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    Do I really need a pool cover?

    One of the most common questions we receive from clients during the pool design and pool quotation stage is, ‘…do I really need a pool cover?’ and it's often accompanied by an odd facial expression. If you want to extend your swim season, reduce pool heating and chemical costs, and prevent water evaporation, then the answer is an absolute yes!

    The number one reason why people don’t like the idea of a pool cover (and make that facial expression) is purely due to aesthetics. Yes, a pool cover may detract from the visual you are trying to create. But, wouldn’t you prefer a pool (when combined with a heating system) that provides six, nine or twelve-months’ worth of family fitness and entertainment? Compared to your new pool simply becoming a very large water feature you cannot enjoy.

    Let's face it, we live in Victoria and are not blessed with balmy pool weather year round. Taking an holistic and considered approach to pool heating during the pool design stage of your project is essential if you would like to get the most enjoyment out of your new pool.

    Comparing Pool Cover Options

    With an industry wide focus on climate care solutions, you are now spoilt for choice when it comes to pool cover options. The Pool Cover Option Comparison Table below is a snapshot of a selection of pool cover products available in the marketplace today (June 2020), including an approximate budget you should allow when planning your pool project. The estimates are based on a rectangular pool design measuring 6.0m x 3.0m. 

    Pool Cover ProductBudgetReduces EvaporationRetains HeatAerates WaterPrevents Pet & Child AccessLockable/ AutomationWarranty 
    ABGAL Triple Cell Solar Pool Cover 610 Micron$570-$670Tick
    By 99%
    Tick Up to 8 Degrees Heat GainNoNoNo12 Years pro-rata
    Sunline AquaVent Pool Blanket $700-$800Tick
    By 97%
    TickTickNoNo12 Years pro-rata
    ABGAL Thermal Heatshield Pool Cover$750-$950Tick
    By 95%
    Tick Plus cuts Heat Loss by 75%NoNoNo8 Years pro-rata against UV degradation and 12 months against delamination
    ABGAL Oasis Solar Pool Cover 500 Micron$520-$620Tick
    By 99.84%
    Tick Up to 8 Degrees Heat GainNoNoNo8 Years pro-rata
    ABGAL Pooltex Leafstop Pool Cover$950-$1,050Tick
    By up to 70%
    No, does block sunlight to prevent algae growth.TickPets Only.No8 Years pro-rata
    Remco PoolGuard Pool Cover$3,500-$4,000TickTickTickTick Can withstand a load up to 100KGLockable - Yes
    Automated - No
    5 Years
    Remco Coverstar Pool CoverAbove Pool: $12,000-$15,000
    Integrated: $22,000-$30,000
    TickTickTickTick Can withstand a load up to 400KGTick 5 Years
    Remco Swimroll Pool CoverAbove Pool: $12,000-$15,000
    Integrated: $22,000-$30,000
    TickTickNoTick Can withstand a load up to 70KGTick 5 Years

    Table Notes:

    • All pool cover options require a compliant safety barrier to surround the pool zone. Although lockable, pet and child proof, the Remco Pool Cover Options do still require a compliant safety barrier. 
    • The prices listed above are inclusive of GST, representative of June 2020 pricing and are intended as a guide only. Due to delivery and installation, the price provided by your pool builder may be higher. 

    Top 2 Pool Covers

    To get the most enjoyment from your soon-to-be-built swimming pool without breaking the budget, our top 2 pool cover options for 2020: 

    Best Pool Cover Option Under $1,000

    For storage, consider an ABGAL Endurance Pool Cover Roller (when purchased with a ABGAL Pool Cover, receive a free Pool Cover and Roller Protector) or if budget allows, an Underground Pool Blanket Box may be the better space saving solution (for a 6.0m x 3.0m pool allow approximately $4,200 supply only of the blanket box). 

    Best Pet & Child Proof Pool Cover Option Under $4,000


     

    Can I add a pool cover later?

    Yes of course, your pool cover options may however become limited and if you have not planned for a pool cover (particularly its storage), a pool cover may become difficult and cumbersome to incorporate into your pool zone after it is complete. Some clients choose to see how they use the pool in the first 12 months before deciding on whether or not it is worth investing in a pool cover - this is also a great idea however, always remember to plan for this addition during your pool project planning stage. 

    If you are in the midst of pool planning and have not spoken to an Albatross Pools Designer or received an obligation free swimming pool quote, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you - let's discuss your pool project today!

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    Top 3 Pool Buying Tips in the midst of COVID-19

    What does life look like on the other side of COVID-19? It is a hard one to answer as the virus is still on our doorstep with no expiry in sight. One thing is for certain, life will be different. There has and probably will be continued heartache as the world battles something it cannot see and does not understand. In the midst of COVID-19, is there a silver lining?

    Personally, this pandemic has forced my family to refocus on what is important and everything else (that consumed us previously) has simply become irrelevant. Our health and spending quality time with our kids is our focus. With a winter escape to Bali or Queensland off the cards for the foreseeable, investing in our home and a life at home is back on the agenda.

    We don’t have a pool, we do however, have a grand plan for our dream backyard. With the pool front and center, we were going to update everything from the back door to the back fence and were planning to do it all at once in a couple of years. Not anymore. Keeping our boys busy year-round, being able to continue swimming lessons and looking after our health and wellbeing is now the priority. Our grand plan isn’t off the cards, we will just go about achieving it differently.

    Perhaps you too are in a similar position? Consider exploring finance options and staging your project so you too can enjoy a new pool sooner rather than later. Don’t forget to consider alternate heating solutions other than solar - a life at home needs a pool you can enjoy and keep the kids busy year-round!

    Tip 1. Consider finance solutions for your dream outdoor space

    By now, you may have an idea of how much a pool costs. The next consideration is how to finance a pool.

    Some dip into savings whilst the majority choose to extend their mortgage. If you are the majority, STOP and take a moment to compare your mortgage with the Outdoor Finance Calculator. The refinancing process through AB Phillips could free up enough money to fund your new pool project without the need of increasing your monthly mortgage repayments.

    Tip 2. Tackle your grand plan in stages and consider alternatives

    You can still have your grand plan but consider how to achieve the dream in stages. By staging your project, you could afford to install your swimming pool sooner rather than later and make the most of the restrictions we now find ourselves. Choosing alternative surrounds is also a great way to achieve the look whilst saving money!

    Stage 1. Install your swimming pool

    • Lighting, provision for pool heating (and if you choose gas, running of the gas line), water leveler, spa jets and infloor cleaning (if you are wanting this option - keep in mind there are much cost effective alternatives) must be installed at the point of pool construction. Everything else can be added once budget allows.
    • There are plenty of different poolside paving options on the market ranging from man-made products to natural stone. Whilst some of the more conventional paving options can sometimes be expensive, it pays to consider other options like OFF-FORM concrete. This type of finish can give you a high-end look without the high-end price tag.
    • If you choose to stage your project, consider basic safety barrier fencing instead of other options.

    Stage 2. Structures & Remaining Hard Surfaces

    Stage 3. Planting & Dressing

    Find yourself without a grand plan but like the idea and want to understand how you could then stage your total project? Seeking the advice of a landscape architect such as Anthony from Anthony Scott Landscape Design would be a great place to start.

    Tip 3. Swim year round with a total pool heating solution

    Let’s face it, we live in Melbourne and are not gifted with the consistent warm weather of the Gold Coast. We do however have extreme waves of heat and without easy access to kilometres of stunning beaches, a pool in the backyard is the next best thing!

    The restrictions we find ourselves in highlight the need to be able to swim and enjoy a pool year-round. Most people think solar but unless we have 3-4 days of consistent weather above 25 degrees (and a pool cover is on at night to prevent heat loss), the pool will simply not be warm enough to swim. By far the cheapest to run (averaging $200-$300 per year), solar does however provide the least amount of swim time. There are alternatives worth considering, if your dream pool was 40,000L for example:

    Swim year round with a combined system, choose from:

    • 100% Solar System and a Gas Heating System (250 or 400MJ Unit)
    • 100% Solar System and an Inverter Heat Pump System (minimum 21kW Unit*)

    Swim nine months of the year with reduced combined system, choose from:

    • 100% Solar System and an Inverter Heat Pump System (minimum 17kW Unit*)
    •  An Inverter Heat Pump System (minimum 17kw Unit*)

    Swim six months of the year with a singular system, choose from:

    • 100% Solar System
    • An Inverter Heat Pump (minimum 13kW Unit*)

    If you are looking at a combined system, an additional controller is worth investing in which will then communicate between the two systems to ensure it runs as efficiently as possible.

    Take the September school holidays of 2019 for example: pool owners with solar only were not entertaining the kids in the pool – the pool water was simply too cold. Pool owners with a gas heater on the other hand were entertaining the kids and their friends for the entire two weeks – they had complete control of their pool water temperature. Food for thought

    Looking to invest in a life at home?

    We are here to help! To slow the spread of the virus and to protect our team and more importantly you, everyone across the business including our construction crew follow good hygiene principles and practice social distancing. We’d welcome the opportunity to work with you on your dream pool and would encourage you to still contact us during the period of COVID-19.

    We have a number of contact-free options to choose from:

    • Speak to a member of our team 7 days a week on 1300 136 316
    • Submit an online pool enquiry and your local Albatross Pools Designer will contact you directly
    • With the assistance of Google Earth and any plans you may have (or sketches), our Pool Designers can provide an indicative pool quotation subject to an obligation free site inspection.
    • With direct access to your outdoor space (without the need to enter your home), our Pool Designer can visit your property to conduct a site inspection. You can then speak via mobile with the Pool Designer while you remain inside your residence. This option is subject to Government advice.
    • When you choose to buy an Albatross Pool, a Digital SPASA Contract is available.
    • If you are concerned of your circumstances changing in the near future due to the impacts of COVID-19, we do have an option available known as a Preliminary Works Agreement. This would allow us to proceed with a soil test and a pool permit application on your behalf. Once the permit is issued, the Contract is then entered into for the original value less the amount paid for the Preliminary Works Agreement. If your circumstances do change, your only financial obligation is the cost of the Preliminary Works Agreement.    

    *Confirm the appropriate heat pump size for your pool with your pool builder.

    Take care during these challenging times we find ourselves in. Remember to focus on what is important. If that happens to be spending time at home with your family and investing in a life at home, we are here to help!

     

     

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    a message to our customers

    We will keep this short and try to be somewhat upbeat as we collectively experience very challenging and uncertain times. 

    As the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 continue to evolve, the well-being of the Albatross family - that's you, our customers, families looking to invest in a swimming pool and of course our team are our priority.

    Based on Government recommendations, our business will continue to remain open and trade as normal (until otherwise advised). A number of hygiene practices have been introduced across every location to ensure we can continue to provide services to our local community in a clean and safe environment. 

    If you are not in isolation and not exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, we look forward to seeing you in store! We have however moved to our Winter roster and we appreciate your patience if you find yourself waiting to be served by our team.

    We would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and continued business. Like many small family businesses (and even big businesses) our team rely on the continued support of the local community, particularly during challenging times.

