Labor Day Backyard Bash

labor day backyard bash

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Labor Day may indeed by the official end of summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t soak up the last days of summer with one last backyard bash.

Labor Day, observed Monday, September 5, 2016, is a holiday devoted to honoring American workers and their contributions to the strength and well-being of our country. For most of us, Labor Day also means a day off from work and with school already back in session, the unofficial end of summer.

There’s a lot to celebrate about this Labor Day including American workers, the end of summer, and a new school year. So before you press the send button on summer, fire up the grill, throw some noodles into the pool, and invite your friends and family over for an enjoyable Labor Day Backyard Bash.

Here’s what you need to do for a memorable Labor Day Backyard Bash.

Send Invitations in Advance. With Labor Day just around the corner, literally, you’ll want to send invitations out via email or social media for the fastest response. It’s always a good idea to get a final head count at least a week before any event; but three days will suffice when you’re short on time.

Plan Your Menu. Labor Day is a great day for grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, and ribs served up with classic favorites such as potato and fruit salads. Don’t forget the chips and sodas/bottled waters. Need inspiration? Search Pinterest for “Labor Day party recipes”. Plan your menu in advance according to your tastes and budget. Prepare salads and marinades a day in advance.

Plan Fun Pool Games. Set up your volleyball and/or basketball hoop for lively fun. Plan to play games like Marco Polo, Watermelon Push Relays, Lap Races, and more. You might be surprised to find the adults having just as much fun, if not more, playing these games as the kids. For more pool game inspiration be sure and check out Pinterest.

Make Sure Your Pool is Swim Ready. Before your guests arrive, it’s a good idea to check your pool’s chemical levels, and run its filter for eight hours (this is something you should already be doing daily). After the party simply brush or vacuum your pool, add chlorine, and clean your filter to prevent the algae growth.

4 Tips for the Best Underwater Pool Images

underwater pool images

Have you ever wanted to dip your toes into underwater pool photography? Backyard swimming pools provide a safe, calm, and controlled environment in which you can take awe-inspiring images of your children, pets, and objects. In this article, we describe some of the most basic tips any budding underwater photographer should know, and incorporate into their images.

#1: Protect Your Equipment

No matter which system you use to take underwater images – your phone, a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR – you will want to make sure and purchase a separate waterproof case or underwater housing. There are many types of waterproof cases available that will ensure your peace of mind. Look for a case with a good grip. If using your phone, consider a Lifeproof case.

#2: Shoot Midday

The best time to shoot underwater pool images is midday when sunlight travels intensely and is bountiful in the water. This type of lighting will bring out colors and take away shadows. Be sure to take advantage of all angles that this light provides. When conditions aren’t in your favor, you can use artificial lighting, but be careful to avoid particles around the person or object you’re photographing.

#3: Get Up Close

Get close, then get closer! The most important principle to remember when taking underwater pool images is that you need to shoot through a minimum of water according to underwater photography experts. Getting up close and personal with your subjects provides better clarity and contrast as well as bright colors. This is the best way to take awe-inspiring images.

#4. Use Props

Be creative when bringing in props. Balloons, pool toys, umbrellas, and skateboards are all fun. Household items are also good choices. Use props to create whimsical and stunning images. While not a prop, bubbles are a great way to create interest in a photo, and also a fun excuse to splash water in your subject’s direction. You can also Photoshop in some props.

Sunburn Prevention

sunburn prevention

Ah, summer! You’ve waited all year to dive into a summer of swimming fun. Before diving in; however, you’ll want to make sure to protect your skin from the sun. A common problem during the summer months – especially in Arizona, which is already breaking records – sunburn can cause skin to become tender, red and scaly (the latter happens as it heals). Sunburn can also cause long-term damage.

Sunscreen Minimizes Risk of Sunburn

Have you ever wondered how sunscreen works? In a nut shell, sunscreen protects your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting UVA and UVB radiation from the sun. Sunscreen, also commonly referred to as sunblock, is rated by a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. The higher the number, the stronger the protection. It is now possible to find sunscreen with an SPF of 70 or higher.

There are many protective ingredients in sunscreen, which fits broadly into two groups: organic and inorganic. Organic sunscreen takes advantage of the first law of thermodynamics by absorbing ultraviolet rays before they harm the skin. Inorganic sunscreen, on the other hand, works by reflecting ultraviolet rays away from the skin. “Broad spectrum” provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

The length of time a user can reasonably expect sunscreen to protect varies depending on which outdoor activities the user will be partaking in that day. For the best protection, reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours (yes, even on cloudy days), and after swimming or getting wet. The general recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology is to use a sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher.

Other Ways to Prevent Sunburn

  1. Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., according to the Sun Safety Alliance.
  2. Wear lightweight, protective clothing. Moisture-wicking athletic wear with UV protection is a good choice.
  3. Generously apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. It is now possible to find sunscreen with an SPF of 70 or higher.

Visit Us at The Maricopa County Home & Garden Show

Maricopa County Home & Garden Show

Image Source: Maricopa County Home & Garden Show

Visit us at the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show in Phoenix, AZ, April 29th through May 1st! We will be in booths 484 and 486. This year’s Home and Garden show boasts over 250,000 square feet packed with home improvement, landscaping, and design exhibits. Mark your calendars now, and plan on stopping by.

Home Show Hours:

Friday, April 29th | 10AM–6PM

Saturday, April 30th | 10AM-6PM

Sunday, May 1st | 10AM–5PM

Home Show Location:

Arizona State Fairgrounds

1826 W. McDowell Rd.

Phoenix, AZ 85007

*For details on admission and show highlights please click here. You will be redirected to the Maricopa County Home and Garden Show’s website located at maricopacountyhomeshows.com.

Spring Pool Opening Tips

spring pool opening tips

Spring is here, which can mean only one thing; that swimming time is near. Even though the weather in Phoenix has been nearing 90 degrees most days, and the water is beckoning swimmers forward, the pool isn’t quite ready for those swimmers. At least not just yet.

There are some necessary steps every pool owner must first take in order to ensure the pool is both clean and safe for swimming. We at Platinum Pools and Spas, are here to help you through the process of opening your pool, by providing you with the following “Spring Pool Opening Tips”.

#1. Prune trees and hedges: The biggest enemy to keep your pool free of debris: nearby trees and hedges. It can be frustrating to skim debris from your pool, and then an hour later, encounter more debris which is why we recommend pruning back any trees and/or hedges that are in vicinity to the pool.

#2. Clean Up Surrounding Plant Debris: Before removing your cover (see: tip #4), you should clean up plant debris from the pool’s surrounding areas – pool deck, patio, nearby planting beds, etc. – to avoid it all winding up in your pool thus making your job at cleaning the water that more difficult.

#3. Check Your Supplies: There’s no easy way to say this: pool chemicals and cleaning supplies do expire and dry out. This is why you should always check expiration dates! If something is past its recommended expiration date, it should be properly disposed of, and replaced with new chemicals. The same rule applies for dried-out chemicals.

#4. Remove Cover: Now that you’ve spruced up your pool’s surrounding area, and checked your supplies, it’s time for the unveiling (if applicable). After removing your cover, it is important to clean, fold and store the cover properly to avoid having to purchase a new one after the swimming season has come to an end.

#5. Adjust Water Level: If you have an automatic water leveler, then you can skip this step. If your water’s level is low, use any garden-variety hose to fill the water level in your pool back to its normal level: typically, about the middle of the skimmer opening or halfway up the waterline tile.

#6. Test the Water: Once the pool is up and running (give it 24 hours), it’s time to test the chemical levels, using a test kit. You can also take a sample of your pool water to your nearest pool supply store. Whether home testing or having a professional test your water, here are the safe and proper levels for your standard, chlorinated pool:

  • Total Alkalinity – 80 to 120 ppm
  • pH Level – 7.4 to 7.6
  • Free Available Chlorine – 2.0 to 4.0 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness – 200 to 400 ppm
  • Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid) – 30 to 50 ppm

*PPM – part per million

#7. Thoroughly Brush and Vacuum Your Pool: Clean leaves, twigs, and other debris from both the pool’s surface and bottom by thoroughly brushes it with a wall and floor brush. This is also the time that you should dust off your algae brush and pool vacuum. Be sure to remove any debris from the leaf basket as well.

#8. Clean Pool and Deck Furniture: To ensure your outdoor oasis is ready come warm water (for me it’s personally still too cold) you should take care to ensure that all pool and deck future is clean and in good shape. Replace any furnishings that are unstable or rotted. Also check all rails, slides, and ladders to ensure their bolts are secure.

Happy Swimming!

Trending Swimming Pool Design Ideas

swimming pool designs

So you’re thinking of having a swimming pool professionally installed? Planning the perfect oasis has never been more exciting, as innovations in swimming pools continue to expand into luxury pool options, such as natural and infinity pools. Here are six ideas that represent the cutting edge in swimming pool design for 2016.

Natural Pools

Natural swimming pools have a lot of advantages over traditional pools – which is why they’re quickly garnering more and more attention. Natural pools imitate ponds in nature, blending into the surrounding environment seamlessly. A variety of plants filter the water and keep the pool clean versus standard filtration systems. These pools are both environmentally friendly and chemical free. They also have low ongoing maintenance costs. You can also choose to use a salt water filtration system.

Infinity Pools

Infinity pools, also known as vanishing edge pools, are designed to produce a visual effect of water extending over the edge. These pools often provide a spectacular view, particularly a water view. The infinity pool design is said to have originated from Bali, Indonesia, where its inspiration was drawn from the island’s ubiquitous terraced rice paddies. While beautiful, infinity pools do require a different level of construction than traditional pools, which lends to their expensiveness.

In-Ground Spas

In-ground spas have always been a favorite addition to any pool – as they conserve space and share resources. Spas surrounded by rocks and plantings provide a tranquil setting for relaxation. In-ground spas can also be crafted with a simple ledge that allows water to spill into the pool or with a glass zero edge that makes the spa and pool look like they’re one. The options for in-ground spas are seemingly endless! Be sure and discuss the available options with your preferred pool builder.

Freeform Pool Designs

Freeform pools live up to their name – particularly since their contours don’t have to obey the rules of geometry, they can be designed any way you’d like, making them ideal for homes in more natural, tropical, or rustic settings. A freeform pool can imitate a tropical lagoon or a tranquil oasis. These pools are excellent choices for homeowners limited on space, you can make them as small or big as you’d like, as well as for those who wish to incorporate a pool into an existing asymmetrical space.

Glass Tiles

Glass tiles add immense beauty and allure to swimming pools. They are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors and finishes, and can be used to accent any pool design. Glass tiles provide the perfect way to set your pool apart from the ordinary. Common applications include waterline, pool steps and edges, raised spas, water walls, pool interiors, and mosaics. Imagine creating a true masterpiece at the bottom of your pool with glass tiles.

Custom Pool Decks

One of the biggest trends in outdoor design today is a custom pool deck. Travertine, pavers, Trex, cement, are just some of the material options for upgrading your pool’s deck. Not only are materials, such as these, attractive they go a long way towards complimenting the exterior of your home and melding with the outdoor environment; all without sacrificing your safety as they can be designed to be slip resistant. The choices for designing a custom, functional, and affordable pool deck are at your fingertips.

Water Slide

water slide

Who doesn’t love a good water slide? The once simple backyard pool accessories – remember, those light blue, 6-foot-tall slides? – are now available in a variety of colors, forms, heights, and shapes. Most, if not all, with exhilarating curves. Many water slides are available in both right and left curve design. During the hot summer months, water slides – whether in your own backyard or at a water park – are increasingly popular. Here’s why.

