Creating the Perfect Canadian Backyard Oasis: Understanding the Space Requirements for Your Swimming Pool

Dreaming of a swimming pool in your own backyard? Before you dive into the deep end of pool planning, it’s crucial to understand the space requirements. Small inground swimming pools can be a fantastic addition to compact yards, but their installation isn’t as simple as digging a hole and filling it with water. From the pool’s shape to additional features like steps, lights, and tanning ledges, every element impacts the amount of space you’ll need.

The shape of your pool plays a significant role in its space requirements. Oval pools demand the most space, making them ideal for larger yards. On the other hand, round pools offer ample swimming space in a compact area, perfect for smaller yards. If you’ve got a family with young children, a figure 8 pool could be your best bet, thanks to its clearly demarcated shallow and deep ends.

But remember, there’s often more to a swimming pool than just the pool itself. Planning for additional features like waterfalls, slides, diving boards, and standalone spas is essential. These features not only require extra space but also need to be strategically placed for utility companies to run underground services. So, while you might be eager to get started, it’s worth taking the time to plan your pool properly to avoid potential problems down the line.

Understanding Space Requirements

Small inground swimming pools may seem like a one-size-fits-all solution for your backyard. However, the reality is that these pools come with their own set of requirements – mainly space. There’s a lot more to a swimming pool than just the pool itself. Features like waterfalls, slides, diving boards, and even standalone spas are all ways to expand your swimming pool experience. But remember, each of these features will require additional space.

Choosing the Right Shape

The shape of your pool greatly influences its space requirements.

  • Oval pools are great for water sports and games, but they demand the most space.

  • Round pools, usually found above ground, offer a lot of swimming space in a compact area.

  • Figure 8 pools are perfect for families, allowing for well-demarcated shallow and deep ends.

So, you’ll need to evaluate your yard’s dimensions and choose a pool shape that fits best.

Considering Additional Features

When planning your pool, it’s essential to account for additional features. From lights, steps, tanning ledges, to more ambitious add-ons like deck jets, laminar jets, swimouts, spillover spas, and more. Each of these elements will require its own space.

Understanding Pool Placement

Looking Beyond the Pool

Beyond the pool itself, consider your landscape. Do you want garden beds or other soft landscape features around your pool? You’ll need to factor in these requirements when measuring the usable space of your backyard.

Remember, the position of your pool is also influenced by side and rear easements, as these are required for utility companies to run underground services. You’ll want to avoid building your pool too close to your home, as issues like leaking or splashing could arise.

Take a look at your survey, get a clear idea of your usable space, and start planning for the pool of your dreams.

Factors to Consider When Determining the Space for a Swimming Pool

The decision to install a swimming pool requires thoughtful deliberation. It’s not just about the pool itself, but also how it fits into your overall backyard design. So, how much space do you need for a swimming pool? Here are some factors you’ll need to consider.

Pool Type

The type of pool you choose has a significant impact on the space it’ll occupy. For example, if you’re thinking of swimming laps for regular exercise, a rectangular shaped pool is recommended. In this case, you should aim for a minimum of 30 feet. If you’re planning on installing a diving pool or a lap pool, you’ll have to think about the depth and length of the pool, which will also affect the overall size.

The shape of your pool matters too. Regular rectangle, circular, or any other unique configuration will determine the space requirements. Remember, your pool should be the main focal point, not take up your whole yard. So, keep in mind to leave enough space around for lounging, foot traffic, outdoor furniture, and garden features.

Pool Size

The size of your pool is dictated by a few factors. How many family members will be using the pool? Do you want a separate shallow region for kids? Are you considering additional features like rock waterfall, spa, swim-up bars, and so on? All these are crucial considerations.

The smallest inground pools across all pool types, on average, are around 12 feet by 24 feet, 10 feet by 20 feet, or 12 feet by 14 feet. Most private pools range from 28-40 feet long and 14-20 feet wide. But remember, your pool size should be based on everyday use and not on pool party size.

Safety Requirements

Safety is paramount when planning your pool. There needs to be ample space around your pool for safety. A pool taking up too much space runs the risk of accidental falls into the pool. Also, you’ll need enough space for rescues, if ever required.

In addition to this, your pool must have a walkway that surrounds its perimeter. This walkway must be at least 1.5m in width and finished with a non-slip material that’s easy to clean and highly durable.

For pools meant for young children and non-swimmers, safety steps all around the walls are necessary. The location of these steps must not be greater than 900mm below the water level.

Lastly, remember to follow local bylaws and regulations when designing your pool. These laws vary based on location, so do look up yours to ensure your design is up to code. Also, federal regulations require maintaining a distance of at least 10 feet between the edge of your pool and the outer wall of your home.

Regulations and Guidelines for Pool Space

Regulations and Guidelines for Pool Space

Inground swimming pool installation isn’t just about picking the perfect design or the most efficient filtration system. It’s about understanding and complying with the regulations and guidelines that dictate pool space. Let’s delve into what you need to know.

Local Building Codes

Swimming pool construction is regulated by Municipal Zoning By-Laws and the Ontario Building Code for properties in Canada. It’s essential to follow these rules and regulations to avoid any legal disputes. Many people overlook these regulations, especially the mandatory distance between the pool and your house, as stipulated by the Toronto Municipal Code. Remember, these laws can vary based on location, and it’s wise to look yours up ahead of time to ensure your pool design is up to required code standards.

Fencing and Barrier Requirements

Safety is a crucial aspect of pool installation. Fencing around a pool is not just a good idea; it’s often a requirement, particularly if you have young children or pets. When planning the fence, consider the space between the fence and the pool. You’ll want enough room to comfortably utilise this area and access any pool maintenance supplies you need.

