Because with the right touch, aboveground pools can look classy and elegant without expensive, elaborate decking. Because the carefully placed ring of raised landscaping looks like a natural alcove for the pool. Because the Arizona flagstone of the pool’s walkway and the home’s patio unites the areas, while still blending with the woodsy setting. Because the slightly recessed pool is low enough to preserve the view, but high enough to maintain its centerpiece status. Because portland cement and dry sand were use to remove moisture from the soil and eliminate undue pressure on the pool walls. Because the non-shedding, evergreen plants and flowering shrubs surrounding the pool maximize the beauty and minimize the maintenance.

Pat Walsh knows aboveground pools. He’s been installing them since 1971. He also knows their limitations.

“Our pools are not all that aesthetically pleasing,” says Walsh, president of The Aboveground Pool & Spa Co. in San Antonio. “Our whole business has a lot more to do with smoke and mirrors than a $150,000 negative-edge gunite pool built onto the side of cliff. We spend a lot of time and money trying to make our aboveground pools not look like aboveground pools.”

That’s why Walsh and company take a different approach to aboveground pools. “We like to use the term ‘build’ instead of install or delivery,” he says. “We do a lot of landscaping and decking, and we do our sales pitch in terms of the fact that we build. We take a lot of pictures of our pools and sell a lot that way.”

The pool featured here was built for a retired couple on a fixed income. “They had no kids, didn’t throw parties,” Walsh says. “They just wanted something to beat the Texas heat.”

But the customers, who lived in a rural area, wanted an attractive pool that would blend in with the pastoral setting of the neighborhood.

That’s where Walsh’s experience came to the fore. Having installed aboveground pools as a subcontractor for more than two decades, he then opened his own business in 1995. He knew landscaping and decking would be key to dressing up aboveground pools.

“So we did the landscaping on this pool,” he says. “It was done during the off season for us. It went in in November because [business is] slower then and we can bid landscaping on more projects. We don’t look for that type of work in the spring or summer, but [in the slow season] we want to get that kind of work.”