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Who Comes First, the Landscape Designer or Pool Builder?

February 28th, 2017 | 3 min read

By Andrew Whyte

Pools – Who Comes First, Designer Or Pool Builder?

You are installing a pool and think, "I'll just get the pool in first and then it's easier to have a designer create the rest"

The common mistake

Not knowing: Landscaping does not go around a pool. A pool sits in the landscape.

It is a subtle distinction, however, this can often lead to a major error. 

You may think, "I'll take the advice of the pool builder on what orientation and location to install the pool, and then the landscape designer can suggest what the rest of the garden should be."

This appears logical until you ask the question, "If there is not yet a design, how does the pool builder know what they are suggesting is right?" 

Before the orientation or location can be decided, you must first list out what else you wish to have in your garden:

  • do you want room for lounge chairs and how many
  • do you wish to separate the pool area to allow adults to sit at one end and kids can dive in at the other
  • do you want an inground pool cover
  • do you want a pool house, spa, grass area, etc inside the pool area
  • what entertainment space do you want outside the pool
  • do you need a grass play area
  • do you want a shed or veggie garden
  • etc

The answers to these questions are then used by your designer to design the whole space. Only at this stage of designing does it become apparent what is feasible. And most importantly, these requests you have, once in the design, will dictate the orientation and location of the pool. It may even affect what the pool size can be. And often the height of the pool may change.

Let's go back a step further

Not only should you see now that a landscape design should come before the pool goes in, but also, we would suggest you not sign a pool contract until the design is done.


The design for your whole garden takes into account things like the architecture of your home. And so the selection of pool tiles may be something your designer would like to have input on. This will affect the pool contract.

In some cases we have had a client be close to signing a contract for a fibreglass pool when we suggest that due to the slope of the block, that they get a concrete pool quote also and found them comparable. Retaining walls need built to support a fibreglass pool when on a slope but a concrete pool does not need retaining walls as the whole shell is made of concrete.

In one project in Balwyn North the client was about to sign a contract with the pool builder and we pointed out the pol was in the wrong location, wrong orientation, and was shaped weirdly to match the rear boundary fence. After we designed the garden, the pool builder came in and everything fell into place lovely.

Beware of red flags

The professional pool builders will have no issue with you designing first.

But beware of pool builders that try to convince you that there are no issues with 'simply' putting in the pool now and having the landscape designer do their magic after, you are being sold to, and not for your benefit!

I say with a frown that unfortunately the trades industry has some people who work with a self-serving agenda. Not most tradies, just some. What you need to be aware of is how much of a team player the pool builder is. When you pick up in conversation that they do not talk about other trades involvement, it may be a red flag. 

When the various trades aren't in sync mistakes are made. A typical project may involve:

  • pool builder
  • landscaper
  • electrician
  • plumber
  • brickie, concreter, pool fencer, outdoor kitchen installer, etc.

You need to know each trade is respectful of the other's needs. You also want to coordinate things for financial efficiency, e.g. the irrigation system needs a power point, the pool equipment needs power, the outdoor kitchen needs power, and this is best coordinated for one electrician to address, not three visits from an electrician.

A word on budget

Imagine installing a pool and then deciding to contact a landscape company about design and building the project. Now imagine once the design is done that the cost is $300,000 for landscaping. What if that amount is more than double what you expected to invest? 

Knowing upfront what 'all' costs will add up to is a prudent approach. 

What if the pool has now blocked access and made the whole project harder to do, how will this affect the budget?

Further Insights helping you make informed decisions:

The following insights are some of the common things you should know:

How to calculate an accurate budget for landscaping

Integrating Your Pool into Your Landscape: A Comprehensive Guide

How to get things right with your pool installation

When do you need to engage a landscape designer

Who's responsible for managing contractors in a landscaping project?

We hope you have found this article useful and should you have any questions you would like to ask, please reach out to us and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.


Andrew Whyte

Founder of Whyte Gardens