    Being a pretend coffee drinker, I like to grab the occasional 'iced-coffee' on my way to work after dropping off the kids in the morning at day care. To my surprise, the barista thanked me for my business this morning...he was genuine and reminded me how important it is to still engage and support local business (as long as we are safe to do so).

    On a lighter note, a big thanks to our new Albatross Pool owners who have remained optimistic and shared pictures of their recently finished backyards to let us know where they will be (i.e. Poolside) if and when they are required to self-isolate 🙂 

    We will continue to communicate if our services change in any way across our locations over the coming months.

    Kindest regards,

    Peita Otterbach, Albatross Pools

     

     

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    Dirty Rain Pool Treatment

    If your pool looks anything like our display pools today, simply hitting the pool hard with chlorine and a clarifier will not do the trick! And your robotic pool cleaner certainly won't help either. Trust us, we tried doing this back in 2017 when we had a similar thing happen and we ended up battling cloudy and even green pools for the remainder of the season.

    In our experience, the quickest and most cost effective way to treat your pool is to use a flocculating product such as BioGuard Power Floc Maxi.

    How to treat my dirty rain-filled pool?

    Preparation is key

    • Clean out your skimmer basket and pump basket (if needed).
    • Scoop all debris from the pool (if you can’t see the bottom of the pool, scoop carefully as objects may have washed into the pool water). The water has probably brought in leaves and other debris from the surrounding areas. They will add large amounts of organic matter to the water, which will consume chlorine and could lead to an algae bloom. The sooner debris is removed from the pool; the sooner clean-up can begin.
    • Remove robotic/automatic pool cleaner from the pool and remove pool cover completely. 
    • Hose the dirty residue (from the rain) from the pool surrounds. If you receive more rain (hopefully it is clean), this rain may wash the dirty residue into the pool (you’d hate for this to happen after the pool has returned back to normal).
    • Turn off your Heating System. 
    • If you cannot see the bottom of the shallow end of your pool, the dust/dirt from the rain will not filter out. Chlorine, clarrifiers and the robotic pool cleaner will not be effective. In our experience, the most timely and cost effective approach is to use a flocculating product, vacuum the sediment and rebalance as soon as possible.

    Let's floc the dust away!

    Download our printer friendly version HERE.

    Step 1.

    • Sand Filter:
      • Turn your filter to Recirculate and turn the system on.
    • Cartridge Filter:
      • Remove the cartridge element from the Cartridge Filter and turn the system on.

    Step 2.

    • Start by testing your pH - if it is 7.6ppm or above, proceed to the next step. 
    • If the pH is 7.5ppm or lower, the following treatment is more effective with a high pH and we therefore recommend adding BioGuard Balance Pak 200 to the pool and filter for 2 hours.

    Step 3.

    • Pour 1L of BioGuard Power Floc Maxi (per 50,000L) into the skimmer (or pool) and leave the system on for 2 hours. 
    • After 2 hours, turn all equipment off for 12-24 hours or until you can see the floor of the pool (it could take up to 48 hours).
    • Please keep in mind the product works from the pool floor upwards - it will become brown milky water before it improves.
    • If BioGuard Power Floc Maxi is not available: BioGuard Polysheen Plus can be used in its place (using the same dosage listed above) however instead of running the system for 2 hours, 30 minutes is sufficient.

    Note: Unplug the power cord for your pool pump from your controller. The system must remain off and cannot turn on automatically during the treatment.

    Step 4.

    • Do not add the robotic pool cleaner into the pool. A robotic pool cleaner (or a suction cleaner) will simply undo the flocculating process and will only return the water back to its orignal dirty state.
    • To manually vacuum a pool (sand filter: to waste) you will need a telescopic pole, a vacuum head, a manual vacuum hose and a vacuum plate.
    • Sand Filter:
      • Vac-to-waste the dirt formed at the base of the pool.
      • This is vacuuming as normal however, instead of your sand filter turned to Filter, turn it to Waste.
    • Cartridge Filter:
      • Place your cartrdige element (ensure it is clean beforehand) back into you Cartridge Filter. 
      • Place a Skimmer Sock in the skimmer basket (which will collect as much sediment as possible), vac as normal, remove Skimmer Sock after vacuuming pool (clean as required) and hose cartridge element thoroughly (you may like to chemically clean depending on the state of the Cartridge filter).

    Step 5.

    • Top up water level and filter for four hours before a water sample is taken. Visit your local Albatross Pool Shop to test and rebalance the pool water. 
    • Rebalancing is crucial as your pool water is now very prone to an algae bloom, especially with the weather we are experiencing.

    Download our printer friendly version HERE.

    We are here to help!

    Open 7 days a week (except for public holidays), our team will be able to walk you through this process and answer any questions you may have. Pool Shop contact details.

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    7 Key Poolscaping Design Considerations

    Congratulations on choosing to build a swimming pool, it is one of the best decisions you could ever make for your family! Now doubt you have a vision in mind for your dream outdoor space. Perhaps you have chosen your pool paving tile but have you considered how the tile feels underfoot on a 40 degree day? 

    The level of enjoyment to be had in and around your new swimming pool will be influenced by the level of thought and consideration when planning the pool surrounds, also known as your poolscape. It's the small considerations that will make a big difference to how your family and friends enjoy your new pool. 

    #1 Where will the pool be located?

    • Get to know your property first and foremost! Easements, property overlays and regulations will impact where your pool can be located.  Visit Victorian DELWP https://www2.delwp.vic.gov.au/maps/maps-and-spatial-data for your free property report.
    • What is on the other side of your boundary fences? If you would like the pool’s edge to be closer than 1m to your boundary, it is important to understand what is built on the other side of your boundary.
    • Where will the afternoon sun shine in your backyard? The afternoon is often the time you will enjoy your pool, the sun is also at its strongest at this time. The afternoon sun in your eyes when sitting in or around the pool watching the kids in the afternoon will become very uncomfortable and you'll end up becoming burnt.

