Over 1.2 milllion Aussies own a pool and with that, comes the responsibility of ensuring the appropriate safety measures are met by installing a pool fence. According to Fair Trading, NSW, inadequate pool fencing remains a major contributing factor in the rate of drowning among children under 5 years of age.
Whilst the most important factor is pool safety, the other consideration is the balance between complying with pool fence laws and the impact a fence has on your property, aesthetically.
Matt Leacy, co-founder of Landart Landscapes, has 20 years' experience in design, construction and maintenance services across landscaping and pool installation for both residential and commercial properties. Leacy says it’s important to get the balance right, as you can potentially lose thousands of dollars in property value if you install a pool fence that ruins the landscape.
Here are Leacy’s top tips for installing a pool fence without compromising the look of your backyard.
One of the key problems is that retrospective laws are requiring many Australians to install or change pool fences in backyard spaces that weren’t initially designed to accommodate a pool fence. The layout, the gardens and the surrounds have all been designed without regard for the rules that exist today.
Because property owners are in a rush to comply with the laws and minimise installation costs, they bring in a certifier and have the job done quickly. The problem is, when rushing through a job, not much thought goes into how the fence will affect the look and landscape of the backyard. This will also affect the overall value of the property.
If you get it wrong and the fence looks terrible, you’ve potentially taken thousands of dollars off your sale or accumulative rental price – aside from the horror of looking at your backyard in a bad state. The wrong pool fence can look like an eyesore.
The key is in collaboration
One of the best ways to ensure you get the fence installation right is to get a landscape designer involved from the start. This will ensure that proper design considerations are factored into the installation plan.
A landscape designer is going to look at things from a different angle and can help you explore avenues that may not seem open to you, if you’re solely going by what you have been told by your local council.
There’s more than one way to install a pool fence while still meeting legislative requirements. However, if you don’t know what you’re options are and what to look for, you could end up with a not so aesthetically pleasing result.
The optimal scenario is to have a meeting with your certifier and landscape designer at the same time. That way you can have an open conversation and throw around ideas to try to get to your preferred outcome – while also being sure that your pool fence meets council laws.
What materials look the best?
In terms of what pool fence materials look the best, it always depends on the individual property, but glass is usually a pretty safe bet.
There are plenty of materials to choose from – glass-finish, powder-coated aluminum and timber. Glass is the most seamless and can disappear into a landscape more than other materials, but it will cost you more in relation to a standard aluminum fence.
If you have a large area and don’t want to incur too much expense installing the whole area with glass, you might consider using glass for the main visual of the fence to keep them open and visible – and then turn to a black-top aluminum fence that can be hidden in the garden and disappear around plants.
If you choose a powder-coated aluminum, go for black, as it disappears more than green if it’s up against plants. Steer clear of creams, reds and lighter colours because they stand out and often ruin the look of the backyard.
What materials last the longest?
Durability is also an important consideration. Glass is a top contender when it comes to low-maintenance and repairs.
Most people automatically assume that aluminum fences will require the least maintenance, however glass is super strong and is often held in place by high quality stainless steel and reinforced concrete.
There are rarely any issues with glass fences coming loose and when things go wrong with glass it is very obvious, whereas sometimes the screws and fittings on aluminum fences come loose and go unseen for some time. Glass is also, in essence, more difficult to climb than other materials because it’s just a slippery front-faced surface.
Compliance and design can be friends
From a compliance perspective, it’s important to understand what the pool fence laws are in your state and to seek professional advice to ensure that you don’t install a fence that doesn’t meet the requirements.
Installing a pool fence isn’t cheap, so you want to make sure that you get it right the first time. If your pool area backs onto one of the boundary fences, you need to ensure the boundary fence is also compliant.
Regardless of what material you use, it’s important to make sure you have a certified product.
Whilst it might cost you a bit more up front to ensure that compliance and design both come out on top, the initial outlay is often worth it in the long term.
Safety is the number one priority. Second to that is aesthetics. If you install a fence that ruins the overall look and feel of your backyard, the value of your property is likely to suffer. The potential loss you could incur due to a bad fence design far outweighs the cost of hiring a landscape designer to make sure you get it right the first time.
For more information on pool fence regulations, click on your state or territory...