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Before Taking the Plunge

Whether you are a stone’s throw from the beach or have a boat docked in the bay, nothing brings on mental repose quite like floating—or swimming—in a relaxing pool of still, tranquil water that is nestled in the privacy of your very own backyard. But putting in a new pool doesn’t have to be an exasperating undertaking. For those considering the installation of a swimming pool or spa on their property, there are a few things to consider before you jump into the deep end. David Ash, Jr., owner of Surf City’s David Ash Jr., Landscape Contractors has more than 30 years of experience transforming ordinary properties into dream-like outdoor living and entertaining spaces, including their highly regarded pool contracting services for Long Beach Island and the surround area. Here he shares his recommendations for selecting the best type of swimming pool, spa or water feature that’ll really make a splash in your yard.

“One of the most important questions I ask my clients upfront is ‘How are you going to live in your backyard?’,” begins David Ash, Jr. “’How big is your family, what are your lifestyle habits,’ and then we as the professionals take everything into consideration and parallel it with the sun angles, wind directions, natural elements, the size and condition of the living space, style of house, ambiance of any existing landscaping, and make our recommendations,” he adds. Shapes are important to the flow of a home and landscaping usually reflects the style dictated by the existing structures. Following this direction will help determine the scope of the project—whether it be a small lap pool or a custom shaped swimming pool equipped with hidden grottos and waterfall-through-fire-bowl features. At the end of the day, Ash admits, despite property size most homeowners take full advantage of space by using basic rectangle shapes. “With rectangular pools, the lines are clean, we try to push them right to the set back lines and get them as tight as we can. Every angle is a right angle so we are able really maximize living space, especially on these narrow lots of LBI,” shares Ash. He goes on, “that’s not to say that there isn’t a time and space for free-form; many times, we insert a spa in the ‘belly’ of the kidney, so that it doesn’t take up as much room. And it works beautifully.”

The question of shape thenceforth leads to the next significant variable—material. The most popular options on Long Beach Island being gunite (concrete) and fiberglass. Vinyl pools may be a common economical third option when it comes to installing in-ground pools— but Ash assures that these are without-a-question not a feasible option on the island specifically due to the severity of the ground water. One must also note that vinyl is incredibly susceptible to holes and punctures from sharp objects or pool toys, which in turn also makes it all-around vulnerable to the elements above and below ground on Long Beach Island. The maintenance and repair costs are one of the highest due to the necessity of replacing liners caused by ripping, tearing, staining, fading and even wrinkling. “At the end of the day, you are digging a hole on an island, and the risk of it collapsing is inevitable. There is nothing to hold back the dirt. A vinyl pool on LBI is just not an option because of the high-water table,” ensures the contractor.

Since concrete pools are built by means of shaping concrete onto steel walls, David ash, Jr. shares that an alluring aspect of this costliest type of pool is that it can be formed to any size or shape for a truly custom pool. If one is building a higher-end pool with a beach entry, grotto, waterfall, or any other eye-catching features, the flexibility of gunite might be needed to make your vision a reality. The time it takes to install a gunite pool, however, can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending on the extent of the project. Although concrete may be considered the strongest, most durable type of material, it does subject itself to the wear and tear of coastal elements and the constant saturation in groundwater, coupled with the porous nature of gunite, makes it a nuisance to keep algae-free without the use of harsh chemicals.

The texture of concrete is also quite harsh on skin, and only roughens up with age, so children jumping in and out of the pools or playing pool volleyball, for example, will definitely experience uncomfortable abrasion on their feet and/or arms (bloody toes are unfortunately a common byproduct). “There is new technology however to reduce the severity of coarseness in gunite pools. PebbleTec, one of our preferred suppliers, has created an extremely fine pebble finish to spray over the gunite (instead of the traditional plaster) which is not as rough. They even offer larger-sized pebble sprays that are round and soft to limit abrasion. No matter what, though, after 7-12 years with a plaster finish you must acid wash and resurface pool because of natural wear and color fading of the pool. Perhaps the PebbleTec finish would buy you an extra 5-7 years on top of that time frame, but no matter what, when the time comes, it would need to be a complete renovation regardless.”

