Sumo Gardener

Garden Pool Installation Guide

So you want to construct a garden pool? Here’s an article on the different hurdles you’ll need to jump and the decisions you will have to make before constructing.


Things to Consider Before Starting a Garden Pool Installation Project

Deciding the Shape of Your Garden Swimming Pool

Garden Pool Design

The first step to designing your garden pool is picking the shape. Whether you go a traditional, rectangular shape or an infinity pool that seemingly has no edge, it’s all up to you, your garden design, budget and aesthetic sensibilities. 

However, some pool shapes will favor doing laps, some will favor hosting extravagant parties, while some will just serve your vanity. There’s no judgment. We just need to call a spade a spade.

Classic Rectangular Pools

You can’t go wrong with choosing this classic, time tested pool design. Like a well designed watch, it will never go out of style. The rectangular pool is the workhorse of pools - perfect for getting your laps in and using the body of water for its traditional purpose, swimming. 

You can customize the length and depth of the pool to accommodate your physique and swimming style. If you still want to retain a party hosting vibe in your garden, the perfect choice is the L-shaped rectangular pool.

The longer side will serve perfectly for laps, while the sideward corner can be used as a centerpiece of a pool party. You can have the sideward part be more shallow, so it’s safer for kids and people who have had a few drinks.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that a rectangular pool is just for utilitarian purposes. It's simple but sophisticated and timeless, aesthetic can also be a feature worth maintaining.

If your property is decorated in a more bold, architecturally daring style, a classic rectangular pool will only serve to reinforce the choices you made in the rest of your build. The simple and no-frills lines of the pool will reinforce the style you picked for the property.

Freeform pool

A freeform pool has no set geometric shape - it's a freeform artistic expression in the service of swimming and having a good time. A pool can essentially be any shape that a designer imagines. 

That gives your pool designer the liberty to seamlessly fit the outline of the pool with its surroundings, giving it an organic feel. Think about it - if a pool were to crop up by itself in nature, it most certainly wouldn’t have a regular, orthogonal, geometric shape. 

If your garden already has a lot of asymmetry and irregular lines, a freeform pool is the obvious design choice for you.

Kidney shaped pool

If you log on to Google Earth right now and start examining pools from satellite, you will find that if they’re not rectangular, most pools have a kidney, or bean, like shape.

It gives a garden a retro feel, tapping into the collective unconscious as the look of the seventies, a carefree and prosperous time. This is an excellent context for a swimming pool.

A kidney pool can be an excellent jumping board (no pun intended) for further experimentation with shapes and materials, further incorporating the pool into your garden seamlessly.

Infinity and overflow pools

The latest, state of the art designs in pool making involve deleting the boundary between the surrounding ground level surface and the pool itself. Infinity pools, also called vanishing-edge or negative-edge pools, create the illusion that the pool is missing one edge. 

In accordance with its name, that makes the pool seem like it goes on into infinity. Particularly difficult and expensive to make, this is the most luxurious design choice when it comes to pools.

Designers often make this choice for a pool overlooking a magnificent vista, such as a ridge of a mountain or the ocean. An overflow pool creates the illusion that there is no separation between it and the surrounding surface. 

When viewed from a distance, it looks like the pool is just simply part of the deck. When the wind disturbs the surface of the water, that creates an eerie effect sought after by many.

Garden Pool Paving Options

Paving for a Garden Pool

You can’t just build a pool and have dirt around it - it’ll get mucky real fast. Jokes aside, the surrounding ground surface of the pool should also be viewed as an integral part of the pool design.

We recommend using pavers - slabs that can be custom cut and fit into any pattern your heart desires. And if you’re not sure what you want yet, pool paving ideas are plentiful. You can really explore your creative side with mixing and matching different shapes into beautiful motifs. 

Pavers reduce slipping chances, which is very important for the safety of you and your guests. They have a special texture change when wet which is very desirable.

Pavers are good in all types of climates and respond very well to temperature changes. If you live in an area with regular season changes, they will not crack or show signs of deterioration. This will save you plenty of nerves and money in terms of renovation of your deck.

Make sure your pavers are chemically tested. That means the material used is resistant to salt, chlorine and other pool chemicals that are bound to be used in a swimming pool environment. 

Here are a few material options for pavers:

Concrete pavers

Cheap to obtain, yet elegant in looks, concrete pavers are the premiere option for both your wallet and your aesthetic preference. Concrete pavers are heavy and hard, which makes them less prone to cracking or breaking. Even if they do, they’re easy to fix.

Brick pavers

Bare brick always makes a property look rustic and authentic - that makes brick pavers perfect for historical homes. Durable and water resistant, bricks are an excellent choice for your poolside paving.

