Whether you’re just seeking information about building a swimming pool or you’re nearly complete with your pool project, there is a critical last step to take before you dive in: learning how to properly use and maintain your new pool.

After construction is completed, any reputable pool company should give you one-on-one training showing you all of your pool’s functions and features so you have the confidence and knowledge to get the most out of your pool. The following is a general guide for new pool owners outlining what to expect when the pool is ready to use and what important details they should inquire about.

The Finishing Stages of Concrete Pool Construction

Assuming you opted for concrete pool construction (the preferred option), there is often a special start-up or break-in procedure that needs to be followed to ensure the plaster surfaces cure properly. Your builder should already have taken care of this process by the time you have your new pool orientation, but it’s a good idea to ask them what, if anything, is left to do before the pool can be filled and used.

As for filling the pool, again, most builders would do this before your orientation, but there are right ways and wrong ways to fill a pool. This is a good time to get some details on the process should you ever have to drain and refill the pool yourself.

Once the pool has been filled, the company will add the proper chemicals to it as well as do a final inspection of the pool, and circulation and filtration systems.

You will want to ask your pool company how long you have to wait until you can swim in your new pool. You will also need to know when you can start using the heater to heat your pool. It might be necessary to delay using the heater. If you have a saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) pool, your pool company should tell you when it’s OK to start it up.

Pool Operation Walk-Through and Maintenance Requirements

Once all the post-construction checks have been completed, your pool company will contact you to schedule an orientation to teach you how to care for and operate your new pool. During this walk-through, you are encouraged to video record the process of operation (in case you need to refer back to it later) and ask questions.

Here are the key points you’ll need to discuss at length with your pool builder before they “hand over the keys” so to speak:

  • Skimming surface water for debris
  • Brushing the pool sides to reduce algae buildup
  • Checking and emptying the skimmer baskets for debris
  • Checking filter pressure and setting it properly
  • Cleaning the filter
  • Turning the pump on and off and knowing how often it should run
  • Checking the pool’s chemical levels and pH balance
  • Shocking the pool
  • Turning the lights on and off and keeping all lights working
  • Basic best practices for landscaping around your pool

Talk to the representative about a recommended maintenance and cleaning schedule. You’ll want to document and refer to a schedule that outlines the frequency these tasks need to be performed for optimum pool operation. As mentioned before, it’s also a good idea to record all these procedures as they are showing them to you on your pool and equipment. Any quality pool company will provide you with some written resources and instructions to help guide you after the orientation. They also typically have resources on their website you can refer to. Some pool companies will even come back to your home and provide free refresher training if you need it.

As for supplies, there are a variety of chemicals you should have on hand to maintain the proper mixture in your pool water. Hydrochloric or muriatic acid are common as well as chemicals that raise or lower pH levels. Ask your builder at orientation about what chemicals your pool requires. The representative conducting your orientation should also leave you with a pole, basket, brush, and test kit.

Essential Pool Safety

The last and most important thing you should know about your pool is how to ensure the safety of people using it. This is vital information that any new pool owner should know.

  • Never leave children unattended in or near a swimming pool.
  • Have emergency items ready and know how to use them. These include: life preserver/jacket and/or pole, cell phone, and a first aid kit.
  • No running in the pool area.
  • Always make sure your pool fence or barrier is secure by closing the gate. The gate should be locked when the pool is not in use.
  • Remove objects near the pool barrier that could be used to climb over it. You are responsible for the safety of everyone who uses your pool whether they were invited to use it or not.
  • Install and maintain good lighting both in the pool itself and around the deck and walkways.
  • Store pool chemicals out of sight and away from children and pets.

Arizona’s dry heat is one of the many reasons that people enjoy living in this southwestern paradise.

However, you need to consider the weather when choosing your landscaping and swimming pool materials. Doing so will ensure that you have an aesthetically pleasing outdoor area that is easier to maintain.

 

Shotcrete and Gunite

If you are interested in having an inground swimming pool installed in your backyard, shotcrete and gunite are considered the ideal building material for the pool shell. While shotcrete involves factory-mixed wet material delivered via a concrete truck, gunite is mixed on-site. One person handles the dry powder while another adds water during the delivery.

