Top tips for building a pool by andrea uren

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The most important part of building a pool is the preparation phase, when you’ll decide the overall look of your swimming pool and hire a pool contractor. A landscape desinger or luxury pool builder can walk you through the design process, but it helps to have a general idea of what you ultimately want. Before building a pool, ask yourself these 10 questions

 
1. Why do I want a swimming pool?
As with all good design, form follows function — so the answer to this question will establish the foundation for your pool design. For example, a pool meant for fitness swimming can look a lot different from one intended for backyard entertaining. You may simply want to enjoy the aesthetics or audible appeal of water in your garden , which will greatly influence the design. A combination pool/spa may be in order.

2. Who will use the pool?
To accommodate swimmers of all ages and allow for multiple activities, you might want to include shallow areas for toddlers, extra grab rails for the elderly, tanning ledges and seats.

3. Is my yard suitable for pool construction?
Many builders recommend that soil tests be conducted to confirm the site is suitable for pool construction. Sandy, expansive or rocky soil and other ground factors present unique building concerns and can significantly increase construction costs.
Sometimes a proposed site will not work because it is inaccessible by the heavy machinery needed to dig the hole for the pool. Ideally, for a new house the pool should be excavated before the build of the home begins.

4. Where will the pool be located?
Before you can answer this question, you’ll need to know the local building laws for your property. To control water runoff, there may be restrictions on how much of your yard can be covered with decking and in which direction it must slope. Pools are required to be fenced in, which might affect where your pool can be located. Gas, electrical, and telephone, may also influence the pool’s location, as there is often an additional expense to relocate these utilities.
Remember to consider how people will enter and exit the pool, where people will congregate and how to maximize sun exposure while minimizing wind exposure, which contributes to heat loss and evaporation.
Because homeowners typically spend more time looking at their pool than swimming in it, consider how the pool will be viewed from the rest of the yard and from within the home.

5. What shape and style will the pool be?
Choose a shape and style that complements the architecture of the home and existing landscape.
If you are set on a pool design that doesn’t match the home’s architecture, try to incorporate a transition area from the home to the pool. Through the use of walkways and plantings, as well as by changing materials, you can gently guide people from one aesthetic to another without causing a clash in styles. Landscaping makes a great transition, especially where there are elevation changes.

6. What special features do I want in my pool?
To maximize enjoyment of your pool, even when you’re not swimming, you can incorporate water features and lighting. Based on how you plan to use your pool, you may also want to consider underwater benches, shallow beach-style entries, ledges to sit on. If aquatic exercise interests you, consider installing underwater handrails and a variable-speed current system, which creates a flow of water that enables you to swim in place.

7. What other backyard amenities do I want?
When planning your ideal poolscape, list everything you’d like to include, even if your budget does not permit building it now. Some things to consider include a pool house, outdoor kitchen, firepit, outdoor shower.
It is much cheaper to accommodate future plans in your original design than to modify your poolscape later on. For example, if you know you’ll be adding a firepit or outdoor kitchen at a later date, it’s best to run the gas lines to those areas of the poolscape in the beginning, which eliminates the need to tear up the deck and surrounding landscape at a later date.

8. What materials do you want to use?
Although plaster had been the dominant pool surface for decades, aggregate and tile surfaces have become more fashionable. Elaborate tile mosaics and glass tile provide the artistic flexibility many luxury pool owners seek. Tiles can be colour matched to the exterior of your home.
You’ll want to look at the surrounding architecture and landscape for clues about what materials to use. Natural stone pavers and rock waterfalls can help a pool blend into a natural landscape, whereas glass tile and arcing jets of water might look lovely around a home in a contemporary setting.

9. How can you ensure that your pool will be easy to maintain?
No pool is maintenance-free, but you can greatly reduce maintenance by making sure your pool is engineered to be energy-efficient, with sound hydraulics and substantial filtration. Automatic sanitizers, such as saltwater chlorinators, ensure that the proper amount of sanitizing chemicals are in the water at all times, making it hard for algae to grow in your pool.

10. Who will build the pool?
The best way to locate pool builders who are committed to quality construction and good design is to ask for referrals from friends and colleagues who own pools you like. Building inspectors and landscape designer/contractors are other sources of referrals. We can also provide you with a local contact.

Lawn tips and summer spruce up by andrea uren

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Summer is just around the corner.
Now is time to do some of those maintenance jobs so you can enjoy your garden to its fullest potential.

Plants need trimming at this time of the year to keep their shape, they also need heavy fertilising to promote growth during their biggest growing season. The type of plant you have will determine what type of fertiliser you need but a good general fertiliser is beneficial for any plant such as a blend of power feed and seasol.
Top up mulch yearly to provide nutrients to the soil for good plant health, it also keeps in moisture over warmer months.
Mulch should be topped up to approx 75mm to provide the most benefit, this will also avoid having to re-mulch for potentially up 18 months. We recommend an organic mulch, freshly chipped mulch should be avoided as it draws and depletes nitrogen from the soil

Re oil decks once the over night temperature is above 12 and the moisture has gone from the air. It may also be time to clean and reseal pavers.

If you are not keen to do this yourself our friends at Prestige Surfaces (www.prestigesurfaces.com.au) will be more than happy to assist.

A good lawn is a reflection of its foundations so, if you have had a new lawn laid follow these guidelines to get it looking and staying green & healthy.
Give the lawn a deep soak immediately after it's laid and keep the area moist, watering daily initially (irrigation is best as hand watering can be under done), then reducing the regularity as it establishes. In a few weeks, if you can't lift the turf off the ground, then you know the roots are
established and you can give it its first mow. The first mow should be on a high setting and then lowered as the lawn becomes established.

Older Lawns
Now is the time to control weeds that establish in lawns over winter. Bindii is a common culprit and, if it flowers, you are in for nasty spikes underfoot. Others, such as dandelion, capeweed, plantain, cat's ear and wintergrass, enjoy collective domination of turf areas. If you use a hand weeder, make sure you get all the roots. Specialised lawn weeder products kill the weeds in 7-10 days.
Moss often establishes in cold, shady areas. To treat, dilute powdered iron sulfate in a watering can, following packet directions, then apply. In high-traffic wetter areas, soil can compact, so you'll need to loosen it up. Plunge a garden fork deeply into the soil at 20cm intervals and wiggle it back and forth. If that just seems impossible, you could try aerating shoes or hire a corer. To fix bare patches, plant lawn seed, or runners from adjacent areas, or lay turf.

Lawn health
Regular feeding keeps your lawns healthy and green. It's ideal to fertilise lawns in spring and autumn. Modern slow-release lawn fertilisers last about 10 weeks and are easy to apply. You don't need to water them in as they won't burn the lawn. Broadcast by hand, or buy or hire a fertiliser spreader to ensure even distribution.

Top-Dressing
If your lawn is lumpy and uneven, or lacking vigor, then top-dressing could be just the thing to smooth it out and bring it back into shape. Order a top dressing mix from your landscape supplier that's sandy and high in organic matter. Spread it over the areas in need, and rake it level with a steel rake or lawn leveler, which you can hire. Make sure the leaf tips still poke through - it should be no deeper than 10mm. You should see results in one week to a month.

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