After his previous experience as a pool owner, Scott Lansburg swore: "I never want to have a pool again."
For some, the refreshing rectangle of turquoise may be the symbol of backyard living in Southern California. For Scott, it was a maintenance nightmare. "All I did was clean up eucalyptus leaves and pine needles," he says.
In 2005, he moved to a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in Fullerton with his wife, Serena. The couple renovated the 1928 Spanish Colonial Revival home and installed a formal garden, complete with a tiled wall fountain.
"Then I really started missing having a pool," Scott says.
A lifelong competitive swimmer and water polo player, he began to research exercise pools, also known as swim spas.
He asked Alison Terry, the Fullerton landscape architect who designed the Lansburg garden, to squeeze a pool into a little-used, modestly sized terrace. Given that the small space was in the middle of the backyard, Terry was determined to make it not only functional but also attractive -- something that looked more like a decorative fountain from the main living and entertaining areas in the home's upper level.
She designed a pool with an arched wall fountain at one end and 14-inch raised coping that serves as seating around the perimeter. Mexican Talavera tile from Orange County Tile in Anaheim echoes handmade terra cotta elsewhere in the garden and in the house. The fragrant rosemary hedge and exotic bird of paradise are tidy and don't litter the water's surface.
The pool's swimmable area is just 8 feet by 15 feet, with a 4 1/2 -foot depth, but that is large enough to accommodate family workouts.
Fabricated by Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa, a Fullerton contractor, the pool has spa jets as well as a RiverFlow system that provides a continual current. Scott can swim against the tide, and Serena, a marathon runner, can jog in place.
"It's like having a treadmill to swim in," Scott says. "It's more enjoyable than swimming in a lap pool, where I would have to constantly turn after each lap. This is just a constant workout."
There's even a tile guideline in the pool floor to keep Scott swimming in a straight line.
Terry acknowledges that pools are often blamed for wasting water and energy, but she says this pool is efficient. It has a small footprint, and it satisfies a lot of uses: exercise, play and relaxation.
Scott says the pool's size allows it to heat up quickly, keeping energy costs low.
"We're not using a lot of resources because we also have a low-voltage pump," he says. "I haven't even seen a change in my electric bill."