Top Tips For Designing A Pool, Carmen Johnston Gardens

In the past year, outdoor living and swimming pools have become a top priority for homeowners and here’re some of my top tips for designing a pool.

Function First – Tips for Designing A Pool 

Pool time creates lasting memories for friends and family but you really have to be thinking long-term when designing a pool.  Today, you may have young children but how will you use the pool in ten years? A shallow end may be a priority right now but where will you put sun loungers and an outdoor dining table?  Contemplate the expected length of the chaise lounge and be sure your pool deck can accommodate your furniture needs.

When my team and I assist in designing the shape and help site in the pool, I also like to make sure one of my pet peeves is addressed – 360 degree access.  You do not want to limit your pool accessibility for ease and safety reasons.


pool deck, Carmen Johnston Gardens

Pool Material

There are a lot of great options for pool material and you have to choose the right one for your budget and priorities.  Personally, I prefer gunite, a concrete blend of sand, cement and water applied over reinforced steel bars using a high-pressure hose. Gunite is considered to be the structurally dependable option.

Different textures on the bottom of the pool affect color.  I am a bit more traditional in my preference and love a timeless blue.


classic blue pool, Carmen Johnston Gardens


Soften The Pool Edges 

One way I like to soften the edges of the hardscape surrounding the pool is with planting beds. This is a great place to layer in evergreen shrubs like Wintergreen Boxwoods and then add in annual color in the summer.


Tips For Designing A Pool, Carmen Johnston Gardens

Artificial Turf 

Have you ever noticed how grass and mulch can get into the pool from kids playing or everyday living.  Maintenance can be tough with a real grass edge around the pool and I like to suggest artificial turf.  If you can select one with a cooling element, definitely do that.  It can get really hot.


poolside turf, Carmen Johnston Gardens


Finishing Touch – Container Garden 

Go big or go home with your containers!  Small pots turn into crock pots in the summer.  Pick a bigger container so it will also retain water better. Less is definitely more impactful when it comes to planting your container gardens around a pool. Terra cotta pots are some of my favorites!

Here’s a previous post on some of my favorite container gardens.


poolside container garden, Carmen Johnston Gardens


In new construction, if you want to prevent losing the water from the container, we like to use drain boxes. This will also keep the container from your pretty deck.


drain box, Carmen Johnston Gardens


Connect With Me Today! 

I’d love to see your pool inspiration and will be sharing some of mine on Instagram and Facebook as well as answering some of your questions!  Be sure you subscribe to my blog for all the latest tips and inspo.