by Eric Herman, Aquamagazine.com
I've long been fascinated by the relationship between swimming pools and other types of recreational and decorative bodies of water, largely because of the way that other aquatic environments have transformed segments of our industry.
One example would be the way large water theme parks have influenced residential aquatic design. It's no secret many residential installations now include systems once only found in waterparks, such as large interactive play structures, elaborate flume slides and even lazy rivers. (It's not likely we'll start seeing wave pools in backyards, but one never knows.)
On the commercial side, a great many property owners have also turned to such features to create what amount to mini-waterparks, an evolution that has led to increased attendance, profitability and functionality for many facilities. (And some of those do have wave pools.)
Fountains represent another area of integration. Growing numbers of pools these days include fountain features in the form of plumes, laminar jets and all manner of waterfalls. In fact, a handful of fountain equipment manufacturers have developed product lines aimed directly at the swimming pool market. One could argue that pools might owe the vanishing edge to fountains, and there's no question that leaping jet deck systems come directly from the world of aquatic ornamentation.
One of the more interesting areas of crossover stems from the world of ponds and streams. The first glimmer of that hybridization came in the form of lagoon style pools; their lush plantings and rocky edges were made to look like natural bodies of water. The advent of artificial rock went on to make "naturalistic" pools affordable for middleclass pool buyers. Today, we see countless examples of custom pools that look very pond-like. Some are convincing, far more really aren't.
On the other side of the equation, many ponds are built with swimming in mind, a trend that comes as a surprise to some. A number of pond builders I know have told me over the years that they've often been asked to deliberately make ponds deep enough for swimming and design them with easy point points of entry and egress. There are ponds with grottos and even some with slides, along with diving rocks and other pool-like features.
In some cases, it's come to the point where it can be tough to draw an exact definition of what separates swimming pools and ponds made for swimming. Pools are often associated with concrete construction, while ponds are typically made with liners covered with rocks. I do think it's safe to say the vast majority of vinyl liner pools bear little resemblance to ponds, but I'm sure there are exceptions to that assumption as well. There are also many man-made ponds built using gunite or shotcrete, so that distinction can be vague. Ponds most often have associated streams and waterfalls, but that's also true of many pools, albeit to a lesser extent.
One place where pools and ponds have remained decidedly separate has been in the realm of water treatment. Pond craft is almost always based on the concept of using natural forms of treatment to maintain water quality, specifically in the form of bogs or constructed wetlands which act as biological filters.
In some ponds, large areas of their bottoms are fitted with under-drain manifolds that draw water through layers of gravel and sand, in effect creating sometimes-massive bio-filters. In these systems, colonies of beneficial bacteria and plant root systems consume compounds that foster the growth of algae and bacteria. It's a necessary approach for ponds that are home to fish and aquatic plants and also preferred by both consumers and professionals who are interested in "sustainable" environments.
By stark contrast, swimming pools have long been treated with potent chemicals that oxidize organic compounds and kill microorganisms. That traditional approach has become the object of concern and even ridicule by some for a variety of reasons, but in all fairness, our industry's approach to treatment has been, I argue, tremendously successful for close to a century.
Fact is, if done properly, both treatment scenarios lead to great water quality both in terms of clarity and bather safety, while if mismanaged can also result in unsightly, smelly water that can be harmful.
Even that seemingly un-crossable divide has been breached over the past two decades in the form of swimming pools that use biological treatment, similar to that used in many ponds, to treat water — using no manufactured chemicals of any kind. The leader in this effort is a firm called BioNova, based in Munich, Germany, that has developed what it calls "natural swimming pools" and has seen its proprietary design used to build thousands of pools across much of Europe.
The firm has garnered a fair share of press due to its unusual approach, but its novel design concept has only recently reached our North American shores. In fact, the first pool of this type built in the U.S. was finished just last summer and is the subject of a feature in this edition of AQUA Architecture, "A Natural First," by designer and installer Jesse Dutra.
In this case, the vessel is very much a swimming pool, made of shotcrete with steps, a deep end and a vanishing edge treatment. It even has an in-floor cleaning system. Moreover, it looks like a swimming pool.
