The perfect fencing fit

By Laura Rankine
Friday, 20 July, 2012

The perfect fencing fit

Landscapers, pool designers and fencing manufacturers speak about the latest styles and design trends to give the big picture on pool fencing.

Unlike a front fence, pool fencing isn't there to make a grand statement - it should complement the overall landscape design. "Pool fencing should offer style, flexibility in design and be somewhat invisible," says Jamie Thurlow of the Bunnings Group. "Most importantly, it needs to provide maximum safety."

For both style and safety's sake, fencing needs to be considered from the very beginning of a project. John Storch, principal of A Total Concept Landscaping and Swimming Pool Design, explains that fencing is often added to a project as an afterthought, which can cause problems.

"Because most pool fences are 1200mm high and need to physically divide the house from the pool, they become a strong visual element in the overall design and need to be considered in the initial stages," he says.

When designing the perfect backyard retreat, clever pool placement is essential to making the most of the space available. Just the same, fencing should be designed to create the right type of space and complement its surroundings.

Consider whether the fencing needs to surround the pool entirely or just separate the pool from the house.

Utilising existing boundary fencing as much as possible can be a cost-effective approach, but it may depend on the size of the backyard and the overall poolside space.

"We believe there are very specific design rules as to the distances that work for the various styles of fencing when measured from both the home and pool to ensure the garden areas are not truncated or visually divided into spaces that are too small," says John. "Alternatively, on larger properties it may be beneficial to create a separate outdoor room or space and the fencing is perfect for delineating the area."

The placement of fencing alongside other backyard features also carries important safety considerations. "Consider where the barbecue or outdoor settings are or will be positioned and be sure to eliminate any climbable areas close to where the fence is to be installed," says Jamie.

Of course, the pool is the feature and fencing should not take away from that. "Keep the line of the fence simple; the fewer turns and angles in the fence, the less obtrusive it becomes," says Hugh Burnett of GOOD MANORS Pools + Gardens.

Fencing material

There are many options when it comes to pool fencing materials. Different products suit different styles of design and, with a range of colours and combinations available, homeowners are sure to find the perfect fit.


"Frameless glass is often the first choice," says Hugh Burnett. Most suited to contemporary designs, glass provides a modern, stylish feel. Visually, glass fencing has the benefit of providing an undisturbed view of the poolside area.

In particular, glass fencing is effective in smaller backyard spaces or where the pool is close to the house as it minimises the visual barrier and does not confine the space.


  • Pool and spa fencing is required by legislation for any swimming pool or spa in excess of 300mm in depth and must be maintained for the life of the pool or spa.

  • Essentially, a safety barrier fence can be made of any material that has a reasonable life span when exposed to the likely conditions of weather, pool chemicals, pollution, decay, insects, saltwater spray, impacts etc.

  • Fences must have an effective perpendicular minimum height of 1.2 metres. Existing standard paling fences can be used provided that they are well maintained and at least 1800mm high. If the rails are on the outside of the pool area, a nonclimbable zone of 900mm from the top must be provided on the inside of the fence.

  • Ground clearance between the bottom of the fence and ground level is not to exceed 100mm, and any horizontal rails, rods etc, which could assist climbing, should be on the pool side of the fence. If they're on the outside, they should be at least 900mm apart. The space between vertical members must not exceed 100mm.


Watch SPASA NSW's Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids video is in collaboration with the Children's Hospital at Westmead (CHW). The video seeks to educate pool owners about pool fencing and the common faults. This video is the most detailed educational swimming pool safety initiative currently available anywhere in Australia, according to SPASA NSW.

"The glass system offers functionality, safety, longevity and low maintenance, as well as giving uninterrupted views and the added benefit of a wind break," says Jamie. "If privacy is a concern, there are options for tinted glass systems that will give visual appeal and a chic finish."

"Glass does not deteriorate over time," adds John Schopf from "It will be just as firmly in place in 10 years from its time of installation. There's no rusting, collapsing, disintegration, loosening parts or tampering issues common with some other materials."


Steel fencing can be used to make a statement or to melt into the background.

"Hand-manufactured steel fences (traditional wrought iron) quite often work best with formal and traditional projects to divide the pool from the house where a glass fence or other style would look out of place or too modern," says John Storch.

A Total Concept designs steel fences individually for each project, incorporating decorative scrolls and scallops into stylish traditional designs or clean, simple lines for more contemporary projects.

"The colour selected should always tie back to a colour used somewhere on the residence so they appear well integrated," says John.


As with steel, simple aluminium fencing can be incorporated into the surrounding garden, making it all but disappear. This can be great for tropical-style projects, where there will be an abundance of plants and flowers.

"Where appropriate, we have used a basic aluminium pool fence and concealed it with hedging to help settle the pool into the garden setting, designing and constructing pools and gardens as a whole for a cohesive, seamless design," says Hugh.

Once again, colour is an important factor: darker shades are more likely to recede and not distract the eye from the overall picture. "Black aluminium fencing and flat-top, sleek and slimline styles almost create an optical illusion, as you can see straight past the black and see the colours that are past the fencing," says Jamie.

A unique choice in aluminium fencing, Knotwood's range of timber-finished aluminium fencing provides the style and beauty of timber fencing without the maintenance and expense. With a range of eight colours, Knotwood fencing is great for modern, tropical and rustic-themed projects.

Mix and match

There's no reason why pool fencing has to be strictly one style and material. Mixing and matching is a great idea that ensures the fencing complements the home and can be considerably cheaper. There are a number of recommended combinations when it comes to pool fencing materials.

If cost is an issue, choosing a combination of aluminium and glass instead of entirely frameless glass can save a considerable amount, according to Jamie. The best part is that homeowners won't be compromising on style as it still achieves that fabulous resort look and feel.

Similarly, a combination of glass and steel or timber can visually tie the fencing back to the balustrading of the home or front fence.

Thoughtful design can ensure a space is enjoyed for years to come. "The right fence and landscaping will add maximum value," says Jamie.

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