    #2 How will you entertain in and around the pool?

    • Giving thought to and planning the social spaces in and around your pool area will ensure you create a backyard to be enjoyed now and for many years to come.
    • The area surrounding the pool entry/steps should also be well considered – if you do not allow enough space, the most basic of needs (getting in and out of the pool) can become a challenge.
    • Would you like to have sun lounges or even a day bed alongside your pool? Or perhaps you would prefer a table and chairs for entertaining or to feed the kids when you can drag them out of the pool for a snack and to reapply sunscreen.
    • If you are limited by space, perhaps a bench seat with a couple of bright scatter cushions would work – doubles as storage which is always a bonus!

    #3 How to landscape around the pool with budget in mind?

    • Before the median block size in Melbourne fell to 450 squares in 2017 (Domain), it was general rule to allow a budget equivalent to 50% of the pool cost for the landscaping and fencing – this obviously depends on space and your taste.
    • Be thoughtful when planning hard spaces surrounding your pool. Fully tiled areas may be desired but if you are looking to reduce landscaping costs, perhaps a small amount of tiling combined with instant synthetic lawn may be the perfect compromise (from a cost and maintenance point of view).
    • If working to a limited landscaping budget, it is worth keeping in mind that most families usually use only two sides of a pool – perhaps focus your investment in hard surfaces on those two sides and just allow one row of tiling on the other two unused sides of the pool.

    #4 What do I need to consider when planning my pool fence?

    • To understand your new pool’s fencing requirements, head to the Victorian Building Authority’s website (VBA): https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/safety-guides/swimming-pools
    • To take your understanding one step further, an independent surveyor can conduct a pre-safety barrier inspection and either provide verbal advice or a written report specific to your backyard pool plans. Making sure your plans comply with safety barrier regulations can save you a great deal of time and money.
    • Pool safety barrier options are endless, be sure to consider all options! From compliant screens (to clad your boundary fence), framed to frameless glass fencing, standard tubular pool fences to vertical uprights – there is an option (or even a combination of options) to suit your desired style and budget.
    • If you browse popular landscape architect designs you will notice many often incorporate both glass and tubular (or uprights) pool fences and not just glass on its own. Glass pool fencing can act as a sound barrier, by incorporating tubular fencing sound will travel and you will be able to listen to the fun being had in and around the pool. Pool safety and ventilation is also a driver of this landscape architecture principle.

    #5 What about my pool equipment and even the pool cover and roller?

    • Your pool equipment usually occupies a minimum area of 1.5m in length and 1.0m in width - this area will increase with the addition gas or electric heating (both have required clearance zones) and infloor cleaning.
    • To ensure you receive optimum filtration, it is best to locate the pool equipment within 8m of your pool edge. Any greater, you will need to increase the equipment sizes (increase in budget).
    • The pool equipment needs to be easily accessible (for convenience and practicality reasons) and try to avoid locating it alongside a social space or outside a bedroom window. Hayward equipment is the quietest on the market but there is still a constant hum.
    • Reduce evaporation and maintain your pool temperature with the addition of a pool blanket. Consider how you will store your blanket – if it is on a roller, where will this roller be located? Perhaps you could conceal it in a timber bench seat or you may choose to invest in an underground pool blanket box (featured below in the Brighton East Pool Project).

    #6 Choosing the colour pallet for my outdoor space?

    • When you browse pool inspiration photos you will notice most outdoor colour schemes are either neutrals (cream based tones as featured in the Yarraville Pool Project below) or greys. When selecting your pool colour, pool paving tiles, pool fence, screens and pool furniture be sure to check the colours and textures you have chosen complement each other and work with the tones of your home.
    • Avoid the ouch! factor and ask your pool paving supplier to see pool tile options which repel the sun’s heat. Porcelain, travertine and limestone tile options are the coolest under foot but may be out of your budget – if so, consider sticking with pool pavers light in colour.
    • Handy tip: painting a paling boundary fence? Always stick to dark greys, your fence will look smaller and the emphasis then focuses on what is in front of your fence – garden and your new pool!

    #7 How to style you pool and outdoor space on a budget?

    • It is important to invest in the main hard surfaces of your outdoor space - stick with neutrals or greys and this then forms the foundation of your outdoor style.
    • Although the hard surfaces may be bland, add colour, pattern and impact with:
      • a cluster of outdoor pots and statement plants (be sure to steer clear of spikey plants in and around the pool area! pool friendly and child friendly plants are the way to go!)
      • a few scatter cushions on outdoor furniture or bench seats – oversized outdoor cushions are a great option for primary school and teenaged kids
      • an outdoor matt is an effective way of layering in an outdoor space
      • what about a simple tray and bright drinkware on your outdoor entertaining table
        Even if your budget is limited, the above outdoor styling options can be added gradually or updated from time to time without costing a fortune.

    Our Pool Designers will draw on their wealth of experience in the pool industry to offer sound advice and planning for not only your swimming pool, but also the landscape surrounding it. Your Pool Designer is always abreast of current pool landscaping designs and trends, ensuring your finished pool will look stunning on the day of completion and long into the future.

    Although Albatross Pools do not handle your pool landscaping directly, we are more than happy to refer our clients to our personal landscape designer, Anthony Scott Landscaping Design. Anthony has been in the business for over 20 years and worked closely with us on The Home Team Project. His standards mirror our own at Albatross Pools, and he can create packages to suit all budgets if you are after a complete backyard poolscape concept plan. 

