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  • Example of a grotto. The Green Scene in Northridge, CA.
  • Example of a Baja Shelf. The Green Scene in Northridge, CA.

A few built-in features can take your pool from typical to unique and custom. Items like swim-up bars, built-in benches, and tanning ledges transform ordinary and dated pools into trendy and entertaining hotspots. Nearly any of these features can be included in your pool design. Talk to your pool builder to see how they can incorporate one or many of these into your design.


Designed to look like a cave, a grotto is typically created from artificial rock and provides a sheltered cove. It is usually designed in conjunction with a waterfall or sometimes a slide, providing a sanctuary or retreat for swimmers, or a fort-like structure for kids.

Baja Shelf

The baja shelf is a large shallow area designed for sun bathers to relax or for young children to play. It is typically 5-8 inches deep and is situated at the perimeter of the pool. In some designs, the baja shelf (or tanning ledge or Shamu shelf) is placed near the deep end of the pool so kids can jump off it and so adults can comfortably supervise.

Beach Entry

Sometimes called a beach walk-in or gradual entry, this sloped entry into the pool provides child-friendly access, a shallow area for play, handicapped access and added safety for poor swimmers or pets that fall into the pool. The beach entry is sometimes viewed negatively because it's possible for unwanted pets to wade into the water. It also can take away from the length of a pool and the play area in deeper waters if space constraints are an issue.

Swim-up bar perspective drawing.

Underwater Benches and Tables

Much like the seating within a spa, in-water benches are essentially ledges connected to the inside of the pool under the water. They provide great escapes for relaxing while still remaining cool in the water. They can also be combined with an underwater table (a larger raised portion of the pool floor). Umbrella holders can also be installed in underwater tables so the area can be shaded.

Swim-up Bar

Swim-up bars add to the convenience of conversation and relaxation with refreshing cocktails and snacks nearby. Bathers can swim up to an underwater stool and enjoy company without having to leave the water. In some designs, the swim-up bar offers a "dry" side (the dry side must be lower than the pool's bond beam) where the drink mixer and other guests can co-mingle without getting wet.

Landscaping Network

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