Pool Mermaid

We Love Happy Customers!

Happy customers are the lifeblood of any business. We try our best to satisfy our customers by being courteous, providing great communication, having thoughtful workers and much more. With social media we have become more aware of our customers’ needs and we politely ask for reviews when we complete projects. We are by no means perfect and we are always trying to improve our services and practice; but, when we receive a glowing review like this one below it really puts a smile on our face.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Happy Customer!

Cheers, JZ

 

“I have never written an online review before, but after working with John Zahn and the folks at Sunset, I feel compelled to do so. The idea of remodeling my back yard and pool was daunting, to say the least. However, not only did I end up with a gorgeous pool, backyard design and landscape, but I also had only positive experiences working with Sunset. I bet you can’t say that of many contractors! John and Nate were always nice, organized, responsive and beyond helpful. Each day, Nate would email me an update on the project to let me know the status, what was coming up next and who would be working in my backyard. I never had to ask when things would be done, as I knew John and Nate were on top of it. It eliminated so much of the stress of this big project and I was able to focus on my busy life versus micro managing the construction. Also, John and his crews did everything possible to minimize the disruption to our lives during the project. The crews were polite, appropriate (I have children) and efficient. And, they cleaned up each day (as best as possible given the nature of the project). John came over regularly, if not daily, to supervise the project and was involved in every last detail. Any issue that came up, no matter how small, John and Nate would jump on it and get it resolved. John sets high standards for his work product and it shows in the work that was done. Lastly, I can say that both John and Nate are good people. I felt they were honest in their dealings with me, they had my back throughout the project and I now consider them friends. I would not hesitate to recommend Sunset for your pool/back yard remodel.”

wild flowers

California Drought Update from a Swimming Pool Perspective

Have you noticed photos of the wildflowers blooming this spring after the amazingly wet season after the recent 6-year long California Drought? We have seen the news reports and the photos all over our social media feeds. On April 7, 2017, California Governor Brown terminated the January 17, 2014 Drought State of Emergency impacting all but Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. California residents successfully conserved water in unprecedented levels, reducing water use in communities by 22% between 2014 and 2017.

 

Throughout the drought many counties and municipalities enacted swimming pool permit restrictions in an effort to conserve water; however, luckily, we weren’t affected by these restrictions in our local area.

 

In fact, residential swimming pool and spa owners are already conserving water compared to a conventional backyard. Swimming pools use less water than the same square footage of a lawn and if you add in a pool deck area, rather than grass, the water savings are increased.  Drought resistant/tolerant landscaping with native plants adds even more water conservation.

 

According to the California Pool & Spa Association, you can continue to do your part to conserve water in the following ways:

 

If you own a pool:

  • Install a pool cover to reduce water evaporation by as much as 90%
  • Shut off waterfalls, fountains and other water features to reduce water loss and evaporation
  • Check the pool for leaks, contact your pool service professional for guidance.
  • Minimize splashing or lower the pool’s water level to reduce “splash out.”
  • Plug the overflow line when the pool is in use.
  • Replace traditional sand and DE Filters with cartridge filters that do not require backwashing.
  • Keep your pool clean to reduce frequency of backwashing.
  • If your pool is heated, reduce the water temperature to reduce evaporation.

 

If you own spa:

  • Keep it covered.
  • Maintain the chemicals to extend water life.
  • Check the equipment for leaks.
  • Drain only when absolutely necessary.
  • Check with your pool service professional for new technology that helps keep the water clean and reduce the need to drain the spa.
  • If you drain your spa, reuse the water to irrigate plants and landscaping.

 

If you have any questions about the current condition of your pool/spa and landscaping, we are happy to meet and discuss your water conservation opportunities.

 

White Water Rafting

Bucket List – Do You Have One?

A bucket list in case you do not know is a list of things a person wants to accomplish before they die. Whether you know yours or not, we all have a bucket list. A bucket list is not necessarily something you take the time to write out, but instead is a few general things you want to accomplish over your life. In this blog, we will be talking about our bucket lists – what we have accomplished and seek to someday accomplish – and will encourage you to reply with items on your bucket list.

