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Swimming Pool Grotto Designs: Fun ‘Out’ of the Sun

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. However, even as adults, we still love our personal getaways. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space. 

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you? 

Well. That’s the possibility of a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat. 

Imagine. Being outdoors, but away from the heat of the sun. And, still close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

1. Our first example of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network. (See large feature photo at top of this page for the complete project.)

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

Close up of Nashville Project’s Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” laughs our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature. The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls and a fire feature for inside the pool.” 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

 “Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

2. The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods. 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

For this second project, the tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water.

So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun. 

 

Inviting Pool Amenity: Hidden Grotto with Dramatic Waterfall

This backyard upgrade came our way as a referral from someone working with the clients. It went on to win an award, making it all the more special.

The overall project included a free-form concrete pool and spa. But a special part of the design is where the spa was placed — it’s actually hidden inside a large grotto with a high waterfall cascading over it into the pool. 

“We constructed the grotto from large moss rock boulders,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The ceiling is of structural steel and concrete. We also added a tanning shelf inside the pool in the shallow end large enough so that lounge chairs can rest in the water.”

The pool was then surrounded with a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio finished it all with lush landscaping.

 

Pool Grotto:

Pool Grotto:

A key element in giving the pool grotto a natural feel was the extensive use of moss rock. Placing these rocks requires skill and experience. They need to be positioned in a way so that water spills over them like it would appear in nature — like something you’d see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside the spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but is fed by a meandering man-made stream overhead.

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view of the pool seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders. 

 

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

The beautiful design of these paving stones was also inspired by nature as well. The clients chose them for their handsome earth-and sand-tones which we laid out in a random pattern. They offer the perfect contrast to the blue water of the lagoon-style pool.

This project won Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

In-ground Swimming Pool Trends: What’s Making a Splash?

Talk about making a splash with beautiful backyard escapes! Swimmingpool.com recently highlighted some of the hottest trends in swimming pool design under such sub-headings as: “Attached Hot Tubs,” “Hardscapes,” “Geometric Design,” and “Go Big at Home.”

We can attest to much of the specifics of their post. As Long Island swimming pool designers and builders, we’ve been including many of these amenities for some time. Here’s some examples of how Deck and Patio has incorporated these trends into swimming pools we’ve done for a few of our savvy clients:

 

Attached Hot Tubs:

Attached Hot Tubs:

According to Swimmingpool.com, a growing trend is to “make the hot tub appear ‘invisible’ in the design.” These spa beauties are often placed with walkways or steps as you see here.

For these clients, an up-to-date style wasn’t the only inspiration for the design. With three young children, safety had become a major concern and they also wanted an automatic pool cover. Designing a geometric pool with a built-in spill-over spa recessed inside the pool allowed us to give them one automatic cover for both bodies of water. In addition, special automation allows them to isolate the spa and heat only the spa water.

 

 

Raised Spas:

Raised Spas:

In order to better view a beautiful pool when in the spa, another trend covered under Attached Hot Tubs is elevating spas “above” the pools. Indeed, we proved this a stunning choice for an existing pool by installing a portable Bullfrog Spa with a beautiful natural stone raised above the pool.

Special plumbing was added to regulate the new spa’s sheer descent water feature: water spills from the fire bowl into the hot tub; in turn, spa water flows out into the pool for a beautiful hot springs/Roman pool effect, and, of course, you have the perfect vantage point to enjoy the pool.

 

 

In-ground Swimming Pool “Hardscapes”:

In-ground Swimming Pool “Hardscapes”:

Sometimes, only elegance will do. One of the trends listed for pool hardscapes is Travertine and we have used it for some of our clients such as in this pool surround. Cool even in the heat of summer, Travertine is a type of limestone and is quite different from marble or granite. In climates such as the Northeast, with our freeze/thaw conditions, we’ve found that where Travertine is quarried determines how practical it is. More vital Travertine info.

 

 

Geometric In-ground Pool Design:

Geometric In-ground Pool Design:

Free-form has been popular for a long time, and frankly still is, but there is a trend back to the geometric design. Here the striking geometric pool, with sheer descent waterfalls, is surrounded by a stunning patio in complementary random geometric patterns.

The steps at the far end of the pool — part of a natural retaining wall of boulders and plantings — lead to a delightful landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid.

 

 

Custom In-ground Swimming Pool Features:

Custom In-ground Swimming Pool Features:

Under Swimmingpool.com’s trend “Go Big at Home” doesn’t mean building huge pools necessarily, but this trend is for incorporating ever more custom pool features. Here for drama you see a high waterfall spilling over a romantic grotto with spa inside. A gazebo with outdoor great room, elegant patio surround for entertaining and sunbathing, and lush colorful landscaping are just some of this backyard oasis’ amenities.