It’s not unusual to get requests for inground swimming pool design in tight spaces.

Many of these tight spaces are simply a result of small pieces of property.

But “tight-space” situations are also caused by zoning laws and other government agency requirements.

Some of these parameters include: property line setbacks, “no disturbance” zones, steep slope ordinances, easements and protected wetlands.

A visit to the town construction and zoning office should be one of the first steps in the inground swimming pool design process.

The Project

Although the property was huge, positioning the pool on this project was indeed a challenge. There was limited space where the pool was planned because of construction setback restrictions and nearby wetlands .

To add to the design challenge was the homeowner’s request for a cabana and a reasonable amount of deck/patio area.

I have always said the more challenging the project the more interesting the solution; this one was no exception.

The final solution met all the homeowner’s wishes. Each feature was designed to the limit of codes and ordinances. For example, the pool water’s edge was positioned within a few inches of the allowable setback line.

Not only must everything fit with inground swimming pool design, but it has to look right too.

With the pool located directly at the end of the driveway, we needed to provide a fence first to meet pool code. But the fence also served the design in other ways:

  • the fence literally and psychologically created two distinct spaces: the public or driveway area and the private pool area.
  • the fence screened views from the driveway as well as from the street.
  • the fence ran from the cabana to the main house.  This visually connected the two buildings, unifying the design further.
  • the fence provided all these benefits without taking up valuable space.


The fence was custom made by the carpenter because it was such an important feature.

The fence posts were built 7″ wide to convey strength and to appear more architecturally in scale.

The core of each post was 4 X 4″ treated lumber.  The “cladding” or exterior woodwork was clear cedar.

A channel/space was left between the 4 X 4 and the cedar for low voltage wiring.  Each post was to have 2 small copper light sconces – one on the pool side and one on the driveway side.

In addition to the inground swimming pool design, the family wanted an open lawn area.

Off the driveway and near the cabana the property rises 4 to 5′ to a level and expansive area…perfect for a “play field”.

We used large stone slab-steps for access to the upper level (See picture below).

The slab-steps complemented the boulder outcroppings used for retainment throughout the landscape. Their large size and mass maintained the scale of the setting.

The stone slab-steps were dry-set on a 3/4″ gravel base footing.


Here’s the previous post for this project.  And here’s the next.

  • Anonymous
    10:57 AM, 5 July 2007

    Why not build the fence out of one of the artificial materials that are out there?

  • Roger
    9:48 AM, 7 July 2007

    Although there would have been alternate materials to use besides wood, it was important to match the stained wood of the garage doors and other stained wood features of the home. In future posts I’ll show some of the work that’s being done with “wood-substitute” materials. Some of it is just amazing!

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