How bespoke pools can transform an outdoor area

Written by

24 January 2022


4 min read

In the Eastern suburbs of Auckland, a homeowner struggled with an unruly, heavily sloped backyard that required too much maintenance. After exploring several options, he found that redesigning the space with a pool at its centre was the way to go.

The allure of outdoor pools in New Zealand has endured throughout the decades, and stems from several common Kiwi desires.

They act as a place to cool off, play and entertain in the summer; they provide a means of exercise for capable swimmers; and for some inland homes, they act as a way to connect to the water when the coast may be far afield.

These are the most common motivations to pull the trigger on a pool, but there’s also a less common, more practical desire pools can assuage: completely transforming an outdoor space.

This was the goal for Myles and Karen, homeowners in the Eastern suburbs of Auckland, whose backyard was sharply sloped, unruly and difficult to navigate with a lawnmower. After failing to find suitable pools on the market, they contracted Guy Brackebush, a landscape designer to fully re-landscape the space, with a bespoke swimming pool as its centrepiece.

“We called our backyard ‘the pit’ so we wanted to turn it into a totally usable space,” says Myles.

“Not just a pool, but a completely new liveable area that had multiple uses and much easier to maintain.”

Since so much emphasis was on the pool as a focal point for the project, it was paramount that the right trades, including a pool construction company, were engaged: “It was important for us that the right teams executed the work,” Myles says.

The swimming pool, constructed by Auckland Inground Pools, was the centrepiece of the landscaping project.
The swimming pool, constructed by Auckland Inground Pools, was the centrepiece of the landscaping project.

Auckland Inground Pools on board

That’s when Auckland Inground Pools came on board to build the project’s centrepiece, and then things began to fall into place. But the project’s site restrictions and tricky terrain presented them with a challenge.

Auckland Inground Pools sales manager Donna Richmond says the project required the expertise of multiple consultants before work could even begin.

“Because the site was so steep, it involved initially engaging a geotechnical engineer to review the site's stability, and what was required in terms of the retaining of the site as well as the pool’s foundation,” says Donna.

“From there, the landscape architect and the structural engineer were accordingly able to design a pool that would stay put forever!”

The entire project’s aim was three-pronged: transform an unused and inhospitable backyard into an attractive space, making use of the natural landscape and views; ensure the space is low-maintenance; and make sure it is energy efficient and able to run smoothly.

Taken on its own, the finished swimming pool hit each branch of the brief: the horizon pool edge ensured an unobstructed view of the bay beyond, its trapezoidal shape stark but blending easily into the surrounding decking.

Meanwhile, Myles, Karen and the family could take advantage of the energy savings that came with the sustainable pool equipment and systems used: the high star-rated inverter heat pump all combined with the decision to have a pool cover resulted in optimal heat retention and ultimate energy savings.

“They wanted to create a really nice family space and entertaining area for when [their young adult children] were home from university for the summer,” says Donna.

“Karen in particular was really excited about it, because she could just see herself sitting by the pool reading books and enjoying the view. They wanted it to be easy care.”

Speaking of the brief and his excitement at the prospect of the finished project, Myles said: “I just can't wait till the day I don't have to try and get a lawn mower down that backyard anymore.”

The total re-landscaping changed an unruly site into a low-maintenance, fully usable space.
The total re-landscaping changed an unruly site into a low-maintenance, fully usable space.

The secret to pool construction: good planning

On a site as difficult as this one, Donna says the importance of the geotechnical engineering report can not be overstated.

“It has a domino effect, where it allows the structural engineer and the landscape designer, and eventually the pool builders know exactly what they're dealing with.”

Not only does this make the design and construction of the pool much easier, but it also means that quotes can be accurate to ensure the homeowner is fully informed, and understands the process and what to expect as far in terms of budget.

“It gives us the opportunity to price everything up front, reducing surprises. If the planning is inadequate, it’s more likely that unforeseen problems will pop up, which cost money and time, and the process is a little difficult.”

The smoothness of the operation is also a welcome benefit when it comes to difficult sites like Myles and Karen’s. In terms of the challenge of the site, though, Donna says Auckland Inground Pools relished it.

“It’s only a challenge if you make it a challenge,” she says. “It certainly takes the monotony out of the day.”

Learn more about Auckland Inground Pools' services.