Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Stylish Gazebos, Canopies, and Pergolas

Made for Shade: Stylish Gazebos, Canopies, and Pergolas







Summer means spending a lot more time outdoors and having a little fun in the sun. But if you’re spending any length of time outdoors during steamy summer days, you’ll probably want some shade to get a break from the heat.

Deck, patio, and table umbrellas are a simple option, but if you’re looking for something more permanent to add both shade and style to your backyard, consider a gazebo or pergola. Check out these stylish structures for ideas.




Custom Gazebos

Geremia Pools gazebo bridge boulders rock Gazebos come in all different sizes and materials and are the perfect structure to add beauty, shade, and seating to your backyard. Many come with built-in benches for seating, although many homeowners will furnish with outdoor furniture. Since they can stay up year-round, they become a permanent fixture in your backyard.

Left: Set in the middle of a private grove, this large gazebo features a red tiled roof and has an ornate architectural style. Boulder accents and beautiful landscaping give this pool a natural look, while the bridge adds charm to the entire poolscape.


Photo courtesy of Geremia Pools, Inc.; photography by Dick Hinkley




Portable Gazebos with Canopies
Hayneedle gazebo canopy shade

Portable gazebos with canopies are a great way to provide shade and create an outdoor room. These can be set up and taken down seasonally or left up year-round. They can be anchored to your lawn or bolted to your deck or concrete slab, making them a versatile option for any backyard.

Add an outdoor area rug, a weatherproof living room set, and a few planters, and the entire space becomes its own relaxation spot.

Hayneedle gazebo canopy shade SunbrellaLeft: This gazebo's Sunbrella canopy offers shelter from the summer sun and rain protection. It also features a vent for wind escapement. The gazebo is easily assembled and spans 130 square feet creating the ultimate space for an outdoor living room set.



Photos courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Pergolas and Awnings
Walnut Hill Landscape Company curved pergola outdoor fireplace

Pergolas provide partial shade and add a lot of style to your backyard. Pergolas can also be ideal to provide shade over an outdoor kitchen or to define the space for an outdoor family room. Many homeowners will mount a weatherproof TV in the corner.

Above: To complement the Pennsylvania flagstone patio, a custom blend of stone was used for the fireplace and sitting walls. The curved pergola, made of laminated mohagony, offers just the right amount of shade. The plants include cryptomeria, sweetbay magnolia, and pale pink, kooper king hibiscus, as well as heavy metal switch grass and dwarf fountain grass.



Photo courtesy of Walnut Hill Landscape Company; photography by Michael Prokopchak





YShade FX pergola with retractable awningou can increase the amount of shade provided by a pergola in a few ways. You may wish to have ivy growing across the wooden beams of the roof, creating a natural plant canopy. This also makes the pergola feel more like it’s a part of the garden.

Another option is a retractable awning. Available in many different colors and patterns, retractable awnings add to both the function and décor of your pergola and the outdoor room your are creating.

Shade FX pergola with retractable awningAbove: The lattice panels add a bit of privacy and a whole lot of style to this pergola set on a beautifully landscaped property with a pool. The retractable awning provides homeowners with the option of full or partial shade. The awning’s striped pattern matches the cushioned outdoor couch and throw pillows creating a unified outdoor room.



Photos courtesy of ShadeFX Canopies




Walnut Hill Landscape Company outdoor kitchen pergolaThis pergola adds elegance and definition to this outdoor kitchen, surrounded by colorful landscaping. The roof provides partial shade, but heat and smoke from the grill can still escape through the beams.



Photographed by LandMarksPhotography.com for Walnut Hill Landscape Company, Annapolis, Md.



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10 Pool Exercises That Tone Head to Toe

Pool Workout: 10 Water Exercises that Tone Your                        Abs, Arms, Legs, and Back

Did you know you can get an awesome workout in the pool without swimming laps (or breaking a sweat)? Water’s high density level provides 12 to 15 times more resistance than air, which makes it a great environment for building lean muscles. Plus, a variety of aquatic fitness equipment, including hand buoys, water dumbbells, and ankles weights, enhances resistance for a more challenging workout.

Get in the pool and perform these 10 water exercises from HYDRO-FIT, INC., to tone your abs, arms, back, and legs, and blast major calories!