The compressive strength of shotcrete ranges from 6000 to 7500 psi, while gunite can reach 9000 psi. The stable material creates a watertight pool able to withstand more use and pressure than your other options. Steel rebar is used to further strengthen your pool.

In addition to durability, shotcrete is popular due to the wide range of decorative options. While other materials are available in predesigned shapes, your swimming pool installation company can create virtually any shape you desire, adding benches and other amenities as desired. One disadvantage is that the material has a rough surface, which can be covered with other materials for comfort and visual appeal. Additionally, this type of pool takes more time and money to construct.

 

Fiberglass

Fiberglass pools are available in various predetermined sizes and shapes. These are manufactured elsewhere and shipped to your location. The expenses related to transport can become exorbitant and the maximum width for these wide loads is limited to 18 feet. Lowered maintenance and speedier installation are two of the benefits associated with these non-abrasive pools.

 

Vinyl

Vinyl liner pools are the least expensive and are non-porous, inhibiting algae growth. However, the initial savings experienced will be lessened over the course of time due to liner replacement costs. If you are planning to sell your home, an older vinyl liner can reduce the resale value.

Your pool installation specialist will inspect your soil and help you determine the best location for your new inground swimming pool. In addition to the pool itself, the surrounding deck and other amenities can be included in the transformation of your backyard. From built-in slides to firepits, modern swimming pool manufacturers have a wide range of offerings to ensure that you have a pool that you can enjoy.

While shotcrete is the ideal material for most Arizona homes, you can discuss your concerns about the material choices with your pool builder and how to ensure that your pool is an attractive and functional part of your backyard landscaping.

To make your house into a home that you and your family can truly enjoy, you need to make it a comfortable and safe place to be.

Although interior decorating is certainly important, you deserve to have an amazing backyard, too. Rather than tackle this daunting task on your own, hire a professional landscaping and pool company to ensure your satisfaction for years to come. Consider these benefits:

Design Experience

Professional landscape artists are able to assess your backyard and develop a plan incorporating your design ideas. Their plans will take into consideration your soil, existing plants and other aspects of your lawn. From rocky or uneven terrain to soil erosion concerns, their expertise ensures your backyard is gorgeous for years to come.

Continuity

The transition from interior to exterior should be comfortable for you and guests. Whether you want an outdoor kitchen, swimming pool or even a mini golf course, your professional landscape team will ensure the entire area is aesthetically appealing.

Home Value

In many neighborhoods, practically every home has a swimming pool. If yours doesn’t, it will be more difficult to sell. By having a landscape company develop your backyard, including a swimming pool, you can actually add value to your property. Fountains, fire pits and other amenities are all highly desired in today’s market. Experienced professionals can install these while utilizing local plants and other decor choices for an attractive and valuable home addition.

Reduced Utility Costs

You can save money on your water and electric bills with the right landscaping. Strategically placed trees and shrubs will provide shade during the warmest months of the year. Likewise, a professionally installed irrigation system uses less water to keep your lawn beautiful.

Privacy

Even if you enjoy your neighbors, you need a secluded retreat from the world, including them. Your landscape architects will know the best ways to work with the natural landscape and your desired amenities to create your personal oasis.

Mental and Physical Wellness

Most people in the modern world spend too much time indoors. Fresh air and exercise are essential to your physical and mental health. From practicing your backstroke to playing a game on your half-court basketball court, a well-designed backyard will improve your wellness.

Entertainment

If you enjoy entertaining guests, then you will certainly appreciate the benefits of having your backyard professionally landscaped. Imagine your guests smiling, whether you are throwing a barbecue, a pool party or some other type of outdoor get-together.

Your home is your place of refuge from the world and to entertain those closest to you. Consult with a professional landscape team to start transforming your backyard into the private retreat you’ve earned.

Your backyard should be an enjoyable retreat your entire household can appreciate.

However, homeowners with children often choose to redesign the backyard to accommodate the needs of their little ones instead of themselves. But there’s no reason to choose between both age groups. Here are five design ideas your entire family is sure to love:

1) Miniature Golf

Who doesn’t love a round of putt putt? Adding a small, but well-planned-out course will bring joy to everyone. Have your landscaping professionals create a putting green with three holes and a whimsical backdrop. You can keep the flags, balls and other equipment stored neatly in a special golf gear display box in your yard.

