Planning & Design

Swimming pool designs & ideas

Imagine transforming your backyard into a personal oasis, complete with a beautiful swimming pool that reflects your unique lifestyle and preferences. With a wealth of swimming pool designs ideas available, the possibilities are endless. This blog post will guide you through various pool styles, materials, and features that cater to different tastes, spaces, and climates, so you can create the perfect backyard pool environment tailored to your desires.
Swimming pool designs and ideas for Australian homeowners

Short Summary

  • Explore a variety of pool designs and features to create the perfect backyard oasis.
  • Maximize safety and functionality with fencing, supervision, storage solutions, and climate adaptation.
  • Incorporate landscaping elements for an inviting atmosphere that complements your home's style

An overview of pool styles

There are a myriad of swimming pool designs to choose from, each offering a distinct look and feel. Classic rectangular pools remain a popular choice, while freeform and L-shaped pools provide a more organic and customized appearance. Infinity pools, with their stunning views and seamless edges, instantly elevate any outdoor space. Meanwhile, natural pools, which use plants to filter water, create a harmonious connection with the surrounding landscape.

Incorporating different materials in your pool design can greatly impact its aesthetics. For instance, the use of Grey Granite with a gray pebble finish creates a sleek, modern look, while natural travertine stone in a french pattern adds a touch of elegance to the pool area surrounds paving. Pool designs may also be enhanced with water features, such as an integrated artificial rock feature, to create a stunning focal point in your backyard.

Swimming pool with beautiful waterfall water feature

The surrounding landscape and architecture should not be overlooked when selecting a pool style. We have plenty of great swimming pool design ideas in the Poolz Pinterest page. Designs which blend the pool with its surroundings, utilising stones, palm trees and lush greenery can create a serene environment. Remember, the key to a successful pool design is finding the perfect balance between function, style, and harmony with your home and landscape.

Choosing the perfect pool type for your backyard

Selecting the right pool type for your backyard entails considering various factors, including the architectural style of your house, the size and shape of your backyard, and the desired aesthetic. In Australia, for instance, both fibreglass pools and concrete in-ground pools are the most common choices, offering durability and a range of finishing options such as coloured fibreglass, pebble and fully tiled finishes. Plunge pools in either concrete or fibreglass are also hugely popular in Australia and provide some great options, they can be in-ground, out of ground or even partly out of ground. On top of this, a plunge pool can be placed in smaller backyards, which has resulted in some of the best pool design ideas we've seen.

Other aspects to consider when choosing a pool type include location, dimensions, and the type of water and cleaning systems. For example, mineral and saltwater pools are the most popular choice by Australian pool owners for their gentle effect on the skin and lower maintenance requirements. While freshwater systems are growing in popularity, due to their low ongoing costs and water quality.

Ultimately, selecting the perfect pool type comes down to personal preferences and the unique characteristics of your backyard space.

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Customizing your pool shape and size

Customizing your pool shape and size allows for a truly unique design tailored to your backyard and lifestyle. Incorporating features such as waterfalls, slides, swim up bars, and lighting creates a distinctive pool environment that is both functional and visually appealing.

In the following subsections, we will explore three popular pool shapes – rectangular, freeform, and L-shaped pools – and discuss how they can be customized to suit your needs and preferences.

Rectangular pools

Rectangular swimming pool in small backyard

Rectangular pools are a timeless choice for backyard swimming pools, offering versatility and the ability to be customised to fit any backyard. Rectangular pools with tiling and decking in a light colour palette is the most popular type of pool in Australia right now.

Rectangular pools can be further enhanced with additional features such as waterfalls, slides, diving boards, and integrated spas, making them an adaptable option for any outdoor space.

Freeform pools

Large freeform swimming pool in tropical gardens

Freeform pools are characterized by their distinctive, organic shapes, often incorporating elements such as natural stone coping, earth tones, subtle colors, shaded seating, and outdoor dining areas. These pools can create a sense of fluidity and harmony with their surroundings, and can blend well into the overall landscape design.

Freeform pools offer a unique and customizable option for those seeking a more natural and relaxed pool environment.

L-shaped pools

L-shaped pools provide an optimal balance between size and aesthetic, offering ample space for diving and swimming. However, they may require a larger area than other pool types and can be more expensive to install and maintain.

L-shaped pools are often built down the side of house where there is not a lot of space, resulting in a long narrow pool similar to a lap pool, with a wider area at the end that wraps around the house. L-shaped pools can be very effective in the right house and landscape design.

Integrating water features and accessories

Incorporating water features and accessories into your swimming pool design can elevate its visual appeal and functionality. Elements of pool environments such as fountains, spas, and fire pits can create a resort-style oasis in your own backyard, offering a tranquil and luxurious atmosphere for relaxation and entertainment.