Equipment needed:

1. Wave Web® Pro water fitness gloves

2. Classic Cuffs ankle, arm, and wrist cuffs (these can also be used as a flotation belt)

3. Hand Buoys

4. HYDRO-FIT Noodle

1. Wave Web Pro Water Fitness Gloves by HYDRO-FIT INC 2. HYDRO-FIT Classic Cuffs Ankle, Wrist, and Arm Weights

3. HYDRO-FIT Hand Buoys 4. HYDRO-FIT Noodle


Get the equipment >> www.hydrofit.com



Water Exercises:


1. Squat Jacks/Power Chest Press
Squat Jacks/Power Chest Press - Move ASquat Jacks/Power Chest Press - Move B



2. Leg Raise (right)/Shoulder Raise (repeat on left side)

Leg Raise/Should Raise - Right - Move A Leg Raise/Should Raise - Right - Move B



3. Sit Kick/Scull

Sit Kick/Scull - Move A Sit Kick/Scull - Move B



4. Straddle Stance/Churn Figure 8
Straddle Stance/Churn Figure 8 - Move AStraddle Stance/Churn Figure 8 - Move B



5. Rocking Horse (right leg)/Lat Pull (left arm) - (repeat on opposite sides)
Rocking Horse Right Leg/Lat Pull Left Arm - Move ARocking Horse Right Leg/Lat Pull Left Arm - Move B



6. Lunge Stance (right)/Triceps Pres
s (repeat on left side)
Lunge Stance Right/Triceps Press - Move A Lunge Stance Right/Triceps Press - Move B



7. Leg Lift (left)/Power Sweep-Double Arm (repeat on right side)

Leg Lift Left/Power Sweep Double Arm - Move A Leg Lift Left/Power Sweep Double Arm - Move B



8. Hip Curl/Side to Side

Hip Curl/Side to Side - Move A Hip Curl/Side to Side - Move B


9. Tuck & Twist

Tuck and Twist - Move ATuck and Twist - Move BTuck and Twist - Move C



10. Jack Knife/ Shoot Through and Rotate

Jack Knife/Shoot Through and Rotate - Move AJack Knife/Shoot Through and Rotate - Move BJack Knife/Shoot Through and Rotate - Move C

Photos courtesy ©HYDRO-FIT, INC.; Illustrations by Kate Pryka


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Outdoor Kitchen Designs & Options

Building an Outdoor Kitchen: Appliances, Materials, and More







By Patti Plummer


Viking Range LLC outdoor kitchen grill courtyard string lightsMany homeowners believe in utilizing every inch of their backyard space to create the perfect backyard retreat. They include swimming pools and spas, hot tubs, outdoor living rooms, and more often than ever, outdoor kitchens.

From simple grilling stations to fully-equipped setups that include everything from grills, rotisseries, and pizza ovens to refrigerators, beverage chillers, and ice machines, today’s outdoor kitchens can have it all.

Ready to build your own outdoor café? Before contacting a landscape architect or outdoor kitchen expert, make your wish list. Here are a few ideas to get you started.




Photo courtesy of Viking Outdoor Products


Material Options

Outdoor kitchen appliances, cabinets, and countertops continue to grow in sophistication and specialization. The majority of homeowners opt for a simple outdoor kitchen consisting of a grill and a sideburner, but others want all of the bells and whistles including a sink, dishwasher, smokers and flattop grills, granite countertops, all-tile backsplashes, and travertine flooring.

Most outdoor kitchen appliances are stainless steel while countertops and backsplashes are made of natural stone, tile, or concrete. A few of the more popular cabinet materials are heavy-gauge stainless steel, solid marine-grade polymer, teak, cedar, and powder-coated metal made to appear like real wood. By working with a professional outdoor kitchen designer, however, you can transform your wish list into a reality that is in sync with your property.


EP Henry outdoor kitchen grill food fridgeStainless Steal Appliances

The most requested types of appliances are those made of stainless steel because they are durable enough to handle changes in the weather and can hold up to high usage. If your home’s style is more on the rustic side, consider featuring a natural stone or composite façade to add a cozy charm to your setup.


