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Guide to Pool Water Features

Beautiful backyard pool with water features

Like other elements including lighting and rock, water features add elegance and character to pools. Which feature or features you choose is limited only by your preference. The options for water features are endless, from a simple laminar jet to a grand waterfall or fountain. Work with a pool professional to incorporate your vision so that it flows, literally, with the pool design.

Here are the various types of water features.

Sheer Descent® Cascade Waterfalls. Think... water tumbling over a rock-face wall into the pool like the waterfalls found in nature. Or, perhaps you're partial to a cascading rush of water over your mosaic tile. Waterfalls are often fairly dramatic, impressive displays of moving water that are the centerpiece of a swimming pool. These features can even be illuminated for a truly magnificent effect at night.  Sheer Descent Cascade Waterfalls give you the option of a serene, glass-like sheet of water falling into your pool, or a rushing waterfall crashing into the still water below. 

Sheer Descent Waterfall

Rain Waterfalls. Imagine a steady trickle of rain pouring over you...    Sheer Arc™ Rain and Sheer Descent® Rain Waterfalls fall upon your pool like a gently shower from the sky. Those in the pool enjoy the refreshing water drops, and those outside the pool can listen and watch the bustling strands of water as they fall.

 Sheer Descent Rain Waterfall

Sheer Curtain™ Waterfall. Elegant and timeless, these waterfalls create a sheer and elegant wall of water for a chic and clean aesthetic that hangs like a curtain from an overhang or ledge.

Sheer Curtain Waterfall

Spillways. Usually created by a structure, such as a hot tub or negative edge, a spillway creates a cascading effect of water washing down over the sides. It allows the water to move outside of the structure and create a continuous flow between two bodies of water.

Spillway Pool 

Water Jets. These are simple, graceful single arcs of water that project from the pool deck and into the pool. Whether they are lit up like Laminar jets or small and precise like a Minijet® ;they can be the pool’s focus or an unexpected added element. To work effectively, they need to be positioned correctly in order to create the proper arc and aim.


Gushers or Bubblers. Situated in the middle of hot tubs, pools, steps, ledges, beach entries or benches, gushers and bubblers churn up vertical projections of water that create an effect that is as fun to watch as it is to play in.. These are popular on sun shelves and ledges... and particularly with children.

Pool Bubblers

Scuppers. Like water flowing from a spout, scuppers allow you to punctuate your pool wall with spilling streams of pool water.

Decorative Water Scuppers

Water Bowls. Beautiful accent pieces that can be added even after your pool is built, water bowls are an artistic sculptural element that can add glamor to any pool.

Decorative Water Bowl by Grand Effects


When deciding which features to place in your swimming pool, it’s a good idea to consider what style would match your home and backyard best. Rustic-looking pools with a lot of rockwork are more ideal for waterfalls, while the jets, scuppers and freestanding waterfalls have a more clean and modern aesthetic that goes well with a more contemporary or formal pool. You’ll also want to think about the volume of sound. For example, a waterfall, while dramatic and beautiful, might be a little loud if you’re looking for quiet, tranquil poolside conversation. In that case, a cuppers, a bubbler or jets might work better.

Placement is also critical to maximize the desired effect. A laminar jet can be disturbed by wind, so avoid placing a jet where there’s a cross-breeze. For a negative-edge swimming pool, whose beauty lies in its stillness, any water features should avoid touching the main water body and should instead focus on the hot tub, or an area into which the negative edge spills.

It’s also possible to mix and match different water feature types to complement each other, both visually and acoustically. Try pairing scuppers or water bowls with laminar jets – both clean, sleek design elements – or go with a more natural look of waterfalls with spillways. You’ll also want to consider your greenery and landscaping to see what works well together. Other creative contrasts include using fire displays or fire pits to play off the elements.

Water features can be controlled through a smartphone app, like iAquaLink®, so if you want to turn it off, or reduce the flow rate, it’s easy to do with the tap of a finger. It’s also handy if you’ve left your house and forgotten to turn off your water feature, or wanted to turn it on before you got home. If you want to install a pool cover, a Cover-Pools® automatic pool cover can even turn off your water features as it covers the pool – that way your pool will be safe, protected and not wasting any necessary energy to run them.

While combining different water effects can make some impressive displays of waterworks, there is a such thing as overdoing it. Work with a pool designer to make sure what you come up with is the best option for you and your lifestyle.


Editor’s note: This post was originally published January 2017 and has been updated to include the latest design features and innovations.

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Includes all the latest information, tips, and expert advice from Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. on owning the healthiest, safest, most enjoyable pool possible.


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