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Swimming Pool Landscape Design | An Overview

swimming pool landscape design an overview

At Sculpt Gardens, we have worked closely with homeowners to create the swimming pool of their dreams.  We consider the positioning, surrounding landscape, and gardens to ensure a cohesive, stunning effect that sits well with their existing home and gardens. You can create an oasis in your own backyard and we can help your vision become a reality. 

Swimming pools are not just a positive addition for your enjoyment. They also increase the value of your home. An outdoor pool is even more appealing since the onset of the pandemic. While pools have always been trendy, your home is even more desirable if you’re looking to sell in the near future. A pool is entertaining and of course swimming is a great method of exercise. Your pool will be a focal point, bringing your family together in one place.

Something to be aware of is that a pool takes up a lot of space. You’ll want to leave lawn space for kids to run and play on.

Having a pool put into your yard will take planning and some preparation. It should be considered a significant renovation to your home. To make the planning process easier, we have shared our swimming pool landscape design knowledge. This will help you make the best decisions possible, ensuring your pool area is a fun, safe and awesome place to share with friends and family throughout the year.


The location of your pool may be dictated by factors outside of your control. Factors such as waste water pipes, underground cables, setbacks (the distance you must put your pool from your boundary), and the available space you have.  Pools also have to be a set distance from other existing structures too. However, if you do have some flexibility and plenty of space, this is ideally where we’d like to position your pool:

  • A space with plenty of exposure to sunshine all day long.
  • Close to the house and viewable from the living area/kitchen. This will give you a good vantage point to actively supervise the pool.
  • Good continuity between the indoors and outdoors. There should be a good flow between your living area and the pool area.
  • If you solely have space for your pool in your front garden, we’ll want to make sure we set it based on your ‘set back zone’ stipulated by your residential area. Most front gardens have a set back of 3m. This means your pool must be 3m back from the front boundary of your property.


Think about how you’re going to utilise your pool. Will you be using it for swimming laps, for kids, or for general fitness? Perhaps you’re aiming for a relaxing spa experience with pool loungers or integrating a spa pool close by as well. If you can dream it, we can create it.

When you know exactly what you want, we can use the space optimally and meet your expectations. There are many different pool shapes and designs that make it possible to work around your space for you to choose from. When you know what the purpose of your pool will be, this also helps your landscape designer create the backdrop that surrounds your pool area.

swimming pool lounger


Your budget and space will dictate the size of your pool. We’ve outlined the main materials your pool is made from below:


  • More expensive but you can create any shape or size
  • Have more structural integrity
  • Can be placed closer to a house or drop offs / retaining walls

Image from Concrete Pool Systems
Image from Concrete Pool Systems


  • Less expensive
  • Wide range of pre-made fibreglass shapes, sizes and designs that suit different shapes & layouts.
fibreglass pool

Container pools

  • Good for a section that has a slope or dip
  • Quick & easy to install
  • Relocatable
  • Often requires less fencing
  • Often needs less excavation & earthworks
container pool
Image from Container Pools NZ


It is highly likely that you will need fencing around some or all areas of your pool.

Fencing options fall into these 3 main categories:

Glass: It’s more expensive than aluminium fencing but enables you to look through to the pool from the house so is visually appealing.  Glass pool fences can either be framed or frameless:

Framed glass

framed glass pool fence

Frameless glass can be installed flush with the surface.

Or clamped with a spigot as seen below

Aluminium pool fencing - the cheapest option and we particularly like this style.

DuraPanel Axis Aluminium Fences - Boundaryline
DuraPanel Axis Aluminium Fences - Boundaryline

Often people use a mix of fencing options, using glass for the front section, where you look from the house into the pool, with fencing to the sides and/or rear, as seen in the image below:

Custom made - You can be creative using differing materials to style your pool area with aluminium tubes or wooden batons. The openings must not be wider than a 100mm sphere pass through and the gap below the fence must be less than 100mm.


When you imagine what your pool space will be like, how does it feel? Is it lazy days lounging around? Think about the space you want around your pool and within the fencing.

If you want a place to chill out, be mindful about saving space for loungers and a shaded seating area. The space inside the pool area is solely for pool activities.

Your relaxing space nearby should include shade solutions. Maybe you’d like a permanent umbrella. If so, it will need to be positioned away from the pool fence so it doesn’t become a climbing hazard.


You’ll want some additional space to be put aside for your pool cover. There are 2 main options to consider:

  1. Down under hidden roller pool covers are installed out of the way under the timber or tiled paved pool area.
  2. The cheaper option is a mobile or automatic pool cover with rollers that sit at the end of the pool on a reel system.
pool cover


The pool pump and its housing will require a bit of space. You’ll want to think about where that is best positioned.

Consider the storage of your pool equipment including chemicals, filters, cleaning equipment, and pool accessories (noodles, air mattresses etc). You can amalgamate a pool shed that houses the pool pump and pool paraphernalia. This is going to keep your pool space clear of clutter.

pool toys in pool


If you are looking for something smaller & easier to add into your garden, a swim spa may be a suitable option. Swim spas are prefabricated off site making installation faster and easier than a traditional swimming pool. Optional fitness models are common. Swim spas fitness models can create a current meaning you can ‘swim-in-place’. Other optional accessories are available like rowing bars and underwater treadmills.

Common sizes include 4.6m, 5.2m and 6.1m long, all are 2.26m wide. Heights vary but all are over 1.2m high which means they very rarely need to be fenced if they are installed on top of the ground. However, all swim spas need 1.2m of ‘non-climbable’ space around their perimeter. The longest model is multifunctional and includes two separate sections; one for exercise or larger groups of people, and a traditional spa section for smaller groups. 

Swim spas can be clad in a range of textures and colours provided by the manufacturer. They can also be recessed into the ground with a deck built around the outside to create a seamless traditional swimming pool look, however, the swim spa will then need fencing. 

There are a range of covers, most are designed to be operated by only one person making your swim spa easily accessible. These range from hydraulic self-opening and closing covers to flexible roll-up covers which can easily be rolled back to rest on bars installed on the side of the swim spa. 


Spa pools are great for smaller gardens where a swimming pool or swim spa isn’t an option. If the spa is under 5000L capacity, has a lockable cover, and is 760mm away from climbable objects, it does not need council consent or a pool fence. 

Like swim spas, they come pre-fabricated so are very easy to install and come in a range of sizes and options for covers. These average around 2x2m. There are also a range of shapes available to get the perfect fit and style for your space.

hut tub view nz


  • Pool fencing needs to be at least 1.2m high with no possibility of being climbed over.
  • Openings and gaps beneath and between the fencing must not be wider than 100mm.
  • The entrance gate needs to open outwards - towards you and be at least 1.2m high.
  • The pool needs to be set back off the boundaries of your property by the correct distance. This is normally 1m in rear gardens or 3m in a front garden. Check your local restrictions.
  • Boundary fencing which is being used as the pool barrier needs to be 1.8m tall with no potential of being climbed over on either side.
  • Pool fencing needs to be at least 1m away from the pool edge.
  • There is nothing that is climbable 900m inside or outside of the fenced pool area. This includes pots/planters, bench seats, furniture, or established trees,

Learn more from the Auckland Council Pool Area Safety Checklist

There are plenty of pool landscaping decisions to be made before you get started on creating your own dream swimming pool. 

If you'd love some assistance bringing your pool project to life, don't hesitate to get in touch with our expert team!

To take a look at our range of pool landscaping designs click HERE.


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