Photo courtesy of EP Henry; Photo by Jay Greene Photography



Carefree Pools thatched roof umbrella outdoor kitchen grillThatched Roof

Many outdoor kitchens are open to the elements, so the addition of a shade product is not only an aesthetic choice but also a practical one. Enjoying a refreshing beverage after hours of fun in the pool can be enhanced by relaxing under the cool shade provided by an umbrella—besides, the chef will welcome a reprieve from the hot sun too! For a tropical theme, consider a thatched roof.


Photo courtesy of Carefree Pools and Spas, San Luis Obispo, Calif



Baker Pools outdoor kitchen breakfast bar grillDining Bar

Besides working as a dining area, outdoor bars can also double as more counter space and be a stylish divider between the kitchen and other parts of the patio. Consider outdoor bar stools for seating. The most common materials include hardwoods like teak, jarrah, and shorea, as well as plastics/acrylics and wrought iron. If the seats are cushioned or covered with fabric, select a cloth that is made for outdoors, like Sunbrella®.

Baker Pools outdoor kitchen bar grill pool
Above and right:
This stunning outdoor kitchen features a barbecue grill, side burners, sink, and refrigerator. The cozy bar is perfect for causal dining and sipping a drink after a dip in the pool. Hanging planters and beautiful landscaping complete this outdoor retreat.


Photo courtesy of Baker Pools, LLC, Jenks, Okla.



Cipriano outdoor kitchen grill ventilation system Ventilation Systems

Nothing beats the wonderful aromas of steaks on the barbecue, but when the wind blows from the wrong direction bringing with it clouds of smoke, your well-planned ambiance can be destroyed in an instant.

By including a ventilation system to keep the surrounding outdoor space fume-free during heavy-duty grilling sessions—especially in outdoor kitchens covered by a roof—you can almost guarantee everyone will enjoy their dining experience a little more.


Photo courtesy of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping, Mahwah, N.J.




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4 Cool Pool Accessories and Floats

Fun Pool Floats and Accessories for Summer Outdoor Entertaining







Drink Dazzlers™ Light Up Coasters


Drink Dazzlers™ Light-up CoastersDrinkware that doubles as décor? Believe it! Place your cup on top of one of these light-up coasters and watch it glow. Party guests will have no problem finding their drink at night. The Drink Dazzlers™ Light Up Coasters bring a fun element to your patio table during summer pool parties and barbecues.

The light-up coasters also work with clear flower vases and bowls; use them to create a light-up centerpiece for a backyard graduation party or other summertime celebration. (Sold as set of four coasters; glasses not included.)

Try these 4 Refreshing Summer Drink Recipes >>



Mega Chill Pool Cooler Float

Mega Chill Pool Cooler FloatWith all the fun and activity going on in the pool you’re sure to need some refreshments. Quench your thirst while you keep the pool fun going with the Mega Chill Pool Cooler Float.

This large floating cooler features six cup holders around the perimeter of the cooler and two side handles for easy carrying. The large cooler in the center can hold up to 24 soda cans with ice. You’ll be sure to use this convenient float all summer long, whether entertaining family and friends or just lounging in the pool.



LED Light-up Pool Stool

LED Light-up Pool Bar StoolsGive your party guests a cool place to sit. These remote-controlled LED light-up pool stools provide a comfortable seat and illuminate your pool for the perfect party ambiance. The resin barstools are easy to move around the pool and can be used in any aboveground or inground swimming pool with a depth of 3 or 4 feet. (The stool’s seat height is adjustable from 24 to 33 inches.)

Set the mode on the stool’s internal LED light unit to auto for a multicolor display or use the remote control to pause the light on a certain color. The LED’s rechargeable battery lasts 12 hours per charge.

Keep the entertainment in the pool with these waterproof music players and speakers >>



Watermelon Slice Pool Island Float

Watermelon Slice Pool Island FloatWith its bright red center, black seeds, and yellow and green rind, this watermelon slice pool float is ripe for the...lounging! Everyone will want to feast on this large fruit-inspired pool float, which measures 60 inches in diameter.

Any way you slice it, this heavy-duty vinyl float is sure to entertain kids and adults alike. Add a few eye-catching slices to your pool to get the party juices flowing.