John Zahn

I am very fortunate to have knocked off many items from my bucket list. They often involve sailing and speed, yet this is all on land. (Landsailing World Championship 2014 Video) Recently I realized that my wife Alyson, who doesn’t like tippy monohull sailboats prefered a good sized catamaran. I was then on a quest for the ultimate experience. A Gunboat catamaran is just that balance between amazing performance and luxurious comfort. They are world cruiser at some of the fastest speeds and when you stop to relax you have a stable and comfortable platform. I have researched and found a few for week charter. If you have an interest in coming along please let me know?

Nate Trimmer

I have done some “extreme” sports in my day and have loved every minute of it. Whether that be landsailing, bungee jumping, skydiving, white water rafting, ziplining, hot air ballooning, glacier hiking, blackwater cave rafting… just to name a few. As you can tell, I don’t scare easily. I have been very fortunate to experience so many blood pumping activities. I have done some minor rock climbing but nothing too adventures. I have thought about this bucket list, done some Googling and decided that rappelling down a waterfall sounds like just the ticket! Now, where should I fly to find said waterfall?

 

James Campion

Family vacations are always fun, but nothing is more exciting than vacationing with a group of families. My family and a few other families did just this recently when we traveled to Italy. Our time in Italy was unlike anything else I had ever experienced. We visited the leaning Tower of Pisa, saw the statue of David, toured the Colosseum, threw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, and even watched my sister and her friends be confirmed in the Vatican. This vacation was one I will never forget from the marvelous sights to the laughing so hard I peed my pants (granted I was quite young). The only downside is that I decided this vacation was a good time to try out the fedora look, so one could say all the photos of me are pretty much ruined. However, vacationing with other families is an experience unlike any other, and I would strongly encourage everyone to give it a shot during their lifetime.

What’s on your bucket list? Leave a comment below letting us know. If you have never thought about your bucket list then now is the perfect time. We love learning new, exciting things about our customers! 

Modern Pool

History of Swimming Pools

For most of us, pools have always been around whether it was in our own backyard or in at a hotel or wherever; however, this was not always the case. Pools first began as public baths but are now widespread and can be found across the world. In this blog post, we will look back on the history of pools and see just how far they have come – then, we will look at some of the innovative ideas regarding pools and what lies in store for the future of the pool industry.

 

The Beginning: Ancient Pools

The first pool was actually a “great bath” and existed 5,000 years ago in the Pakistani city of Mohenjo-daro. It was built of stone and brick and filled with water for special religious purposes. Public baths like pools then became popular around 700 BC in Ancient Greece and were used for non-religious purposes like bathing and swimming. The first heated pool or jacuzzi was designed by Gaius Maecenas around 8 BC and had waterfalls and lush gardens. Over the course of 3,000 years, pools came a long way from a pit full of water for religious purposes to a heated spa with waterfalls.

Ancient Pool

The Introduction of Modern Pools

Modern pools began in the 19th century in Great Britain with improved water treatment and design. There were alarming drowning rates in Great Britain at the time, so 6 public pools were built in London in 1837 and the Amateur Swimming Association was formed to promote the skill of swimming. Swimming became an Olympic event in 1896, but was hosted in the open ocean water as funds could not be raised to build a suitable pool. Modern pools entered the U.S. in 1915 with the Deep Eddy pool in Texas, which is still swam in today. Pools then gained popularity in California in the early 20’s with the installment of William Randolph Hearst’s spectacular Neptune pool. Pools later began to be installed in hotels and motels across America in the 60’s – making pools as widespread as they are today. Needless to say, today’s pools have come a long way from a “great bath” built of stone and brick used for religious practices.

 

The Future of Pools

A few years back we started designing our unique pool design, the innovative elevated pool, but that is just the beginning of the future of pools. Like other technologies, we cannot predict exactly what pools will be like in the future but we have heard of some crazy innovations that may catch on in the future. One of these innovations is the disappearing pool. This pool design allows you to simply push a button and the bottom of the pool rises to ground height; thus, relocating the water and adding more space to your room. Finally, a Hong Kong design group came up with the idea to create a “Swimarium” that would project images of fish and an aquatic environment into your pool to make it appear you are swimming in the ocean. This has not actually been built yet but the design shows potential for what the future holds. Ideas like these are not so far-fetched anymore and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for the pool industry.

