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12 Design Essentials That Pool Companies in Lancaster, PA Often Don't Include

Posted On: June 14,2017 By: Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include. Once pool building season begins the pool companies in Lancaster, PA and its surrounding areas are looking to get as many jobs done as they can. The sad reality of this way of doing things is that (in most cases) they just want to build a pool, pour a concrete patio, and move on to the next job. Unless you hire them for any ongoing maintenance of your pool, their relationship is pretty much over after it's built. 

Unfortunately there are a lot of essentials that pool companies fail to include by focusing on getting the job done quickly. Most of these missed elements relate back to the fact that pool contractors in Lancaster, PA and its surrounding areas aren’t looking at the big picture. But a lot of pool builders may intentionally leave these items out of the budget (never even suggesting them as possibilities) in order to keep your cost low and have you sign on for their project.   

What makes matters worse, is after a project is underway, we’ve heard many complaints of pool contractors going back to homeowners for additional upsells. Instead of including necessary items from the onset, their focus is to get a signature and get going. 

At Earth, Turf, & Wood, we design and create pool areas that are both beautiful and fully functional. Our Registered Landscape Architect and team of installers have lots of experience creating backyard resorts for homeowners in Reading, York, Hershey, and Lancaster, PA. We pride ourselves in thinking of every essential detail that pool contractors often don't include. 

Let’s take a look at the 12 most commonly missed details that pool builders in Lancaster, PA often don't initially include.


1.  The Need for Retaining Walls

Unfortunately, most pool companies in Lancaster, PA often make retaining walls an afterthought. They may level the immediate area, and then leave large, unmanageable slopes nearby instead of using walls to create better transitions. However, retaining walls are an important pool design element that should be considered in the master design from the start. 

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include.

If major site grading is an issue for your yard, it needs to be thought of in advance. In fact, often times, retaining walls need to be built before the pool even goes in both to keep costs down and access easy. Once a pool is built, it can become very difficult to get the proper equipment where it needs to go, thus adding cost. Unfortunately, since many pool builders are so focused on the pool itself, they may not even bring up retaining walls until later.


2.  The Size of the Pool Patio

It’s so important that the pool patio is properly sized. With most pool builders being so focused on the pool itself, sometimes the surrounding patio area isn’t sized appropriately and you wind up with a space that isn’t even big enough to fit your lounge chairs or the right number of seats at your patio table. That can really detract from your use of the space.


3.  Placement of the Fence

Nobody likes to swim in a playpen. That’s why a thoughtful approach is important when planning for a fence around your pool. A great Registered Landscape Architect (RLA)  will hide the fence when they can so that it doesn’t feel so claustrophobic.


4.  Outdoor Lighting Around Your Pool

Most pool contractors in Lancaster, PA are going to give you the basic package, probably just focused on the pool lighting itself. But a thoughtful pool design will include outdoor lighting in the surrounding areas as well. Without that additional lighting you would never be able to fully enjoy your pool in the evening hours.

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include.


5.  Spatial Considerations

One of the very important facets of design that many pool builders in Lancaster, PA overlook is the actual layout of where things are placed. For instance, will the side of your pool patio where you plan to have lounge chairs actually be in the sun or was it built that you’re stuck in the shade all day? What about the size and viewpoint of the pool. Can you see the kids from the deck or even from inside the house while they are playing in the pool? And will you have enough room for that patio furniture you set your heart on? 

While your pool builder certainly isn’t going to suggest that you start looking for your patio furniture in advance, it’s really something to think about before you have the patio designed so that space can be considered. Where everything goes and exactly how much space you require have so much more importance than just the overall look. It can make or break the functionality of it all. These factors are items that a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) won’t be apt to forget.


6.  Plants and Trees

If you have a pool company that has no landscape design background, they might choose messy trees and plants that are likely to create debris which can blow or fall into your pool. If they aren’t completely familiar with certain shrubs, they could even add plants that have thorns that scratch bare legs or choose varieties that become enormous and grow over patio edges.

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include.

Or maybe your existing landscape already has messy trees that drop debris but if layout isn’t taken into consideration your pool might be installed very near to them. It’s not always avoidable but a thoughtful pool design will at least include an automatic cover if debris is going to be an issue. These are all big picture concepts that are very important in the end.


7.  Outdoor Fireplaces or Fire Pits

Fire features are a great addition to a pool area but there are several mistakes that can be made when it comes to planning for them. For one, a poorly placed fire pit could blow smoke directly into your pool area. But an RLA will take into consideration the way which the prevailing wind blows from the very first day. 

