing. That's where I think the boulders become a problem. They are hard to do right. I don't think I want any; there are none there now.

Teacats, Very pretty. My only nit is the boulders on the far side. They are lined up like teeth; unnatural to me. It is so hard to make man made look natural that I think it is better to forego them.

KSWL, I agree that all the materials should look natural. I was thinking slate family. For tile I was thinking of something in a very dark green blue matte, but I take your point.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Grey is the compromise to black. Black skeeves some people out, I am told by pool guys.

I don't know the height of the wall but it actually doesn't matter. That border actually does not need a fence because it is where the coastline is, and technically our property extends down to the low water mark.

We are just having the jumping discussion with the kids now. The things about pools, unless they are very large, is that it becomes a diving vs games question. In our pool here at home they like to play volleyball a lot. We prefer that too because a shallower pool will be less costly to excavate, build, maintain, heat, and less liability risk.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:18PM
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IMO, the absolute first thing to consider about swimming pools is safety, esp. if children, teens, and young adults will be using them.

For safety, squared pools (rectangle, square) are safest (no cement curves on which to bang heads, esp. if swimming with eyes closed, as children are wont to do). In addition, my understanding is that deeper is safer (no banging heads on the bottom of the pool after diving - can you really keep kids from diving??); and wider. The bigger the pool, the safer it is.

I don't think the shape of the pool matters much. You can decorate it with your furnishings, plants, etc. I've never understood why people want their swimming pools to look like ponds!

Make it safe first, fun second, and warm last! Cold water is good for you! Lol. (I'm a New Englander, raised on the "Salt water and cold water cure everything and build character!" thing).

Sounds like a beautiful spot.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Do I see a hot tub attached in the upper 1/3 of the pool you posted?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Eandhl- yes , why ?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 3:02PM
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I also prefer a freeform(curvy design)pool shape which is what we had installed in our backyard on a canyon site in Ca. years ago. We did have stone since it fit in with the rough terrain with the canyon/tree view, flagstone decking, not the best underoot~like yourself, practicality isn't my 'strong suit.'

As far as the diving thing, I hated the looks of a diving board, so we had a huge boulder brought in which the kids would jump off.

Love the one pictured!!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 3:15PM
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I love hot tubs.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:09AM
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Sorry, no pool advice here. I like sand in my toes down at the beach.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:23AM
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some i have saved..... i love natural shaped pools....

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:27AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

How about one that looks like a pond?

Here is a link that might be useful: Natural pools

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 9:28AM
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I think a swimming pool should first and foremost look clean and sparkling, some of photos of pond pools I have seen make me wonder, are they for fish or people?
I love that pool you posted. It has a great balance - shape,manmade and natural materials, casual but well appointed, I like the smooth materials near the entry points, and the stone wall around the hot tub.I even like the boulders since they sit away from the edge and to me look like they belong.
No advice for the color or tile details. But I am sure ready to lounge around the pool!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Our pool was rectangular, well not exactly rectangular, it had two semicircular bump-outs on each short end, but mostly rectangular. Our yard sloped so we needed a retaining wall but we planted a row of Annabelle hydrangeas on the retaining wall and it was really pretty! Will you be able to leave the side near the vegetation unfenced? Where we live, you have to have your pool completely fenced in.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:42AM
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I think the problem with the ones you don't like is that they are trying to look "natural" but they don't.

There isn't anything too convincing about a pile of rocks large enough to have been pushed there by a glacier in the middle of a square mile of otherwise flat lawns.

Luckily I think your house is in the rocky part of the country, but it's still not the easiest thing to make something like this look like it is natural, unless the terrain looks like there Should be a hole in the ground there.

Central Park looks natural in the middle of a city , because it mostly Is,-- with some enhancements. It's the surrounding island that was scraped flat around it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:54AM
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robo (z6a)

This is all new to me but I think I am in love with pond pools! Possibly because I grew up swimming in lakes (and am looking for a lakefront cottage right now).

I agree with shallow. In Maine, if it's anything like Nova Scotia, which I imagine it is, heating the pool is going to be a real challenge. And if the pool is known to be shallow throughout, diving should be strictly discouraged.

