The Perfect Pool Blog

Zodiac's In-Depth Resource for All Things Pool.

Guide to Pool Water Features

Sheer Descent Waterfall

Like other elements including lighting and rock elements, 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.

Waterfalls. Think water tumbling over rocks into the pool like the waterfalls found in nature. Waterfalls are often fairly dramatic, impressive displays of moving water that are the centerpiece of a swimming pool.

Sheer descents. This option looks like a clear, thin sheet of water, projected away from a wall, usually from a long linear mouth to create the formation.

Rain curtains. Usually suspended over an archway or ceiling, rain curtains present as water drops falling like a beaded curtain. Those in the pool enjoy the warm shower, and those outside the pool like to watch the strands of water falling.

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 the two bodies of water.

Laminar jets. These are simple, graceful single arcs of water the pop out from the pool sides and into the pool. They can be the pool’s focus or an added element. To work effectively, they need to be positioned correctly in order to create the proper arc and aim.

Gushers or fountain bubblers. Situated in the middle of hot tubs, pools, steps, ledges, or benches, gushers churn up vertical projections of water. These are popular on sun shelves and ledges, and particularly with children.

Fountains. This classic, dramatic display of water turns your pool into a spraying sculpture.

When deciding which features to place in your swimming pool, it’s a good idea to consider what style would match best. Rustic-looking pools with a lot of rockwork are more ideal for waterfalls, while the jets, fountains, scuppers and sheer descents have a clean presentation that goes well with a more modern, formal pool. You’ll also want to think about the volume of the water sounds. 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 sheer descent 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 sheer descents with laminar jets – both clean, neat presentations – 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, so if you want to turn it off, or reduce the flow rate, it’s easy to do with the touch of a button. 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.

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