Okay, time to put on your bathing suit. It’s about to be a wet and bumpy ride.

The Basics

At its most basic level, a water slide is a relatively tame roller coaster, which is lubricated by water. Water slides must have a constant stream of water flowing from the top to the bottom. This allows you to zip down the slide without fear of friction. To maintain this stream, you must maintain a supply of water to the top of the slide. Most slides today have a pump, housed in the slide itself or near the base of the slide, which constantly recycles the water.

Water Slide Construction

Constructed with a thick, durable fiberglass runway, and reinforced by a fiberglass frame most backyard water slides have a water flow of up to 35 gallons per hour. Fiberglass is used due to its superior strength, safety, and durability – although concrete slides have become quite popular. The ladder, legs, and handrails should be constructed from heavy duty aluminum. Water slides should be directly cemented into the ground.

Most water park slides have a similar structure, but on a much larger scale. Just look at the slides at any one of Arizona’s water parks. Among the most popular are: Big Surf, Sunsplash, and Wet ‘n’ Wild. Water park slides of this magnitude are formed using dozens of fiberglass segments fastened together with heavy-duty bolts. Each segment has one end with a raised lip and one end with a sunken step; much like that of a toy railroad track.

These segments rest on a framework of steel girders, which are either positioned directly under the slide or adjacent to it, supported by sturdy cantilevers. Slides typically use completely enclosed tubes for the sharpest turns, thus ensuring the safety of its riders. Water slides, whether backyard or park, are designed and constructed with your safety in mind.

It’s really amazing how much fun you can have with a water slide.

Why Swimming Pools Make The Ultimate Holiday Gift

the ultimate holiday gift

When contemplating the ultimate holiday gift for your loved ones, it’s fair to say that a new backyard swimming pool is not the first thing that comes to mind for many people, unless you happen to be Clark Griswold. In the 1989 classic film, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” all Clark Griswold wanted to do was give his family a brand new swimming pool that his family could soon enjoy.

Like Clark Griswold, many families – think: Arizona families – find the holiday season to be the perfect time of year to contemplate building the ultimate summer sanctuary, especially since it holds the promise of togetherness…among other benefits including; monetary savings, extending the time you have to use it in the spring and summer months, and make up for the many well-intentioned but ill-received Holiday gifts you’re sure to receive.

Choosing the Perfect Pool for Your Family

The trick to choosing the perfect swimming pool layout is a little more involved than picking between a Playstation 4 and an Xbox One – or any other gift this holiday season. There are materials, shapes, circulation systems, zoning requirements, and more. It’s enough to make your head spin. And you thought your most difficult decision this December would be deciding what holiday cookies to bake! But fear not.

The experts at Platinum Pools and Spas are available to help you come to a final decision on all of these things. And, because inground swimming pools are subject to building and zoning requirements just like any other home improvement projects, our experts will help you avoid the Grinch when obtaining them, regardless of which city you reside in – zone rules differ from city to city. As for materials, there are two options:

Concrete: This is the most popular option in Arizona because of its durability, long lifespan (50+ years!), and ability to be molded into virtually any shape you can dream up. The construction of concrete swimming pools typically take around 12 weeks from beginning (breaking ground) to the end (adding water) of the installation process.

Fiberglass: Fiberglass pools are installed as molded shells into excavated holes. Because of this, they’re typically not available in wide variety of shapes and sizes. This, along with the fact that their less durable, makes them increasingly less popular – especially with Arizona families. They are, however, less expensive than concrete pools.

Now that you’ve decided what material your pool should be made of, you can start thinking about shapes/sizes, depth, circulation, and let’s not forget, the fun details such as diving boards, dancing fountains, colored lights, glowing fire pits, bejeweled tanning ledges, and beach entries – the customization options are endless! Be sure to speak with your pool contractor about the available options for decking out your new swimming pool.

