There's nothing better than cooling down in a pool during our hot, humid summers - or entertaining guests around clear-blue waters. A pool install can be a great investment for your home and outdoor space and also give you something to enjoy for a good part of the year.
But before you dive in and install a pool, ask yourself these six questions to make sure you get exactly what you want.
One of the perks of living in Alabama is the warmer weather. Most years, you can swim in an outdoor pool from May to September or even October.
If you want to be able to jump in next spring or summer, now is the time to start working on the pool install - not a month or two before the warmer temps arrive.
It takes time to design a pool, pick all of the materials and finishes, mark off the area, dig it out and install everything. Poor weather conditions can also slow down the process, so you don't want to put the project off until the last minute.
There are plenty of size and shape options beyond the normal rectangular pool - although that continues to be a popular layout.
The size of the overall pool will depend on your available outdoor space and budget, and the shape is based on how you plan to use it and your style preferences.
For example, if you plan to use the pool mainly for exercise, you'll want to make sure it's long enough to swim laps. Or, if it's meant to be an eye-catching design element, maybe you want a curvy, unique shape.
Also, think about what depth you want to have in the pool. A 5-foot depth is pretty common, unless you're planning to have a diving board or want a deep end. For children, you might want a shallow area, as well. Tanning ledges are also gaining popularity.
Just remember: The larger and more difficult the design of the pool, the higher the cost will be.
The pool's location in your backyard can have a big impact on your outdoor design, so this is an important question to ask.
For a smaller yard, it might work best to have the pool next to your house, connected with a patio or walkway. That makes it easier to see the pool from inside and allows the pool to be a natural extension of your home.
If you have a larger yard, installing the pool further away can make it its own destination and feature. But, that can limit the view you have of the pool from indoors and make it farther to walk back and forth.
Depending on where you want to install the pool and your backyard's slope, you may need to add retaining walls to level the area for the pool.
There are a wide range of pool materials, colors and styles to choose from, and your contractor can help show you the options. Think about what type of look you're going for with the pool: Do you want it to have a natural look, or are you going for something flashy?
There are different tile colors and material options you can use around the edge of the pool, and the color you use will affect the color of the water. You can even cover the entire pool in tiles, although that will increase the price quite a bit.
Also, think about the surrounding pool deck material - like stone, cement or pavers - and make sure your pool materials also match that. You want the entire pool area to look seamless, instead of a mix-matched design.
Now is the time to add in any other landscape features you want - because if you wait until after the pool install, it will cost more and possibly mean tearing up newly installed features.
One feature you'll definitely want to decide on before the pool is installed is lighting. Do you want lights in the pool, around the pool deck or in nearby foliage that shines on the pool?
Some other features to consider are hot tubs, waterfalls, pool decks, patios, foliage, shade structures, fire pits and outdoor kitchens. If you install everything at the same time, you'll be able to tie the designs together better and make sure the area all flows together.
This question is probably the most important because it will determine the quality of work and how easy the entire process is for you. Installing a pool is an investment, so make sure you hire a landscape professional who knows their stuff. There's nothing worse than paying thousands for a pool, only to have it look bad, take a lot longer than expected and have issues down the road.
Here are a few things to look for when deciding on a pool install company: