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    Five Pool Entry Design Issues

    When you think about the design of your new pool, the first two issues that come to mind are the shape and the location. How big will the pool be and how will it be placed on your property? In some cases, you’ll have a fairly small space to work with and you’ll be balancing priorities. In other cases, it will simply be a matter of figuring what you want to do with the pool and how to best design it to meet your needs. While you’re considering different geometric options, you are also going to want to think about the pool entry. It has a huge impact on how the pool functions.

    1. Children

    When you have children in the house, then of course they’re an important consideration when you design your pool. The thing about kids is, they grow up fast! So, while they may be small now, you need to think about how they’re going to use the pool both next summer and for years to come. How can the pool entry best meet the kids’ changing needs?

    Kid Swimming
    Kid Swimming

    Consider designing a sizeable entry that will allow small children to stay in shallow water, and has a bench or steps that will let teenagers sit and talk. Adding an additional top step can make it easier for small children to get in and out of the pool. You may also want to consider sizing the pool for games children enjoy, like water volleyball.

    2. People with physical limitations

    If you’re young and injury-free, you may not think to consider whether or not your pool is easily accessible to older adults and people with disabilities. Don’t forget, there are plenty of people with limits on their mobility, and not all of them are in wheelchairs. Your parents, neighbours, friends and colleagues may have bad knees, hips or ankles, or issues with strength or balance. In addition, you never know when you or someone in your family might need to use the pool to help recover strength and flexibility after an injury.

    You’ll also want to think about how you’ll use the pool once the kids are gone. If you stay in your home for many decades, then at some time in the future you will start to feel the effects of ageing yourself. There are many, many people who can’t pull themselves up out of a pool unaided, and there are quite a few who’d struggle with a pool ladder, as well. So, it’s a good idea to have a set of steps leading into the pool, preferably with something to hold onto at one side.

    3. Pool use

    Swimming laps is a fantastic form of exercise, and it’s one that is equally accessible to older people, heavier people and people with joint issues. If your pool is going to do double duty as a lap pool, then you’ll want to have corresponding areas on both of the short sides of the pool where there are flat walls without benches or steps, so that a lap swimmer can flip smoothly to change direction.

    4. Cleanliness

    When you design the pool entry, don’t forget to think about how you’re going to keep it clean. A shallow area on one side can easily have poor water circulation and may attract algae and debris. Nooks and crannies, including spa jets, may need regular cleaning, as well. If your pool has complicated interior features, then give plenty of consideration to water circulation, and make sure that you understand the cleaning routine that will be required.

    5. Temperature

    Remember that shallow areas of the pool tend to get very warm in the summer. It’s a consideration when designing an extended entry suitable for little kids. Using a light-coloured pool liner can help to keep the pool cooler.

    These are just a few of the issues to think about. Don’t hesitate to call or e-mail Albatross Pools with your ideas and your questions. We’re always happy to help you work out the perfect pool design.


    Keep Up With Us in Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine

    To keep up with Albatross Pools, keep up with Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine. We put a featured project into every edition. It’s a way for us to showcase some of our most exciting work and show off what we can accomplish quickly and affordably for our clients. We’ve been designing and building steel framed, Aqualux membrane pools for the Melbourne-area market for almost half a century. Over all those years, we’ve continually reviewed our existing work and looked for ways to make our pools more beautiful, more durable, easier to maintain and quicker to build. Now, as one of Melbourne’s leading pool companies, we are setting the standard that others aspire to.

    Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine

    If you’re a Melbourne-area pool designer or landscape designer, then you already know about Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine. It’s our local industry publication; a magazine for landscape design aficionados and pool nerds like ourselves. It’s a way for manufacturers and sellers of pools, spas and the related systems and accessories — and people and companies who specialise in the landscaping around them — to advertise their products and put their best work out there for colleagues and customers to see.

    Melbourne Pool Outdoor Design Magazine
    Melbourne Pool Outdoor Design Magazine

    Of course, everyone in the industry reads it: architects, home designers, landscape designers and landscape architects. People who are thinking about installing a pool should buy a few copies, as well; it has the kind of insider information that can be really helpful in making confident, well informed choices.

    Some of Our Featured Projects

    Unfortunately, Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine does not keep old articles online, so you can’t reference all of our featured projects. However, here’s our newest feature. It’s gives all the details on a beautiful, modern pool that’s part of an overall outdoor sports area for an active family. It’s a really striking design, with a dark, ‘Bahama’ pool interior and a simple, elegant stone tile surround. It’s easy to see how attractive this pool is, but it’s got an unexpected feature, too: it doubles as a spa. It has a padded bench along one side, and spa jets to massage sore backs, necks, arms and legs. So, it can be used for games, lap swimming, relaxation and rehabilitation.