Why Buying a Pool in the Winter Makes Perfect Sense

We know what you’re thinking: Why should a new swimming pool be part of my family’s yuletide festivities rather than our trip to Disneyland in the spring? There are in fact many reasons why building a swimming pool in the winter months may actually be a pretty brilliant idea. For starters, many pool builders are offering Holiday specials, but none as good as the one we at Platinum are offering.

Having a swimming pool building during the colder months of the year is also more practical than waiting to build in the spring or summer. That’s because, if you were to wait until the spring, you wouldn’t get to enjoy your new pool until the summer’s end. Building in January will ensure your pool’s good to go the minute the weather heats up again. Plus, like Clark Griswold, you can use your Holiday bonus.

Tips for Making a Splash with the Ultimate Holiday Gift

No matter what type of pool you decide to have built, surprising your family with the announcement of a pool will make this holiday one of the most memorable ones your loved ones have ever experienced (perhaps even better than Disneyland?); as long as you don’t kidnap your boss in the process. Here are a few tips for making a splash with the ultimate holiday gift this holiday season:

  • Get creative with your presentation. Wrap up gifts your family can enjoy with their new pool such as goggles, pool floats, bathing suits, and sunscreen. Now’s the perfect time to find these items on clearance rakes everywhere.
  • Decided up front what type of circulation system your pool will use: salt or tablet chlorine treated water. You should never wait until the last minute to do your research on the pros and cons of each type of circulation system.
  • Buy your pool supplies during the building process. You will find that many local home improvement and big box stores have reduced their summer inventory to make room for their holiday inventory. Meaning a great price for you.

swimming pools

Black Algae Friday

black algae

What’s your first reaction when you hear the words “Black Friday?” If you’re anything like me, when you hear the words “Black Friday,” your eyes begin to dance, and your heart sings. Black Friday is more than just another day to find amazingly good deals on Holiday gifts. For me and people just like me, it’s an all out adventure.

Another adventure in its own right – yet doesn’t elicit the same results – black algae is perhaps the hardest type of algae to get rid of. There is, however, an art to removing Black Algae – and ensuring it never rears its ugly head again. Now, here’s what you need to know about certainly the most persistent, slimy, and potentially damaging algae.

What is Black Algae?

Black algae, the most aggressive form of algae, comes from the ocean. If it comes from the ocean how does it infect backyard pools? Good question! One of the most common ways for your pool to be infected by black algae is by a bathing suit that has once been in the ocean. It’ll only takes one time!

Black algae has very deep roots, and while it may start out small, chances are that it will grow into a much larger problem. Black algae has many layers. These layers protect it from normal shocking and algaecide. The roots of the black algae tend to anchor themselves into the sides of the pool plaster, making destroying it nearly impossible.

How to Get Rid of Black Algae

The best way to get rid of black algae is to attack it head on.

You will need:

  • A pool pole and brush
  • Chlorine tablets
  • Shock treatment
  • Gloves

I cannot stress the following information enough – it is the key to getting rid of black algae growth once and for all. Wearing heavy-duty gloves, rub ALL black algae spots with a chlorine tab in order to attack its head. You may want to consider draining your pool if the algae spots on the pool’s floor.

Your next step is to brush the heck out of your pool. Brush hard, brush thoroughly, brush often! You may notice a dirty looking cloud rise up while brushing. This is absolutely normal.

Triple shock your pool by adding three pounds of shock treatment for every 10,000 gallons of water your pool holds. Make sure to add the shock once the sun has set. Run your filter for a minimum of twenty-four hours after adding the shock. Brush three or four times beginning on the next day following treatment.

Tips for Preventing Black Algae

  • Always keep your pH, alkalinity, and sanitizer levels in the correct ranges.
  • Always run your pump/filter for 8 to 12 hours a day all year through.
  • Always keep your pool clean through regular vacuuming and brushing.
  • Always shock your pool once a week – 1 lb. of shock per 10,000 gals.
  • Always keep your pool equipment clean. This includes your pool toys, floats, ladders, diving boards, slides, solar covers, and of course your personal swimming suits.