Moreover, adding waterfalls, slides, and lighting can greatly enhance the overall pool experience. For instance, the right lighting can be used to emphasise the tropical elements of an outdoor pool, including landscaping, waterfalls, and hardscape, creating a stunning visual effect.

Landscaping ideas for your pool area

Landscaping plays a crucial role in creating a cohesive and visually appealing pool area. By incorporating trees, shrubs, and flowers, you can achieve a natural look that harmonizes with the surrounding landscape. Additionally, wooden features such as timber decking can further enhance the connection between your pool and its natural surroundings.

Creating a tranquil atmosphere around your pool is essential for relaxation and enjoyment. Incorporating plants such as trees, shrubs, and potted plants in your pool area not only adds visual interest but also helps to establish a serene environment where you can unwind and escape the stresses of everyday life.

Creating a resort-style oasis

Resort style swimming pool with cabana right here in your backyard!

To create a resort-style oasis in your backyard, consider incorporating outdoor furniture, gazebos, daybeds, side tables and umbrellas for shade. These elements not only provide comfort and relaxation, but also contribute to the overall ambiance and aesthetic of your pool area.

Additional features such as architectural fountains, outdoor kitchens, and fireplaces can further enhance the resort-style atmosphere, making your pool area the perfect spot for entertaining guests or simply enjoying a peaceful retreat in your own backyard. Comfortable, water-resistant seating arrangements are also essential to ensure that you and your guests can fully enjoy the serene environment you've created.

Embracing eco-friendly pool designs

Eco-friendly pool designs focus on incorporating natural materials and energy-efficient pumps and filters to minimize the environmental impact of your swimming pool. One example of an eco-friendly pool design is a living pool, which utilizes biofiltration systems to self-regulate and cleanse itself, maintaining clear, clean, and alive water without the need for harsh chemicals.

In addition to living pools, other eco-friendly measures can be taken, such as using local and sustainable materials for pool decking and cladding.

By embracing eco-friendly pool designs, you can create a beautiful and functional pool environment that is also kind to the planet.

Indoor-outdoor pool concepts

Indoor-outdoor pool concept which offers the best of both words

Indoor-outdoor pool concepts offer the best of both worlds, combining the security and comfort of an indoor pool with the fresh air and natural light of an outdoor pool. The seamless transition between indoors and outdoors with the swimming pool as a focal point is quite a statement and can be very effective visually, while also becoming the focal point of the home from an entertaining and relaxation perspective.

These indoor-outdoor pool designs allow you to enjoy the benefits of a swimming pool regardless of the weather conditions while still connecting with nature through large windows or glass walls. This versatile pool concept can be adapted to various home styles, climates, and preferences, providing an ideal solution for those seeking both indoor and outdoor swimming experiences.

Small space pool solutions

Limited backyard space doesn't have to mean sacrificing the dream of a swimming pool. Small space pool solutions such as lap pools, plunge pools, and swim spas offer the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a pool in a more compact form.

Lap pools are specifically designed for swimming laps without obstructions, making them a great choice for fitness enthusiasts or those with smaller or narrow backyards. Plunge pools, on the other hand, are perfect for leisurely enjoyment and relaxation.

Swim spas combine the characteristics of both a swimming pool and a hot tub, offering a versatile option for those with limited space. With these small space solutions, even family pool in the smallest backyard can become a personal oasis.

Maximizing pool safety and functionality

Safety should always be a top priority when it comes to swimming pools. Ensuring proper supervision of children, educating them on basic water safety tips, and having a responsible adult who knows CPR are essential measures to guarantee a safe pool environment. Installing fencing that meets required standards and keeping the pool area clear of toys further contribute to pool safety.

In addition to safety measures, maximizing pool functionality is also important. A pool house can provide a convenient space for storage, changing, or entertaining purposes, while a play area close to the pool allows young ones to engage in recreational activities and take a dip while adults relax nearby.

Adapting pool designs for different climates

When designing a pool for different climates, it is important to consider factors such as the shape, size, and material of the pool. For example, a pool in a hot climate may benefit from a shape that provides more shade, while a pool in a cold climate may require materials that can withstand freezing temperatures.

In addition to the pool's physical characteristics, incorporating heating systems, covers, and insulation can help adapt the pool to various climates. A variety of pool heating solutions are available, from solar panel systems to more complex contemporary offerings, allowing you to enjoy your pool throughout the seasons.


