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2012 - Spring Issue
Casas Bonitas
Outdoor Living
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Bill Faulkner
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In the intense summer heat of the desert, there is nothing more idyllic than cool, rushing water. Advances in pool construction and landscaping now allow you to go beyond the installation of a basic pool to include water features that are pleasing to the eyes and ears as well as to the touch. Here is an overview of some unique water elements that can take your outdoor oasis to the next level.

    Photo Captions

10.) Photo courtesy of
       Endless Pools

Dolphin Pools
Las Cruces,NM

Nash Patio & Garden
El Paso, TX

Pools by Design
Las Cruces,NM

Paradise Pools
El Paso, TX

Silver Springs Pool & Spa
El Paso, TX
Infinity Pools

Infinity pools, also known as negative edges or vanishing edges, are pools in which the water spills over a ledge into a catch basin that is then pumped back into the pool. This is done for a visual effect in which the pool is intended to blend seamlessly into the surrounding views. While it will give your pool an exotic, mystifying appearance, there are some considerations that must be taken into account.

Aesthetic appeal is the primary reason for installing such a pool, so it is very important to consider setting and placement before breaking ground. Infinity pools are best for backyards that feature exceptional views, such as those looking out over city lights or nestled against a mountain vista. Also think about your home's windows, doors and patio areas because you will want it to be most visible from these areas for maximum enjoyment. If the only view from your backyard is of your neighbor's neglected yard or an empty lot, you might want to consider a more traditional pool since an infinity pool will draw attention to these unsightly areas.

Intended use of the pool is also a very important consideration. Water flows out of this pool so you will need to discuss with your contractors the amount of activity that will be occurring so they can ensure that the water catch basin and surge chambers are the proper size and shape, and that the proper water level is maintained. If you will just be enjoying leisurely evenings in the pool, then a smaller catch basin and a surge chamber that remains fairly full will suffice. On the other hand, if your children will regularly be doing cannonballs into the deep end, a larger catch basin is absolutely necessary and the water level should remain lower in the surge chamber.

Fountains, Jets and Waterfalls

Incorporating water features such as fountains, jets and waterfalls into your pool can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your yard and the value of your pool. Moving water will always attract attention, so these are great opportunities to really set your pool a level above the rest.

Again, aesthetic appeal is key here, so the surrounding landscape is of paramount concern. Consider that most water features fall on a vertical plane; water is either shooting up into the air, falling downwards, or in some cases, both, so scale and overall balance with the surrounding landscape are important in creating the desired effect and style.

Perhaps most important when planning water features is determining how much maintenance they will require. A beautiful fountain or waterfall may not look so great to you after you realize how consuming upkeep can be. Eco-friendly systems that are more energy efficient can cut back on costs. Automated systems can also reduce your stress in caring for your pool. Of course, these systems come with additional installation costs, but in the long run they may save you time, energy and money.

Don't forget that water features make noise. A waterfall that trickles into the pool may be as annoying as a leaky faucet, while too much pressure may result in an overpowering roar. However, if you live in an area with high levels of noise pollution, water features can create a nice blocking, white-noise. Your best bet for continual appreciation of your water features is to install each feature on a separate valve so that you can easily adjust height, flow, lights and other elements individually.

Current Machines

With so many other great water features and elements to consider the most basic reason for installing a pool, swimming, gets overlooked all too often. The average home pool is 25 to 40 feet long. Compare this to the average lap pool which is 25 meters, almost three times as long. Short of redesigning your whole pool and backyard, there is a way you can have it all. Current systems can now be purchased and installed in almost any pool, no matter the size or shape. These systems propel a current into the water that you can swim against without actually going anywhere; it is the swimming equivalent of running on a treadmill.

Swim current machines are available for all budgets. Your least expensive option is a wall-mounted unit that attaches to the edge of the pool. Unfortunately, these can be unsightly and ruin all the effort you've put into creating a serene pool area. If you're on a budget, consider a portable wall-mounted unit that can be stored out of sight when not in use. Optimally, your swim machine will be installed behind one of your pool walls where it is not visible. This is best done when you are originally building the pool or if you are renovating your pool, since it involves cutting into the wall and adding additional plumbing fixtures.

No matter what water elements you decide to install in your backyard, be sure to put a little forethought into placement. In addition to visual appeal, weather is a crucial consideration, especially in this region in which we often endure high seasonal winds. Wind changes the plane of the water surface and can cause water to spray outside of the pool into undesirable areas, so be sure you discuss with your pool designer where certain features will best be guarded from the wind and which elements might not be appropriate at all for your backyard. ///
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