 

 

Clearly pools have come a long way over the past 5,000 years and it is yet to be seen where they will head in the future. The future of technology in general is fascinating and we are lucky to live in this time period of technological innovation.

Using Your Pool to Maximize Real Estate Value

It’s no secret that pools increase the real estate value of your home. With the nice year-round climate in southern California we are able to keep our pools open year-round, and, thus, pools add significantly more value to your home. There are a few simple steps you must take when selling the house to ensure you get this value. In this blog, we will cover what simple steps you should follow while selling your house in order to make sure your pool adds value rather than turning away customers.

 

Open up the Pool and Keep It Clean

Pool and SpaNothing would turn away a potential buyer faster than a dirty pool or one that is covered up by a pool cover. When you are looking to put your house on the market you should be keeping your pool as clean as possible. Additionally, you want to ensure you especially clean your pool before an open house and take your pool cover off to show off that beautiful pool that is the centerpiece of your backyard.

 

Be Prepared

Maintaining a pool is not easy and is also not cheap, and buyers know this. Therefore you want to be upfront about the costs and effort that must go into maintaining a pool; in doing so, you will give the buyers confidence. One thing you may want to consider is having a pool binder that has all the information regarding the pool and previous records along with a list of reputable service companies. This will only further alleviate buyer skepticism and can show the buyers your professionality. Finally, another good idea is to include the pool accessories and equipment you have purchased as part of the deal. Granted if you are moving to a house with another pool then you may want to keep it, but if you are moving to a house without a pool then you will no longer have use for this gear and its addition to the deal will only boost value.

 

Time it Correctly

girls playing in poolIf you are selling a property with a pool then you should put the house on the market around the beginning of summer. You want the weather to be warm causing your buyers to possibly desire a pool more than they would during the winter months. Plus, nobody wants to buy a pool when it is cold and raining outside. With this being said, if you are in a rush to sell your house then a pool in the winter is not a game changer – it just may prevent you from achieving the maximum value your estate could reach.

 

A pool can and should add value to your home – all it should take is a few simple actions. By acting helpful and romanticizing your pool, you will boost buyer confidence and as a result boost your real estate value.

pool & spa at day

Planning for Summer

The title of this blog, “Planning for Summer”, may seem odd to many of you given that we are still in the dead of winter, but this is not a mistake. If you are looking to renovate your yard or house for summer then there is no time like the present. Everybody knows that renovations and builds take months and cannot be done in a matter of days. Oftentimes, it becomes summer and families realize they want a pool or spa or fire pit and it is too late. Thus, we are writing this blog to think ahead towards summer and start planning out how you will spend your time this summer.

Build on your Yard

There’s no better way to break in the summer than with a new pool, spa, or fire pit. If you have younger children then a pool is probably the best fit for your family. However, if you don’t have children or your children have moved out then a spa or fire pit can be a great option for late nights or parties. All of these options are wonderful and will no doubt add to your summer experience, but you have to start planning now.

pool & spa at night

Renovate your Yard

Maybe you already have a pool or spa, but you are looking to really amp up your yard for this summer. We would be glad to help and make sure you have a brand new renovated pool or spa to enjoy when the weather gets hot. We can always add new items like new cement or a fire pit as well if you desire.

Plan a Vacation

Finally, adding to your home and enjoying a staycation can be a blast, but who doesn’t love a nice getaway? Now is the time to start texting your friends and family and start planning that vacation you have been dreaming of. There is no better time than the present and you should make time this year to vacation with the people you love. It can be a simple vacation like camping or an extravagant one to a foreign country – all that matters is that you take some time off and spend time with those you care about.

vacation beach

snowpack

Weather Trends – Forecasts and Predictions…

Every year we hear the weathermen predicting this much rainfall and forecasting weather, but a majority of the time they are completely off in their predictions. Last year was supposed to be the saving year, the year of El Niño, but it ended up being a bust. However, this year it seems like it is raining multiple times a week. In this blog, we will look back on last year’s bust weather and also discuss our recent weather and its implications going for the drought going forward.