In conclusion, creating the perfect backyard garden and swimming pool involves considering a wide range of swimming pool designs and ideas, from pool styles and materials to landscaping and safety measures. By exploring various pool design ideas and customizing your pool to suit your unique preferences and backyard space, you can transform your outdoor area into a personal oasis that provides enjoyment, relaxation, and functionality for you and your loved ones. The possibilities are endless, so let your imagination run wild and dive into the world of backyard pool designs.

Frequently asked questions

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What is the most popular type of pool?
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The split between fibreglass and concrete pools in terms of numbers and popularity is very close - there is no clear winner. In some areas of Australia concrete pools are more popular and in others, fibreglass are more popular.

What colour options are available for pools?
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Swimming pool interior colour options are vast. Ranging from white through to black, with many shades of blue, grey and green, pools come in loads of colours. Each manufacturer (whether fibreglass or pebble or tiles) has a different range of colour options to choose from. 

The interior colour of your pool impacts both the perceived water colour of your pool and mood of your pool and pool zone.

What are the most popular pool types?
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The most popular pools in Australia are:

  • concrete pools - each one is custom made, giving the homeowner the ability to have exactly what they want in terms of style, colour, size, shape and depth,
  • fibreglass pools - with a wide range of sizes and shapes to pick from, fibreglass pools are generally a faster install option for those looking to swim sooner,
  • plunge pools - for those with limited space, or who only want to relax (instead of swimming), plunge pools are a fantastic option. They can be made from precast concrete, custom concrete or fibreglass.
  • shipping container pools - for properties on a steep slope, shipping container pools offer a wonderful solution. Only needing a stable footing, they can be perched high above the ground to suit a house on a steep slope.
Can a fibreglass pool be resurfaced?
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Yes. If your fibreglass pool surface is discoloured, cracking or looking worse for wear, it is possible to have the entire interior resurfaced with a fresh layer of fibreglass. The cost of this varies based on the size and other factors, but typically costs in the vicinity of $15,000 to $30,000.

What is the smallest pool size?
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Small pools, usually called plunge pools, come in various sizes. It is possible to have a custom plunge pool built to any size you like, however if you are looking for a plunge pool shell (usually manufactured out of fibreglass or precast concrete), the smallest sizes are around 2.5m x 2.5m (round or square) or 3.5m x 2.5m (rectangular). 

How much does a swimming pool cost?
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In Australia, pool costs vary a great deal based on the type of pool and also the location. For example, pools are more expensive in Sydney than they are in Brisbane. As a general guide for a 7m x 3m in-ground swimming pool on a flat site with 5m access, these are the approximate pool costs:

  • concrete pools typically cost between $50,000 to $80,000
  • fibreglass pools typically cost between $45,000 to $70,000

If you’re after a smaller plunge pool, they typically also cost between $45,000 to $60,000 fully installed depending on the type of pool (eg. precast concrete or fibreglass), size and installation requirements.

Other types of pools such as vinyl liner above-ground pools are considerably cheaper at around $5,000 to $15,000 fully installed, however these have a much shorter lifespan.

On top of this you will always have pool fencing and electricals.

And anything you want to put around the pool, like surrounds and landscaping. Plus any additions to the pool, like heating, automation.

Which is best: concrete or fibreglass pools?
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Of course this answer is one of personal preference, however here is our unbiased view on the strengths of each pool type to help you decide what is best for you.

Concrete pools:

  • can be fully customised in design, style, colour, size, shape etc. allowing for unique shapes, sizes and depths
  • the steps, bench and ledge design can be fully tailored to what you want
  • the interior can be fully tiled, pebble or glass bead and can also have waterline tiles
  • can be built anywhere
  • can be constructed to retain on sloping blocks
  • are very durable and long-lasting
  • do not require a crane for installation
  • typically take between 10-16 weeks to install
  • in Australia, concrete pools usually come with a 7 year warranty - that being said, a concrete pool will last much longer than 7 years!

Fibreglass pools:

  • typically take between 2-6 weeks to install, however extensive tiling, decking and surrounding landscaping may push this timeframe out
  • have a set range of styles, colours, shapes, sizes and depths depending on the pool shell brand
  • generally require a crane for installation (except where the truck can park directly adjacent to the installation location and can simply drop the pool into place)
  • most come with a 25 year or similar warranty - however please note that most fibreglass pool warranties require that the homeowner meet very stringent maintenance, testing and documentation requirements for the warranty to remain valid.
Which shape of pool is best?
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The best pool shape for most people is a rectangular or an L-shaped pool. Rectangular pools are great for lap swimming, while L-shaped pools can accommodate both leisure activities and exercise.

Both also provide flexibility in landscaping and have classic appeal that never goes out of style.

The "best" pool though, is the one that suits you, your home and your lifestyle best. 

