Want to get an eyeful of the coolest, craziest swimming pools out there today—and maybe get some ideas for what you could build in your very own backyard? Then you’ll want to dive into the fourth season of “Pool Kings,” a reality TV series on the DIY Network that follows master builder Kyle Peck and his son Justin as they create over-the-top dream pools for clients across the country.
Gone are the days when you’d dig a hole, line it with cement and just add water. These experts turn backyards into fantasy aqua lands, filling them with features and flourishes you didn’t even know existed. Case in point: In the episode “From Eyesore to Ultimate Pool Party Paradise,” the Pecks help the Hagens, who just moved to Nashville, TN, from Chicago.
“We’ve wanted a pool for a while, but the season is so short in Chicago it wasn’t worth the investment,” says Teresa Hagen, a mother of two daughters. “It is worth the investment to do it down here. It’s stifling hot!”
Yet putting in a pool isn’t an easy process, particularly if your yard’s shape, incline, and location are less than ideal. Here’s how the Pecks circumvent these challenges with the Hagen home—their tricks could come in handy in your own yard.
Uneven land? Try a multilevel pool
“One of the biggest challenges in this yard are the elevations,” says Kyle of this backyard’s steep incline. Yet the Pecks say that the days when the land would need to be leveled are so over. Instead, they design a pool area with four (count ’em, four) levels. Cool.
Add a vanishing edge
A cement retaining wall on the pool’s edge would be just plain ugly, so Kyle adds a vanishing (or infinity) edge from which the water cascades into a small holding pond beneath. Thus a beautiful water feature is born.
Build a rain wall to block out sound
The Hagens’ yard is also next to a busy road, and the traffic noise is less than idyllic. So the Pecks cleverly construct a “sheer rain wall” that blocks out the noise and the sight of ugly traffic.
Line the pool interior with glass tile
Small, square glass tiles of varying shades on the interior edge of the pool are all the rage right now, having just about universally replaced large, solid-color ceramic tiles. And it’s not just because they look good; they’re also low on maintenance.
Go for colorful coping
The coping is the structure above the tile line that generally covers the top of the pool structure, or the rim. The Hagens have the option of monochromatic cement, but they go for variegated stone, pulling in colors from the tile they’ve selected.
Add an outdoor kitchen (and fireplace, and spa, and…)
The Pecks had originally designed the outdoor kitchen to be located upstairs on the balcony, but they decide that the space is too cramped and removed from the pool deck. Instead, they move it down to pool level and put a big bar around it—creating not just a cooking space, but also another seating/dining area—in addition to a fireplace, fire pots, and raised spa.
Fancy a smart pool? There’s an app for that
The Pecks have programmed all the water features, including the lights, fire pots, water wall, fountains, and spa so that they can all be operated remotely from a smartphone. Teresa loves being able to turn on the spa heater when they’re out at a restaurant so it will be ready when they get home.
Start the pool building process as early as possible
Hope to be swimming by summer? Start building in March. For one, it takes several weeks for the gunite—a mixture of cement, sand, and water that produces the harder layer of concrete for your pool’s deck—to cure and set. Then there’s the wait time for officials to inspect the pool at different points during the construction. Expect the entire process to take from three to five months, depending on weather conditions.
There was snow on the roof when the Pecks began constructing the Hagens’ pool, but the long wait was well worth it as the kids joyously splash around with what looks like about 100 of their closest friends.
“We absolutely have the ultimate party house,” Teresa says.
New episodes of “Pool Kings” air Mondays at 9 p.m. on DIY Network.
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