Last Year’s Weather

Low Water LevelsEl Niño was a bust. The rare weather pattern was supposed to bring us more rain and possibly lift the pressure off this drought, but that failed to happen. El Niño did help Northern California rebuilding the snowpack, but California only received about 60% of its average rainfall last year. In fact, about 21% of California was categorized as in exception drought at the beginning of this year’s water year at the end of September. However, one benefit of this low rainfall is the result it has had on this year’s weather. The small El Niño has led to a larger La Niña this fall, which is basically El Niño’s opposite.

Rain Patterns

CA Drought Levels
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

December was the wettest month recorded in downtown Los Angeles since December 2010. The percent of exceptional drought area in California has dropped 3% over the past 3 months and 18% of California is actually no longer considered abnormally dry while this number was 0% 3 months ago. Rain is always expected during this time of the year, but this year we seem to be receiving more than before. This rain is happily welcomed by most as it is only lessening the pressure of the drought. Once again, the drought is nowhere near over but a heavy rain year is always helpful.

Mountain Snow

The end of 2016 saw a huge increase in snowfall that is continuing into 2017. Granted, this snow is expected with the higher rainfall but 2016 saw a 52% increase in snowfall from 2015. Mammoth mountain saw 109 inches of snow in 2013 while 2016 brought 354 inches. This increase in snow is obviously awesome for ski resorts and those of us that love to ski, but this is also great news to the drought. Northern California snow melts and runs off into local giving us more water. Of course, once again this trend needs to continue to make a significant impact on the drought but we always love to see rain and snow.

Everyone thought last year, El Niño, was going to be the year California received a ton of rain and saved us from the drought, but that clearly was not the case. This year has brought us the most rain we have seen in years and all we can do is hope it keeps coming. This weather sure is whacky, as we wrote about in our previous blog, but we do love to see snow and rain. With that being said, this drought will continue for some time to come and we must always make sure we are conserving water and being water efficient.

Pool & Spa at Night

Wacky Weather

If you are anything like us then you have probably been wondering what is up with this recent weather we have been having. It seems like one day it is gloomy and raining and the next the sun is shining with the perfect weather for a beach day. Some just say that this is typical Southern California weather, but we personally feel like this weather is wackier than ever. Despite being mainly a swimming pool company, we never want our clients to be discouraged by poor weather; thus, we are writing this blog article to talk about other ways you can enjoy your outdoor living space even when the weather is trying to stop you.

Add a Spa

We’ve said it before and we will say it again – there is nothing better than a spa in the winter. Whether it be cold weather or rain, nothing can stop you from enjoying a spa. A spa is a good investment because it can be used year round and can be enjoyed by every age group whether it be young kids, teenagers, or adults. Additionally, a spa does not take much maintenance and can be prepared for usage often remotely in less time than you may think.

Patio Cover

Outdoor KitchenThe awesome thing about Southern California is that even when it rains it is not necessarily cold. Oftentimes it can be warm enough to wear a short sleeve t-shirt outside, yet it will be raining – we find these types of days to be the best days for outdoor patio covers. With a patio cover you can sit outside and listen to the peaceful sound of the rain while remaining completely dry. You can even install a TV or BBQ outside and not worry about water damage or constantly putting on a cover if you have a patio cover.

Fire Feature

Fire Feature at NightAnother great way to stay warm in this cold wacky weather is through a fire feature. A fire pit or fire place may not be of the best use in the rain but sitting outside in the cold next to a warm fire can be very relaxing and enjoyable. A fire feature has a wide range of purposes beyond this as well like roasting marshmallows or adding a nice aesthetic element to your backyard.

Oftentimes we expect year round nice weather because we live in Southern California, but this is not always the case. We recently have been having wacky weather causing us to wear a sweatshirt one day and shorts the next; however, this should not stop you from enjoying your outdoor living space. There are a variety of ways to enjoy your backyard even in the rain, so you should be thankful for the rain and its much needed presence in Southern California rather than resenting it as many people often do.

Red Apple Aptenia

Interesting Drought-Tolerant Lawn Replacement

Today we are sharing a great guest post by Kitten Wylder Borgers. Kitten has been a client and friend for the past few decades. I have always loved and respected her viewpoint on our oxygen providing friends. I hope we provide you with good content and make your day a little greener.

