What’s your idea of the perfect backyard haven? Is it the greatest barbecue and pool party setting ever? Is it a tranquil garden designed for relaxation and the enjoyment of outdoor beauty? Maybe it’s something in between. Whatever your idea of the good life is in the outdoors, there are some universal ideas and design elements that apply to everyone who wants to create the perfect outdoor space.

Pools & Water Features

Swimming pools check a lot of boxes even for people with different tastes and preferences. They’re great for parties, exercise, and relaxation. Because of their versatility, they are one of the key upgrades when crafting the perfect backyard. There is so much variation in design and usage with swimming pools that there truly is something for everyone. Artificial waterfalls, spouts, and rock features add a charming, playful touch for both kids and adults, while grottoes and rock slides are some of the best ways to create a one-of-a-kind pool.

Besides swimming pools, water features run the gamut. You’ve got splash pads for children; grotto rock slides, natural waterfalls, spill pots, and scuppers that are key elements of an Eastern, zen-style nature garden; and fountains, waterfalls, and pebbly streams for creating an English or Mediterranean landscape garden.

Beyond their aesthetics and inspirational qualities, water features offer additional practical benefits for homeowners. They add humidity to dry environments, reduce noise pollution from nearby roads and houses, and increase the curb appeal (and the value of your home).


Well planned landscaping is a cornerstone of inspired outdoor living. Landscaping is not only pretty to look at, but it offers practical benefits as well. For example, well-placed shade trees not only enhance the look of your yard, they can also reduce home energy costs in hot regions, like Arizona. Not to mention, they contribute to the useable space available: picture a treehouse for children to play in or a spot to sling a hammock.

Creative landscaping is one of the best ways to make your backyard space your own. You can work with an experienced landscape design contractor like California pools & Landscape, to create landscaping that is subdued to emphasize hardscape and built-ins like grilling stations and ramadas. If natural is more your preference, why not create your own backyard nature preserve with lush plant life and foliage and features that attract birds and other animals? Perhaps you want to step into a vacation setting simply by opening your back door. An experienced pool and landscape designer will know how to create the perfect palm-tree-studded backyard resort for you.

Gardens too can be ornamental or practical or both. Stately rose bushes can be the perfect complement to a working vegetable, fruit, or herb garden.

Don’t discount landscaping’s crucial role in creating your ideal backyard living space. It’s one of the most customizable, preference-driven elements of a finished design.


Hardscapes can be customized to suit a variety of preferences not only with creative paving patterns and unique footpath designs but also with walls and dividers to break up space and create gathering areas for parties.

Expert pool and deck builders get input from their clients on their style preferences and what they intend to use their outdoor living environments for. They then create a particular flow in the hardscape to match that vision. For example, if the centerpiece of a space is to be a swimming pool and the emphasis is on entertaining, then the hardscape should flow from the pool to built-in sitting areas or benches to perhaps either the hot tub or fire pit gathering areas. From there, paths should naturally flow to a bar or dining area. Likewise, if a serene, contemplative setting is desired, the hardscape might be broken up with natural landscaping features to create privacy and solitude.

Unique Extras

Sometimes it’s the unique custom-created extras that are the key to fulfilling the vision of a homeowner’s perfect backyard retreat.

High-tech features are all the rage these days. The whole “smart home” concept is being used in higher-end outdoor spaces with systems that allow you control everything from audio/video features, lighting, irrigation and water, and heating and cooling, not to mention the pool and hot tub controls.

For some, no outdoor living environment would be complete without exercise or yoga space. For others, putting greens are par for the course when it comes to backyard leisure. Buyers who are serious about entertaining couldn’t live without a built-in bar.

Perhaps your passion is birding or wildlife watching. A skilled contractor can create unique features to attract the native creatures of your environment and bring nature experiences to your outdoor space. Amateur astronomers and stargazers would undoubtedly love customized space for setting up telescopes and hosting star parties.

Whatever sort of ideal outdoor living environment you dream of creating, be sure to partner with a full-service pool and landscape contractor with the experience and know-how to build all the right elements. A contractor that specializes in custom designs, such as California Pools & Landscape, will understand your needs and can help make your dreams a reality.

If you’re like most homeowners who are interested in installing an in-ground swimming pool, paying cash would be a difficult (if not impossible) proposition. It is quite common for pool owners to finance the cost of building a swimming pool, and in this day and age there are more options than ever before to do so. There’s no need to let a price tag break your dreams of owning your own swimming pool. Most borrowers can obtain pool financing at competitive interest rates and favorable repayment terms.

Read on to learn about the different pool financing routes you can take and see which fits your situation best.

First Mortgage

If you are buying or building a home, you can include the cost of pool construction into your home loan. This is a very convenient option because you pay for the house and the pool all in one payment every month. The pool is treated as any other part of the home by its inclusion in the original home loan. Most mortgages in the U.S. are for 30 years, so the cost of your pool is stretched out over the years into monthly payments. Over that period of time, the cost of the pool will not seem as significant to the borrower as it would on a shorter-term loan. All of these benefits plus the fact that you can take advantage of historically low mortgage rates to finance your house and pool make this option extremely attractive to many homeowners in the market for a pool.

Second Mortgage

A reputable pool builder will have financial institutions they partner with to offer you financing options so you don’t have to look to outside sources to help pay for your dream pool. This source of financing is advantageous in its convenience: You don’t have to shop around for lenders, and your pool builder will help facilitate the deal with the lender for a smooth experience.

A second mortgage pool loan uses your existing home as collateral for funding. This type of loan offers the borrower minimal closing costs, low monthly payments, low fixed interest rates, and the interest paid is often tax deductible.

The amount of equity you have built up in your home will be used to determine the terms of the loan — the more equity you have, the better terms you can expect to be offered — however, it is not necessary to have any equity to qualify for a second mortgage pool loan.

