Perfect pools

The most common water feature in Marlborough is the humble swimming pool.

Have you noticed how many pools glint at you when you fly into Marlborough Airport - it's amazing how many pools we have here!

Pools are really is just holes in the ground filled with water aren't they? Simplistically they are just that. But there is always so much more to a pool than meets the eye.

I take little interest in the mechanisms that keep pools crystal clear, warm and inviting on a hot summer's day, but what is absolutely essential is that the pools are designed into the garden.

There is a right way and a wrong way to have a swimming pool.

It is no good deciding you want a pool and get the pool built without prior thought to the design of the pool garden as a whole. This can result in your big investment not being as able valuable as you thought it might.

Your pool might be the biggest individual element but you must also consider the whole area. Your pool might cost $60,000 but the landscaping around it could easily bring that up to $100,000 depending on what you want. All these additional costs represent individual elements that when combined form the complete pool garden.

You simply can not have a pool on its own - you need hard surfaces (which must be non-slip) such as textured paving or timber decking. These hard surfaces may also be home to an outdoor shower, a barbecue or fire pit, sun loungers and other garden furniture. All these elements need thoughtful consideration before digging your hole.

You also need a pump house and a storage locker for squabs and pool toys. These buildings need to be hidden away discretely and in the case of the pump house this needs to be soundproofed so the pump does not emit sound pollution.

You will obviously need some plants to soften the hard landscaping and add some colour and life to your new pool garden. You might well need large expanses of lawn for the children to play on and or for adult games such as croquet.

You also need to think about pool covers and pool fences. The position and style of pool fences is a critical element. Fences and covers are not attractive. They are a necessary evil and as such we need to dress them up so they blend with the garden rather than ruin it.

Once you have decided you want a pool the first person you should see is your designer - not the pool people. This comes later. You need to design the pool garden before even talking to the pool people.

You need to go to the pool people with a plan so they can cost it out and you can then compare prices and systems to see which company will deliver what you want for the budget you have.

Pools and tennis courts are arguably some of the biggest investments people make in their gardens - don't just plonk them anywhere. They need to be sited carefully and in relation to the existing structures of your property and any new ones.

So if it's a pool you are after you need to put down that spade and make a plan and quickly too if you want to be swimming next summer!

The Marlborough Express