     

     

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    What To Plant Around A Swimming Pool

    Now that your sparkling new swimming pool is fully installed, your next priority is a natural one: swimming pool landscaping. You definitely want to make an effort to help your pool blend into its surroundings, allowing it to become a pivotal part of a much larger whole. A lot of success in this area will come down to what you choose to plant around your swimming pool. You'll want plants that will thrive and maybe even offer you some shade on those hot summer days of the year, while also being low maintenance. When it comes to this particular goal, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

    Planting Around a Swimming Pool: Tips and Tricks

    The team at Albatross Pools are experts at designing & building  innovative swimming pools. We are not landscape designers. That being said, our founder way back in 1969 was a keen gardener, and his backyard show garden was impressive enough to have featured on Burke’s Backyard. Since then we have garnered a wealth of experience when it comes to plant knowledge and often offer our experience in guiding clients in the right direction. Our two pool display centres (which happen to be Australia’s oldest) are fully landscaped, and we have learnt from experience what works, and doesn’t work, with regards to pool landscaping over the years.

    Our preferred landscape designer, Anthony Scott from Anthony Scott Landscape Design, offers this advice:

    "Creating the perfect poolscape is all about finding the balance between functional space, the right furniture and of course plant life."

    Pool Friendly Plants

    According to the Swimming Pool and Spa Association, a plant must have a few key characteristics if it can be officially classified as "pool friendly." They should be able to thrive in an environment where wind and salt exposure are expected, for example. They should also be capable of thriving in either a semi-shaded area or a full sun area, the specifics of which will obviously vary depending on your environment.

    They should also be highly tolerant to exposure to chlorine and other pool chemicals, which is particularly common in the area immediately surrounding your pool. Because of this, options like pineapple sage, peach leaved bellflower, swamp daisy and Ajuga are the way to go.

    Shrubs can also make a great addition to your swimming pool landscaping, with options like Siberian Iris, Mexican Orange Blossom and Mexican Mock Orange being popular selections all across the country.

    These are certainly not your only options, however. A few of the other types of plants that you can include in your swimming pool landscaping include but are not limited to ones like:

    • Bull Banksia
    • Blueberry Ash
    • Native Fuchsia
    • Holly Leaved Grevillea
    • Waxflower
    • Australe Storksbill
    • Himalayan Dogwood
    • Prostrate Grevillea

    Native Plants Pool-friendly

    Pool friendly plants share common characteristics such as low maintenance, little or no pruning, and high drought tolerance. If you have a salt chlorinated pool they need to be salt tolerant in case of water splashing. Depending on the location of the pool, you plant choice may be dictated by the environment in terms of privacy, wind factor, or ground coverage.

    Senecio Serpens - Blue Chalk Sticks

    For screening: If privacy is a concern, consider the following to create a natural, low maintenance screen that will mature over the years. Laurus nobilus-Bay Laurel, Olea Europa- Olive tree and Banksia marginata- Coastal Banksia.

    For mid-level planting: Consider Gardenia species, Westringea fruiticosa-Coastal rosemary, Rosemarinus officianalis-Rosemary, Cycas revoluta-Cycad and Philodendron 'Xanadu'.

    For ground cover: Consider Trachylospermum asiaticum-Star jasmine, Ophiopogon japonicus-Mondo grass, Dichondra 'Silver Falls'-Silver dichondra, Senecio serpens-Blue chalk sticks and Nepeta species-Catmint.

     

    Plants to avoid around your swimming pool

    No matter whether it is a plunge pool or a lap pool, an Albatross swimming pool requires little maintenance. Unless you require maintenance in your life, it is recommended you avoid plants that shed regularly. Deciduous plants are still okay, as they only require one large clean up session per year, whereas evergreens will require year round maintenance. The key to planting success is to select plants that don’t require regular pruning, or those that don’t shed berries or needles. You'll also want to avoid anything that will drop leaf litter onto your pool or the surrounding area, meaning that anything that hangs overhead just won't do.

    Along the same lines, there are a number of plants that you'll want to avoid as they have a potential to damage your pool surrounds via their root systems. Bamboo is one of these species, according to the Swimming Pool and Spa Association. Umbrella trees and rubber trees should also be on your "under no circumstances" list, as they very commonly cause problems with pools in particular due to things like underground plumbing and paving.

    Your new Albatross swimming pool should be an inviting, family friendly environment; therefore it is unwise to plant anything spiky. These plants are often spiky as a natural defense meaning you will need to keep your distance. Pool users won’t appreciate dodging spikes on their way to the water and likewise it will make pool maintenance that much harder for yourself.

    The function of the pool will dictate what can and can’t be planted with a view to maintenance and user friendliness. The above list of plants is a comprehensive, but by no means exhaustive, list of plants that experience has shown us are good or bad options to use in your pool landscaping. Consultation with a professional pool designer or landscaper will ensure the creation of an accurate planting design suitable for your individual pool project.

    If you're looking for the best pool builders in Melbourne, you've come to the right place. Contact Albatross Pools today for more information about swimming pool installation, swimming pool landscaping and so much more.

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    How to choose a pool colour?

    With so many pool colours to choose from, selecting the perfect pool colour for your backyard can be a tricky process. Clients often begin by asking to see the most popular pool colours when visiting our swimming pool display centres.  Yet, like most trends, what is popular today may not be popular tomorrow.  For this reason we encourage our clients to consider a number of important factors when choosing a pool colour.

    Look and Feel

    Before you begin to think about pool colour, first consider the look and feel you would like to create in your backyard. Are you after a tropical oasis, a Tuscan haven, a natural lagoon, or a modern chic outdoor space?  Be sure to consider the style and exterior tones of your home.  The theme of your backyard will begin to guide you towards a colour palette to work from.