2) Basketball Court

If you haven’t played H-O-R-S-E lately, then you’re missing out. Since basketball can be played solo (time to work on those free throws) or as a team sport, it’s the perfect solution for anyone who whines “I’m bored.” A poured foundation and surrounding landscaping will ensure that the fun stays near your half court while the rest of your yard remains free for other uses. Whether you want to add a couple hammocks, a pool or a treehouse, your landscaping team will ensure that everyone can enjoy the new backyard.

3) Fantasy Play Area

Speaking of treehouses, kids love to pretend. You can have an area designed for them to act out their favorite stories or movies. Whether you opt for a magical playhouse, a pirate ship or some other type of building, don’t forget to include the accessories! Alternatively, you can create a secret nook with landscaping — just choose a special corner and surround it with flowers and shrubs for extra privacy. Add unique stepping stones for the path and covered seating for rainy afternoons.

4) Family Dinner and a Movie

Fire up your grill, and try to match your cuisine to the theme of the movie you’ve chosen. Comfortable seating and the large screen make outside movie-watching an ideal summer activity for the whole family.

5) Game Yard

Instead of focusing on one activity, provide your family with a range of choices. A tumble mat will give your kids a way to burn off excess energy and stay in shape, while oversized game boards can provide stimulation for mind and body. Use alternating squares of sod and pavers to create a checkers board. Switch the pieces out and you have a large game of chess. For the younger kids, provide hopscotch and a chalkboard. Adults will appreciate croquet and horseshoes. Use a playful decorative touch for the game storage building. You could even add games to the outside of the building, such as a dartboard or pin the tail on the donkey.
Whether the adults make the decision on which route to go, or you have a family vote, you’ll all have fun transforming your backyard into an inviting place for the whole family to enjoy!

Selecting the right pool company to design and build the swimming pool you’ve always wanted is a big decision and probably the most pivotal one you’ll make in the whole process. Choose the wrong pool company, and you could end up dealing with more than your fair share of wasted time and unforeseen costs.

The Search Begins

Depending on your situation, there are probably a few places you could start your search, but the most efficient is the Web. Having word-of-mouth referrals is fantastic, but you’ll want to do some amount of vetting for yourself even on those referrals. So, the Web is great not only for starting cold but also for doing research on referrals you already have.

Try a search for “Pool Companies Phoenix” or whatever city you live in. Of course, you’ll get pages and pages of search results, but it’s worth your time to look at numerous companies’ websites. You’ll be able to not only see who is out there but what is out there in terms of the types and styles of pools available.

Once you know the type of pool you want, you’ll want to narrow your search to builders who specialize in that process. Next, you’ll want to decide what style of pool you want and look for contractors who can accomplish your vision. Some builders are better than others at pulling off custom designs, so it’s best to look for a company that is clearly comfortable with custom builds and not just the standard traditional styles or package pools. They should also address the whole process from planning, budgeting, and financing to design, excavation, demolition, and construction to successful operation.

As your list of candidates gets even narrower, go back to their websites’ portfolios. How much emphasis do they place on custom designs? How extensive and varied is their portfolio? Are they giving you a lot of options, and can they provide examples of having implemented all of those options?

Read Reputable Reviews

In addition to company websites, online reviews can be a helpful tool. Online reviews should be taken with a grain of salt though. While they can offer useful insight, be aware that they are not always from unbiased sources. Some review aggregators even accept payments from businesses to show more good reviews than bad.

Check different builders’ standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) too. It would be wise to ensure the builders you look at are rated favorably by the BBB and that they have been in business for several years. You want an experienced, established pool company in good professional standing for your project.

Meet and Greet

Once you have narrowed down your list of candidates significantly, you’ll want to start meeting with them and getting estimates. Reputable pool builders will set an appointment with you to either come to your residence or for you to come to their office or design center. Once you’ve discussed with them everything you want to do, they can draw up a detailed estimate for you.

Once you have several estimates, you will want to compare them. You might be surprised at how much they vary, so be sure that the estimates you compare are for the same scope of work. You should be wary of extremely low estimates relative to the average. An extremely low estimate could indicate the the builder may not know what he is doing or that he is liable to cut corners.

