Wesley Gohlke, Lead Designer/Project Manager
Gohlke Pools, Denton, Texas
Swim spas aren’t usually the centerpiece in a backyard, but this one had to carry an unusual aesthetic burden. The client had originally wanted an inground pool but, because of permit restrictions, a swim spa was the best option available to them.
The task was to install the manufactured swim spa in a way that could be integrated into a backyard with some other comfort elements.
For this project, the swim spa’s distinct manufactured, modern look needed to fit seamlessly into a backyard with natural, warm-toned materials wood and stone. Choosing a unit with wood grain made for a good first step. They would set the swim spa in a corner with wood decking and near a stone wall to create an intimate space, with a firepit set on turf nearby.
Wesley Gohlke, pool designer at Gohlke Pools, noticed an existing cedar patio cover and opted to use the same material for the spa deck. It was a move that would bring cohesion between the new space and preexisting elements.
The project was something different for Gohlke, who says it was the first time his team had given a spa this type of treatment.
“You typically just pour concrete and set those, and they are what they are,” he says.
But this project went deeper — literally and figuratively.
When digging for the foundation, the team hit rock about 5 inches below the soil, while they still needed to dig another 4 or 5 inches. Normally, Gohlke said, the team would use an extension on the excavator to break up the stone and remove it, but they weren’t using an excavator on this portable-spa installation. With the area being as tight as it was, the team opted for a jackhammer to cut through the material.
It took “a little bit more time and manpower than a pool,” Gohlke says. The process lasted about a day before they were ready to pour concrete.
Because a swim spa filled with water is much heavier than a hot tub, Gohlke’s team built a more substantial foundation than normal — an 8-inch-thick concrete foundation, reinforced with steel rebar set 12 inches apart.
“We didn’t want to do just the 4 inches of non-structural concrete that you typically would for pool decks,” Gohlke said.
The goal was to avoid any cracking or leveling issues that could be caused by the weight of the spa when filled with water.
After the foundation was complete, the portable spa was brought in with a crane, and the automatic cover was installed.
Once these were in place, carpenters built the cedar deck around the swim spa. The deck provides an elevated platform for a sitting area. The deck steps, while adding to the aesthetic, also serve a purpose: They allow the client’s young children to stand and watch while someone swims laps.
Gohlke replaced grass in the yard with turf and landscaped the perimeter with river rock and trees. The client expressed concern about bugs with the use of live grass, so he chose synthetic turf under the firepit for a grass look with low maintenance.
Deck Finish: Cedar decking with turf
Firefeatures: Oblique Rectangular Fire Table
Spa Cover: Covana Automatic Safety Cover
Portable Spa: Swimlife Swimspa Model: Swimfit 14