    The Pool Colour

    Depending on the size of your swimming pool, your backyard design may feature your swimming pool as the centerpiece in its design.  Like any centerpiece, it should compliment the desired look and feel whilst adding the ‘wow’ factor to the overall design.

    Factors to be considered when choosing a pool colour include your backyard theme, pool surrounds, water reflection and water temperature, just to name a few.  To ensure the process of choosing a pool colour is as simple yet enjoyable as possible, I’d encourage you to use the table below as a reference point when selecting the right pool colour for your swimming pool.

    Factor Light Pool Colours Dark Pool Colours
    Pool Colours Pacific Light Blue Maldive Mosaic Reef Pebble Mediterranean Marble Antique Bahama
    Caribbean Casablanca
    Costa Rica Dark Blue
    Pool Surrounds The tone of your pool surrounds should be in contrast to your pool colour. If you choose a light pool colour, consider  darker pool surrounds including:

    • Dark Wooden Decking
    • Bluestone
    • Dark Granite
    • Sandstone with red, brown and orange earth tones
    • Travertine with chocolate and caramel tones
    • Dark Limestone
    • Dark Slate
    • Dark Bric
    The tone of your pool surrounds should be in contrast to your pool colour. If you choose a dark pool colour, consider  lighter pool surrounds including:

    • Light Wooden Decking
    • Light Granite
    • Natural or Ivory Sandstone
    • Travertine with cream and beige tones
    • Light Limestone
    • Light Slate
    • Light Brick
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Pool Reflection

    A lighter pool colour will draw your eye to the bottom of the swimming pool and you may be more inclined to notice settled debris. A darker pool colour will reflect the pool surrounds and create a mirror-like effect. You will be less likely to notice any settle debris at the bottom of the swimming pool.
    Pool Water Temperature A lighter pool colour will reflect the sunrays and cooler pool water may result.  There is also a high potential for glare. A darker pool colour will attract and absorb the sunrays. A darker pool colour may increase your pool water temperature by 2 to 3 degrees.

    Impact of Water & Natural Light

    When people renovate or build, it is common to collect samples (bench top, splash back tile, paint swatch, cabinetry colour, etc) to see if the combination works well and creates the desired look and feel. In the case of a pool and it's surrounds, it is important to consider the impact of water and natural light (bright Summer's day vs. dull Winter's day) - samples can take on a completely different look and feel.

    Antique Pool Colour
    Antique in an Albatross Display Pool with a Pool Water Feature

    Helpful Pool Design Tip

    Take your favourite pool coping tile sample to your pool builder's display centre and place it alongside a pool with your chosen pool colour featured. This is the best way to get a feel for how your dream pool space will look!

    Pool Colour Samples taken inside under artificial light
    Pool Colour Samples in an Albatross Display Pool (water movement and natural light)

    Safety

    Don’t forget to consider how slippery your pool surrounds may become when wet. Perhaps consider a textured pool surround. And finally, we have found that dark pool surrounds can attract heat and retain heat in the surface, which may become uncomfortable to walk on during a hot summer’s day.

    We find by keeping a few simple factors in mind when choosing your pool colour, you will be able to achieve the desired look and feel in your backyard in little to no time at all! Your pool builder might help you to make the right decision. To see the pool colours available with Albatross Pools, simply visit one of our swimming pool display centres open seven days a week year round.

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    Which Pool Cleaner Suits My Pool and Lifestyle?

    When you have a swimming pool, keeping it clean is a must for safe swimming. Automatic pool cleaners can make this aspect of pool maintenance a little easier. Not sure where to begin when it comes to choosing a pool cleaner? Consider your budget and lifestyle. For those who don't mind a little manual labour, a traditional pool vacuum may do the trick. However, those who want to save the time and hassle of manual labour may prefer a more costly suction or robotic pool cleaner or an in-floor pool cleaning system.

    By weighing some of the pros and cons of each option, you can choose the one that's right for you.

    Manual Pool Cleaning/Vacuuming

    When you purchase a pool from us, you always receive a free handover kit that includes:

    • Vacuum
    • Telescopic pole
    • Hose
    • Pool broom
    • Pool leaf rake
    • Water testing kit

    The manual pool cleaning option is great for people who love to spend time in their yard and is an effective maintenance solution for low-leaf problem pools as it enables you to clean the entire pool. This is by far the cheapest option when it comes to pool cleaning solutions, with out-of-pocket prices ranging between $200 and $300. However, this option can also be labour intensive as you cannot just walk away, and it also means working on the pool during the colder winter months while also having potentially higher water consumption.

    Suction Pool Cleaning

    A suction pool cleaner connects to your pool's skimmer, with a cleaner that moves across the floor of your pool to pick up debris such as dirt and leaves. From there, debris that is collected is caught in the skimmer basket, this basket then needs to be manually cleaned out on a periodic basis.

    Pricing for suction pool cleaners can range between $500 and $1,000, and many people enjoy this cleaner option because it is convenient and runs off the pool's existing filtration system (when your pool turns on so too will your suction cleaner if it is connected). It can easily be used every day to maintain a clean pool.

    On the other hand, this option does not allow surface skimming or the cleaning of additional pool surfaces such as the walls and steps, and the pool itself cannot be used while the cleaner is operating. Since the pump needs to be run while the cleaner is working, it can also cause wear and tear to your pool filtration system and will require more frequent backwashing of the pool filter.

    Robotic Pool Cleaning

    A robotic pool cleaner is a great option for those who don't want to do much in the way of manual labour to clean their pools or have much free time. These cleaners are totally independent, so they don't need to be connected to your filter or other pool components. Simply program the map/size of your pool and put the robotic cleaner to work. This type of cleaner will brush the floor and depending on the brand and model, can also brush the walls and waterline of the pool.