Add more fun to your pool party with some floating pool games >>



Photos courtesy of Toysplash.com


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5 Fun Pool Games

Fun Swimming Pool Games for Kids and Adults Alike







Turn your swimming pool into the ultimate summer entertainment center with these fun pool games. Great for pool parties or any summer day, these floating pool games are sure to entertain kids of all ages.

Inflatable Volleyball Game

Inflatable Volleyball Pool GameKeep cool while you bump, set, and spike your way to victory! This inflatable pool volleyball game is great for inground and aboveground pools and requires no installation or assembly; just inflate and play. The floating net makes for a fun challenge (and great workout!). If desired, anchor weights (not included) can be attached to the grommeted pole bases on the floating net.

The inflatable pool volleyball game measures 95 inches by 24 inches and includes game ball, net, and posts. May the best team win!


Ball Dartz

Ball Dartz Inflatable Pool GameThis pool-friendly version of darts features an inflatable Velcro-covered dartboard and six plastic ball darts with Velcro strips. Perfect your aim by launching the ball darts at the floating target or play a fun game with family or friends.

The Ball Dartz Pool Game can be used in aboveground and inground pools and measures 55 inches long, 23 inches wide and 39 inches high.


Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe Floating Pool GameThe classic pencil-and-paper game of Tic Tac Toe gets a wet and wild makeover. The inflatable Tic Tac Toe Ball Toss Pool Game features a floating game board and five “X” and five “O” squishy balls. The balls are bottom weighted so they always rotate face up to display the X or O. You’ll have tons of fun playing this favorite childhood game in your pool. Plus, the game becomes more challenging as you not only have to try to get three of your balls in a row, but have to toss the balls onto the floating game board while standing at the opposite end of the pool.


  4 Free Pool Games (all you need is a pool and a few fun-loving swimmers!) >>



Splashimals Floating Pool Cards Game

Splashimals Floating Pool CardsSchool may be out for summer, but you can keep the learning going with this fun floating card game. Each foam card features half the picture and name of an animal and helps your child practice spelling and animal recognition as they match the animal heads and tails in the deck. For a creative and fun challenge, have them mix animals up to create new animals or words, like Tur-key (half Turtle, half Monkey) or Ca-sh (half Camel, half Fish). There are more than 225 possible animal card combinations.

You can also play a fun game of memory by placing the cards face down in the water. Flip the first card over and then try to find the matching card, flipping only one card over at a time and placing it back in the water face down if it’s not a match. You’ll have to remember where the matching cards are and also keep track of them as they float around in the pool. The foam cards dry easily and come with a mesh bag for storage.




Don’t have a pool? Check out these other fun summer activities for kids >>



Alien Eye Ball Toss Game

Alien Eye Ball Toss Pool GameWhether they’re in or out of the pool, everyone can take part in this fun inflatable toss game. What’s more, you can play this game any way you want. For instance, each player can take a turn tossing the five squishy eye balls onto the floating alien head from a designated distance (maybe 3 to 5 feet). Keep score by tallying the points for each player; the player with the highest score wins.

You can also play multiple rounds by eliminating the player with the lowest score after each round until two players remain. Have the last two players toss only one ball; the player whose ball lands in the higher score zone wins.

If playing with two to five people, give each player one eye ball and establish a winning point total, such as 1,000 points. The first player takes his turn tossing his eye ball onto the alien head and records his/her points. The player then retrieves his/her ball before the next player takes his/her turn. Players continue taking turns until the first person reaches the winning point total.

This versatile pool game can also be played on the lawn or beach. The floating alien face is made of 12 gauge vinyl and measures 38 inches. Five squishy eye balls are included with the game.

Photos courtesy of Toysplash.com


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5 Refreshing Summer Salad Recipes

5 SUMMER SALAD RECIPES FOR THE 4TH OF JULY







By Patti Plummer

Avocado Salad Recipe Red White Blue and Green Salad summerReady or not, summer is here! Pools are open and full of happy swimmers while grills are sizzling with all kinds of fabulous grilled treats.

And for the ultimate summer holiday, we have five delicious 4th of July recipes! To celebrate Independence Day, try one of these five tantalizing summer salad recipes guaranteed to be a big hit at pool parties, barbecues, and family picnics.




