Although not hugely common in the UK, garden pools remain an object of desire for most homeowners. After all, what could be better than taking a cool dip in your own garden on a hot summer’s day? Garden pools tend to be traditionally constructed and should always be positioned on a patio or terrace to give them a solid foundation. As their sole purpose is fun and relaxation, garden pools can be built according to the space and budget you have and do not need to have a particular depth or coating—unlike sports pools or natural swimming ponds. Instead, the pool should be constructed only with the wishes and needs of the family in mind.
There are no hard and fast rules about the best dimensions for a garden pool, but they tend to range from 3 x 5m at the smaller end of the scale up to 10 x 5m for the more extravagant homeowner. In fact, it’s possible to go even bigger—providing you you have the space and the means. In terms of depth, the recommended level is 1.30m if the pool is to be used only for recreation. If you’re after an exercise-worthy pool, go for a depth of at least 1.50m. If you’ll be using the pool solely for sports purposes, opt for 12.5m by 3m or 6m—this will give you enough room to train effectively.
If you’re thinking of installing your own garden pool, it’s important to do your research beforehand to ensure you pick the right model for you and your family. First and foremost, you need to decide whether to go for an above-ground or in-ground pool. In-ground pools will be more expensive, more permanent and may require authorisation from your local council. On the plus side, they’ll be better quality and easier to keep in good nick. Above-ground pools, while cheaper and easier to reposition, will take up more room and look less appealing in your garden. In terms of looks and style, you’ll also need to decide on the shape of your pool. Will it be round or oval? Square or rectangular? Or will you freestyle and go for a radical organic form? At this stage it’s also important to consider the overall aesthetic of your garden and how the pool will contribute to it. Will it be minimalist, zen-style, tropical or compact? Get this stage right and the rest will follow.
One of the most important considerations for anyone planning a garden pool should be the material used for the main body. Concrete is one solid option, although it will need to be repainted every two years with a waterproof coating to offset its natural porosity. Another popular choice are prefabricated fibreglass sections assembled on site. These are waterproof, resistant to temperature fluctuations, leak-proof and can be installed both quickly and cheaply—what’s not to love? Next up is steel; strong, durable, rust-proof and able to withstand extreme temperatures without cracking. It’s also easy to handle and quick to install. For a more natural look, wood is also an option. While flexible and visually appealing, it will require coating to prevent decay and degradation. A wooden pool can be expected to last 10 years. Finally, if a built-in pool is beyond your means, you always have the inflatable rubber option. These come in an array of shapes and sizes, can be easily erected and repositioned, and will be enjoyed by children of all ages. Last but not least, you’ll also need to pick a suitable lining for your garden pool. This is a safety feature in itself and should prevent slippage and discourage the growth of algae and mould. The recommended materials are fibreglass, ceramic tiles or PVC sheets.
In the UK, the cheapest option will be an above-ground outdoor pool which costs around £2,500 for a 24 x 12ft model. If you’re a keen DIYer, the best value self-build in-ground kits start at around £5,000, with a professionally installed customised in-ground model from £25,000. How much you eventually spend will be depend on the size, labour costs and quality of materials used. Whatever type of pool you’re planning, it’s always advisable to enlist the help of an experienced professional to guide you through the process.