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Facts on Reflecting Pools

By J. Lang Wood ; Updated September 21, 2017
Shallow pools can reflect interesting features of the natural environment.

A reflecting pool is water feature composed of a shallow, concrete container that holds water, without jets or any other mechanism that disturbs the surface. Reflecting pools are landscape features that evoke a sense of serenity and peace. They get their name from their calm surface, which mirrors attractive features of the property itself, its landscaping or other items located near the edge of the pool.

Location of Reflecting Pool

The location of a reflecting pool is of prime importance. The pool is set near attractive features of the home that warrant reflection. Generally, reflecting pools are close to the house, inviting residents to stroll in to enjoy the mirrored view and contemplative atmosphere. Reflecting pools close to the house also help to lower temperatures near the structure, providing natural cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These pools should be positioned such that the water will not empty onto neighbors' property should a problem occur.

Choosing Elements to Reflect

Choosing the right element to reflect will determine how the reflection adds to the general design of the property. Elements such as arched gateways, pergolas, attractive trees and foliage, flower gardens, small bridges, statuary or garden artwork are just few of the common features that provide attractive shapes, colors and textures for reflecting pools. If you are fortunate enough to have some spectacular natural feature like mountains, cliffs or rock formations, these would be obvious choices for inclusion in the reflecting pool.

Size of Reflecting Pool

The size of the reflecting pool should be large enough to provide a "frame" for the reflection, as if in a painting or photo. A pool that is too small will fill the frame excessively, crowding out surrounding spaces and other elements that give it the attractive appearance. Similarly, too much empty space around the reflected element will make it seem smaller and less important. Choose a size that allows the most attractive view of the element, but also provides enough space around it to show in the reflected picture.

Depth of Reflecting Pool

Reflecting pools are generally shallow, with not more than a few feet at its deepest part at the center and significantly just a few inches at its lowest point. It should be just deep enough to provide a clear reflection without so deep that it becomes a constant maintenance responsibility. As an example, the Reflecting Pool at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., though very long, is only 18 inches deep at the sides and 30 inches at its deepest point in the center, according to the VisitingDC site.

Water Level of Pool

Plumbing that provides water to the pool is generally provided with above-ground equipment that is easily maintained. Keeping the right water level in the pool is accomplished with overflow valves that drain excessive water to sewer systems. Check-valves allow the pool to fill when evaporation lowers the water level, during especially hot weather.