Check out these tips and tricks for adding a luxurious outdoor spa to your landscape
Soaking in a spa can be a great way to relax, rejuvenate, socialize, rehabilitate and reward yourself. Relaxing in the warmth with soothing jets massaging your tired muscles is something you might expect to do on vacation. But having this creature comfort at your back door? That’s an exciting proposition. And it’s very possible, too, as there are many home spa options available today. Here are seven things to consider when making your selection.
C.O.S. Design, original photo on Houzz
1. What Do You Want or Need?
Before diving into a spa purchase, think about what elements and functions you need and want. For example, are you looking for remedial massage for sports recovery or other health issues? Are visual aesthetics most important to you? Or do you want your spa to be a social space for gatherings of friends and family?
Do your research and choose wisely. The biggest decision for most people will be whether to choose a portable, prefabricated spa or a built-in concrete one. Here are the types of spas available and the advantages and limitations of each.
Remedial spas. Remedial spas are often purchased off the shelf from spa specialists, and are made from fiberglass and composite materials. The beauty of these spas is that they can have laid-back daybed-style seats, molded chairs and many more strategically positioned jets than a concrete-style spa.
These portable spas can be placed in many preexisting places, such as concrete and paved areas and on those with crushed-rock bases, as well as on decks (but you’ll need to make sure the deck has been engineered to take the weight).
These spas can also be positioned in a deck or in a space dug into the ground, but you will need to make sure you maintain easy access to the service panel and ensure there is drainage in the hole. Another great thing is that entertainment systems such as TVs, sound systems and lighting features can also be integrated.
The real trick for the portable spa option is to make it look integrated and stylish. Often building or digging them in is not viable, and sitting them on a deck or paving can look a little underdone. We will discuss how to make a portable spa look good later on in this article.
Aesthetic spas. With a concrete spa, the aesthetic options increase. Often concrete spas are integrated into a pool project, but they can also be built as an independent structure, although they are a lot costlier than a portable option. If you have a concrete pool, you can add a spa at any time, but make sure you choose a reputable pool builder. Concrete spas can also be built in or sit on top of the ground. One great trick is to create a four-sided, wet-edge spa and tile it black, which creates a mirror-like-reflection pond feature. You can also add a concrete, paved or deck plinth to the side of the spa for placing drinks and nibbles.
The downside to a concrete spa is that it requires more space than a portable spa, as the equipment is independent and needs to be hidden. Apart from the additional costs, concrete spas don’t often offer molded seats and beds with as many jets as portable spas. This is where portable spas offer much more.
Social spas. If you’re mostly after a social spa, you have the option of either portable or concrete. It’s more about where you position the spa and what you put around it that will create a social catalyst. Placing a spa close to the main entertaining areas and giving the space inside the pool fence other features — such as built-in bench seats, fire pits and ice buckets — will give the spa a multifunctional appeal. Again, the portable, raised spa has some benefits, as the people in the spa are on similar eye level as those outside the spa. And some of the portable options have built-in TVs and sound systems.
Secret Gardens, original photo on Houzz
2. Consider Spa Safety
The next consideration is safety. You should acquaint yourself with pool regulations that apply to spas, including elements such as barrier fencing, access gates, ledges, covers and placement. Also note that all spa installations require a building permit. A safety barrier and water should not be added until the barrier is deemed compliant and safe.
3. What Size Will Work Best for You?
Bigger is not necessarily better with a spa. Think about how many people will be using it. If you need a spa for only two people, don’t get a huge tub, as you will need to run, heat and maintain it, all of which cost money. If you entertain large groups or have a large family, then you will need a bigger spa.
Apex Landscapes & Pools, original photo on Houzz
4. Where to Put Your Spa
Spas are a permanent invitation to enjoy the great outdoors, so make sure you position yours as a focal point in an important vista. Tucking a spa down a dead side or around a corner will hide your investment and create a feeling of separation from the spa and its users. As previously mentioned, the closer it is to the main entertaining space, the better it will be for parties and the more you will use it. Another thing to consider is how far away from the home to site it. Make it close enough so guests who are warm and cozy from the spa won’t dread the rush back to the house on a cold night.
Swimming Pool & Spa Association of SA (SPASA SA), original photo on Houzz
5. Let Technology Work for You
Imagine the convenience of being out for dinner or on the way home from a kids’ sporting event and knowing there’s a spa waiting at home for you, ready to go. Well, that is very possible, as many spa control systems are now Wi-Fi compatible and can be operated via a mobile device. There are also automatic water management systems to keep the pH and chemical balance right, along with in-floor cleaning, auto leveling and the like. Gone are the days of being a slave to your spa. Heaters have also come a long way; these days you can heat a large spa up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Hidden Costs
Buying, installing and running a spa can take its toll on your wallet, so consider the following expenses before committing to a purchase. Portable spas can have an electric heating system built in but concrete pools and swim spas rely on gas. Portable spas also often have to be craned in, which can be expensive. And don’t forget the cost of the pool fence.
DDB Design Development & Building, original photo on Houzz
7. Special Features
There are some pretty cool spas around, and you can have a lot of fun designing your dream spa. Large acrylic windows can make the spa the central focal point of your landscape all year round. Built-in decks and floating seats around a portable spa can also create the feeling of integration to a formerly stand-alone feature. Floating concrete plinths, glass mosaic tiles and spillovers of four-sided wet edges are features that can take it to another level. If you opt for a portable spa, you could always upgrade to a swim spa and add an off-the-shelf swim jet and a small plunge pool. The options are plentiful. Throw in some colorful towels on permanent towel racks, an ice bucket with some champagne and a few friends and family, and your spa will be sure to bring many years of joy and pleasure.