    It’s certainly a good looking and multi-fictional pool, but that’s not all there was to the project. As you can see in the photo, the pool is adjacent to an outbuilding with a small gym and an alfresco area with table tennis. There’s even netball, basketball and a putt putt course. Even the most reluctant athlete could spend hours playing sports and swimming in this fantastic space. We designed this ourselves, and we’re proud of both the look and the layout. It reflects the simple, modern design of our client’s house, and what a great place for a party or for pure family fun!

    For more Albatross projects, please refer to the pool gallery. Just click on the pools you like best, and find out more about them on their dedicated pages. Keep an eye out for the latest issue of Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design Magazine for more in-depth articles featuring Albatross projects, and keep an eye out for updates to their website, as well.


    Pool Lighting Secrets Revealed

    A lighted pool is a pool that can be used for more hours of the day and for more days of the year. Pool lighting keeps the pool visible after dark, too. Of course it looks fantastic, but it also makes the pool safer; it’s easier to see and therefore harder to stumble into! Finally, pool lighting makes the ever popular, ever wonderful after-dark pool party both possible and memorable.

    Underwater Lighting

    As you undoubtedly know, electricity and water don’t mix. That’s one of the reasons why underwater lighting has to be considered as part of the design of the pool. It’s got to be safely installed and correctly designed to protect both the swimmers and the pool. Albatross pools has formed a partnership with Spa Electrics, a leading Australian manufacturer of LED swimming pool lights. Spa Electrics has been manufacturing pool lights for the Australian market for more than 30 years. We will install Spa Electrics LED underwater lights when we build your pool.

    Pool Light Color
    Pool Light Color

    Why did we choose Spa Electrics? Their LED lights are efficient and long lasting, with a 50,000 hour life expectancy for each globe — that’s much greater than the industry standard. They are designed with clear rims and installed flush so that the light will spread evenly throughout the pool, not just directly in front of the position of the light, but around the sides, as well. They’re high quality LEDs with cooling built-in, so that they’ll keep functioning at maximum efficiency. They are expertly matched in their colour range and intensity, so your pool lighting will always look even and professional. Finally, Spa Electrics lights, unlike lower quality pool lights, are designed to be repairable. If a bulb needs to be changed or if there’s a problem with one of the lights, the fixture can simply be disassembled and fixed; it won’t need to be replaced.

    Pool Light Quality
    Pool Light Quality

    Most of our customers opt for lights that are located on the wall closest to the house; that way, the side of the pool that they can see from the windows will be softly and evenly illuminated, with no light fixtures showing. The fact is, the lights work with the coloured pool interior and the water to create the overall after-dark look of the pool. Spa Electric lights are designed to work with the blue tones in the water and the pool interior to produce the maximum possible luminosity with a minimum of energy use.

    For more information on the lighting system that comes with Albatross pools, refer to the Spa Electrics brochure, which is available as a pdf and can be downloaded from our website.

    Exterior Lights

    You’ll probably want to have exterior lights around your pool, as well. It’s a basic requirement for getting around your property after dark, and the pool would be a hazard without them; though the water might be illuminated, you still don’t want to trip into it! Of course, the exterior lighting deserves some thought; it might be wall mounted on the house and/or on a canopy, alfresco or deck. Alternatively, the exterior lights could be mounted on the pool fence or on poles. They might be in the form of bright spotlights or strings of durable, high output fairy lights. There are so many possibilities; safety is the number one concern, but the aesthetic possibilities are both endless and exciting.

    Designing exterior pool lighting is much like designing the lighting for a room, and it’s definitely worth considering which spaces will be used most heavily after dark and which should be lighted for security reasons. Most people have a pretty good idea about what they want for exterior lighting around the pool area, and landscape designers and contractors are certainly willing to help and offer advice, as needed. Don’t forget to give serious consideration to this issue.

    Pool lighting, both underwater and around the pool area, is a key part of the overall design of the pool. We’ll discuss it with you when the other major decisions about pool size, shape and location are made, and you can rest easy knowing that the Spa Electrics lights we use are absolutely top quality.


    Prepping Your Pool For Winter

    With the air cooling down and the weeks marching on, it’s time to think about how to prepare your pool for winter. Some people heat their pool and continue to use it during most of the cooler months, while others cover it up and put it into hibernation. Whichever you’re planning to do, there are a few things that you should do before the temperature gets too low. If you are a new pool owner and haven’t already developed a seasonal routine, then this will help get you started.