In fact, thinking about the pool being positioned close to the water, you might want to consider landscaping windbreaks around the pool. Not sure if you're a cold climate person and know this already, but Atlantic winds are not fun for swimming -- an oceanfront pool on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia would be unusable much of year without a windbreak.

If they can be made safe, I think the flagstone steps look really sharp. Although I know people that have large koi ponds are not fond of natural rock in the ponds for cleaning purposes.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:27AM
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As a current pool owner and a former-NH-er-girl, I have two thoughts.

First: Even if you prohibit diving now, which is difficult to do, it will get nearly impossible when the kids get to the age where they don't want adults out at the pool with them all the time (teens). Besides diving, our children's friends always did a lot of cannonball type jumping which requires depth too. Could you create a pool with a recreation end, where they could play volleyball, and a deeper end to accommodate the jumpers?

Second: Can you use some of the natural stone and granite that NH is famous for, frequently used around farmhouses in the area, to use around the pool? It could be lovely I think. Particularly with wildflowers growing in and around.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2nd photo down -natural NH rockwall

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:52AM
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sorry -deleted for duplicate

Here is a link that might be useful: 2nd photo down -natural NH rockwall

This post was edited by bestyears on Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 11:58

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 11:57AM
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Winters in Maine...Long periods of time when you are absent. I would put in a simple rectangle pool with an under mounted automatic cover. I love the free-form pools, but the automatic covers are terrific when the weather is like this.

I didnt want diving either. Our pool has a 7 ft deep end and diving is strictly prohibited.

Not as pretty, but very practical. Just some food for thought.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Ineffable, You are exactly right. My thought was to tell the pool GC that, unless he finds a rock/boulder when he excavates, there are to be none. I don't think he will. It is mostly granite cliffs. Maybe he can make me a countertop, LOL.

As I said, i favor a rectangle, but while that can look very elegant in many settings, here I think it will utilitarian or even (gasp) prefab. When I posted the photo above, I said I liked it minus the boulders. I am still thinking that is the way to go. And in a dark grey, but not quite black. Would you agree? Nothing but stone coping/edging. If we have to have an area for seating, I am thinking boardwalk-y.

Gail, I know what you mean. That sounds like our pool in Montclair. Only one end had a semicircle for the steps, the other end was a raised deck.

We will put the fence on the far side of the vegetation. So when you are in the pool looking toward the ocean, there will be a low stone wall in front of you, split rail fences to the left and right, and vegetation behind you. We need to go on site to make sure that, when you are in the hot tub or sitting around the pool, between the topography and the low stone wall, you still see the ocean in front of you.

Those are spectcular, aren't they. I can also imagine they could be a maintenance nightmare, so not so good for a 2nd home.

Thanks, Cooper, that was what I thought, too.

Boopadoo, Those are so cool. I love the first one! Must have made construction interesting!
Is that a built in trampoline in the first? A kids dream (insurers' nightmare).

Old fixer, at the ocean's edge here, you will find rocks. Not pebbles, even, but more like granite outcroppings. Lovely to look at, fun to climb over and explore, great to fish from, but hard on the toesies.

Eandhl, what's not to love? One unexpected thing we found out years ago is that a hot tub is also a kiddie pool if you don't heat it up to hot tub temps!

Thanks, Tibbrix. I have to disagree with you on water temp. Whatever we may wish, I have observed over our years of pool owning, that the warmer the temperature, the more people go in and longer they stay in. One can wish otherwise, but one will have an empty pool.

As far as safety, my kids have always had a pool and I don't worry about them. As for others, it is a risk one takes (and a good reason to own the house in an LLC, as we do). I think the biggest risk is diving, by far. We have been debating that all weekend. Our (indoor) pool at home is fairly large but not dive-able. Which makes me now start to think this one should be. Argggh.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:21PM
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In the place I grew up, it did not matter if the pool was on private property and far from public traffic. It was considered an "attractive nuisance" and it had to have fence and a locking gate around it. I don't really understand the logic behind it all but apparently someone trespassing on your property and being able to jump right into your pool was not the same as also having to climb a fence with a locked gate to get into the pool.

