What is a Negative Edge Pool?

wiseGEEK Writer

A negative edge pool is an inground pool lacking one or more edges. While most pools have a definable edge surrounding them, the negative edge pool creates the illusion that the water lacking edges is supported by nothing. Europeans have used the negative edge pool design for centuries, but they did not gain popularity in the US until the 1950s.

A negative edge pool may appear to merge with a large body of water, like the ocean.
A negative edge pool may appear to merge with a large body of water, like the ocean.

The negative edge pool is especially effective when the edgeless parts of the pool are located over high ground that drops away. They are also beautiful when near a water source like oceans or lakes. Near water, the negative edge pool gives the illusion that the pool water does not end, and is harmoniously continued to the water source. On high ground, the negative edge pool looks like a magic trick. How can the water simply stand up if the pool is not enclosed on all sides with an edge?

Actually, the negative edge pool has a side on the edgeless side. Achieving the edgeless look is accomplished by placing a water collection reservoir below the pool and out of sight. This is made easy when the pool is located at the top of high ground, because anything below the top is not easy to see visually. The water collection reservoir works like the rest of the pool filtration system. Any water collected is filtered back into the pool.

Alternately, the negative edge pool can achieve the “sideless look” in pools that are constructed on two levels. A high level can obscure a level lower down in the pool, which naturally collects any excess water. As well, the pool water can drop down to a large spa or a fountain, creating beauty on all sides of the pool.

The negative edge pool is particularly stunning at night, and owners of such pools often enjoy their reflective ability. When the night sky is studded with stars, the pool reflects the stars and the night sky and seems to represent the infinity of the sky. If a water source like a lake or ocean is below the pool, a view of the pool from several feet away seems to reflect the sky far out into the lake or ocean.

The negative edge pool is beautiful, but it may be a poor choice for families with young children. For the pool’s visual effects to work properly, fencing should not interrupt sight access to the pool. However, properly fencing any pool in a house with young children is strongly recommended so that children cannot get into the pool without the help of an adult. This can significantly cut down on incidents of drowning. If the kids are not grown up yet, consider constructing a pool that can later be modified to include a negative edge.

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Discussion Comments


I am a contractor who has built my at my home a negative edge pool with water level all the way around. I am not a pool builder but I figure I can build my own at home. I am hoping you can help me with one issue and that is how wide of a gap should I have for the water overflow 3/4" 1" or more?

thanks Andre


I need help in designing a negative edge pool. What are the necessary factors to consider in designing a pool with negative edge?

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