Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Category: Water Features

Water Features

6 Ways to Update Your Poolscape

Ideas for Updating Your Pool Area

Making some changes in and around your swimming pool can greatly enhance the beauty and enjoyment of your poolscape. From renovating your pool to adding a few simple features, we put together a list of ways to update your pool area this summer. Take a look at the following options and get ready to give your poolscape a whole new look.

1. Update the Pool Interior

Pool with Blue Vinyl Liner InteriorA new interior can dramatically change the look of your swimming pool. Just because summer is here doesn’t mean it’s too late to refinish your swimming pool. Resurfacing a concrete pool generally takes seven to 14 days to complete, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your newly finished pool. If you have a vinyl-liner pool, the process is even quicker: once you decide on a new liner pattern, the old and new pool liners can be swapped out in as little as one to three days. Today’s vinyl liners include more sophisticated colors and designs, including patterns that give the look and feel of glass tiles. Many vinyl liner manufacturers offer a wide array of designs and patterns to fit any backyard theme or setting.

Taking the time to update your pool’s interior not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but can also extend its life, especially if you upgrade to a higher quality finish. For instance, aggregate finishes, which contain small river pebbles, glass beads, or quartz crystals, provide a harder and more durable pool surface than a traditional plaster (or marcite) finish and can last up to twice as long (aggregate finishes typically last 15 to 20 years compared to 10 to 15 years for plaster).

If your pool is in perfectly good shape, but you still want to update its look consider adding a simple tile border at the waterline. Glass and ceramic tiles add sparkle, light and panache to your pool. They come in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes and can be arranged in any design or pattern to fit your style needs.

Photo courtesy of Loop-Loc, Ltd.

2. Resurface the Pool Deck

Renovated Pool with Grey Concrete DeckYour pool deck plays an important part in the overall enjoyment of your pool area: it’s where you lounge in the sun between laps, relax with a good book, enjoy a refreshing snack, and entertain family and friends.

If your pool deck is in need of repair, tends to get hot from the sun, is stained, or simply doesn’t provide the look you desire, then resurfacing the area may be wise decision.

There are many options for pool deck surfaces, including concrete, stone, exposed aggregate, pavers, and even rubber flooring. While your budget and design preferences play a big role in the deck material you choose, it’s important to consider comfort and safety.

Above: Anthony & Sylvan Pools installed a new slate pattern concrete deck and paver coping to help give this pool a more modern look. See what it looked like before the renovation >>

White Coral Stone Tile Pool DeckStamped or colored concrete, inter-locking pavers, and exposed aggregate are all affordable resurfacing options, but be sure to select a lighter color as these materials absorb sunlight and can get hot very quickly. If you have a higher budget, you may want to consider natural stone decking. Natural stones such as coral and travertine are great for pool decks because they stay cool and are slip resistant.

View more photos of coral stone pool decks >>

Photo courtesy of Coral Stone USA

3. Install Pool and Landscape Lighting

Pool with aqua blue LED in-pool lightingOutdoor Lighting can dramatically improve both the look and safety of your pool area at night. For the best results, install a combination of pool and landscaping lighting. Fiber optic or LED pool lighting will illuminate your pool from within, making it a mesmerizing nighttime focal point, while landscape lighting will light up the area around the pool, making it easier and safer for you and your guests to navigate once the sun goes down.

A variety of landscape lighting techniques can help you achieve a certain look or mood for your poolscape at night. For instance, footlights placed along the perimeter of the pool will add a soft glow to the surrounding hardscape and provide the perfect amount of lighting for late night swimming. (This will also reveal any wet spots to prevent slips and falls.)

For a bit of drama, install uplights in nearby trees and shrubbery to add depth and texture or place a light fixture high in a tree and aim the light down through the branches and leaves to create a subtle moonlight effect. Torch lights are ideal for imparting a tropical ambiance; place several torch lights throughout the backyard to guide guests to the pool and dining area.

Above: This elegant poolscape becomes even more enticing at night thanks to the brilliant aqua blue LED pool lighting. Strategically placed landscape lights and fire features provide further illumination for evening entertaining.

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems

4. Add a Water Feature

Pool with Sheetfall Water FeatureA water feature will boost your poolscape’s allure by adding visual and acoustic delight. The sight and sound of moving water is known to have a calming effect and it can also help cover up background noise from a busy street or neighbors, making your backyard a more pleasant retreat.

A variety of water features are available to fit any style pool or outdoor space. For instance, tiered patio fountains, wall fountains, and sheetfalls (pictured at left) provide an elegant accent for formal poolscapes while planter fountains are a great complement to backyards with a Mediterranean or Japanese Garden theme. A rock waterfall is ideal if you have a tropical or lagoon-style pool. Rock waterfalls can be made with real or artificial rock to seamlessly blend with your surrounding landscape and create the look and feel of an exotic oasis.

