Autumn is coming, my friends. The wind is cooling down, the first leaves are changing, and there’s that indescribable hint of “fall” in the air. For those of you Northern Virginians with swimming pools, this can be a frustrating part of the year. Your beloved swimming pool, which you can only enjoy for a few fleeting months, needs to be covered for the winter. It’s a time-consuming and annoying process, and something that every pool owner dreads. There are a few alternatives to covering your pool, but they are all cost-intensive. The following are your options. 

Make it an indoor pool

Year-round swimming in temperate water, no cleaning of bugs, dirt, or leaves out of the pool… sign me up! Creating an indoor pool is, however, the most expensive option for enclosing your pool, and you have to have the room for it. The total cost for creating the pool and the building around it can run as high as $200k, and the ROI is not fabulous… such an amenity will only add between five to ten percent to the sale price of your home. Why is it so expensive? Indoor pools may need less maintenance, but they create the problem of extreme humidity in an enclosed space, which can destroy the building if special equipment isn’t built into the structure. 

Build a birdcage

Screening in your pool with what is curiously called a “birdcage” can be a cost-effective means of protecting your pool from animals, falling leaves, and other annoyances. This will also keep the bugs away during swimming season. If your pool has a heater, this may even be a viable solution for using your pool earlier in the spring and later into the fall. It’s not without its expense, however: building a screened enclosure around an existing pool starts around eight thousand dollars. This would definitely be an enticement to future buyers, however. 

Blow it up (sort of)

A new innovation in the swimming pool and spa industry is the temporary pool enclosure, which is inflatable and looks like a bounce house structure built around your pool. The structure is held up by a powerful air blower to keep the enclosure inflated. This solution, also called a bubble or dome, will set you back a few thousand dollars. I wouldn’t trust it to hold up to strong weather, however. 

Make it retractable

Another expensive, but effective option is building a retractable enclosure around your pool. This is costly - the average runs about $150k - but still cheaper than building an indoor pool. Also, you have the option of exposing the pool to the sunshine when the weather is fair. In the winter, the retractable enclosure covers the pool completely, giving you an indoor pool experience. These enclosures can be built with rises of various heights, depending on what you want it to look like. 

So what's the best option for enclosing your pool for winter in Northern Virginia? It's going to come down to budget and preference.