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Outdoor lounge chair, hat and book next to edge of swimming pool in backyard with tropical plants
Ready to dip your toes into the world of backyard pools? Here’s what you need to know before you jump in.

Take the plunge

In the heat of summer, a pool is the definition of backyard bliss. Set-ups range from custom in-ground styles and deep plunge pits in fibreglass or concrete, to above-ground types like those built with steel framing and UV-resistant PVC. Whichever design you choose, water care, safety and aesthetics will all play a part in your pool enjoyment.

Location

In-ground pools require planning, excavation, plenty of space and a lengthy build. Above-ground options can be swim-ready much faster. Start by planning where you’ll put your pool. “How much flat space you have can influence which size pool is most suitable, or whether you’re better off with a compact spa,” says Peter Kamali, Bunnings' national pool, spa, sheds and shade buyer. Allow an area large enough to accommodate the pool, with clearance around the sides for access, as well as a pool pump, fence and a non-climbable perimeter. “You’re likely to need access to plumbing and electricity as well,” adds Peter.

Budget might also influence your selection. Prices start at $499 for a steel-frame pool or an inflatable spa, while you can expect to pay approximately $1,499 for a premium above-ground pool. “You’ll also need to factor in the cost of a pool fence and filling it up with water,” says Peter.

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Water preference

Your water system can affect your enjoyment and pool running costs. “Chlorine is the cheapest to set up, but it can be tricky to maintain correct levels and it can be harsh on the skin and eyes,” says Peter. “Saltwater is gentler, but it requires a chlorinator system and is not suited to all pools, whereas mineral pools boast great water quality and benefits, although they are often the costliest to set up.”

Tip: To help diagnose water issues, try the Hy-Clor app, which offers a range of tests, records results and recommends products.

Safety requirements

You’ll need to fence your pool or spa to comply with Australian regulations. For more information, visit spasa.com.au and consult your relevant state or territory government and local authority for a pool safety compliance checklist. It’s also important to check the regulations about secure lids, fencing and permits for spas with your relevant state or territory government and local authority.

Note: Above-ground pools are also subject to safety standards.

The most popular options for pool fencing are aluminium or glass. “Aluminium fencing is a cost-effective solution which is quick and easy to install,” says landscape designer Ben Wilson of Garden Constructions (gardenconstructions.com.au). “It requires minimal maintenance, allows airflow and can be combined with other pool fencing materials (like timber) for a more custom look.” Glass can be installed several ways, either fully frameless, with spigots or with posts. “Some states require a glazing certificate after installation to comply with regulations, so it’s a job best left to the professionals,” says Ben.

Tiled pool in a backyard, featuring a glass pool fence

Landscaping

In-ground pools have the benefit of being hidden below the surface, but an above-ground pool can still look sharp with clever landscaping.

“Laying steppers to create a designated path leading to the pool gate will give the area a feeling of permanence,” says Ben, who also suggests using flexible paving or synthetic grass around the immediate perimeter of the pool. “This will prevent the area from becoming muddy and can be easily altered if needed,” he adds. Although safety regulations restrict climbable tree branches around the pool boundary, greenery and softness can be added with a careful selection of plants. Ben suggests using hardy varieties that will tolerate pool splash, such as lilly pilly (Acmena smithii), sweet viburnum, hardy succulents like agave and strappy Lomandra ‘Tanika’.

The pool pump, filter and cleaning equipment can be concealed in a way that sits seamlessly in your landscape. Options include tucking it all behind a garden screen, or housing it in a custom-built box or enclosure with roof. This has the added advantage of providing protection from potential damage from high winds or falling tree branches.

Timber decking surrounding an in-ground pool

Maintenance tips for pools and spas

  • Get your pool water tested every two to four weeks, which you can do in store* (check out our pool water testing service).
  • Top up pool water as needed, to maintain a water level at least halfway up the skimmer box opening.

  • To help keep water crystal clear during the busy swimming season, treat it with a weekly shock dose.

  • Banish debris with the right tools. Use a leaf scoop/shovel, regularly scrub the pool floor and walls with a pool algae brush on a telescopic pole and empty the skimmer box daily.

  • To reduce evaporation and heat loss, use a pool or spa cover when it’s not in use.

Alfresco living space including an outdoor kitchen and tiled in-ground pool. A flamingo inflatable pool toy sits in the pool

At your service

For pool chlorinator and filter installation service, or for the installation of your constant, transfer or pool pump, talk to the team at your store’s Special Orders Desk**.

Keep in mind...

  • When using pool and spa chemicals, follow the instructions and wear protective clothing.
  • Store all pool and spa products out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Robotic pool cleaners are not suitable for all types of above-ground pools.
  • CPR signage should be displayed on the pool or spa fence and is a requirement in some states.
  • All electrical and plumbing work should be carried out by a licensed tradie.

Did you know you can build the pool fence yourself?

Follow our step-by-step guide on how to install an aluminium pool or spa fence.

*Available to order online or at the Special Orders Desk
**Available at selected stores; conditions apply



Photo Credit: Larnie Nicolson, James Moffatt, Cath Muscat and Garden Constructions.

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.