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include.

Or perhaps your fire feature is designed in an area where you can’t enjoy it. However, a thoughtful RLA will fashion the layout so that you can enjoy seeing the fire feature even from afar. Finally, the last mistake that can be made with fireplaces and fire pits is failing to include them in the design at all!  They make wonderful additions to pool entertaining areas but are design elements that are out of a pool builder’s realm of expertise.


8.  Stone vs. Mulch

Mulching around plant beds provides a crisp and clean look but mulch too close to a pool patio can mean a big mess. Any landscaped areas around your pool are better suited for stone. But even the right stone material should be considered. Larger stone that cannot be tracked or windblown (as opposed to small pebbles) are definitely the best bet. This is a small detail but one that a Registered Landscape Architect is going to think about.


9.  The Best Pool Patio Material

Pool companies in Lancaster, PA and its surrounding areas are typically not patio building experts. At the end of the day, it’s the pool that’s their primary focus. In most cases, a pool builder is just going to want to put down a concrete patio since that’s quick and easy. But we’ve seen that sometimes when that job is rushed, the concrete cracks almost immediately!

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include.

There are so many more materials (like a multitude of pavers and natural stone such as travertine) to choose from when it comes to designing your patio that could be the better option.


10.  Future Additions

One of the greatest benefits to a thoughtful pool design is the fact that it not only accounts for now but it also accounts for the future. That’s important because future changes can have a huge impact on your existing space. If you plan to add a feature such as a pavilion or an outdoor kitchen down the road then you should plan for them now to ensure that your layout makes most sense once those features are built. It’s also beneficial to put in footers and utility lines in while you’re already excavating, rather than having to completely tear up your yard again.

Plus, if you plan to add on to your home you should think about where that addition would go now so that it doesn’t interfere with the pool area. There are things that you may want, even if you don’t realize it now. For instance, it often gets quite hot on the pool deck on a 90-degree day and though you may not personally feel like you need shade, will you someday have parents or grandparents visiting that would want to be out of the sun? These are things to think about now so they can be planned for down the road.


11.  Planning Now for the Future

In addition to thinking about future structures or items you’ll be adding to your home, a thoughtful designer will also think about what the future of your family will entail. Do you have children that will (in the not-so-distant future) have families of their own? Will they be coming to use the pool when you may not be home?  

If that’s the case it may be very beneficial to plan for a “self-sufficient pool area” in which they don’t even have to enter the home to get into the pool. You can give them access to your locked gate and since you’ve added a pool house, where they can change or dry off, they never have to enter your home. Maybe you even have a beverage station in your outdoor kitchen where they can grab drinks. This is all part of a thoughtful planning approach.


12.  Structures or Pool Houses

Structures near the pool such as a pavilion or a pergola can provide some shade and a covered area to sit and enjoy a meal.

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include.

Pool houses have also become quite popular as they provide a space to change clothes or maybe even use the restroom without tracking water in and out of the house. But these are elements that most pool companies likely won’t think about since they are primarily focused on the pool itself.


Why Earth, Turf, & Wood is Your Best Choice for Your Pool

In a lot of cases, pool companies in Lancaster, PA and its surrounding areas have tunnel vision. But it is the overall project that really makes the space enjoyable and those “small details” end up counting big in the end.

Design essentials that pool companies in Lancaster, PA and surrounding areas often don’t include. Successfully planning a pool area requires time to make many critical decisions instead of rushing the process of plunking a pool and a concrete patio in your backyard. The overall pool area design process takes longer than most homeowners expect. If you’re planning on adding a pool, start the process with plenty of lead time, so you can weigh the many options and make the right choices that will lead to maximum return on investment.

The best approach to having your pool thoughtfully designed is to work with a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) who is specially trained to consider more than the immediate pool area. This is a resource that most pool companies do not offer but at Earth Turf & Wood, we employ an RLA full-time in-house. Our RLA will ensure that every single detail is accounted for and that  you truly get the most enjoyment out of your space both now and in the future. 

When you work with Earth, Turf, & Wood we become your single point of contact, simplifying the entire process. Not only can we design your pool but we can oversee the construction as we take care of all of these other essential items. You’ll have one point of contact, ensuring that nothing is missed and you end up with a pool area that you can truly enjoy to the fullest. 

Feel free to look at pictures of pools and surrounding areas that we’ve designed! And when you’re ready to begin your project at your home in Reading, York, Hershey or Lancaster, PA, contact us about a free consultation or call us at (717) 276-9447 to start discussing the possibilities!

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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.

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