They do have a drawback, however. They tend to get extremely hot in the direct sun. If your pool has direct sunlight exposure, maybe you want to go another route, or create a walkway from some other material.

Stone pavers

Stone pavers are the ultimate choice for looks and function. They evoke a sense of richness and authenticity. They don’t suffer from the overheating issue, while retaining the Old-World, rustic feel.

Stone choices include bluestone, flagstone, and travertine. While they’re more expensive than their concrete counterparts, stone pavers are the only choice for a homeowner that wants to go the extra mile in their garden.

Getting the Necessary Garden Pool Permits

Permit for Garden Pool Installation

If you’ve seen season eleven of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you’ll remember the hilarious storyline where Larry tries to repeal a law concerning mandatory perimeter fences around pools in order to avoid jail time.

In reality, this may not go awry in the way they do in Curb, but there are some legal concerns that you will need to take care of. You will have to obtain a building permit for a new pool construction in almost every city and town in the USA.

The fees and conditions will vary depending on your state or municipality, so you will need to contact your local authorities on the exact details. Here’s a quick list of things you will have to pay attention to if you want your new garden pool to be legally viable.

Obtain a permit

Contact your local authorities about the required building permits for an inground pool. While you will probably only need a building permit, some regions also require an electrical permit.

Clear the project with your Homeowners Association (HOA)

Different HOAs have different regulations concerning pools. Some don’t allow backyard pools, while others do but require special clearance for the plans. Definitely clear your projects with your HOA before you start construction.

Acquaint yourself with local ordinances

Depending on where you live, there will be special constraints on the construction design for your pool. Some municipalities require a pool pump that operates under a certain noise level, others have setback requirements that dictate the minimal distance between the pool and other objects.

This is where Larry David’s conundrum enters the frame - some municipalities have special safety demands. A barrier of a certain height around the pool, locks in the gates, entrances and exits. Make sure you include these in your plan before you start construction.

Call a local inspector

In order to guarantee that your pool construction goes through without any legal hiccups, get inspected for every aspect of the build - structural, electrical, safety, and plumbing. Inspectors become really hard to get to once building season starts, so schedule your inspection in advance.

Garden Pool Construction Process

Here’s a really quick and digested overview of the different phases of a pool construction.

Constructing a Garden Pool

Location selection

The first question you will have to have an answer to is - where is the pool located? Where you put it can be put on legal constraints, so make sure you clear those before committing to a place.

Of course, swimming pools are most easily constructed on flat terrain. That’s the cheapest and easiest type of terrain. Trees around the pool meaning leaves falling in and harder maintenance. The orientation of the pool relative to the sun determines which time of day you can do your laps in. 

Meticulous planning

The next phase is overall planning. You want to have every detail cleared up before you start the construction. Otherwise, you run the risk of a very costly demolition job. The shape, depth, material, and filtration system should all be decided beforehand and with a professional. 


A pool is just a glorified hole in the ground. You will need to excavate a lot of earth in order to build a pool. Don’t forget to include the pool walls into the calculation of how big a hole you need. 

Make sure that you don’t dig through any plumbing or electrical lines. Mark the perimeter with wooden stakes, schedule an afternoon with a backhoe and have at it!

Constructing the base

The most important part of the construction is the base. The most important part is to make sure the bed is flat and doesn’t have loose earth. If there is loose earth, you will need to add a layer of compact earth on top.

After that comes a layer of concrete, usually 2 inches thick. Pool bottoms always have a gradient to make draining and filtrating easier.

Creating the steel reinforcement

Once you’ve prepared the base, a concrete steel cage is introduced to ensure stability and integrity to the pool. The cage splays over the base and walls of the pool. After the cage has been set up, the main plumbing, drainage and filtration lines are placed within it.


Concreting is done using a procedure called shotcreting. It involves spraying a standard concrete mixture from a tube onto the vertical surfaces to make it stick and consolidate. The thicker the concrete walls, the more durable your pool will be. 

The minimum thickness is around 6 inches, so make sure you include those measurements in the final pool size you desire. The concrete will need around two weeks to cure properly.


After the curing process, the concrete has to be waterproofed. The most popular way of waterproofing the concrete is applying ceramic tiles. Other materials can be used, depending on the moisture level of the surroundings.

Coping and paving

The last phase of construction is the paving. After that, you’re finished, but it’s always a good idea to wait a few days after paving to fill the pool. That’s in order to let the whole construction settle in a bit.

Wrapping Up Our Garden Pool Installation Guide

Constructing a pool is no easy feat. However, who can put a price on the memories that a pool can create? Even if it doesn’t, a pool will increase your property value way beyond what you paid for its construction.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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