What is a classic pool shape?
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Classic pool shapes can be found in Greek and Roman pools, which are both formal designs based on ancient pool structures. Grecian pools feature rectangular shapes, while Roman-style swimming pools have an arch or slight curve at one or both ends of a rectangle.

Both styles provide a classic and timeless look to your outdoor space.

What factors should I consider when choosing the size of my pool?
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When choosing the size of your pool, take into account your available space, how you plan to use the pool, who is going to use the pool, your budget, the use of the total outdoor area and any potential obstacles that might limit your choices.

Consider the size of the pool in relation to the size of the yard, the amount of sun exposure, and the amount of maintenance required. Think about the type of pool you want, such as an above-ground or in-ground pool.

What is the best size for a family pool in Australia?
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The most popular family sized swimming pools in Australia are 7m x 3m or 8m x 4m. Of course this is a very general rule and pool sizes vary a lot. 

What is the standard pool size in Australia?
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In Australia, the most common pool sizes range from 6m x 3m to 9m x 5m for inground or above ground pools. Lap pools vary considerably, however are usually in the range of 10-15m long and 2.5-4m wide, whilst plunge pools are mostly 2.5m to 3.5m diameter for round plunge pools, or 4.5-6m long and 2.5-3.5m wide for rectangular plunge pools.

How many types of swimming pools are there?
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There are 5 main pool types in Australia.

They are

  • Vinyl above ground pools
  • Precast plunge pools
  • Shipping container pools
  • Fibreglass pools
  • Concrete pools

The type of pool is dictated by its material and where it was constructed (on or off site). 

Each type has its own advantages, so you can choose the best option for your needs.

What is the difference between a concrete, shotcrete and gunite?
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In short, all are a form of concrete and are quite similar. Concrete is a mix of water, cement, sand and coarse aggregates, normally gravel or stone. The cement binds the sand and aggregate together which hardens to form concrete.

Gunite differs from concrete in two main ways. Firstly, unlike concrete which uses large and small aggregates, gunite only uses small particles. The other difference is in how it is mixed. The concrete for swimming pools typically comes pre-mixed and needs to be applied in one go to avoid weak points, whereas a dry mix of gunite is fired through a howe with the water being added at the point of delivery. Unlike a concrete pool, this means you can stop and start when using gunite without any issues. Due to this difference in technique and the smaller particles, gunite also offers a smoother finish and is less prone to cracking than concrete.

Shotcrete is pretty much the same thing as concrete (it comes ready mixed), but instead of being poured when it is applied, it is fired out of a hose at high speed - hence the name!

What is the best pool shape for a small backyard?
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For small backyards, you the best choices are either a plunge pool (which are typically round, square or rectangular), or a freeform pool. Plunge pools can be prefabricated and installed quickly or custom build. Freeform pools, with curves and irregular shapes, can be tailored to the exact size and shape of the space available, however must be custom build on site. Freeform pools also provide more room for the addition of patio furniture, decks, and landscaping to make it look even more inviting.

Adding these features can create a beautiful and inviting outdoor space that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

What is the best shape pool to get?
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For the best shape pool, opt for a classic rectangular design. It offers a sleek and modern look that provides plenty of space to swim laps or enjoy other water exercises. Sticking with a rectangular shape pool also gives you the most options when it comes to pool types - you now have the option of both concrete and a fibreglass pool. Whereas if you go with a freeform pool or L-shaped pool, or any other shape that is less common, you will be limited to a concrete pool.

What is the cheapest swimming pool to build?
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The cheapest swimming pool to build is an above ground vinyl-liner pool. These pools are affordable and can be great for those with tight budgets who are looking to enjoy more leisure time.

Although they require a liner change approximately every 10 years, these pools offer great value for money.

What is considered a standard pool size in Australia?
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The standard size of a pool is typically 9m x 4m, 8m x 4m, 7m x 3m, or 6m x 3m. The depth is usually around 1.2 -1.8 metres and may feature a deep and shallow end.

What is a classic pool shape?
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Classic pool shapes can be found in Greek and Roman pools, which are both formal designs based on ancient pool structures. Grecian pools feature rectangular shapes, while Roman-style swimming pools have an arch or slight curve at one or both ends of a rectangle.

Both styles provide a classic and timeless look to your outdoor space.

What are the most popular pool shapes in Australia?
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By far the most popular pool shape in Australia right now is the rectangular pool. It is most often 6m x 3m, 7m x 3m or 8m x 4m in size and can have various configurations for steps and other features. In the larger sizes it is common to have a long bench seat down one side and in the smaller sizes, one end is typically a large seat and step combination.

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