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Important Swimming Pool Considerations Depth and Size

Everyone dreams of having a garden pool to enjoy the lovely summer weather – people splashing in the water, a BBQ on the go and the cheerful sun bronzing skin.

If you’re planning to make a swimming pool a reality, there will be important factors to consider. Firstly, you’ll have to clarify what your pool will be used for, since this will partly determine the shape and size that is suitable to you.

For purely recreational needs, most any shape that fits nicely into your garden will be fine, but a large shallow area for people to wade in will be necessary. If on the other hand you’re looking to get serious about exercise and use the pool to swim laps, your garden might not have adequate space, in which case a swim spa could be your best option.

The following guide will give you some tips to help you decide the right swimming pool size and depth for your needs.

Recreational Pools

People who simply want to have fun in a pool, especially children, don’t need great depth – a sloped floor which goes from a minimum depth of 36 inches to a maximum of 4 or 5 feet will be perfectly adequate. When it comes to shape, a pool for recreational swimmers can have any dimension that pleases you (within the limitations of your garden size of course).

Athletic Pools

For athletic use where you want to swim laps, you’ll need a long and narrow space with at least 4-5 feet depth throughout the pool. This is necessary to avoid touching the bottom while swimming and to ensure that your turns at each end of the pool can be safely done. For professional level swimmers who need to train, you’ll need to have a large garden as the pool will then have to have a length of 25 yards (25 meters) to practise a swimming style that is suitable to competing.

Combination Pools

It’s possible to build a pool that accommodates both recreational and athletic needs. A hybrid shape and depth, such as an “L” shaped pool, would have a short, fairly shallow leg that is large enough for splashing about, while the longer, deeper leg can be used for lap swimming.

Garden Limitations

The best swimming pool shapes for complementing a garden and enhancing the appearance of your property in general are simple geometric shapes, such as circles, ovals, rectangles and squares.

Bear in mind however that a rectangular swimming pool can be more expensive than one with a curve shape because some builders base their pricing on the swimming pool perimeter.

If you prefer something different from the norm, consider the natural features of your property – an unusual shape, such as a bend in one side of the pool, could beautifully integrate certain trees or boulders for example. Be careful however and make sure to consult your contractor, because an odd shaped pool could end up overwhelming the garden rather than enhancing it.


Patios or pool decks not only make a garden pool more attractive, but they’re an important safety measure against slipping if you opt for scarred concrete or rough bricks.

The poolside area will also offer easier access to the pool, reduce the amount of dirt that enters the water and catch overspills which would otherwise cause the garden to become water logged.

The all important patio needs to be considered when deciding on the size of garden pools since it will take up extra space. As a general rule of thumb, the total poolside area should be at least 5-8 feet, surrounding the entire circumference of the pool.

If you have pets or children, it will also be important to install a lockable safety fence around the patio to prevent accidents happening.


There are some additional features to look at when deciding on the shape and size of your garden pool.

A diving board or water slide will certainly add to the fun, but there’s a great deal of debate as to what the right depth and diving well size is to ensure safety. The best way forward is to consult with the contractor who will be building your pool. If you have children, you might want to forget the idea altogether since diving and water slides have inherent risks for untrained and naturally incautious kids.

If you have small children, consider a wading pool where they can enjoy themselves safely. It’s a good idea to build one separate to the main pool, since you can turn it into a spa later when the kids outgrow it.


Garden pools make for a lovely enhancement to any home, not to mention the fun they add to warm summer days. Bear the above in mind however to make sure you get the build of your pool exactly right for your needs. You’re also strongly advised to spend a great deal of time in the planning phase, since any errors and changes during or after a pool construction project will be expensive.

About the Author: John D Williams is an independent advisor on garden pools.


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