Pool fence ideas - expert explain how to create the perfect - and safe - backyard oasis

Expert pool fence ideas for rural idylls and sleek city gardens alike, from sculptural borders to child-safe enclosures

A garden pool surrounded by fencing and greenery
Hollander Design
(Image credit: Charles Mayer)

Finding pool fence ideas that work for your garden, home and budget isn’t always an easy task. Choosing the right enclosure for your swimming pool depends very much on the job you need it to do, as well as the style and size of your outdoor space. 

For example, if you’re simply looking for pool ideas to define an area within your garden, then box hedging or naturalistic planting might be sufficient. If privacy is key, consider full-height timber fencing or solid brick or stone walls to shield your pool area from view.

‘Natural borders, like a fence that is hidden within a hedge, is usually the most cost-effective option and are an unobtrusive addition to the landscape,’ says Stephen Eich of Hollander Design, who recommends taking design cues from the surrounding environment, as well as the architectural style of your home. ‘A contemporary enclosure within a traditional landscape could feel out of place, in which case your focus will be on the fence instead of the overall experience,’ he explains.

Aesthetics aside, one of the most important concerns when it comes to pool fences is safety, for both children and animals. If you’re looking to child-proof your pool, then there are a number of incredibly important factors to consider when choosing a barrier. Any fence or wall surrounding the water needs to be unclimbable and impenetrable. ‘Gates must have childproof locks, and have a rapid self-closing mechanism,’ adds Andy Wigley, director of glass fence manufacturer Ammonite Design, who advises looking to the French AFNOR NF P90-306 regulation for guidance on pool safety. ‘Ultimately, the idea is simple: if children don’t have access to the pool area, then they can’t fall in,’ he concludes.

Whether you’d like your pool area to be the gold standard in safety, make a statement within your outdoor space or sit seamlessly within the landscape, these creative pool fence ideas and expert tips will provide some food for thought.

Pool fence ideas and inspiration for swimming pools in your garden

 1. Try white walls for a vacation vibe

A bird's eye view of a swimming pool

(Image credit: Brigid Arnott)

 ‘The brief on this project was to create the feeling of being in a resort,’ says Adam Robinson of this urban garden in Paddington, Sydney. The Australian landscape designer created a multi-level outdoor space, where pristine white walls surround a dark swimming pool, giving it the look and style of a pool cabana. A raised, palm-fringed deck has views of the pool and the house, bordered by slimline metal railings built into the pool’s rear wall. ‘The towering walls to the side are lined with a tension mesh to encouraging evergreen vines to provide a year round vertical mass of greenery and seasonal flowers,’ adds Adam. 

 2. Consider curves and playful pickets

A garden pool with a curved steel picket

(Image credit: Charles Mayer)

 ‘The trick with pool fencing is to make it sit so seamlessly with the rest of the design that it adds to the overall experience,’ says Stephen Eich, director of the urban studio at Hollander Design, a firm of landscape architects based in Manhattan, Sag Harbor and Chicago. ‘Steel pickets can be fun and sculptural, just make sure they are strong enough not to bend easily,’ he continues. In this project, the team at Hollander Design blended a curving steel picket with a sinuous hedge for a playful yet elegant fencing solution.  

 3. Go rustic with timber post-and-rail fencing

White stone surrounding the pool

(Image credit: Adrian Gaut)

 A departure from traditional backyard or hotel swimming pools, the pools at Catskills destination INNESS are constructed using stone walls, rustic wooden fence enclosures, and a combination of hard and soft landscapes, in keeping with the area’s rural appeal. 

‘A central theme to the property’s ethos is the juxtaposition of the cultivated and the wild,’ say designers Taavo Somer and Post Company, who drew inspiration from the surrounding countryside and enlisted landscape designer Miranda Brooks to spearhead the design of the grounds.

 ‘Artfully balancing untamed growth with moments of manicured formality, the landscape is surprising and whimsical yet tied to the indigenous flora of the Catskills.’ 

 4. Draw inspiration from rural architecture

A backyard garden surrounded by fencing

(Image credit: Unique Homestays)

 Extended and refurbished by De Rosee Sa architects, Kilnwood (now part of the Unique Homestays collection) is a converted barn located on the edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. 

