If you’re one of the three million Australians (give or take) with a swimming pool at home, consider yourself lucky. A private backyard pool can make you feel like you’re on holiday all the time — with a cool, aquamarine oasis at arm’s length whenever you feel like a dip.
Simply looking at a body of water, such as a pool, can give you a genuine mental health boost. Research shows that access to ‘blue spaces’ (aquatic environments) can even help prevent disease and support people with chronic health conditions. If you’ve ever heard the squeals of joy from children splashing in a pool, you also know that it provides hours of (screen-free) entertainment for families. You just can’t underestimate the power of the humble backyard pool.
But to truly capitalise on your pool, you need to consider the landscape design of your pool area holistically. Gone are the days of popping an above-ground pool next to the Hills hoist and filling it with water from the hose. Australians are discerning homeowners, and we’re increasingly paying just as much attention to backyard and pool design as our interiors and house renovations.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best pool landscaping ideas from Home Beautiful to help you create a resort-like pool area. Just add water!
1. Put your pool in the centre of your home
This pool and pool cabana in Paradise Point, designed by former Block contestants and twins, Alisa and Lysandra Fraser, is the heart of this home. It’s conveniently located between the living room and a bedroom wing, and opposite a courtyard and home office — so it can be viewed and accessed from several spots.
2. Reserve space for poolside lounging
For a pool landscaping idea that channels a Slim Aarons photograph, carve out a poolside area that’s perfect for sipping cocktails (or mocktails). This dreamy poolside in Brisbane ticks all the boxes. “Many of our family and friends comment that they feel really relaxed here and don’t want to leave,” says owner Rebecca.
With a bigger backyard to play with, compared to that of her previous homes, Rebecca and her husband Matthew, a plumber, built a large pool with ample alfresco space. To imbue a party vibe, they added festoon lights, Uniqwa outdoor furniture and a retro umbrella from Business & Pleasure Co.
3. Consider a fully tiled pool
A tiled pool is the epitome of luxury. The pool at this renovated 1970s Queensland cottage was updated with Sukabumi stone tiles.
“They were expensive to install as they had to be laid individually,” explains owner Cinnamon, a ceramicist at Andclay.co. “But I love the moodiness of the natural green and the imperfection of the natural stone.” The poolside furniture was sourced from Bunnings.
4. Make the most of the pool you’ve got
If you’ve inherited a property with a 1980s kidney-shaped pool or a pool in a suboptimal spot in the backyard, it’s tempting to demolish it or fill it in, and start again — particularly if you’re embarking on a full-scale reno. But that’s a costly exercise.
Ageing swimming pools can be updated and modernised with a decorative waterline tile, new coping, streamlined glass pool fencing or a water feature and of course, fresh planting.
5. Throw some shade over your pool with an awning
The western beachside suburbs of Adelaide can get scorching hot, but Alisa Fraser, one half of The Design Duo twins, came up with the perfect solution for enjoying her pool —regardless of the UV.
She put a Luxaflex retractable awning above the pool, so the kids can splash with abandon while staying protected from the westerly sun. Enveloping the space is a DecoBatten wall, which seamlessly connects to a cabana — another winning landscaping idea.
6. Make a statement with mosaic pool tiles
Hotels and resorts do it, so why can’t you? Writing a message or illustrating something meaningful in mosaic tiles is one way to make your pool feel more personal and luxe.
The word ‘cove’ has been etched out on the floor of the pool-bar zone in this backyard pool. “We wanted to create the feeling that you’re by the pool in Bali, rather than suburban Brisbane and I think we’ve really captured that relaxed feel,” says owner Ashley, of her tropical home.
7. Your pool can double as a water feature
It’s de rigueur to position a swimming pool near the living room, but pool views will enhance any room in the house — such as this spa-like bathroom, below. A lap pool might stretch across several viewpoints, meaning everyone in the family can get a dopamine hit every morning.
Keep in mind that for safety reasons, any doors or windows that could open directly to a pool will need to be permanently closed or inoperable.
Boosting the oasis-like pool design is a lush vertical garden wall, with a variety of plants that are less likely to drop leaves into the water.
8. Make your pool a perfect circle
It’s not always hip to be square. For a unique pool landscaping idea — and if space allows — consider a round pool, rather than the typical rectangular or lagoon shape. In the Byron Bay hinterland, interior designer Ali and her husband, Michael, a builder, dreamt up this spectacular circular pool and separate spa, executed by Flatley Pools.
9. Be practical with your pool design
Naturally, the owners of a landscape design business would think pragmatically when constructing their own pool and garden. Stephanie and Jason, who run King’s Gardens & Pools, removed a dodgy 1980s pool from their Victorian property and replaced it with a showstopping infinity pool.
The infinity edge design of the pool acts like a skimmer that collects fallen leaves, negating the need for a pool cover. “The foliage moves over the edge and drops into the trough where the drain is,” says Jason.
They also designed it so it would “disappear” into the landscape. “We didn’t want to see a pool when we looked out of the house – we wanted it to look like a pond or water feature.”
10. Beautify your pool area with a luscious lawn
There are pros and cons to planting grass around the perimeter of your pool, as per this majestic English-style pool and garden in Cape Town. It’s a cost-effective and aesthetic surface, is cool underfoot and is a convenient place for people to dry themselves and lounge on a towel, post-swim. However, lawn needs frequent mowing and can be affected by chlorine from swimming pools. Hot tip: some of the best varieties of turf for pool areas include Zoysia and Bermuda.