View more relaxing spa retreats and water features from Anthony & Sylvan Pools >>

5. Plant Some New Blooms

Pool with plants around landscapeAdding plants around your pool is one of the simplest ways to breathe new life into your poolscape design. Plants will add color, interest, and shade to the pool area and establish a natural transition between the pool and its surrounding hardscape.

When landscaping around your pool, it’s important to choose plants according to their maintenance, hardiness, growing requirements, and function. For instance, some plants may not tolerate the extended exposure to sunlight and harsh swimming pool chemicals while others will litter your pool with leaves or cause damage because of their extensive root system.

Photo courtesy of Barrington Pools, Inc., a Master Pools Guild Builder;
Photography by Megan Kelly Photography

Pool with Tropical Trees and ShrubsShrubs and trees, such as Croton, Salvia, Colorado spruce, Bar Harbor juniper, and Mexican blue palm, are great for adding privacy and structure to the poolscape and require little maintenance.

Ornamental grasses are also popular poolside plants and bring tons of color and unique texture to the area. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and can be planted in beds or along the border of the pool. Some great varieties include Zebra grass, fountaingrass, and blue fescue.

Decorative pots and planters also work well by the pool. Use them to display beautiful flowering plants, like bearded irises, cannas, and hydrangeas. Include a mix of leaf shapes, textures and colors to create an attractive, lush, and pleasant design.

Photo courtesy of Pacific Sun Pool & Spa, an Aquatech Builder

6. Add (or Replace) Poolside Furniture

Circular outdoor furniture set by the poolNew outdoor furniture can alter the look of your poolscape as well as set the tone for how you’ll enjoy the space. Today there are more choices than ever when it comes to furnishing your pool area thanks to a range of durable materials, weatherproof fabrics, and stylish designs.

One of the latest trends in outdoor furniture includes modular deep seating furniture sets that can be grouped together or arranged separately throughout the yard to create multiple seating areas. If you already have poolside furniture, you can create a new look or theme simply by re-arranging the pieces, switching out the cushions and pillows, and adding an outdoor rug.  

A line of chaise loungers next to swimming pool

When selecting and arranging furniture for your poolscape, think of how you intend to use the space. A line of lounge chairs is perfect for tanning or relaxing with friends while a dining table or conversation set is more appropriate if you do a lot of outdoor entertaining.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a patio umbrella, canopy or other shade product to keep the area cool and comfortable all day long.

Photos courtesy of Source Outdoor

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Outdoor Patio Fountains and Ponds

Patio fountains, water gardens, and patio ponds make a great addition to your outdoor space. They add a beautiful focal point and create a lovely ambiance through the sound of falling water. Choose from a variety of unique fountains and ponds to accent your deck, patio, or backyard.

Freestanding Patio Ponds

If you love the idea of having a pond, but aren’t ready to handle the installation and maintenance, you may opt for a self-contained patio pond, which also makes a great water feature. One manufacturer offers a variety of freestanding patio ponds. Each patio pond kit is easy to assemble and functions as a completely stand-alone unit. Simply plug into a standard electrical outlet and your pond is ready to go.


square patio pond fountain planter Pond BossThis square patio pond blends perfectly into the nicely coordinated seating area of this brick open-air patio. The small fountain in the center keeps the water aerated and functions as a subtle water feature. The classic, clean lines make it an elegant addition to any outdoor setting or sunroom. Once evening strikes, set the mood by turning on the patio fountain’s LED light, available in white or blue.


two-tier rattan patio pond planter waterfall Pond BossThis two-tiered patio pond features a sheer-descent waterfall with a spillway that lights up. The (blue or white) LED light and water feature can be turned on independently of one another so you can create the perfect mood. Not only does this unique pond make a great water feature, the upper tier also doubles as a planter! The intricately woven wicker finish allows this sophisticated design to pair with a variety of outdoor furniture designs.


patio pond urn planter fountain Pond BossThis woven wicker urn would make an attractive planter on its own. But when you add a patio pond kit featuring a fountain and your choice of a blue or white LED light, this unique water feature really comes to life. Add a tall water plant and this self-contained mini pond is both beautiful and easy to maintain.




Above three photos courtesy of GeoGlobal Partners - PondBoss Manufacturers

Freestanding Patio Fountains

Stand-alone patio fountains are a simple way to liven up your backyard. Easy to install, all you need is an electrical outlet to plug in the fountain (though some solar-powered fountains are available from various manufacturers). Freestanding patio fountains come in almost every design, size, and material you can imagine. From small tabletop fountains to large multi-tiered stone fountain bowls and vases, you can find just the right water feature to adorn your outdoor space.

Campania platia stone fountain three-tier bowl table topThis three-tiered cast stone fountain offers a natural look, blending into any backyard theme. Since it can be placed on a ledge or tabletop, it won’t be hard to find a home for this fountain in your outdoor setting.




