Planning a Pool? Important Advice from North Jersey Pool Professionals

Every pool project has its own personality because every home and every family is unique.

The best swimming pool for you fits your lifestyle and your budget—and takes a lot of upfront planning. You’ll want to learn as much as you can beforehand by asking and listening to friends, family and local experts and considering great ideas and how they might work (or not work) for you.

What works in another part of the country–or even the state—might not work here in Bergen County, where swimming months are precious, soil is unique and uninvited visitors are “deer.”

Before shovel touches soil, you’ll need to consider:

Pool location

Sun, yard and project size, access, budget, privacy, existing plantings, terrain and municipal regulations will determine your project’s location. It may not be the most exciting, but it’s the most important decision you’ll make.

Pool shape and design

The size of your family, typical number of guests and of course, budget, all impact what size your pool should be.

Shape and depth are a little different. What will you use it for? Swimming laps and playing games? Or are you more the float-and-sip crowd? Have you always envisioned a kids’ area or permanent hot tub? Now is the time to decide what will give you the best return on your investment.

For instance, “attaching a hot tub to your pool is very cost-effective,” says Mitch Knapp, owner of Scenic Landscape Design in Haskell. Thoughtful planning, like “where you place the bench, jets and the spillway that takes the water out as it recirculates,” may seem detailed now, “but it really pays off in the end.”

Finishing work

Coping is an extension of the decking and one of the most visible elements of the pool. This cap on the pool shell wall is generally made from poured or pre-cast concrete material, tile or a natural stone, such as bluestone.

More than “the icing on the cake,” coping can also be a safety issue. So, for instance, Knapp suggests bull-nosing (rounding) the edges to keep them kid-friendly. The surface should prevent slips and not get too hot in the sun. Decking surrounds the area and ties the pool, landscaping and other hardscaping elements all together. Homeowners have unlimited choices of color, material, maintenance and price.

Heat resistance and a non-slip surface are key. Quartzite pavers, for example, “stay cool to the touch on your feet even up to 90 degrees. It’s a wonderful stone," says Knapp.

Your unique brand

Overall designs that include waterfalls, ponds, fountains, rock gardens, gazebos, fire and cooking areas or bars that blend into your home’s theme or landscaping features enhance the “brand” of your project, making it your unique retreat—and bringing more enjoyment to you and more value to your home.

Flowers and shrubs that give season-long color and fragrance can transform your project into a local resort. Whether you choose exotic, eye-popping drama or a more traditional scheme, make sure that what gets planted will get maintained. “Professional planning and maintenance are the way to go to make sure you get the most from your investment. It’s relaxing in itself to know everything works together and is always going to look great, even when those last-minute guests show up,” advises Pete Liberatore of Bednar Landscape Service out of Boonton.

Prefer a more natural feel? Then, consider thoughtfully planned evergreens and perennials to give you lower maintenance with subtle color all season long. Regular pruning and fertilization keep your landscape looking great year to year.

Whatever your choice, nothing frames an outdoor project like the right trees. Avoid deciduous trees that shed leaves early in the fall—they’ll end up in the pool--and avoid fruit trees. “They can get messy when they drop their fruit, plus, they attract bees and birds and their droppings,” says Liberatore.

Look for trees and shrubs that grow 6 to 8 feet high or taller. Pay attention to whether trees and shrubs grow up or out--each will give you different types of screening.</