Red, White, Blue, AND Green Salad

Copyright © 2012, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, www.bordergrill.com


(pictured above)


Serves:
4

Ingredients
1 lb. blue or purple potatoes, about 12 small potatoes, washed, with skins on
1 pita bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ripe Fresh California Avocados, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 Persian cucumbers, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 Roma tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
4 cups arugula

Vinaigrette
2 lemons
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. white vinegar
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until just soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel off potato skins using your fingers or a paring knife. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss pita bread pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Combine potatoes, pita chips, avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions and feta cheese in a large mixing bowl.
To assemble the salad, place equal amounts of arugula on each plate and top with the potato mixture.
Add vinaigrette to taste, toss thoroughly, and serve.

Vinaigrette Instructions

Slice ends off lemons and stand upright on a cutting board. In a downward motion, cut away lemon peel and outer membrane, exposing fruit.

Working over a bowl to catch the juices, separate the lemon sections by slicing with a knife between membranes. Remove and discard seeds.

Transfer lemon segments and juices to a blender with lemon zest, vinegar, salt and pepper and combine thoroughly. With motor still running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use.

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Recipe provided by the California Avocado Commission and created by chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger for the California Avocado Commission. Photo © Courtesy California Avocado Commission



Mediterranean Watermelon Salad


Bacon stuffed shell salad recipe summerServings: 6

Ingredients
6 cups torn mixed salad greens
3 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 dash cracked black pepper

Directions

In large bowl, mix all ingredients except oil and pepper. Just before serving, toss salad mixture with oil. Garnish with pepper.


Recipe and photo courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board



Greek Spinach Salad

Developed by: Almond Board of California

Greek Spinach Salad recipe summerServes: 8


Ingredients
1 bunch spinach, washed, trimmed and crisped
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
24 Greek olives, or as desired
3/4 cup whole natural almonds, toasted
1 cup (1/4 lb.) crumbled feta cheese
Three Herb Dressing (recipe below)

Directions

Toss all ingredients except feta cheese with Three Herb Dressing. Arrange on serving platter. Top with crumbled cheese to serve.

Three Herb Dressing
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. thyme
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Three Herb Dressing Directions
Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Whisk until thoroughly mixed.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Almond Board of California




Bacon-Stuffed Shell Salad


Bacon stuffed shell salad recipe summerServings: 8

Ingredients
12 ounces Canadian style bacon, sliced
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teas salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
16 conchiglioni (jumbo shells)
Romaine leaves

Directions

Cut Canadian bacon into thin strips. In a large bowl combine bacon, zucchini, red pepper and Parmesan cheese; set aside.

For dressing, combine oil, vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over bacon mixture; toss gently to mix. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Cook conchiglioni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the bacon mixture into each conchiglioni. Place the shells, filled side up, in a baking dish. Cover and chill 2-4 hours. To serve, arrange romaine among salad plates. Place 2 shells atop each.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board





Sirloin Steak and Tomato Salad



Serves: 4
Sirloin Steak Tomato Salad recipe summer


Ingredients
1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1 pound)
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon reduced-fat or regular balsamic vinaigrette, divided
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
12 cups mixed salad greens
4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper

Directions

Brush onion slices with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette; set aside. Press chile powder onto beef steak. Place steak in center of grid over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange onions around steak. Grill steak, covered, 11 to 15 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 13 to 16 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally. Grill onions 13 to 15 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally.

Separate onion slices into rings. Carve steak into slices. Season beef and onions with salt and pepper, as desired.

Toss salad greens with remaining 1/3 cup vinaigrette and divide among 4 salad plates. Top with tomatoes, onions and beef.


Recipe and photo courtesy of www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com



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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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FAQ: Pool Water Care, How to Prevent Algae, Energy-Saving Tips

10 FAQ: Pool Water Care, Preventing Algae in Pools, Energy Savings & More








Pool maintenance is an important part of pool ownership. To keep your pool clean and sparkling, you have to test the water regularly and keep it clean.


We spoke to BioGuard®, one of the leading manufacturers of pool and spa products, to get their expert advice on some frequently asked questions about water care, how to prevent algae in pools, energy saving tips, and routine pool maintenance.


BioGuard family in pool lifestyle water care1. How long should I run my pool filter?

The best time to circulate the water is during the day, for 10 hours or more. Pool water must be circulated for maximum sanitizer effectiveness. The more your water is in motion, the harder it is for bacteria and algae to take hold.