    Pool Cover
    Pool Cover

    Cleaning is Always a Good Idea

    Whether or not you plan to keep using the pool, a good autumn cleaning is a must. Throughly scrub the interior of the pool, then vacuum. Clear the lint basket attached to the pump and the skimmer baskets, as well. Finally, clean the filter. If you’re shutting the pool down for the winter, then clean it just before covering it. Please keep in mind, we do not recommend turning off the pump and filter over winter - it is designed to run everyday and if doesn't the pump's motor can cease and come Spring, you will need a new pool pump.

    For Winter Pool Users

    If you have a good system in place for heating your pool and you don’t mind a chill in the air, then you may be planning to use your pool on all but the coldest days of winter. If the pool is how you stay fit, then chances are, you are willing to brave the cold air in order to get your daily laps in.

    First the good news: if the water is cool, there’s less risk of algae and contamination and you will need less chlorine. The government recommends a minimum chlorine level of 2.0mg/L for water that’s cooler than 26°C and a minimum level of 3.0mg/L for water that’s warmer than 26°C. However, you will still have to keep close tabs on the pH; make sure it’s between 7.4 and 7.6. Corrosion is more likely to occur at lower temperatures, so you must keep the alkalinity level and pH within bounds during the winter.

    Even if you’re still using the pool this winter, you’re likely to use it less than you do in the summer. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it can be cleaned less often. You should continue to clean the pool regularly, keeping it free of leaves and debris, and run the filter for at least four hours a day. It’s also a good idea to keep the pool covered with an insulating pool blanket when it is not in use. That will keep some of the heat in and some of the debris out.

    For Winter Shut-Down

    If you plan to close the pool during the cooler months, then clean it and then cover it, but don’t forget about it.

    Before covering up the pool, adjust the chemicals. Make sure that the alkalinity is between 100 and 150 parts per million and that the water hardness — the calcium — is at 200 to 300 parts per million. Next, add a large dose of chlorine to ‘shock’ the pool and kill off anything that might want to grow in it over the winter (BioGuard's Burnout Extreme is a great 'shock' product). If you’re purchasing a prepared formula, then choose a shock product that’s strong enough to require a temporary shut down. After all, you were planning to stop using the pool, anyway. Then, wait for the chlorine level to return to one to three parts per million.

    You can't turn off the pump and filter during the winter, if you do you can damage your pool pump, your filter sand among other things. Just 2-4 hours per day in winter is all it takes and it is a great idea to use an algaecide to prevent a green pool. Continue to clean the pool occasionally, too, especially if it is at all exposed to the elements. Be sure to remove all the equipment and ladders before covering the pool for the winter, too.

    The onset of winter temperatures require a little more attention to the pool than usual. If you properly prepare your pool for winter, then it will be much faster and easier to bring it back up to full speed in the spring.


    Five Ways to Match the Pool to the Landscape Design

    You’re thinking about adding a pool to your property. Maybe you’ve already got a well designed backyard, maybe it’s mostly grass and maybe you’ve done a little gardening and DIY landscaping. If you haven’t already, now is the time to nail down your landscape design. Your pool needs to be a component of that design, so it’s important that you know how you want your outdoor living space to look and feel before you make major decisions about your pool’s size, shape and surrounds. Coordinating the pool design and the landscape design can make a huge difference in how the pool looks, how pleasant it is to use and how much it enhances the value of your home.

    Playboy Mansion Grotto
    Playboy Mansion Grotto

    1. The location of the pool

    Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between separate pool locations, but everyone needs to think about the pool’s size and general placement and how it will synch with the landscape design. Picture your landscape design as a whole. Where will the pool entry or entries be, and where are the important observation points? How will the pool location work with other landscape elements such as alfresco, gardens, cooking areas and garden furniture? How will the design affect circulation and activities when your family is outside? How will things work when you have guests or are throwing a party?

    2. The shape of the pool

    If you have a very natural-looking outdoor space with curved retaining walls and garden beds, then you might want a curvy, natural-looking pool. A plain pool in a round, oval or rectangular shape can be a calm and beautiful focus for a more structured, formal garden. On the other hand, if your property is dominated by hard landscaping—patio stones or pavement—then the pool will definitely be a formal design element. You’ll want to study various shapes in plan view and think hard about how they will look from different angles and vantage points. This kind of modern landscape design can be very striking and sculptural.

    3. The pool surrounds

    Have you thought about what to put around the edges of the pool? Most people like to have a hard surface surrounding at least part of the pool so that they can relax and lay out in the sun. A pool surrounded by greenery looks fantastic, but it can be a challenge to keep the pool clean if it’s adjacent to soil and plants. Think about your options: poured concrete, paving stones, tiles, a wooden deck… each one has its own character and its practical advantages and disadvantages. Which fits best with your overall plan for the area around the pool?