In the end, trust your gut when selecting your builder. You’ve done thorough research, so a combination of that and your best judgment will likely net you a competent and honest pool builder.

Watch for these red flags with your current or potential pool contractor:

  • Pool company has no office location or showroom
  • No company website or website lacks information and photos
  • Few or no references
  • Pool company doesn’t show up on time or keep appointments early on in the process
  • Vague or very limited warranties
  • Builder asks for a large amount of money up front
  • Bid seems too good to be true
  • Explanations about work being done seem fishy or vague
  • Evasiveness or trying to cover up mistakes
  • No proof of liability insurance
  • Incomplete details on the plan or design

Before moving forward on that beautiful swimming pool you’ve fantasized about installing for ages, it’s imperative to meet with and obtain quotes from several pool builders.

Otherwise, you may not be getting the best deal (which doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest cost — be sure to think through quality of craftsmanship, design expertise, warranties, customer service, etc.). And in order to know if you’re receiving the best value, you’ll need a full understanding of the price tag — including what is and is not covered. Be sure to look for the same items across the board, as you meet with prospective pool builders, to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. While many companies are above board and truly want you to understand the contract you’re signing, others may try to gloss over charges or downplay fees in an effort to win your business.

Dirt Hauling

Obviously, a large hole will need to be dug out in your backyard to make room for your new pool — but where does all that dirt go? Your options include spreading some or all of it around your yard and/or hauling it off your property to be disposed of. Make sure you discuss which option works best for your situation and that it’s accounted for clearly in your proposal.

Retaining Walls

Your new pool or deck may require the structural support and yard drainage retaining walls can provide. A quick way to assess: If your yard slopes, it most likely needs them; if your yard is reasonably flat, it may still need them. And retaining walls can be very pricey. Make sure your pool builder understands the landscape and includes this cost in the estimate — if you don’t end up needing it, you’ll recoup some money, which is better than not including it and finding out it later.

Electrical

Pumps, lighting, additional outlets, salt chlorine generators, hot tubs, automatic covers and heat pumps — what do these all have in common? Sure, they all make owning and maintaining a pool so much more convenient, but they also run on electricity. Some pool builders will include electrical work in their bid, and others invoice it separately because the work involved varies greatly from one project to the next. While either approach is fine, it’s important to pay attention to those details when comparing bids.

Fencing

Whether or not you have young children isn’t the only consideration for deciding to install or forego a fence — it may be required by your city or state and/or your insurance company. Your pool builder should be familiar with local legislation and guide you toward the appropriate solution, including any associated costs in their quote.

Paving Materials

If you’re building a pool, chances are you’d also like a nice patio area on which to place your lounge chairs, patio furniture and grill. If that’s the case, it’s imperative to discuss your options ahead of time, including whether it will require additional concrete or materials such as tile or travertine. Either way, make sure your pool builder includes your preference in their bid.

Landscaping

It’s likely that this construction project could damage and even ruin a portion of your current landscaping, including grass, flower beds, and sprinkler heads. Also, if your main entrance to and from the construction site is your driveway, the sheer weight of the bulldozers and other heavy equipment could crack or damage it. Be prepared for this chaos and anticipate extra costs to seed or replace grass and repair or replace your driveway. You may also want to consider investing in more extensive landscaping such as decorative plants and rocks around your deck and pool to further enhance your new space.

Nobody likes financial surprises midway through a construction project. Once you know to look for or inquire about the aforementioned items on the proposals from your list of prospective pool builders, it will be much easier to envision your true cost for the project and plan your budget accordingly.

Nobody wants to think about splashing around in a green pool — ew, algae! But that’s not the kind of green we’re talking about here. Instead, green means eco-friendly and energy efficient. And that’s music to most homeowners’ ears when it comes to ongoing costs of a maintaining a swimming pool. Be sure to ask your pool company about the following options if you’d like to save the planet and your wallet:

Solar Covers

Solar covers come with many benefits, including minimizing evaporation, keeping out debris, and reducing chemical consumption. But they also help heat your pool water. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar pool covers can reduce pool heating costs by 50% to 70% and reduce the amount of water that needs to be added to a pool by 30% to 50%. Furthermore, they can reduce the pool’s chemical use by 35% to 60%.