Gaining popularity more than ever, the option of Fiberglass pools seems to be the best choice when looking to install an inground pool on LBI. Fiberglass pools are very quick and easy to install, and they seem to have the most options in terms of shape and size of a ready-made pool. “Since the shell is prebuilt by the manufacturer, installation is not too much more than a matter of dropping the shell in a hole and connecting the plumbing. And a reputable manufacturer like the one we work with, Leisure Pools, will give customers a lifetime warranty.” The texture of fiberglass makes it smooth to the touch, unlike gunite’s rough surface, and the impermeable material make it the ultimate choice for the prevention of algae accumulation. There is virtually no threat of wear on the finishes, so the gel coatings will not roughen over time, and the colors last the longest.

The main reason why Ash decided to exclusively deal with Leisure Pools is because this company specifically utilizes a proprietary vinyl ester resin, protecting the inside and outside of the pool—which he deems to be just as, if not more, important in the long run. “As soon as we dig on this island, we hit water. Any pool installed will be sitting in salt water 24/7 for the duration of its existence,” David Ash, Jr. reminds us. The leading competitors of fiberglass pool manufacturing only use the vinyl ester resin in one layer of the swimming pool (there are normally four layers of a pool) as it is double the cost of a polyester resin, which is a cheaper resin used to provide bulk to the swimming pool. Unfortunately, even with this one layer of vinyl ester resin, osmosis still occurs and a pool submerged in water with a weaker barrier will eventually saturate with moisture that can become trapped under the surface, creating blisters that may ultimately burst—and require repairs. But Leisure Pools manufactures their composite fiberglass swimming pools using the corrosive-resistant vinyl ester resin for each of the four layers of the swimming pool construction, resulting in unrivaled quality. This is why Leisure is the only manufacturer to offer a Lifetime Structural Warranty and Lifetime Structural Osmosis Warranty, making it the best available warranty on the market today, and the only company that Ash recommends for quality and reliability.

In addition to its extremely durable composition and desirable texture, fiberglass pools offer the most architecturally modern and innovative range of pool shapes available at competitive prices to suit any family and budget. The benefits of fiberglass leave the homeowner with a virtually maintenance-free swimming pool, as this type of swimming pool’s surface is chemically inert so there is nothing in the pool surface that can alter the water chemistry. Homeowners can expect very low chemical usage and a considerable cost savings over time on operating the swimming pool, and a no-fuss upkeep even if they decide to utilize it as a salt water pool.

David’s company happens to be the only landscape design firm one on the island that offers the full-service package in-house without subcontracting, so customization is always an option even with fiberglass prefabricated pools. “We can do all sorts of things with fiberglass, whether it be building knee-high walls of sheer descent waterfalls, free standing spas with molded seated lounge areas and custom drilled jets, or adding perimeter tile (glass tile with a nice finish) at the water line for that gunite “look” without the maintenance. We mount fire and water bowls into fiberglass, combo flame or planters with water features, even build entire walls across the backs of pools with trickling water scuppers— it all can be done with fiberglass and an experienced professional team.” His landscape contracting firm is certified to install fiberglass in-ground swimming pools, plunge pools, lap pools and water features, with capabilities of doing so within a matter of days, and with that personalized touch. The design team works together to create hardscaping, lighting, pavers, firepits and outdoor kitchens—making it a true one stop shop for the ultimate backyard experience.

David Ash Jr. Landscape Contractors is a high-end landscape and design firm based in Surf City. Servicing Long Beach Island for more than 25 years, David Ash Jr. offers a visionary, functional, and natural approach to full service luxury outdoor living design, custom installation and building.

To learn more visit or follow them on Instagram


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