2. How often should I clean or vacuum my pool?

The walls and floor should be brushed and vacuumed at least once a week to remove debris missed by the filter.


3. How often should I test the chemical levels in my pool?


Test your pool water for sanitizer and pH two or three times per week. Also, take a sample to your dealer every four to six weeks during the season. This will help you maintain proper water balance and greatly reduce the potential for problems.


4. How do I prevent algae in my pool?

BioGuard recommends the following steps to prevent algae:


- Add a weekly preventative algaecide such as BioGuard Back Up® or Smart Algicide, using the dosage recommended on the product label
- Weekly shock routine to eliminate unwanted contaminants
- Maintain a sanitizer residual in the range of 1 – 4 ppm
- Brush your pool once a week
- Maintain a filter run time of a minimum of 10 hours daily, during daylight hours, to help keep algae from adhering to surfaces and beginning to grow.


5. I have algae in my pool currently. How do I get rid of it?

While it is always easier to prevent algae than to treat an algae problem, using an EPA registered algicide, such as BioGuard Banish, along with shocking the pool can be very effective at killing algae. An often overlooked element to treating and preventing algae is ensuring the filtration and circulation system are running effectively. Addressing these areas of pool care will help solve your existing issue, as well as help prevent future algae problems.

6. How often should I backwash my sand or D.E. filter?

Generally, a sand or D.E. filter should be backwashed when the water pressure in the filter reaches 8 to 10 psi above normal (check manufacturer's guidelines). Because backwashing does not remove oils and deeply embedded debris, every filter needs to be chemically cleaned regularly (twice a season) using BioGuard Strip Kwik® and Kleen It®.


BioGuard pool lifestyle water care7. How often should I clean my cartridge filter?


If a pressure gauge is installed, you can follow the same guidelines that you follow for a sand or D.E. filter. You should remove and flush the cartridge with a strong spray of water when the operating pressure is 8 - 10 psi above normal or “clean” operating pressure.

If no pressure gauge is installed, you should remove and rinse the cartridge when you see a noticeable decline in the pressure of the water being returned to the pool through your jets.

As stated above, cartridge filters also need to be chemically cleaned at least twice a season to ensure the buildup of oils and debris is effectively removed.

8. What conditions might require a chlorine shock treatment? How long after shocking is the pool water safe to swim in?

Shocking the pool is a vital and often overlooked part of weekly pool care and maintenance. In addition to weekly maintenance to help keep the pool clean and clear, shocking is also great for troubleshooting problems such as cloudy water, low chlorine residual, and algae. Chlorine shock treatment is always a necessary component to treat chlorine demand.

Swimming can resume when the chlorine residual is 1 – 4 parts per million. The amount of time it takes for chlorine to drop to the acceptable level after shocking varies in different pools.

9. How should pool chemicals be stored?

Here are some general storage guidelines for pool chemicals:

- Store chemicals in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space.
- Keep chemicals away from heaters or open flames.
- Store chemicals on shelves or pallets whenever possible, but particularly anytime water is used for cleanup of floors; use caution during cleaning to avoid wetting of any dry chemicals.
- Store chemicals away from doors and windows.
- Do not store pool chemicals with incompatible or flammable materials, such as gasoline, oil, grease, fertilizer, herbicides, paint, solvents (for example, turpentine), oily rags, and alcohol.
- No smoking in storage areas or when handling chemicals.

10. What are some energy-saving tips for my pool?

Covering your pool can make a big difference in energy efficiency and maintenance cost. A covered pool will stay warmer than an uncovered pool, reducing heating costs when using a heater to warm the water. Covering the pool also decreases evaporation, which decreases the amount of new water you have to put in the pool. Saving water saves valuable energy and resources.

Pool covers also keep out dirt and debris, reducing the work done by the pump and filter. Less debris leads to shorter pump run times and increasing energy efficiency. Coupled with that, proper pool maintenance helps keep water clean and clear, also reducing the amount of filtration needed to maintain water clarity. In addition, make sure your pump and filter are properly sized and in good working order. This will maximize efficiency when they are running.