Of course, it's highly unlikely the introduction of these pools will pose any threat to chemical manufacturers, but they do certainly offer an intriguing alternative. I leave it to Jesse to tell the story of this groundbreaking installation. For my part, I urge you to consider the implications of this revolutionary, and yet completely old-fashioned approach to water treatment.
Poolside Plants That Look Like Paradise and Withstand the Elements
Poolside Paradise: Best Plants for Your Pool or Spa Area
By Lisa Hallett Taylor, About.com Guide
The plants you choose to surround your pool should be carefully considered before any buying or digging takes place. Once your pool is in place, you may find that it creates a sort of microclimate. A heated pool can raise humidity levels, and intense sunlight can fry nearby landscaping. Plants can get splashed with chlorine and other pool and spa chemicals. The trick is to find strong plants that can withstand your pool's microclimate, are easy to maintain and still look great.
Energy-Saving Pool Equipment Choices
While the pump is usually the center of conversations about pool equipment energy savings, other equipment choices also play important roles.
By Jeff Farlow
Program Manager - Energy Initiatives
Excerpt from an article that appeared in The Edge., via pentairpool.com
Filter types, for example, have an impact on energy consumption because they place different levels of resistance on the system. Resistance is related to energy efficiency because of its impact on flow. Of the three types of filters (cartridge, DE and sand), cartridge filtration offers the least (i.e., most favorable) resistance to flow. This is partially because cartridge filters do not require a valve, while filters that are routinely backwashed do need them. Multiport valves create so much resistance to flow that California's Title 24 has banned 1.5-inch multiport valves. (Newer backwash valves have been designed to add less resistance to the system.) On a related note, backwashing consumes water, so using a filter that does not require backwashing conserves water and the chemicals in that water.
Infinity-edge pools are meant to be photographed. They are the ultimate in luxury, taking the concept of a private residential swimming pool to an entirely different level. Done right -- and they almost always are -- infinity pools give the illusion of a sheet of water dropping off over the edge of the property, like a waterfall, although you can't see or hear falling water.
That's because the water doesn't fall. The water that spills over the edge, usually into a catch pool or basin a few feet-or-so below the vanishing edge, is recycled back into the swimming pool. To work properly, an infinity-edge pool requires carefully calculated and maintained water levels, strong, solid construction to support thousands of gallons of water and a level edge over which the water can flow.
Homeowners' Bold Pool Designs Mark Poolscape Renaissance, Reports Pentair Aquatic Systems' Poolfyi
Sanford, N.C. – Homeowners committed to the pool lifestyle this summer are fueling a poolscape renaissance as they push designers and builders across the country to create custom outdoor living spaces with resort-like amenities around their pools, according to Pentair Aquatic Systems and its social community, Poolfyi.
Many homeowners recognize they can do more with their pools and see them as "the centerpiece for creating a backyard getaway," said Carlos Del Amo, VP of global marketing at Pentair Aquatic Systems, the world's leading manufacturer of pool and spa equipment. A well-planned poolscape gives homeowners an oasis for everyday leisure, entertaining and swimming.
Backyard Lighting Advice
Landscape lighting in your backyard can create a visual impact as well as provide security and safety. Lighting can be done within the outside area of landscaping with plants, sculptures, structures and water.
Lighting of the landscaped plant areas can visually make an impact all year round by lighting colors of plants, grouping of plants such as hedges and also in the winter of providing a dramatic effect of lighting the interesting branch forms of trees. When choosing plants it is best to design for an all year design if the area is used or viewed from inside a house all year. Plan on different seasons of lighting the plants and trees for optimum use of light viewing. With a good plan you can have a balanced lighting scenario for night time viewing. This will help you to determine controls and also fixtures. This will also help in the plan of maintenance required in the future.
Lighting of a swimming pool creates a safe swimming environment and also can reflect a mood of relaxation or be very dramatic. With the use of LED color lighting we can use a soft light and enable the surrounding landscape lighting to highlight and focus on sculptures, plants and structures while creating a pleasant backdrop of water. With the use of waterfalls and decorative lighting accents we can make the pool the main focal point. If we use intense colors the effect can be very dramatic or provide a mysterious or calming effect. With the use of controls the mood and effect can be changed to provide an ever changing backyard experience.
