Splashing, music and laughter! There’s nothing better than enjoying a refreshing swim in the comfort of your own home after a smoldering hot Summers day.

Having a pool comes with a number of rewarding benefits. It can enhance your family’s lifestyle, boost the value of your property and provide hours of entertainment for the kids. Despite the endless noodle races and Marco Polo water games (a favourite pool pastime for many), there are a number of important things to consider before taking the ‘plunge’.

Designing, installing and maintaining a pool requires time, careful planning and a considerable financial investment. To ensure your new pool and landscape is built with ease, we’ve put together a helpful guide.

Pool Selection

Arena circular plungie pool

Photo Credit: Plungie

So you’re ready to select a pool for your property. Yeah ‘buoy!’ Choosing the right pool to fit your home and lifestyle is an important first step. From in-ground, above ground, semi-buried, lap, to precast concrete, fiberglass or custom built, there are many pool options available in the market.

Some pool types will be better suited to your home than others, so before you’re ready to bask on your inflatable lilo, you’ll need to do some necessary ‘homework’.

Property Size & Access


Photo Credit: Landart

Do you have a large flat block, or a sloping narrow yard? This is an important question to ask yourself prior to purchasing a pool for your property.

An average family size pool ranges from 7×3 – 9×4 metres, whereas a compact ‘Plungie’ pool can measure as small as 3.6 x 2.2 metres. Without compromising on your existing garden, our advice is to carefully consider the ‘available’ garden space you have to work with. We would also suggest that you seek expert advice from an experienced landscaper or pool builder early on in the process.

Council Approval and Registration


Photo Credit: Pool Safe Compliance

If you’re installing a swimming pool in your backyard, approval from your local council will be required. This process may involve submitting a DA (Development Application) or CDC (Complying Development Certificate) along with supporting documentation such as; pool specifications, landscape drawings, elevations and a site plan.

According to Wollongong City Council, all pools and spas that can be filled with 300mm or more of water must be registered via the NSW Swimming Pool Register and a pool compliance certificate must be obtained. A pool compliance certificate is valid for 3 years and can only be issued through an accredited Pool Certifier.

Top Council Tip: Selling or renting a property with a pool or spa? Did you know that a pool certificate of compliance must also be obtained before you are eligible to sell or lease your property. If you fail to do so, you could be up for a hefty fine – ouch!

Considered Costs

Pool landscaping and considered costs for your property

Photo Credit: Modular Walls

Pools are a major investment and a long-term commitment, so be sure to leave no stone unturned. Budgeting between $40,000 – $80,000 for the installation of a standard size pool is realistic. You would also likely need to allocate another $20,000 – $50,000 for your pool landscape surrounds e.g. paving, decking, coping, planting, fencing etc.

If your block is steep with limited site access, it would also be reasonable to assume that your construction and installation costs will be higher. This is due to site preparation, excavation and possible leveling and retaining works.

Top Budgeting Tip – Be prepared for ‘hidden’ costs! You may also want to account for hidden or unforeseen costs when it comes to your pool landscape project. This may include costs involved with craning and lifting your pool to site, Council DA or CDC application fees, as well as third party consultant fees such as; Engineers, Geotechnicians, Surveyors and Landscape Architects.

Pool Landscape Design

Pool landscape design

Photo Credit: Landart

When designing your new pool landscaping, thoughtful planning and expert advice from a qualified Landscape Architect or Pool Builder may be required. The first and most obvious step is to decide on your pool size, finish and shape. The second step would be to identify a location in your garden that can offer the most ‘warmth’ or sunlight. The third step would be to break up your garden into ‘zones’. For example, designate an area specifically for your pool and its surrounds; including paving/decking and fencing, as well as any other key features that might be on your wishlist. The addition of an alfresco kitchen or fit-pit, ‘play’ area for the kids, or a space for utilities such as; clothes line, veggie garden or tool shed may also need to be considered. The fourth step would be to evaluate how your pool area will transition to and from your home’s amenities and key dining/kitchen areas.

Top Design Tip: Get ‘lit’ with pool lighting. For both safety and atmosphere, lighting can dramatically improve the visibility and mood of your pool area making it an attractive ‘design’ feature both day and night.

Pool Planting

Shaw Landscape Group pool landscape planting palette

Photo Credit: Shaw Landscape Group

Enhance your pool area with a curated selection of trees, shrubs or flowers. Mess free and sun loving varieties such as Bamboo, Frangipani, Palm or Hibiscus Trees are best to create a tropical themed pool landscape. If low maintenance is your preference, why not try installing a Dragon Tree, Agave, Bird of Paradise or Cordyline.

Be sure to avoid plants around your pool that have spikes, are heavily perfumed ‘bee magnets’ or any species that chlorine may be harmful to. Large trees with oversized root balls that could uplift surrounding pavers, as well as ‘messy’ plants that drop excess leaf litter, leave stains or clog up filtration equipment, should also be given a miss.

Top Planting Tip: Take into account the view of neighboring properties or nearby public spaces when selecting your pool plants. Suitable screen planting or green walls can be used to create privacy and block any “peeping Toms”.

Pool Safety

Pool safety landscape project

Photo Credit: TTFS

All backyard swimming pools must comply with Australian Standard AS 1926. This standard covers everything from pool fence heights/gaps, gates and locks, to CPR signage, First Aid and more. Pool owners in NSW must obey AS 1926 to ensure their new (or existing) pool meets the correct safety standards.

Your choice of the right non-slip tile with a rating of either P4 or P5, as well as a suitable storage solution for your chemicals is also something that must be taken into consideration as part of your pool safety plan.

Top Safety Tip: Be sun safe and keep cool by the pool. Don’t forget to invite shade into your pool area. There is a wide variety of shade structures available to choose from in the market. From umbrellas, cabanas, to custom made pergolas – the options are endless.

Grab your towel and slap on some sunscreen, because that’s a wrap. Now, you can confidently float into the Summer season knowing you have taken all of the right steps to plan, budget and achieve a safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing pool and landscape.

Header Feature Photo Credit: Coral Homes