Remember, fence installation may require space for concrete posts. Ensure you’ve accounted for this in your overall pool space plan. And don’t forget – the type of fence you use should align with your local building codes.

Distance from Property Lines

The distance between your pool and property lines is another crucial factor to consider. In some areas, the pool needs to be at least 8 feet away from the property lines and 10 feet away from your home. These rules will vary by region, so it’s important to find out about your setback rules by contacting your city or county development services.

Also, remember to check for any easements on your property. Easements are essentially invisible lines that you can’t build on, most commonly due to underground or overhead utilities. They can also limit the usable space in your backyard.

Permits and Inspections

Once you’ve planned your pool space considering all regulations and guidelines, the next step is to secure relevant permits. The process will vary depending on your region, but typically it involves submitting detailed plans of your pool design, including its size, shape, and location on your property.

After your pool is constructed, it’s likely you’ll need to have it inspected to ensure it meets all local building codes and safety guidelines. The inspection process often includes checking the pool’s barriers or fencing, the distance from property lines, and the installation of any additional features like diving boards or slides.

Taking the time to understand and adhere to these regulations and guidelines will help ensure your pool installation goes smoothly. It’s not just about creating a beautiful, fun addition to your home—it’s about ensuring that addition is safe and legal.

Calculating the Space for a Swimming Pool

It’s crucial to plan your backyard space efficiently before embarking on a pool installation project. The pool area, the surrounding deck, and any additional features or amenities should all be factored into your calculations. Here’s a simple guide to help you calculate the space for your swimming pool.

Pool Area

The size and shape of your pool are guided by the available space in your backyard. Remember, a well-planned pool should occupy roughly 25% of your total available area. For instance, if your backyard measures approximately 150 square meters, a small pool of 20-28 square meters would be ideal. This size ensures the pool doesn’t dominate your outdoor space, leaving enough room for other outdoor functions.

Surrounding Deck Space

The deck is an integral part of your pool area. It not only enhances the pool’s aesthetics but also serves a practical purpose. A rule of thumb is to have the decked area around the pool’s perimeter be approximately 50% of the pool’s surface area. This space allows for easy movement around the pool and provides room for outdoor furniture. Having the deck space account for half the pool’s area ensures a balanced and appealing look.

Additional Features and Amenities

Your swimming pool can be so much more than just a swimming area. Extra features like waterfalls, slides, spas, and deck jets add functionality and visual appeal. Keep in mind, these features require additional space, and their inclusion should be factored into your overall pool area calculation.

For instance, if you’re planning to have a solar cover on a roll, remember it will occupy space on your deck. Or, if you’re considering a tree line or border, you’ll need to account for that in your calculations.

Your backyard should be a multi-functional space. So, while you might be excited about installing a pool, remember not to let it monopolize your outdoor area. With careful planning, you can create a balanced and inviting outdoor space that accommodates a pool, deck, and other features comfortably.

A house with a swimming pool and lounge chairs at dusk.

Designing the Ideal Space for a Swimming Pool

When it comes to pool installation, design plays a crucial role. You’re not just building a pool; you’re creating an outdoor living space. Your pool design should ensure a seamless use of your outdoor space all year round. The positioning of the pool and the surrounding space allocation must be thoughtfully planned to avoid any potential inconvenience.

Considering Landscaping and Aesthetics

Landscaping is an integral part of pool design. It softens finishes, offers privacy, and ultimately enhances the appeal of your pool area. If you’re planning to add a border or tree line, or incorporate it into your deck design, remember to factor this into your overall space allocation.

Keep in mind that plants grow and mature, so you’ll need to leave enough room for them to flourish without encroaching on your walking space. It’s important to avoid areas with trees in the immediate vicinity as their roots can damage the structure of the pool, and falling leaves can cause discolouration. When planning landscaping near the pool area, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance.

Creating a Poolside Lounge Area

The area around your pool isn’t just a path for foot traffic. It’s an ideal spot for outdoor furniture and a place to relax and unwind. When designing your pool, consider making the paved or decked area around its perimeter approximately 50% of the pool’s surface area. This provides ample space for safe navigation around the pool and positioning outdoor furniture at the water’s edge.

Remember, your backyard is much more than just a swimming pool. It’s an outdoor entertaining area, so the design should be dictated by how you’ll use the space.

Incorporating Water Features

Adding water features such as waterfalls, slides, and spas enhances the pool experience. However, these features require additional space and should be factored into your overall pool area calculation.

To maximize the use of your outdoor space, consider how you’ll utilise the rest of the area. Are you picturing yourself lounging by the water’s edge on a daybed? Do you want a grass area for kids to play or for your pets? Perhaps you wish to have added features such as a shower or pool house?


You’ve learnt that installing a swimming pool isn’t just about digging a hole and filling it with water. It’s about understanding the space requirements and planning your backyard efficiently. Remember, your pool should occupy roughly 25% of your total available area and the deck should account for about 50% of the pool’s surface area. Don’t forget to factor in additional features like waterfalls, slides and spas into your pool area calculation. Landscaping can enhance your pool area’s appeal and a well-planned lounge area ensures safe navigation around the pool. Keep in mind, while water features enhance your pool experience, they require extra space. Also, consider how the rest of your outdoor space will be utilised. Maybe you want a grass area for the kids, or perhaps a shower or pool house? By considering all options and planning wisely, you’ll create a balanced, inviting outdoor space that’s perfect for year-round enjoyment.

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