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Latest in Swimming Pools
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

Summertime and the swimming is easy especially in a new or remodeled swimming pool?a pool that complements your style of living and your landscape. Add waterfalls, a bench, and your garden becomes a personal oasis?a pleasure in Feng shui, the latest trend in landscaping a swimming pool.

?Times have changed in that families are doing a lot more cocooning,? said Dolphin Pools co-owner, Doug Carlson. ?Within the last two to five years, pools have really come back into favor because of families wanting to be together. Parents want to provide that type of environment for their kidos?to have some fun in the back yard, invite some friends over.?

In the neighborhood of 30-40% of the established homes in the north Dallas/Park Cities make up the community of pool owners, based on the Dolphin Pools? mailing list sent out since 1967. With new home construction and remodeling comes a flurry of new pool construction. Many homeowners want some type of water feature even when land is scarce, such as the zero lot line homes, where excavating the pool in tight areas takes a bit of creativity, according to pool designer, Jimmie Weber.

In the outlying areas of Frisco, Coppell, and Colleyville, fifty to sixty percent of new homes are going up with new pools, according to Carlson. But in north Dallas/Park Cities, where many older homes already have existing pools, most swimming pool construction involves the updating of an older pool. These pools from 10 to 30 years old or older in homes of 20 to 50 plus years are being remodeled, updated and made more aesthetically pleasing than when they were originally built.

Brick, flagstone, slate and slate-look-alike, new coping, over 300 different tiles, and many options in plaster, all can add up to pizzazz and new color on the pool surface without making structural changes in the pool?s basic shape. Such updating can be accomplished for as little as $5,000 to $6,000 for tiles, plaster, and coping, according to Carlson. On the other hand, redesigning and reengineering a pool can add up to $80,000 to $90,000, or about $20,000 cheaper than building a comparably styled new pool. In fact, the minimum cost for new pools runs between $19,000 and $20,000 due to the excavation and plumbing.

?People are moving more and more away from slides and diving boards because of the safety issue,? Weber said. Instead of putting a white diving board on the back of a pool that?s eight feet deep, where bathers can?t function except to swim or tread water, people are converting the swimming pool into a game pool with water depth between 3 ? feet to 6 feet with, perhaps, a perimeter of shallow water around a deeper center.

?They?ll take the diving board off and put on a rock ledge,? Weber said. So, the diving board becomes a diving rock. And swimmers can semi-dive off the edge of the rock. Since the rock doesn?t jut out over the water and doesn?t impart the bouncy springboard effect of the diving board, the rock affords an alternative way of getting off the edge of the pool into six feet of water without the hazards associated with a diving board.

Boulders semi-submerged in the pool can be arranged to form a grotto or swimming house with a look that suggests the swimming pool was built around the rock. And bathers can swim among the rocks and perhaps behind a waterfall flowing over the rocks. Picturesque waterfalls and water pools can be built along the edge of the pool or spa by stacking a ledge of flat rocks or boulders the size of a computer monitor up to the size of a small hassock. The rocks, originally quarried in Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, or taken from lava rock in Arkansas and Tennessee, are brought to local venders, where customers can choose the style they like. Then water outlets are placed strategically among the rocks to create the falls: two popular types include (1) the Madera, a cascading waterfalls, where water gathers at the top of a three to four foot edge above the pool and drops down in a sheet, and (2) the trickling mountain stream.

Also popular are water fountains, where water shoots up as low a foot or two or as high as six to ten feet, according to Weber.

?The sound of water to a lot of people is extremely relaxing. Some older customers, I would call them empty nesters, are remodeling their pools not to swim laps in but to sit outside and make the pools an aesthetic part of their back yards, where they can maybe have tea and listen to the waterfalls or water fountain,? Weber said. In fact, people are going so far to convert their swimming pools into water gardens, including Koi ponds complete with swimming fish.

?People don?t swim with the fish, obviously,? Weber said. But the Koi pool features the same sophisticated filtration system as a swimming pool plus ultraviolet lighting to kill any germs that can harm the fish.

All these features can be a part of the latest trend in pool renovation, which is Feng shui, according to Weber. For Feng shui looks at constructing the house and yard in accordance with the individual and consideration for (1) the individual?s in-born talents, and (2) the individual?s ability to make luck through living. Through Feng shui, the individual then creates a unique environment that?s personally complementary, and adds comfort and well being to the rest of the day and to life in general. For example, a water feature in the yard should include a near-by bench for people to sit and view the water.

Also aiding the view is creative lighting, especially the brand new SAM light bulbs, which are 500-watt bulbs with color wheel prisms located inside the light fixture itself, according to Weber. On the market only about three months, the SAM light provides both high intensity comparable to the standard swimming pool light bulb and the color wheel capacity of the fiber optic lights.

One last exciting water feature is the water mister system, which releases a fine fog that, not only lowers surrounding air temperature by as much as ten to fifteen degrees, but also eliminates bug problems, including mosquitoes. When the ? inch tubing is installed in sprinkler system fashion among the flowers, shrubs, and trees in the pool area, the fog in conjunction with the lighting, the landscaping, and the pool creates the ambiance of a tropical lagoon?right in your own backyard.

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
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