    4. The pool fencing

    You probably already know that in Victoria, pool fencing is required by law. About...Swimming pools, spas and their safety barriers, a Building Commission publication, can give you more details. There are rules about the height, design and access that need to be followed. On the other hand, there’s still room for creativity. The pool fencing can be made of anything from toughened glass to white picket fencing. Wrought iron is a popular choice, too. Many pool owners choose to construct a wall or use a high wooden fence where the edge of their property is near the edge of the pool. Walls, in particular, have a great deal of design potential; water features are easy to add on.

    5. The pool interior colour

    Deeper water is darker blue, and every pool interior will appear darker in a deeper pool. Light pool interior colours reflect more light and heat, making the pool cooler, while dark colours absorb it, making for a warmer pool. In general, the colour of the pool interior you should choose, like the shape of the pool, depends on your overall landscape design. A light pool interior will give your pool more of a cool, classical Mediterranean look. A darker interior is more modern looking. It will mask variations in the depth of the water and give the pool more visual punch.

    The shape, the location, the colour, the pool surrounds, the pool fencing… they all need to compliment the total outdoor space. Every pool needs the right kind of landscaping to help it blend into its surroundings and become a pleasing part of a cohesive design. Before finalising your plans for the pool, make sure that you know your landscape design.


    Pool Landscaping Inspiration: Malta’s Blue Lagoon

    This is a latest in a series of posts on beautiful natural pools that can serve as inspirations for your landscape and pool design. So far, we’ve posted on Wufengchi Waterfall and Aruba’s Natural Pool. This time, it’s Malta’s Crystal Lagoon. One of our team recently had an opportunity to visit there and was struck by the interesting landscape around the Crystal Lagoon, as well as its beauty.


    Malta is a country made up of three relatively small, mountainous Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily. It is only 316 km in area, but it’s packed with history and beautiful scenery. Malta has ruined temples from 400 B.C. and stunning medieval and Renaissance cities. It was ruled by the Greeks, the Romans, and the Byzantines, and it has intact historical sites from all those periods. The Knights of St. John, or Knights Templar, controlled it for almost 300 years and most recently, it was part of the British empire. Malta has had its independence since 1964 and today, it’s an independent member of the EU. English is still one of the official languages, making it a very comfortable part of Southern Europe for English speakers to visit.

    Malta’s Crystal Lagoon

    Most of Malta is densely populated and urban, and it’s not necessarily the best place for a beach-oriented holiday. The main island and Goza, which is smaller, both have a few fairly nice public beaches, but the best place to go swimming is off the small island of Comino, which is in between the two larger islands.

    Blue Lagoon Malta
    Blue Lagoon Malta

    Every day, dozens of small tour boats take tourists and locals to the Crystal Lagoon on the shore of Comino. The Mediterranean Sea around Malta is a deep, intense azure. When the Crystal Lagoon comes into sight, one of the most striking things about it is its cyan-coloured water — it actually looks like a swimming pool! It’s surrounded by rock ledges and sea caves, and hiking around the Crystal Lagoon is almost as fun as swimming in it. However, there are only a few small sand beaches; for the most part, it’s surrounded by a rocky shoreline.

    Design Inspiration From the Crystal Lagoon

    Since there’s so little beach space, the best thing to do is to leave a towel somewhere and jump in! In fact, many people simply swim from the sides of the boats. The water is relatively shallow, but it’s still above head height in the middle of the lagoon. One fun thing to do is to swim from one of the easily accessible beaches to a beach on the other side of the lagoon that can’t be reached over land, as it’s on a separate, small island. Then, you’re on a much less crowded beach in an area that you can explore a little once you’re out of the water.

    Small Sand Beaches
    Small Sand Beaches

    How can ideas from the Crystal Lagoon be incorporated into a swimming pool? Well, the colour of the water can surely be imitated with a light blue swimming pool interior. Landscaping with rocks and boulders around the edge of the pool would give a similar effect to the Blue Lagoon’s rocky shoreline. However, one really original idea would be to create a spot for sunbathing and socialising that can only easily be reached from the pool. This could be done using the edges of the garden — fences or hedges — as barriers, or by using other types of landscaping, like walls and rocks. Limiting the areas where the pool can easily be entered and exited to an area near the back of the house and another, more secluded, area would create a ‘private beach’ that’s only available to swimmers. Both pool access points could be equipped with stairs or beach-style entries.

    We don’t know of anyone who has tried a design like this, but wouldn’t it be fun to have a special, nicely landscaped area for the people who are willing to put on their swimsuits and jump in? It’s an interesting design idea inspired by the small, secluded sand beaches around Malta’s Blue Lagoon.

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