The Plunge Pool: An Eco-Friendly Choice for Outdoor Living

Photo: Claudia Jepson

Backyards are transforming into extended outdoor living spaces. More and more homeowners are downsizing, entertaining at home, and opting for “staycations.” You’re excited to get going on a fun backyard theme. However, when you start envisioning all of the components of the overall design scheme, you quickly become alarmed by budget constraints. Don’t start cutting your wish list just yet. One idea is to forego the traditional in-ground pool and choose a more cost-efficient, eco-friendly option: the plunge pool.

The plunge pool is a smaller, more compact pool that fits nicely into existing patios and small backyards, is great for aquatic exercise, and primed for relaxation. Available in different sizes, homeowners can customize the stonework and surrounds. “This product fits the growing outdoor trend and allows homeowners to be more creative with other features of their outdoor landscape: kitchens, bars, or landscaping,” says Karen Larson of New Hampshire-based Soake Pools, the first company manufacturing pre-cast concrete plunge pools in the U.S. Here are six reasons to take the plunge:

1. Unified Design Aesthetic

Man-made plunge pools can emulate the peaceful, relaxing ambiance of the real thing. They can be designed in an aesthetically pleasing way, using tile, field stone and other naturally looking materials. The materials can coordinate with other elements of your outdoor design scheme. Optional attractive features include sleek cedar spa covers, lighting, and steps. Gone are the days of the oversized “concrete pond” with teal green vinyl liner in plain view of your home.

plunge pool with candles
Photo: Vicky Martel

2. Greener Choice

The plunge pool can be a great way to conserve and introduce energy-efficient steps. Considering that the plunge pool uses 3,000 gallons of water, versus 30,000 for a traditional swimming pool (90% less), you’re already being kind to the environment. Salt water is used, thus chlorine is created naturally. As a result, few chemicals are needed to keep the water in balance. Variable speed pumps circulate the water and use 80 percent less energy than those used in an in-ground pool. In warm months, the water temperature will hover around 70 degrees, unless it’s heated. A heater is not needed but can be purchased for year-round use.

3. Timely Construction and Delivery

Plunge pools can be ready to enjoy much sooner than traditionally constructed pools. Soake Pools’ pre-cast pools typically take several days to two weeks. Larson meets with clients individually and stays close throughout the process. “I’m invested in each client,” she said. “They usually end up with my cell phone number!” Typically, a contractor and/or landscape professional will help the client with site analysis and design aspects, while Larson’s team assists with planning the construction and installation.

outdoor entertainment
Photo: istock.com/zlikovec

 4. Focal Point/Gathering Spot

Unlike traditional swimming pools, the plunge pool fits nicely into the main entertaining space and becomes a fun focal point. It can be placed closer to the patio where you will be cooking, serving drinks, and socializing with your guests. Soake Pool’s most popular option is a 7×13 rectangular shape with 5 foot depth. The pool allows several people to sit, splash around, and place items on a ledge that wraps around the perimeter—the perfect shelf for that chilled glass of wine.

5. Therapeutic Benefits of the Plunge

Plunge pools are often used for “cold water therapy,” which involves dipping into cold water after soaking in a sauna or hot tub (to promote mood stimulation and blood pressure stabilization.) Many athletes use plunge pools following workouts with the theory that exposure to cold water after heat can control joint inflammation and enhance muscle recovery. These enthusiasts typically opt to connect the plunge pool to a hot tub. Others engage in water exercise right in the pool: low impact cardio workouts and other more challenging workouts, like resistance swimming. Learn more about the Static Swim tether system.

6. Space and Cost Effectiveness

City dwellers have a small footprint to work with. Having a pool that does not monopolize backyard space in the off season can be nice. This is New England after all; space is at a premium. Best of all, the plunge pool can save you thousands of dollars. At Soake Pools, the standard plunge pool typically costs $22,750. Keep in mind; it’s going to be a permanent fixture that will add equity value to your home—an investment that can generate a substantial return.

Larson has noticed the demographic is changing very quickly for the plunge pool. What used to be a choice for an aging population (over 55), it now includes the 40 and under set. “It’s changing,” she notes. “More and more millennials, looking to relax and hang out in their own backyard, are going with the plunge pool.”

Larson started Soake Pools in Concord, New Hampshire in 2014. Doubling sales in just three years, the company delivers plunge pools to clients throughout the U.S. “We’ve delivered pools as far as Minnesota and Michigan, but we mostly focus on New England and the Northeast,” she said. For more information on the plunge pool, visit Soakepools.com.

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