Swimming Pool Water Features to Enhance Your Backyard

Backyard swimming pool with multiple waterfalls and enhanced lighting

Swimming pool water features are an elegant and functional way to upgrade your pool without compromising on swimming pool safety. Water features come in several variations, each of which is designed to use your pool water to create a stunning visual effect, enhance the atmosphere in and around your pool, and create a more magical backyard oasis. While these added amenities can be fun, you need to understand how to make sure your pool barriers keep them accessible while protecting friends, family, and pets from accidental drowning injuries, which take thousands of lives annually. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular pool water features, what they can do for your swimming pool area, and how to make sure you’re maintaining a safe swimming pool for your loved ones.

Why Add Pool Water Features?

Water feature in a modern swimming pool

For many pool owners, the water feature they choose helps define their pool area’s look, anchoring the aesthetic and tying it to the pool itself. While they certainly turn heads, there are several other really popular reasons to choose a water feature for your pool.

  • ASMR – Whether you like the lapping sounds of the ocean or the patter of water drops falling all around you, sounds can enhance your environment. Every water feature not only brings a different visual look but also distinct auditory enhancements to your environment.
  • Improved Water Circulation – Your pool needs circulation to keep the water clean and clear. Water features pull their supply from your pool or spa before returning it through a jet, waterfall, spray, or fountain. This helps keep your water moving, aiding in temperature and chemical regulation.
  • Create an Experience Beyond the Ordinary – A pool is a pool, but the right water feature can make it into an experience waiting just past your pool barriers. From creating movements in the water to adding immersive elements that let you soak under a waterfall or play in the “rain,” they can help you push the bounds of what a pool can be.

While there is an ever-growing range of pool water features to choose from, most will fall into a few general categories based on their effect. Once you decide which effect your swimming pool area is missing, you can narrow down your search and start comparing the aesthetics of one feature to another to find the perfect match for your dream pool.  

Fountains and Deck Jets

Fountains and the closely related pool water features, deck jets, spray water up and out of the pool or spa, arcing it overhead to return to the pool. Economical versions may rely solely on a strong pool pump, but higher-end models, like laminar jets, have powerful pump motors that give you high arcs that have a solid, glass-like appearance.

Water Bowls, Waterfalls, and Cascades  

These amenities collect the water and return it by letting it flow down from a higher elevation. Water bowls let the water overflow the edge of a large bowl-like structure near the pool’s edge, while waterfalls are often built to mimic natural features with stone facades, the water splashes down on its way back to the pool. Cascades are often used around elevated pool decks or built-in features, like a raised barbeque island on the edge of the pool, creating interesting and unique optical effects. Meanwhile, related pool water features called scuppers exchange the long lines of a cascade for a return through pipes or culverts placed around the pool.

Water Curtains 

While water curtains work similarly to cascades, they do so from a much taller height, creating a curtain of falling water swimmers can walk through or play in. Depending on the strength of the motor and the placement of the curtain’s sprayer heads, this can give an effect ranging from a gentle shower to a solid curtain of clear pool water.


Statuary fountains have long been popular. While traditionally carved from stone or molded from concrete, today, budget-conscious pool owners can also explore resin estuary that gives you the appearance of granite or marble but with a much lower cost and lighter weight, allowing you to more easily move or remove your pool water features when you need to change up your pool’s appearance.


Unlike the other pool features, bubblers sit under the surface of the water in the form of powerful jets that agitate and spray streams up to bubble and roil the surface. Similar to the jets in a jacuzzi, they can add a little fun to your pool without exposing the water to increased air flow that may speed up evaporation.

Planning a Safe Pool Water Feature Installation

When adding a feature to your pool, there are a few safety practices to keep in mind. These will help you keep your pool protected before, during, and after the installation.

Supervise or Secure Your Pool Area 

Whether your pool is ready to use, drained for maintenance, or has a pool water feature installed, it needs to be protected. Pool safety barriers should remain in place unless you or another competent adult will be there to ensure children, pets, or vulnerable individuals don’t have unsupervised access.

Black mesh pool fence installed around a swimming pool with various water features

Install Features Inside Barriers

Make sure your removable mesh pool fence extends around the pool area, including any water feature installations. This is especially vital if your pool water features include pooled water, such as water bowls, which may need to be installed where a pool safety net can block access to the surface. 

Eliminate Climbing Assistance 

As you install pool water features, remember to keep any new installation, pool equipment, furniture, or accessories away from your pool fence. Creative and determined kids or vulnerable adults may be able to use these features to help them climb over your fence to gain unsupervised access.

Educate Swimmers About Pool Currents 

Some pool water features can create currents in, on, or under the water that could be difficult for weaker swimmers to navigate. Make sure swimmers and their parents know about these currents to avoid a dangerous situation in your pool.

Get Your Pool Safety Quote

When you need pool safety barriers, your local expert is just down the road and ready to help. Our team is dedicated to protecting the members of their community with ASTM-compliant pool safety equipment. They’ll talk to you about your pool needs, take measurements, and customize a written quote to give you safety options that fit your budget. Request your free estimate from Lifeguard on Duty today.

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