Campania recife freestanding fountain black square bowl gardenThis modern cast stone fountain bowl adds both contemporary flair and Zen-like appeal to your garden. The combination of curves and sleek lines creates dimension and generates visual interest.




Campania tall fountain bronze birdbath gardenThis classic cast stone fountain is perfect for the garden and doubles as a birdbath. Adding height and warm natural tones, the fountain becomes a real statement piece without going over the top. Shown here in bronze, this fountain (along with the other two fountains pictured above) is available in a number of patinas so you can find just the right look for your garden.







Above three photos courtesy of Campania International; Photography by Rick Urbanowski

Plants for Ponds and Water Gardens

Photo of Pond with Aquatic Plants
Aquatic plants are incorporated into ponds and water gardens for several reasons. Not only do they add beauty to the surrounding landscape design and create a more natural-looking water feature, but they also play an important role in the ecological balance of a pond. Aquatic plants act as a pond’s filtration system, removing various substances such as ammonia, nitrates, and minerals that algae feed on. They also provide protection, shade, oxygen, and food to fish that live in the pond.

There are four types of pond plants: oxygenating, floating, deep water, and marginal. Adding the different types of pond plants to your water garden will benefit the quality, health and beauty of your pond.

Oxygenating Pond Plants

Pond with Waterfall and Lush PlantingsOxygenating pond plants benefit both the water quality and aquatic life. These types of pond plants are placed in the water and use waste provided by fish as fertilizer; in exchange they provide much needed oxygen to the water. However, the plants alone may not be able to provide all that’s necessary for sustaining aquatic life. You may also need to incorporate an aeration device such as a waterfall, bubbler, or fountain to maintain an optimal level of oxygen in the pond.

Oxygenating pond plants also help reduce the growth of algae by competing for nutrients found in the water. Optimally, oxygenating plants should be added to ponds early in the spring before other water plants have a chance to start growing.

Curly Pondweed is an oxygenating plant that has wavy edges which are usually reddish brown or green. These provide good cover for fish to fertilize their eggs. Willow Moss grows slowly but thrives in both shade and sun. Hornwort is great for controlling algae. This type of oxygenating plant sinks to the bottom of the water during winter months, and then grows new stems each spring. They do not have roots so they are very easy to keep under control.

Floating Pond Plants

Floating plants live on the surface of the pond water and usually cover a large portion of the pond. Their roots hang down into the water. Many of these types of aquatic plants are tropical, but there are some perennials that are able to handle harsh winters. Floating pond plants help inhibit the growth of algae and provide shade.
Pond with Floating Water Lilies
There are several types of preferred water lilies which float on the water’s surface. The lily blooms are seen above the water. A nice mix of water lilies can add a beautiful touch to the pond. Other popular floating plants include Water Lettuce, Water Hyacinth, and Duckweed.

Water Lettuce basically looks like a floating head of lettuce and may grow as a single plant or in a group. The leaves are very thick and light green in color. Its flowers are small and berry-like. Water Hyacinth is free-floating with dark green blade-like leaves. They have thick, fibrous root systems and produce a pleasant light blue or violet flower. Duckweed is a small pond plant with no stem and very small leaves. It produces a dainty little flower that can add a soft touch to the aquatic area of a landscape design.

Deep Water Pond Plants

Water Garden with Waterfall and Plants

This type of plant can be very beneficial to a backyard pond or water garden. Deep water plants help to maintain a well-balanced ecosystem, reduce evaporation, and keep the water at a constant temperature. They also produce oxygen and help keep algae growth to a minimum.

Brazilian Waterweed is a popular deep water plant. It has small leaves that grow along cylindrical stems and is very good at providing oxygen in the water. The Japanese Pond Lily is another deep water plant and has dainty yellow flowers that protrude just above the surface of the water during the summer months. This plant has leaves that grow in two very distinct shapes: one leaf is narrow and oval shaped; the others are heart shaped and wavy.

Marginal Pond Plants/ Bog Plants

Natural Koi Pond with AzaleasMarginal plants, or bog plants, thrive along the edges, or margins, of a pond or body of water where the water is shallow and the soil is moist. They are grown in containers that are placed inside the pond on shallow shelves, with most of the plant visible above the surface. Like other aquatic plants, bog plants provide filtration and enhance the natural look of a pond or waterfall.

There are many types of marginal pond plants. The Aquatic Iris comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes. These beautiful, blossoming flowers bloom in spring and early summer. The colorful blossoms are located at the end of tall stocks, which help hold the flower up high.

Another favorite is the Cattail. Cattails help provide interesting texture and remain green in winter months. Pickerel Weed is a hardy bog plant that has large heart-shaped leaves and long stems with clusters of violet-blue flowers at the top. Its leaves provide good cover for fish.