Pool Placement

If you’re building a new pool, talk with your pool company about the best location in your backyard for it. Keep in mind the path of the sun changes by season. The more sun it receives, the warmer it will stay; the more shade it receives, the cooler it will be. Shade often comes from nearby trees, which will shed debris into your pool and require more frequent cleanings certain times of the year.

Pump Smart

If your pump has seen better days, now is the right time to ask your pool company to recommend an energy-efficient pump that is rated for the size of your pool (hint: you want the smallest size pump you can get away with for your pool). Some states also offer homeowners rebates and tax incentives for purchasing energy-efficient pool appliances. Combining a new, energy-efficient pump with variable speed operation  can save pool owners as much as 75% of their original pumping bill.

Heaters

If you’ve decided to install a heater to extend your pool season, there are three options to discuss with your pool company to determine which best meets your needs: solar, gas and heat pump. Solar typically lasts longer than gas and heat pump pool heaters but will cost more upfront. Gas is most efficient when heating a pool for short periods of time and can maintain your desired temperature regardless of the weather. Heat pumps use electricity to capture heat and move it around, but do not actually generate heat. They often cost more than gas, but typically last longer and have lower annual operating costs. Heat pumps and solar will not offer year round swimming but rather extend the swim season.

Timers

Automatic timers, which your pool company can install, can help ensure your pumps and heaters are running efficiently without requiring you to spend all day turning on and off equipment. And if your electric company offers savings for off-peak-hours usage, set the timer to run during that time period for additional savings.

Water Temperature

Comfortable pool water temperatures typically range from 78°F to 82°F. Keeping in mind that the energy consumption for each degree rise in temperature will cost 10% to 30% more in energy costs will help you decide where you want that thermometer to read. If you won’t be using the pool for several days or longer, be sure to turn the temperature down or the heater the heater off entirely — it’s a myth that it takes more energy to heat a pool back up than you save by lowering the temperature or turning off the heater.

It’s one thing to install a functional swimming pool to help get you through the long, hot summer. It’s another thing entirely to build a true backyard oasis — one where you can experience tranquility, refreshment and luxury to replenish your mind, body and soul. That’s why it’s important to look beyond the basics when planning the design of your new pool and inquire about the bells and whistles that can transform your space into a resort-style retreat.

Here are 8 fun water features that pool builders offer:

1) Scuppers

A scupper — an opening in the pool wall through which water drains — can be made from a variety of stone or metal materials, depending on the aesthetic you want, and incorporated in many different ways. Try this versatile option in stone for a classic look and feel or copper for a modern expression that incorporates the colors of the desert environment.

2) Vanishing Edges

Also referred to as a disappearing edge or an infinity edge, this feature is where the edge merges into the next body of water and creates a visual effect of “vanishing.” This common element found at many luxury resorts can create a dramatic atmosphere right in your own backyard. This feature is excellent for yards that have elevation changes.

3) Water Spout and Column

Similar to a faucet, water spouts offer an adjustable flow depending on the amount of water you want running into your pool. Whether you would like a quiet trickle to add ambiance to an intimate evening or a roaring gush of water for the kids to play in, the choice is yours. Ask your pool builder about adding accompanying columns to provide an elegant Roman feel.

4) Fountains

Another way to add visual and auditory interest to your pool area is with flowing water. Just listening to or watching water trickle from a fountain provides a calming effect reminiscent of your favorite spa. Fountains are fully customizable, from stone fish or copper dolphins that send a sparkling arc of water into the pool to less whimsical options, such as tiered designs.

5) Natural Rock Waterfall

Natural rock waterfalls are popular water features because they can fit into almost any landscape and pool size and are a seamless way to incorporate the natural rocks of the desert landscape into your pool environment. This feature can be placed as a focal point for your swimming pool or created more modestly to simply blend into the background, and its soothing sounds will make your hectic day seem far away. 

6) Waterfall Grotto

Looking to create a little romance and intrigue in your backyard? Consider building a grotto hidden behind a sheet of refreshing water. It’s the perfect choice for adding a shady reprieve from the sun, or a nook of privacy and solitude reminiscent of being on your own little island in the Caribbean.

