Swimming Pool Specialty Features

From waterfalls to swim-up bars, consider the costs when adding extras to your pool.

Serene Backyard Waterfall

Serene Backyard Waterfall

Design by Belgard

Photo by: Zack Benson

Zack Benson

Design by Belgard

By: Peter Walsh

There are plenty of extras you can add to your pool such as waterfalls, slides, diving boards and swim-up bars, among other things, but you have to consider the added cost and the aesthetic as well. Sure, they might be fun at a water park or resort, but you have to think about the big picture. What might have seemed like a good idea at the time may turn out to be a detractor when you or your kids tire of them.


Many people like to add waterfalls to in-ground pools for a jungle or rainforest feel. If you have your heart set on adding a waterfall, your best bet is to work with a landscape architect or designer early in the planning process of your pool.

Designers can create a waterfall that acts as the return for the filtered pool water as long as it's properly built. "A water feature provides sound that can be soothing and relaxing," says Tom Mortland, pool division manager at Liquidscapes. "But you have to have a clear understanding of the finished product." You can achieve the same effect by installing a fountain near the pool without all the added cost of adding a waterfall.

7 Sizzling Hot Tub Designs

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Light It Right

A 360-degree-perimeter overflow spa surrounded by a shallow trough with fiber-optic lighting highlights this pool/spa combination. Photo courtesy of Pool Builders Inc.


Serene Surroundings

This raised spa and adjoining pool features a vanishing edge overlooking a mountain lake. Stone coping and boulders were used to separate the pool and spa. Design by Memphis Pool; photography by James Roberts

Guest-Worthy Backyard

A pergola for shade and an adjacent fire pit are just two of the added features for this California spa. Built-in seating completes this user-friendly backyard. Photo courtesy of California Redwood Association

Zen Oasis

Give your hot tub a lush lagoon vibe. Added extras like tropical plants and stylish lanterns create a secluded backyard retreat. Photo courtesy of Cal Spas

Go For the Glow

This perfectly placed spa intersects the pool and the home's outdoor dining area. Numerous French doors allow the homeowners to enjoy the pool and spa lights from inside. Photo courtesy of Belgard Hardscapes

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Man Cave

This special rock grotto creates a unique setting for an indoor spa. Homeowners can watch sports, listen to music or cool down with a fogging system. Design by Shehan Pools; photo courtesy of The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals

Photo By: Shehan Pools

Decked Out

Create a sense of intimacy for your hot tub or spa. Here a composite deck includes a matching fascia screen for privacy. Photo courtesy of TimberTech


If you have kids that would enjoy a water slide then there are plenty of options for slides that will dump them into the water, but beware: A pool slide may seem like great fun when kids are small but they may quickly outgrow the thrill and you'll end up with a permanent structure that no one uses. Pool designers agree that they are installing fewer slides on pools than they were years ago as they tend to be dangerous when poolside horseplay gets out of hand. They require plumbing hook-ups that keep the slide wet, an additional cost to the overall cost of the pool.

Diving Boards

Like a slide, a diving board can offer tons of fun for kids and adults alike but may end up not being utilized as much when the thrill wears off. And, if you are not necessarily into diving, then don’t install one. Additionally, a diving board requires a deep end of a pool and they can be dangerous if not properly built and inspected regularly for safety. Plus, insurance costs go up as there is a liability issue. Plenty of people get hurt diving into backyard pools. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to add one to your pool.

Dreamy Pool Design Ideas

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Cool Pool Features

An attached stone wall with water spouts and adjacent outdoor living room with fireplace complement the curved lines of this nature-inspired pool. The stone used for the fireplace ties the two spaces together. Photo courtesy of Belgard Hardscapes

Photo By: Zack Benson

Recessed Lounge Area

Giving those who want to stay dry an option is always a nice idea. This unique pool features a recessed seating area "inside" the pool so everyone can enjoy the pool together. Design by Pool Builders Inc.; photo courtesy of Digital Wave Productions

Swim With a View

Whenever possible, design your pool to take advantage of views. Steps on each side lead to a raised lounging area that allows visitors to enjoy the stunning vistas that surround this pool and spa. Photo courtesy of Belgard Hardscapes

Photo By: Chipper Hatter

Rock-Star Retreat

If you want a pool with personality, go for an unexpected shape. This unique pool by Emerald Pools and Spas, Inc. was created for a homeowner who plays and collects bass guitars. Photo courtesy of The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals

Photo By: Emerald Pools and Spas Inc.

Nighttime Appeal

Evening ambiance was the design goal for this pool and spa by Alderete Pools. Pentair LED multicolored lights enhance the nighttime feel and the attached patio features a full stone fireplace. Photography by Andy Abrecht

Photo By: unknown

Cascading Waterfalls

This multilevel, freeform pool and spa from Memphis Pool offers stunning stone waterfalls and a large vanishing edge to add drama. Photography by James Roberts

Serene Surroundings

Be inspired by nature when you design your pool. A natural rock waterfall and an elevated pedestal spa are at the opposite ends of this lagoon-style pool by Pool Builders Inc. Photo courtesy of Digital Wave Productions

Perk Up Your Plant Life

This pool was designed to flow from the house to the open pool area surrounded by lush landscaping. The right plantings can add both shade and intimacy for a pool. Photo courtesy of Neptune Pools Inc.

Photo By: Neptune Pools Inc.

Zero-Edge Pool

This four-sided zero-edge pool and spa by Alderete Pools makes a dramatic statement. Specially selected glass tiles surround the entire raised exterior of the pool to enhance the visual effects of the zero-edge design. Photography by Andy Abrecht

Lengthy Design

The curved ends and low-maintenance deck that surrounds this long and linear pool add visual interest to the pool area. Combining straight with curved lines provides a balanced look. Photo courtesy of TREX

Photo By: Laurence Parent

Zen Oasis

You can create an elegant but natural look with the right features. This pool and spa combination by Alderete Pools includes an attached large koi pond and stacked-stone spa dam wall. Photography by Andy Abrecht

Backyard Vacation

This glamorous pool and spa by Alderete Pools has the features that turn a backyard into a resort. A custom-built gazebo with built-in BBQ, sink, refrigerator and a granite-topped bar and seating are the extras that turn the pool area into an oasis. Photography by Andy Abrecht

Infinity Pool

This classic negative-edge pool by Pool Environments allows the homeowners to enjoy stunning views. The curved negative edge spans across the entire back of the pool. Photo courtesy of The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals

Photo By: Pool Environments

Swim-Up Details

Extra touches make all the difference for how a pool looks and feels. Swim-up barstools, a large outdoor kitchen and a well-designed lighting scheme give this pool a serious sense of style.

Swim-Up Bars

A bar built into a pool is the norm in most resorts but may be impractical in your backyard and an additional cost you may not need or want to incur. Instead, the trend in pool design is leaning more toward a shallow tanning ledge built into one end of the pool that can accommodate lounge chairs and a small table that sit in just a few inches of water.

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