Freeform Pool Design Guide

Interested in a freeform swimming pool? You’re not alone. Freeform pools have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few decades and for good reason – they are a beautiful pool design concept. The freeform pool design is meant to mimic a natural body of water and blend in with its surroundings, contributing to a more peaceful and natural backyard landscape. There are a ton of ways to approach freeform design, so I’ll walk through some examples, benefits of freeform pools, some watch outs, and finish out with some installation tips. Ready? Let’s get started.

Main Benefits

Let’s kick off with the primary benefits of choosing a freeform pool versus a basic rectangle or L-shape design.

Natural Look

In my opinion, the biggest benefit of a freeform pool is the natural feel that it brings versus a traditional shape. The freeform design can really blend into the surrounding landscaping in your backyard, or if your pool is close to another body of water or other natural feature, the pool doesn’t overtake the natural beauty of mother nature.

Design Flexibility

The second big benefit of freeform pools is the overall design flexibility. It doesn’t matter what shape your backyard is, how much space you’re working with, or whatever other wacky requirements you have – a freeform design is a blank canvas and you can make just about anything work.

More Landscaping Opportunities

Lastly, freeform pools give you more natural landscaping opportunities at various focal points around the pool. The curves of the pool edges produce natural archipelagos into the pool water which are great opportunities for greenery or rock features that help make the pool feel more intimate and natural.

Watch Outs

The only major downside of building a freeform swimming pool is the extra cost that might come along with it. Depending on the size and complexity of your design, it could cost a few thousand dollars more than a traditional rectangular or L-shaped pool. Make sure to talk with your pool builder about a cost estimate before you get started with construction.

Types of Freeform Pools

Today, freeform pools can be made from any one of the major pool materials: concrete, fiberglass, or a vinyl liner.

Concrete pools are the most expensive option but also the best quality and have the most flexibility on design. The pool shell is formed with shotcrete or gunite application (sprayed concrete to encase the rebar below and form the shell), which allows for a lot of creativity when it comes to shapes and features within the pool. You can also apply a lot of different color and texture mixtures in the plaster that is poured on top of the shell for a beautiful finish.

Fiberglass freeform pools sit right in the middle for cost – not as expensive as concrete pools, but not as cheap as vinyl-lined pools. After you settle on your design, the fiberglass shell is made offsite and then shipped to your home and lowered into the pool area that your builder digs out. Fiberglass has some customization options for features and colors, but not as much as concrete.

Vinyl-lined freeform pools are your last option and the least expensive, but also the least durable. Vinyl liners are prone to tearing and need replacing more often than pool plaster or fiberglass pool shells.

Alright, let’s get into some design examples.

Freeform Pool Design Ideas

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Here are a couple of common features that go great with a freeform pool design – a spa on one end and a small waterfall and grotto on the other end. The natural stone deck around the pool is a great touch too.

I mentioned earlier that the natural curves of the pool present great opportunities to highlight landscaping – this pool is a great example.

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Not only can you highlight greenery, but freeform pools are also a great candidate for rock formations.

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The freeform design of this natural pool really fits with the beach entry and surrounding rocks and landscaping.

I built this swimming pool a few years ago and love the fluidity of the design. It feels like a natural spring next to the waterway.

Here is an example of a wonderful backyard pool with a spa and spillover. This design is similar to one of the first freeform designs ever conceived, the kidney-shaped pool.

A small oasis in the backyard with a wonderful entertaining area. I really like the flagstone deck around it.

The near edge of this pool provides a natural curve for a walkway. I also love the big boulders highlighted on the back side of the pool.

The free-flowing shape of this pool feels like an oasis in the desert.

Installing a Freeform Pool

If you’re thinking about building a freeform pool, this is definitely a design concept that you should voice to your pool builder early in your planning process with them. Give as much detail as you can on the feel of the pool, what landscaping you potentially want to highlight, features like a spa or waterfall, and any other water features.

Freeform Pool Cost

Freeform pools as a design concept are not necessarily more expensive than a traditional rectangle or L-shaped pool if they are the same size and complexity. However, most homeowners who want a custom freeform pool generally want more features, large rocks and landscaping, and other elements that will increase the overall price of the pool. The average cost of an inground pool in the U.S. is about $37,000, but freeform pools typically index higher than that average for those reasons.

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That’s about it for freeform design. If you want to compare freeform pools to other designs, head over to my pool shapes article. Have questions? Let me know; always happy to help in any way I can.

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