Photos courtesy of BioGuard; photography by Dale Peterson



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How to Landscape Around a Pool

6 Tips for Adding Plants Around Your Pool

Guest Post by Terry Carter

Freeform Pool with Natural LandscapingLandscaping around a pool adds shade, beauty, and privacy and helps blend the swimming pool with the natural environment. There are many factors to consider when adding plants around a pool to ensure that the pool and surrounding landscape remain clean, easy to maintain, and safe for swimmers.

Keep the following tips in mind when landscaping around your pool.

1. Keep Messy Plants Away From the Pool Area


Plants that constantly shed needles or flowers will cause you more work than enjoyment because you’ll continually have to skim the debris out of the pool. Deciduous trees, fruit-bearing shrubs, and plants like Impatiens that drop a substantial amount of flowers should be avoided or planted as far away from the pool as possible.


2. Avoid Plants with Long Root Systems


If you are landscaping your pool with seedlings or young plants, it is easy to not consider the future size of the plants. However, it is essential to your pool’s well-being that you avoid plants that have long root systems. As the plant grows, the roots, of course, will grow with it and they can cause considerable damage over the years.

Large trees such as oak and elm or invasive plants like bamboo can break through the concrete surrounding the pool or even poke through the structure itself. This will be a hard (and expensive) problem to correct, so it is wise to avoid it from the beginning. A good rule of thumb is to keep trees at least 10 feet from the pool, but it is best to consult with a landscape professional as some trees have larger root systems than others.


3. Plant Thirsty Flower Beds on Borders

Pool Landscape Design with Bordering Flower Beds

Water-loving flowers require the use of organic mulches, such as pine bark or needles, to help retain moisture and nutrients in the soil; however, these materials are lightweight and can easily be picked up by the wind and blown into the pool. To avoid this dilemma, keep thirsty plants in beds along the border of your yard.

To add beauty and texture poolside, use drought-resistant plants like succulents, lantanas and junipers. These plants can be planted in beds closer to the pool and topped with stones or gravel instead of mulch to create a finished look.


4. Utilize Evergreen Plants


Even though your flowering or deciduous trees have to stay away from the pool area, you can still have plant life nearby. Take advantage of evergreen plants, like boxwoods or cypresses. These can be maintained to fit the style of your outdoor space and will not lose their leaves into your pool.


5. Use Potted Plants Close to the Pool


Pool with Potted PlantsPotted plants are an easy way to bring some natural life onto the concrete area surrounding a pool. Planters are available in a wide range of colors, materials, sizes and shapes so it’s easy to find containers that match your pool and landscape design. In addition, potted plants can be moved around to best fit your needs and the time of the year.

To ensure safety, place planters in areas around the pool where they can be seen but do not block your view of swimmers. Also, choose pots and planters that are heavy enough not to be blown over into the pool or knocked down by passersby.


6. Be Careful of Thorns and Bee Magnets

It is best to locate any thorny plants like roses and hollies away from the pool area because swimmers can brush up against their prickly surface or step on fallen thorns when accessing the pool area. Plants that attract bees—which include Larkspur, Delphinium, Queen Anne’s lace, and many types of salvia—should also be kept away from the pool to avoid the risk of swimmers getting stung. This is especially important if you have children or guests with a bee allergy.



About the Author: Terry Carter writes about landscaping for Grandview Landscape and Masonry, a company specializing in gardening and inground pools.

Photos courtesy of Anthony & Sylvan Pools


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2013 Aquatech Award-Winning Pools Photos

Photo Gallery of Over 100 Award-Winning Pools







Baker Pools Aquatech pool waterfalls firebowls gazebo lounge chairsEvery year, Aquatech, a national society of pool builders, recognizes some of the greatest pool designs throughout the U.S. with its annual Awards of Distinction. These pools, spas, and water features represent some of the most beautiful designs across the country.

Whether you’re planning to build a new pool or update your existing pool, this photo gallery will give you some great ideas.

 

Check out the award-winning pools photo gallery to see over 100 amazing swimming pools >>


Above: This stunning pool includes three sheer-descent waterfalls, two blazing fire bowls, and a separate geometric spa with two fountain bubblers. The gazebo at the far end includes a wall-mounted outdoor TV, fireplace, and loveseat, perfect for relaxing and entertaining.

 

Photo courtesy of Aquatech; Baker Pools, Jenks, OK


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