Typically, these types of loans require that you have a good credit score. Look for second mortgages that don’t require you to pay mortgage insurance. Often, you can also roll your closing costs on these mortgages into the loan so you pay almost nothing out of pocket when you close. 

Home Equity Line of Credit

With a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you are turning the equity you have in your existing home into cash to finance pool construction. As with mortgages, you can write off interest payments on your taxes. 

A HELOC is similar to a traditional second mortgage in that they are both loans drawn off the equity in your home; however, a home equity line of credit functions more like a credit card in that you are given a credit limit and you decide how much to spend within that limit. With a traditional second mortgage, the loan is disbursed as a lump sum to be paid off in regular intervals.

HELOCs generally offer flexible repayment options, which can be the deciding factor for borrowers when weighing financing options.

Unsecured Loan

This type of loan is not tied to the equity you have in your home (thus unsecured) and is a solid option for people with good credit scores. Interest rates offered typically depend on your credit score, and more emphasis is placed on having a good score since you are not using your home as collateral.

Well-qualified borrowers can get interest rates as low as 7% to 8% with an unsecured loan. Also, the approval process for these simple types of loans is typically very quick so funds are available right away, which is convenient for homeowners who are especially eager to get started on pool construction. 

Credit Card

This is an option for people who have great credit and high limits on their credit cards. One advantage is that you don’t have to put your house up as collateral, so this is a good option for folks who may have an excellent credit score but who don’t have a lot of equity in their home. If you plan to pay off your pool loan quickly, i.e. in under a year, you may be able to secure a credit card with a 0% introductory rate and actually finance your new pool without paying any interest at all. Most credit card transaction will incur a 3% fee on the amount charged.

California Pools & Landscape can help you not only make the right decision on your pool design but also work with you on the ideal pool financing option. Fill out our convenient financing application today.



Whether you have just begun thinking about a pool installation or you are nearly ready to sign on the dotted line, make sure you check out the following secrets about pool construction before you go any further in the process. These tips will help you make a more informed buying decision and could save you time and money in the long run.

1. Not All Swimming Pools Are Built the Same

And some are better than others.

Bottom line, when it comes to in-ground pools, concrete construction is strongest and lasts longest. There are some pool companies out there doing quality construction on vinyl-lined and fiberglass pools, but those materials still cannot compare to the durability of concrete especially in the Arizona heat.

Concrete pools start with a cage-like structure made from steel rebar (thick reinforcing steel) over which pneumatically pumped concrete (called “shotcrete”) is sprayed, which then hardens into the pool shell. This is typically covered in plaster or some other durable surface layer like a pebble aggregate or tiling. It’s a decades-old process, and the product installed correctly can last a lifetime.

That’s not to say that all concrete pools are equal. Even pools of this type can be constructed from low-quality materials by pool builders trying to cut corners. Some might use low-quality concrete or rebar. Other might rush excavation.

The lesson here is that settling for a budget pool build by the lowest bidder is not likely to result in a long-lasting, high-quality pool. You could save some time and money, but ultimately it’s a recipe for problems down the road.

2. The Deck Is Just As Important as the Pool

Any pool company worth its salt knows this, but consumers may not.

When planning your pool build, be sure to consider the deck — the usually paved area immediately adjacent to and surrounding the pool — as high of a priority as the pool itself and budget accordingly. It is counter-productive to build a quality swimming pool but a subpar deck. The deck meets the coping of the pool and should be carefully constructed by a pool company that is invested in a comprehensive pool and deck build.

Aesthetically, the deck is what’s going to make your pool “pop.” We’re not saying you have to install a complicated, budget-busting deck; just take care considering how you want to properly complement your pool. It’s actually easier and cheaper in the long run to install a quality deck at the same time as the pool than waiting and trying to change it or upgrade later on.

Just like with a pool, you tend to get what you pay for. It’s worth it to invest in quality design and construction on your deck.

3. You Don’t Have to Compromise on Style

Some pool builders will try to steer you toward certain designs or packages they say are the most popular and lead you away from other types of designs for which you might have expressed a preference. What they are actually revealing is their limitations as designers and builders.

An experienced, creative designer can make almost any style of pool look good. They can make traditional designs look fresh as well as incorporate custom or modern designs with existing structures for a seamless appearance. If you have a preference for a certain type of pool, you’ll want to hire a pool company that has experience building a range of styles. Look for a builder who emphasizes the custom aspect of their designs. Not only is it an indication of extensive work experience, but it is also evidence of a company that is involved in the whole process from design to prep to construction. Custom pools are not necessarily more expensive than package pools, they just take more talent and knowhow!

One other advantage of concrete construction besides its strength and durability is its versatility and therefore customizability. If you can dream it, you can pour and mold it with concrete.

4. Plan for Complications

Not every pool company wants to potentially discourage customers by revealing what sort of problems can arise when installing a swimming pool. But let’s be honest: Building a pool is a big job and there is always a chance complications can crop up. Excavation can uncover large hidden rocks or objects that require special equipment — at greater expense — to remove. Harsh weather can delay construction or make extra work and cleanup necessary. The permitting process can eat up more time. The size and orientation of the space where your pool will go can present surprise difficulties depending on the layout and surroundings.

Those are just a few challenges that can arise during a pool build. Don’t let these things discourage you though. An experienced pool builder will have the know-how to work through issues and deliver the pool of your dreams.


Fall into savings with off-season pricing on everything you need to make your backyard dreams come true. Arizona’s most energy-efficient pools just got more affordable! This autumn we are offering big rebates on cleaning and circulating systems, and savings on decks, turf, interiors and landscaping. California Pools & Landscape is Arizona’s most trusted “total yard solution” builder.