The project included an overhaul of the pool landscaping area, which referenced the familiar agricultural language of the adjacent working farm, such as the shiplap timber boarding and utilitarian metal pool fence, both painted black. 

‘The construction details are designed so that they are simple, but a little more crisp and contemporary than the surrounding vernacular,’ says architect Max De Rosee. ‘The result is a combination of  a refurbishment and new build that remains sympathetic to the project’s agricultural surroundings.’ 

5.  Harness the beauty of weathered wood

Weathered wood walls surrounding the garden pool

(Image credit: Andy Stedman)

 ‘Our client was keen to bring the joy of water into their outdoor space, so we focused on renovating their existing pool,’ says landscape designer Andy Stedman of this project. A mix of patinated timbers contributes to the pool area’s naturalistic feel, with cedar clad boundary fencing providing a linear, uniform backdrop to the garden. 

‘Extensions to the pool house and pump room were carefully designed and built to ensure they complemented existing features and outbuildings,’ says Andy of the wood-clad structures at the far end of the pool, which is enveloped in hardwood decking with furniture-grade joinery. 

6.  Try a trench-style pool design 

An above ground pool

(Image credit: Eckersley Garden Architecture)

Conceived by Australian landscape designers Eckersley Garden Architecture, this garden in New South Wales showcases a clever above ground pool idea - screening the structure of this swimming pool, which is raised up. 

‘This project highlights our typical trench-style pool, which is a unique way of disguising the traditional pool fence,’ explains EGA’s principal designer Scott Leung. ‘The pool has been designed half in and half out of the ground, which used the fall of the land to our advantage. The surrounding planting is a layered botanical selection of textures and forms.’ 

7.  Build an indoor pool with an outdoor feel

An indoor pool with an mountainous view

(Image credit: Aqua Platinum Projects)

 ‘The brief for this private residence in Scotland was to build a pool, utilizing the infinity edge to capture the spectacular surroundings,’ says Dominic Searle, commercial director at swimming pool specialists Aqua Platinum Projects. 

The completed project is a fully enclosed indoor pool that showcases the incredible views of the Scottish landscape, with a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass that brings the outside in. A restrained, dark-walled interior means the eye is drawn outward, allowing the panorama to remain centre stage at all times.  

8.  Choose a child-safe glass enclosure

A pool with a glass structure surrounding the perimeter

(Image credit: Ammonite Design)

 Ammonite Design is a dedicated specialist manufacturer of fully frameless glass pool fencing. ‘Our child-safe transparent fencing is as safe and durable as a traditional pool fence, and offers unbroken views of the landscape,’ says director Andy Wigley of the custom-made system, which is constructed of thick tempered glass and anchors securely to the ground with marine-grade stainless steel mounts. 

Rounded and polished corners add to the design’s child-safe credentials, while a self-closing, self-latching and lockable gate system means gates can’t be left open by accident. In addition,  Ammonite Design fences are fully compliant with French pool safety laws, which are considered the most stringent regulations in Europe. 

 9. Set the tone with complementary materials 

A garden pool surrounded by fencing and greenery

(Image credit: Charles Mayer)

We love the details in the the timber fencing that surrounds the pool this verdant Californian garden. Another beautiful project by Hollander Design, the tall and slender border is another great example of an upscale take on wooden picket fencing, softened by planting and culminating in a double gate with a subtle geometric pattern. 

‘Whether you’re looking at glass, wire, wood, metal, or a hedge, it’s critical to make sure your material and style is sympathetic to that of the architecture of your home,’ says Hollander Design’s Stephen Eich. 

What type of pool fence is best?

The best kind of pool fence is one that keeps children and animals out of the pool area. So in other words, a very secure one.

Mesh pool fencing is an ideal material to use as it was created so as to comply with all international safety regulations and and recommendations. Being mesh, it doesn't hinder the view too much, and means you can have pool without it feeling like Fort Knox. 

Tessa Pearson is an interiors and architecture journalist, formerly Homes Director at ELLE Decoration and Editor of ELLE Decoration Country. When she's not covering design and decorative trends for Livingetc, Tessa contributes to publications such as The Observer and Table Magazine, and has recently written a book on forest architecture. Based in Sussex, Tessa has a keen interest in rural and coastal life, and spends as much time as possible by the sea.