    You will need to empty the cartridge/basket/sock on a robotic pool cleaner as needed, and the cost for these can easily range between $1,200 and $5,000 depending on the brand and warranty, making them one of the more expensive pool cleaning options on the market.

    In-Floor Pool Cleaning

    For those who want to avoid manual cleaning as much as possible and want the ultimate bragging rights, an in-floor pool cleaning system is the ideal solution.

    In-floor pool cleaning systems offer a range of benefits including:

    • Pool will self clean all year round plus during normal filtration hours
    • No additional equipment is required around the pool making it clutter free
    • Can handle very high debris levels
    • Assists in heating and circulation throughout the pool
    • Versatile for all pool designs

    There are some drawbacks to this system. For a start it is at the top end of the price scale, with prices starting from around $9,500 depending on the brand, warranty and size of the pool. Another issue is that you need to decide to include an in-floor pool cleaning system during construction as it is not a viable option for those who have an existing pool. In-floor cleaning systems also add to the power bill and cannot clean the walls of the pool, only the water and loose debris.

    With all these pool-cleaning options in mind, which is right for you? Contact Albatross Pools today for assistance in choosing the right pool cleaner for your budget and lifestyle.

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    Why life isn’t a beach with a salt-water pool

    One of the first questions we ask prospective customers when they enquire about a new pool is what type of water they would like to swim in. Nine times out of ten the answer is the same: salt. When asked why, the reasons are invariably the same. “My friend has one.” “Salt water pools require no maintenance.” “I want the experience of swimming at the beach.”

    Now I don’t know about you, but my memories of swimming at the beach aren’t all that rosy. Frizzy, dry hair and skin, stinging eyes, faded bathers and the need to have a shower after swimming are not the attributes I’d want in my new pool. I’d prefer to have perfect skin and hair, clear eyes, bathers that last at least a few months, and avoid showering after every dip. So what are your water options?

    Salt vs. Ionic

    Every pool has a filtration system of some kind including a filter (sand or cartridge) and a pump (motor). A filtration system circulates the pool water. Every pool needs to be regularly tested and balanced to ensure safe and crystal clear water and to also comply with warranty conditions on both the pool and equipment. “Balancing,” means that the pH, Total Alkalinity, chlorine, stabiliser, calcium and metals are tested in the water before specialised products are added to ensure these levels are maintained within ideal parameters.

    If the pool owner doesn’t want to manually add chlorine or sanitise the pool manually (to keep their chlorine level within the ideal parameter), they can choose to incorporate a sanitisation system in with their filtration system on the pool to automatically generate chlorine or some form of sanitiser.

    The most common sanitisation systems are:

    • Liquid Chlorine and Liquid Acid Feeder (commonly known as a Chemigem)
    • Salt Chlorination System
    • Mineral System
    • Ionic Fresh Water System

    Ionic Fresh Water System

    If you want to avoid the hassle of washing salt off everything after you swim, then we recommend opting to have an Ionic Purifier in your Albatross Pool. An Ionic Purifier delivers a natural ‘soft’ feel to the water akin to freshwater. The Ioniser is an effective sanitisation system that releases controlled amounts of silver and copper into the pool water via electrolysis. Silver is a powerful disinfectant that prevents bacteria forming in the water, while copper inhibits algae growth. The presence of the silver/copper mixture creates a neutral water balance that effectively reduces the amount of chemical maintenance required throughout the year. As an added bonus, the Ionic Purifier is not affected by water temperature or swimmer usage, meaning a fresher, natural feeling pool year round. As chlorine is required in all pools, we recommend the use of an Inline Tablet when using the Ionic System. This will help circulate a small amount of chlorine throughout the pool.

    An Ionic system is also a preventative system as copper and silver prevents algae and bacteria from even forming whereas chlorine/salt kills algae and bacteria once they are present in the pool water. An Ionic system is also ideal if garden beds are close by the pool, as water that splashes out of the pool (kids having fun…or even adults!) won’t kill the plants like chlorine/salt will. The water from an Ionic pool will not leave a residue on the surrounding pool paving and glass pool fencing whereas salt leaves a white residue, which is the dried out salt itself.

    Salt Chlorination System

    Contrary to the marketing spiel, salt chlorinated pools are not the ‘set-and-forget’ miracle pool of your dreams. A lot of monitoring, maintenance and money goes into the daily running of a salt pool and could find you ruing the day it ever landed in your yard!

    While cleverly marketed as being able to swim at the beach at home, it is somewhat of a misconception and the truth is a little left of centre. Many salt chlorinated pools are sold to owners as maintenance free systems. This often leads to salt pool owners becoming complacent and only maintaining the pool’s salt level. Doing this will lead to great amounts of chlorine being produced, but none of the other essential levels that are fundamental to swimmer comfort and safety such as pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium and Stabiliser.

    A salt water pool requires constant monitoring, especially during the heavy summer usage period. For example, during the peak of summer an average sized pool (8 x 4m) would need 1 bag of salt per week. Unfortunately there is no home test kit to monitor the salt level in the pool. You must employ the expertise of the local pool shop which is an additional ownership cost that needs to be factored in.

    While you may relish the thought of swimming in a salt water pool, you may very well be sick of the sight of salt by the time you conduct your regular maintenance! The process involved in creating the salt water environment is complicated and a fine balancing act to ensure optimum swimming conditions.