We had friends with a weekend camp with a driveway a half mile long into the woods, who did drive up one weekend to find someone drowning in the pool, (they were able to be resuscitated ) so it is something to consider.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:24PM
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Ineffable, Yes, that is what I am familiar with, too. But everyone here has their pool open to the ocean. So they are really only enclosed on three sides. In our case, we will keep the old stone wall so we will be enclosed on four sides.

Redlover, the automatic pool cover was first on my list,
until I spoke to the pool GC. He said that they have tons of maintenance issues and are particularly unreliable in an oceanside/salt water climate.

It is difficult to make a pool that allows for diving and an area for say, volleyball, without making a very big pool. That increases the costs dramatically and also the time and cost of heating it.
As for diving, we have a large indoor pool here that the PO put in, and you cannot dive in it. Our kids are pretty good about it, and when we have parties we always hire a lifeguard. So I do think you can stop/curb it. We will talk to the GC tomorrow about diving vs non diving.
As for the link, that looks like the stone wall that is already there! We are most definitely keeping it.

Halifax is around ten degrees cooler than where we are.
Windbreaks are a good idea; I think we have one from the stone wall, but I need to keep that in mind!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:50PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Interesting idea to have an LLC as owner. Does that eliminate liability such as that ineffable mentions? Must have huge tax benefits, I suppose. Sigh. I should have gone into the financial sector! ;)

I am loving all the pictures people are showing here. Our pool was a rectangle with the steps off to the side-better for swimming laps.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:55PM
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The only real benefits of an Limited Liability Corporation are, as the name suggests, "limited liability". The tax issues are no different. I suppose it would also make it easier/cleaner to keep records for rental purposes, but we no longer plan to rent it.

If an accident were to occur on the property and we were found negligent, the only assets at risk would be this property. They could not make a claim against any other property or assets we have.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:15PM
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I like the idea of an organic shape for a pool in this setting. Have you any experience with salt water chlorination? Much less harsh feeling to swim in, less overpowering smell, lower maintenance costs (but more $ up front), and a nice echo of the ocean so close by. If your pool contractor can offer it, it's worth investigating.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Zen I am so glad you mentioned that! I forgot to ask about it and I do think we would prefer it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:00PM
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I agree that the use of big rocks and boulders around pools where they are not a natural part of the landscape gives a Disneyesque appearance to a backyard. Smaller rocks used in landscaping would be lovely, though.

Love the idea of a boardwalk type of decking that could tie into a path to the beach! When we built a pool in a former house the designer told us that we should have three times the amount of decking than the surface area of the pool. I don't know if that is a known metric, but we followed it and were glad we did, as we had enough lounge chairs, tables and chairs for everyone to hang out between dips. Our kids (and their friends) also loved the hot tub.

We have a half acre pond DH wanted to turn into one of those natural pools when we first moved here. They are more common in Europe than the states, and we couldn't find anyone within several hours who advises, evaluates and sets up natural pools. Which was perfectly fine by me, as even the IDEA of swimming with a cottonmouth is enough to keep me out of the water forever! I like our pond just as it is, and I prefer the swim spa for swimming, although that would not have been a good solution for a younger family. Mtn, I think you are on the right track with your ideas. Our pool was also salt water and it was easier to care for and much easier on the eyes. Looking forward to construction pix on this new project!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:51PM
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In the house that I grew up in my mom put a free form inground pool in the backyard. She designed a rock formation waterfall at one end that sloped down around the pool until there were large flat stones around the pool that we could lay on. She planted bamboo and lots of other plantings around the pool. I always marveled at the amazing job that she did as she had no design background. It was always my secret summer place.

The ducks loved it too because every year ducks came for a week or two and used the pool so it got their approval too!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 4:42PM
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Thanks, KSWL! I'm also less interested in the time and money it would take to create a pond, when we already own one here in CT and use it a lot to swim, fish and kayak.

FoxesPad, You come by it genetically then, aha. Ducks in the pool, makes me think of the Sopranos.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 4:51PM
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I absolutely love the look of those more "natural" shaped/styled pools. Good point about the pool covers though. You might consider an infinity edge pool if your pool is going to overlook the ocean.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 2:43PM
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