Water plants will add beauty to your waterscape, as well as complement your overall landscape design. A landscape specialist can help you choose which pond plants will be able to survive in your climate. Many water plants can provide greenery to your pond or water garden all year long.

About the Author: This guest post was written by Doug Byl. Doug Byl is the president of Stout Creek Landscapes, a company that specializes in landscape design in Grand Rapids MI. Doug has many years of experience in doing landscape design and believes that proper backyard landscape design can bring many years of joy to the entire family.

Photos courtesy of
East Coast Landscape Design

Winter Pond Care Guide

As winter draws near, it’s important to prepare your backyard pond or water garden for the cold weather ahead. Follow these guidelines for winterizing your pond to keep your fish and water plants healthy during the cold winter months.

Clean and Cover - Decaying leaves and plants produce gases that are harmful to the fish and the pond’s ecosystem if left in the water.

    • Use a net or vacuum pond cleaner to remove any fallen leaves and dead foliage that has entered the pond.
    • Cut back dead leaves and branches from surrounding pond plants so that they do not hang over the pond.
    • Cover the entire pond with netting to prevent additional leaves and debris from falling into the pond.

    • (Note: Once all the leaves have fallen, clean and remove the pond netting before the snow arrives. Snow and ice can accumulate on the netting and cause it to collapse.)

      Change the Water - Perform a 30- to 50-percent water change before the water temperature drops below 60 degrees F to remove contaminants and help maintain pleasant water conditions throughout the winter.

    • Use a de-chlorinator and neutralizer to remove chlorine in the tap water when adding it to the pond since chlorine and chloramines are poisonous to fish.
    • Make sure there is no more than a five-degree difference in the temperature of the pond water and the water from the hose as a severe change in temperature is stressful for fish and can cause disease.
    • Add pond salt (one pound per 100 gallons) to help fish restore their slime coat and boost their immune system.
    • Add cold water bacteria to reduce buildup, keep the water quality healthy for the fish, and condition the pond for startup in the spring.
    • Test the water and O2 level to make sure everything is in good balance.

Modify Fish Feeding - As water temperatures plummet, fish metabolism slows down and they require less food.

    • Start feeding your fish food with a wheat germ base when the water temperature drops to 60 degrees F. (Wheat germ is easier for the fish to digest at low temperatures than protein.)
    • As the temperature continues to dip below 60 degrees, feed your fish only two or three times a week.
    • Stop feeding your fish altogether once the water temperature reaches an average of 45 degrees F. (Fish are no longer able to digest food at this temperature.)

    • (Note: In order to overwinter fish, the deepest part of your pond must be below the local freezing line.)
      Check with your nearest pet store for additional information on keeping your fish safe over winter.

      Protect Your Plants
      - Fall is the perfect time to divide and repot your water plants because the mild temperatures give the plants time to heal their root systems before the chilly weather arrives.

    • Remove or bring tropical plants inside when the daily temperature drops below 60 degrees F. Many tropical plants can overwinter indoors with a large container of water and bright light. Floating plants, such as water hyacinth and water lettuce, should be discarded.
    • When temperatures reach 50 degrees F and before the first hard freeze, trim winter hardy plants (such as water lily and lotus) and then lower to the bottom of the pond.
    • Cut back marginal and bog plants and submerge them below the freezing line.
    • In very cold climates, such as the northeast, insulate bog plants with straw or commercial insulation material.

Close Up the Pond
- Depending on the climate in your region, you may or may not need to shut down your pond equipment in the winter.

    • If you live in an area with warm or mild winters, you can keep your pond pump running to prevent the pond surface from freezing. (Note: You will need to monitor the water level and stay aware of ice formations and weather changes so that water does not freeze in the pipes.)
    • In colder climates, shut down and remove the pump, filter, and UV sterilizers when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F.
    • Drain water out of the plumbing to prevent standing water from freezing and expanding, which can crack the pipes.
    • Clean all of the equipment according to manufacturers’ directions.
    • Store the filter and UV sterilizer in a warm, dry place.
    • Keep submersible pumps in a bucket of water to prevent the seals from drying out and place in a frost-free location.

    • Install Winter Equipment
      - If you have fish, you need to oxygenate the water and keep an opening in the ice so that toxic gases do not get trapped and kill the fish.

    • Place a small air pump or bubbler on the top shelf of the pond. The agitation from the pump will provide oxygen and help keep a hole in the ice when the pond’s surface starts to freeze.
    • Add a floating pond heater or de-icer if you experience temperatures below 10 degrees F for extensive periods as a small air pump will not be enough to maintain an opening in extremely cold temperatures.

    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Never try to physically break the ice if your pond freezes over. The shock waves can seriously damage or kill the fish. Instead, place a pot of hot water on the ice to gently melt a hole.

      Photos courtesy of Aquascape, Inc. www.aquascapeinc.com

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