Adding a water feature to your pool takes it beyond the ordinary, by adding another dimension - the sounds of falling water. Water features is the catch-all term that covers all of the varied types of splash that you can add to your pool. They can be as small as a wall sconce or a spouting fish, to as large as you can imagine, with hundreds of gallons tumbling into the pool every minute.
Here's a guide to vinyl pool water features, and how some of our DIY inground pool kit customer builders (with our help) integrate them into their pool construction project - brilliantly.
A sconce is a popular choice when building an inground pool that has a Mediterranean style. They can be part of a larger water feature installation, or are great all by themselves. They can be placed into or on top of a raised wall, or on the edge of the pool. Small founts like these do not usually require a booster pump, just a small pipe or hose from the return line, with a valve to adjust the flow.
Sconces are placed into a raised wall or column, on the edge of the pool, and should have an adjustable amount of water flow. Wall mounted sconces range from small and simple to larger, more elaborate designs. Add a face, with spouting Gods, lions, fish or use a simple and unadorned spout of tile, ceramic or bronze.
In the sconce category there are options besides wall mounted spouts, such as planters with rocks and ornamental grass, small statues of people or animals, or bowls or pots that overflow into the pool. These free standing water features are often placed in a planter area of the pool deck, or surrounded by ornamental plants.
When you build your own inground pool, you'll be able to add larger water features if you want. Although sconces and spouts also have falling water, a true waterfall water feature will have a large amount of overflowing water. Typically, a water fall will use a separate booster pump. This may not be required, but if you want to run the waterfall often, it would be better so you do not disrupt circulation and filtration pressure too much.
Waterfalls can also flow over top of stacked rocks, or over top of a grotto. Larger installations may integrate a pool slide, with falling water on either side of a slide built into the hillside. Waterfalls can be very large custom designed and built waterfalls - or, they can be as simple as the plug-n-play Scupper pool fountain, shown here.
Waterfalls can be built into the side of a raised wall, built on top of the pool wall, or they can be engineered to flow over stacked rocks. The type of pool waterfall that flows as a solid sheet of water is known as a Sheer Descent type of waterfall. Flow rates are carefully calculated to achieve the sheet of water effect flowing through the waterfall.
A cascade differs from a waterfall in that the water tumbles over rocks on its way to the pool. They can be long and low, like a babbling brook, or they can come from a higher point and splash over several small waterfalls or boulders.
Cascades should be built with a thick membrane to prevent leakage into the soil underneath. Rock cascades have a lot more surface area than a waterfall, and when building care should be taken to minimize joints and use thick and deep mortar joints between larger slabs of rock, or a sub layer of concrete beneath smaller stones.
To install a cascade water feature, you start with a mound of soil a few feet from the pool, covering a buried pipe coming from the pool equipment pad.
Install a waterproof membrane, and assemble the cascade according to a detailed plan for a sturdy and solid structure that can support someone doing occasional cleaning or weeding. Larger features will need a strong foundation of steel and concrete to support the rocks and water above. Consult a landscape architect, if your plans are elaborate.
Laminar Deck Jets are fun and modern way to add some splash to the pool. The pipes are run underneath the pool deck and attach to an adjustable nozzle that shoots the water over the pool surface. The most popular are made by Fiberstars, Pentair and Jandy, with Fiber Optic or LED lights which can be integrated into a pool controller system, to change colors. With advanced equipment, you can even choreograph a light and water show, the Bellagio fountains in your backyard!
Deck Jets require about 7 gpm, or gallons per minute of water, as a minimum. Smaller systems with just 2 or 3 deck jets could connect into the return line. Larger systems, or systems that also have other water features installed, may need to install a dedicated booster pump to manage the flow requirements.
High wind areas can disrupt the sharp streams of water; they are best mounted in the direction of the prevailing winds, if winds are frequently strong. The deck jets are housed beneath a type of skimmer lid, built into the deck, so it's much easier to add these water features before the pool deck is installed.
Water features are always a great addition to our inground pool kits. They can be as economical as a few hundred dollars, or could add thousands to your inground pool cost - it depends how grand your vision is. Even small water features can have plenty of benefits, the largest being the sensory appeal, the soothing sounds of splashing water. Water features also have the benefit of adding some aeration to the water, and a little surface action keeps leaves moving toward the skimmer.
Everyone loves looking at and listening to pool water features, and when you build your own pool, you'll be able to tell the story of its creation. SPP Pool Experts are here to work with our DIY inground pool kit builders, and help them to plan and execute every feature of their own backyard paradise, including water features.
Give us a call at 1-800-983-POOL, when you're ready to build your own inground pool!
SPP Pool Expert