Paying attention to correct use of light makes the plan work to expectations. If no thought is put into the design then it can turn your prize red roses on a trellis into looking something out of a horror movie. The color of the light produced on objects is very important in the visual of the landscape plan. If you light a colored plant with the wrong light it can look brown or black although it may be vibrant color during daylight. Also temperature on the plant could do harm and kill the plant.
How high-end pool builders use fire to add drama and excitement to poolscapes
Playing with Fire
PROFILE BY KEVIN DOUD on Luxurypools.com
Years ago, while I was working as a sales manager for an industrial combustion company, I received a phone call from a contractor working on the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. His specialty was water, and he was looking for a mechanical engineer to assemble all of the technical equipment for the fire features on the project, which included two 7-foot-diameter cast-stone water and fire urns at the entrance of the temple. I always had an interest in landscape architecture and construction, and so I agreed to help them out.
Water Features Can Sooth and Excite
Water features continue to be one of the most popular design trends for swimming pools. Whether you are looking to add a dramatic centerpiece, architectural accents or the excitement of moving water, the right water feature will influence the ambiance of your entire backyard. For many, including a water feature can be the final piece to the puzzle in designing the ultimate backyard paradise.
Your choices are only limited by your imagination and personal tastes, so research what's available, find inspiration by looking at online photo galleries and speak with local pool and landscape design professionals.
Popular Water Features Include:
Waterfalls – Falling water adds beauty and tranquility to any poolscape. Waterfall designs are nearly unlimited. A water feature like the Pentair MagicFalls® can produce waterfalls right from your pool walls with rain, sheet or curtain effects. Waterfalls can also be produced by having a multi-level pool or they can be built right into the landscape and include additional components like rocks to perfectly match your poolscape design.
Fountains – No longer just for large luxurious pools, fountains can be a beautiful backdrop for your poolscape or a fun feature to splash and play in.
Laminars – These graceful arcs of water are so smooth, they look glass-like. The water enters the pool with a gentle splash. A light source can be added to create a breathtaking evening light show.
Deck Jets – These elegant streams of arching water can transform any pool into a soothing fountain. Deck jets work well in combinations to create unique designs of arching water and are usually fully adjustable.
Cascades – A gentle wall of water splashes into your pool for a soothing effect that also adds class and style. Cascades are available in a number of sizes and can be used side-by-side to cover longer distances.
Scuppers and Wall Accents – Usually appearing in surrounding walls, scuppers are another feature that provides a splash of water into your pool. Available in nearly any shape...including shells, lion heads, rosettes, sconces and fleur-de-lis, they can be used to compliment other water features or stand alone.
Water Bowls – Available in many sizes, water bowls can accentuate your landscape and pool with a soothing water spillway.
Vanishing Edges – A visual effect of water extending off into the distance is a truly luxurious feature. Your pool edge will appear to simply vanish against the horizon.
Tanning Shelf--A Place in the Sun!
from Pool FYI.com
By any other name, they are the same--tanning shelf, sun shelf, Baja ledge, doggie deck--a delightful, shallow area in your pool to relax and soak up the sun. Sun shelves are a ledge typically placed at the entrance of your pool and are around 5-8 inches deep.
Tanning shelves allow you to stay cool during really hot days by providing just enough water to still "lay out" without completely submerging yourself in the water. The size and the shape of your shelf can vary depending on the design and shape of your pool, and will add an instant "resort-like" feel to your backyard! Whether your looking to get a bronzy tan without frying in a deck chair, or you need a place to watch the little ones play in the shallow, a sun shelf is fun for the whole family. Even pets will love the shallow shelf because it involves no doggie-paddling!
This is a great article about a really great feature which is available on custom pools.
Where To Place Underwater Speakers
by Bethany Allen, Aqua Magazine
Although underwater speakers have been around since the 1960's, the technology used to make them has made some serious progress in the last few years. As the technology continues to advance, so does the demand, as hotels, resorts, casinos, amusement parks, synchronized swimming teams, and homeowners alike are installing pool speakers in order to enjoy music under the water. So if you're considering buying underwater speakers for your own pool or offering them to customers, here are a few things you should know.