    Some of the technical aspects include:

    • Adding 20-25kg of pool salt to the pool. As it dissolves it passes over the salt cell and through a process of electrolysis; the dissolved salt is turned into sodium hypochlorite (also commonly known as liquid chlorine – the big blue 15L drums you may see at a Bunnings or Mitre10).
    • Sodium hypochlorite is the main ingredient in household bleach. Think about that for a minute!
    • Sodium hypochlorite has a pH of about 13ppm, whereas your eyes/skin/hair require a neutral pH of 7.4ppm, hence the need to constantly add liquid acid or dry acid to bring the pH down.
    • Effective pH dosing systems can be incorporated into the salt chlorination system but the probes need to be serviced regularly to ensure the right amount of acid is being added to the pool.

    It is a fact of life that people who live in countries where winter brings snow, often find themselves renewing their cars faster than those who live in warmer climes. The reason for this is often found in a particular road safety method called ‘gritting’. This is where councils spray a salt-based mix on to the roads to dissolve the fallen snow and give vehicles safer passage. The downside is in the salt. It literally eats your car over time. Salt is corrosive and your pool will not be spared its wrath! Due to its pH and aggressive nature, salt can cause maintenance problems for your surrounding plants and paving. Salt delaminates sandstone and after only a few years can cause damage as seen below.

    Sandstone delamination caused by salt water

    Salt can also cause headaches for those with tiled, pebble and concrete pools as seen below.

    Calcification on a tiled pool.

    As mentioned earlier, high levels of chlorine are often produced by unbalanced salt water pools. Chlorine has a wonderfully unwanted ability to deteriorate all pool surfaces, whether they are concrete, pebble, tiled, fiberglass, the PVC membrane and the gel coat. It also plays havoc with the internals of gas heaters. While not intended to send you running for the hills at the thought of owning a salt water pool, it goes to show that there are many factors of salt water pool ownership that are often conveniently omitted from the sales brochure.

    What about Mineral Pools

    Salt is a type of mineral and therefore most mineral pools (magnesium for example) are subjected to the same inherent problems attributed to salt based systems.

    While a salt system is a great system that many pool owners opt for, it’s not as maintenance free as everyone assumes and certainly has additional expenditure and harmful repercussions for the pool internals and surrounds. In saying that, while we will always promote the benefits of an Ionic Purifier we also encourage customers to explore all options before settling on their water type. A swimming pool will be an integral part of your family’s time together for many years to come and extensive research should be conducted to avoid impacting the enjoyment of your new pool. All information supplied in this article is intended as a guide only and we strongly encourage customers to conduct further investigation into every available option.

    As a business we choose products for our customers based on close to 50 years of experience and knowledge and we also choose products that provide value both short and long term for the pool owner. In an Ioniser’s case, we recommend it as it is gentle on the swimmer and will not shorten the life span of the pool equipment, the pool and all of its surrounds. Salt chlorinators are just marketed very well – they do require maintenance, they shorten the lifespan of the pool equipment and the surrounding area, and by no means is it like the salt from the beach.

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    Why Small Pools Are Big

    These days new home block sizes are ever decreasing, resulting in smaller spaces being allocated to outdoor living and pool areas. For those who have their hearts set on installing a swimming pool, it means many homeowners have to become increasingly creative with their outdoor living space. If you've wanted a swimming pool but have been under the assumption that your yard is too small, you may want to consider a courtyard pool or plunge pool as a viable option! These unique and functional styles of pool are great for more confined outdoor spaces. Not to mention, they come with numerous additional benefits that a larger, "traditional" pool simply does not.

    Why Small Pools Are Big

    What is a Courtyard Pool?

    Specifically, a courtyard pool refers to a swimming pool that is smaller in size; these pools are designed to be incorporated into smaller spaces beautifully and naturally. These pools are typically rectangular in shape and include our innovative Aqualux PVC membrane, though there are many additional ways in which their design can be customised. And when done correctly, they can also fit into the overall landscape of your yard to make a bold architectural statement. Typically, these pools are still large and deep enough for you to enjoy all the health and lifestyle benefits of a regular pool as well as offering cooling respite on a hot day.

    Reduced Cost

    One of the key benefits to choosing a courtyard pool is the cost savings, especially when compared to a larger and more traditional swimming pool style. Not only does it cost less in materials and labour to have a small courtyard swimming pool installed, but the operation and maintenance costs tend to be much lower as well. Your pool will require less water to fill it, and you'll go through fewer chemicals to keep your pool water at proper and balanced levels.

    Easier Maintenance

    Speaking of maintenance, does the thought of trying to maintain a large pool make you uneasy? If so, then you'll also love the fact that courtyard pools tend to be much easier to maintain due to their smaller size and thus smaller water volume. So long as you test your water regularly and follow the recommended maintenance schedule, keeping your pool's water safe and balanced is pretty simple. Of course, if you're still intimidated by the thought of maintaining your swimming pool, you can always consider a (relatively) maintenance-free option from Albatross Pools. We offer pools with time-saving features such as ionic water purifiers and even built-in pool cleaning systems so you can take the time, hassle, and guess work out of keeping your pool maintained!

    Optional Features

    Just as with a traditional swimming pool, there are all kinds of ways to make your courtyard or plunge pool your own. Consider, for example, having a swim jet system installed in your courtyard pool; these can be great for adjusting your water flow so you can swim at your own pace without worrying about bumping into the walls of your pool! We also offer heating systems to keep your pool at a comfortable temperature all year-round. You might even consider having wrap-around seating installed in the shallow perimeter of your pool to create more of an entertainment space and optimise your use of the space available in your yard.

    As you can see, smaller courtyard pools can make a huge difference in your yard and their many features and benefits have seen them boom in popularity. If you're thinking about installing one of these unique pools on your property, Albatross Pools is here to help. Contact us today to get started!

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