7) Stone Spillway

Long chutes that provide a controlled release of water from a larger body of water, spillways are typically found on a levee or dam. However, placed in your pool area, a spillway makes for a stunning surprise. For instance, your spa could double as a water feature, with the stacked side of the spa forming a dazzling spillway. Be sure to ask your pool builder about creative ways to design spillways between your spa and swimming pool.

8) Sheer Descent

When water falls vertically or almost vertically down a straight wall, that feature is called a sheer descent. The resulting effect can be created to happen in a subtle fashion, or in an incredibly dramatic way. The walls can be made from a variety of stone or other materials, and can be designed straight or curved to fit geometric or custom pool shapes — the options are endless.

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As you enter the planning and design phase of creating your dream backyard, make sure to discuss your wish list with your pool builder or ask for their suggestions. Choosing a few of these special design elements will elevate your environment and create the true backyard paradise you desire.

Additional Resources:

5 Signs Of A Good Pool Builder

Backyard Designs: Fire Pit vs Fireplace

Let’s face it; fire is something we humans have been gathering around for ages. It’s warmth, and bright snaps of flame and loud crackles is what makes it easy for us to gather around for what seems like hours.

But, how do you create that far-off woodsy-wonderland camp, or deliver the comfort of nestling by the living room fireplace? Let’s talk tips for understanding a fire pit or fireplace build in your backyard design, and how to create a hardscape environment that keeps everyone returning.

What Is A Hardscape?

In theory, a hardscape is the best way to extend the use of your pool, creating a truly inviting gathering space for your friends and family. Whether this means by deck, patio, or pavilion is entirely up to you however, a fire pit or fireplace can be part of an overall pool structure to create a pleasing aesthetic.

Fire Pit

Unless you’re waking from a coma, or reading this from a warmer demographic void of fire pits, then you understand how popular these backyard gathering spots have become.

Arizona Backyard Design Fire Pit

Backyard Fire Pit

Burning either wood or gas, fire pits can be created with a variety of elements including, but not limited to: decorative flagstone, pavers, or brick, and finally, glass and decorative rock as a welcomed addition of color and mystique.

It doesn’t matter the time of year (Unless it’s Summer in Arizona), anytime is a great time to enjoy company around the fire, and a fire pit is both aesthetically and sustainably welcoming when paired with an arrangement of other backyard elements.

Fireplace

Bring the atmosphere and intimacy of an indoor gathering by adding a fireplace to your backyard setting. Like the fire pit, a fireplace creates an outdoor living room, extending your entertaining capabilities to a seasonal operation.

Arizona Backyard Design Fireplace

Backyard Fireplace

Building materials vary however, stone remains an exciting element for helping a fireplace stand out from the rest of your design. Paired with a seating element, a fireplace adds romance to your pool and patio, and don’t fret: there are both wood and gas burning options.

Another popular option that pairs well with many kitchens are fireplaces, or wood-burning stoves which, we’ve covered here. (Insert Link: Backyard Designs: Outdoor Kitchens). Where is this link?

What’s Best For My Backyard Design?

Every backyard design is unique; are we working around an outdoor kitchen, or building up against a structured wall? How will the fire work around a pool or spa? How will we accommodate all of my family and friends while staying within our budget?

When it boils down to it, you have to ask yourself the setting you’re attempting to create and the functionality of said space. Beyond choosing between fire pit or fireplace, the process of placing a hardscape relies heavily on your aspirations for the space as a whole.

We welcome everyone to visit our design centers, meet our team of designers to learn about the process of adding a hardscape to your backyard setting, and explore options for making your space a fiery-success.

Grand Opening Celebration
Queen Creek, Here We Come!

Arizona’s ultimate backyard builder is expanding! California Pools & Landscape is coming to Queen Creek – come see what all the hype is about! With over 32 years in business, our team has the experience and expertise to make your backyard dreams come true.

We’re so excited, that we’re throwing a month-long sales event with exclusive specials to celebrate the opening of our new Queen Creek Design Center! In-person and video consultations are available. We are honored to be a part of the beautiful Queen Creek community and look forward to growing together. There has never been a better time to get your yard staycation ready!

Already have a California Pools & Landscape backyard but know someone who needs one… perhaps in Queen Creek? Our referral program gives $250 for the first referral and $500 for each subsequent referral after that. Call us for more info.