Cheers, JZ

What’s Wrong with Today’s Drought-Tolerant Yards

Red Apple ApteniaI’ve been designing drought-tolerant landscapes for almost 20 years, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in most of the non-lawns I’ve seen lately.  I’m a big fan of drought-tolerant landscapes, but the way people are going about drought-tolerant landscapes is all wrong.  Too many people are killing their lawns with toxic chemicals and then covering them with crushed granite and a few small succulents and calling it done. In reality, creating a drought-tolerant yard can be WAY more fun and interesting than that.

Doing Drought Tolerant the Right Way

First, rather than just putting down gravel or crushed granite, why not try a ground cover that grows? I’m partial to Aptenia cordifolia (known commonly as heartleaf ice plant, baby sun rose, or red apple aptenia) myself.  It spreads well (although it can be invasive), grows with basically no water, and is a dark green ground cover with small red flowers.  Unfortunately, there’s some sort of blight (bacteria? virus? fungus? no one knows) that’s killing it all over southern California, so I have to at least temporarily rescind that recommendation.  There are, of course, lots of types of ice plants or sedums that also take very little water, although most spread more slowly.

ThymeIf you think you might want to walk on your lawn replacement, you could try spreading thyme (not the clumping kind); once established and assuming you just step on it occasionally and don’t play football on it, it’ll survive the steps and smell wonderful in the process.  The same goes with most of the mint family.  In fact, most herbs are VERY hardy and drought tolerant because they were weeds that someone found a use for.

Or you might consider freeway daisies (Osteospermum fruticosum).  You can be fairly sure that if they grow along the freeway they’ll be hardy.  If they start to get woody and leggy, you can prune them hard or even mow them, and the new growth will be beautiful.  You could also consider some of the lower low-spreading shrubs, like lantana, which while about a foot tall, has lovely purple, yellow, or red flowers; and each plant has a 5′-6′ horizontal spread.  You can’t walk on it, but the bees love it!

Don’t mistake drought tolerance for low maintenance.  Weeding will be required, at least until everything has filled in.  And keep in mind that EVERYTHING (succulents, cacti, herbs, all of it) needs water when you first plant it.  But if you get the right plants for your environment, they’ll be happy and healthy once they’re going.  And you’ll be proud of your beautiful yard!

Kitten Wylder Borgers

Wylder Landscape LogoKitten Wylder Borger
Wylder Landscape
562 493-7072

 

Kitten Wylder Borgers is a working artist, dog walker/sitter, and landscape designer in southern California.  Her interest in plants began in college in 1970 at UCSC, where she learned about herbs and dirt from Alan Chadwick at the campus garden and learned about composition and design as a dance major. Since then she’s continued to explore the world of herbs and other drought tolerant plants, both native and not, although she’s had to give up the dance major.  She’s fond of getting dirty and being silly.

donation to charity

Spring Cleaning Come Early

In our last eblast, we encouraged you to sift through your old things and look for forgotten or misplaced items that still had value to you. Hopefully you found some success in doing this, but regardless odds are you found items that had no worth to you and you were looking to rid of. If these items can still have value to other people then there is no reason to throw them in the garbage; rather, you should put them to use and give them to other people either for profit or just out of charity. In this blog we will talk about possible places to discard of your old items so that others may get the same benefits that you once got from them.

craigslist or ebay to sell stuffCraigslist or eBay

Craigslist and eBay are two simple and easy ways to get rid of items by giving them to others. Posting an ad on Craigslist or putting an item up for sale on eBay are easy processes and can be done in a matter of minutes. Additionally, by using these two services you can make some money back on those items that you once coveted and spent too much money on. Some may think that these forms of offloading items are ineffective because nobody wants to come pick up or bid on a random item; however, you would be surprised at the amount of people using these services searching for almost anything.

yard sale for neighborsHelp Thy Neighbor

Have you ever driven by a yard and seen a dresser, TV or some other item and then you drive by the next day and it’s gone? People around the neighborhood love to pick up items that others have no use for. Giving your old items to your neighbors is one of the best ways to get rid of old items because you can know that someone in your neighborhood is making good use of it. Additionally, you can always just ask your friends around town if they want some extra pool toys or an extra bike or whatever you are getting rid of because you never know what others may happen to be looking for.

Charity

If you prefer giving your items to those who need them the most then giving up your things to charity may be the best option for you. You can try searching online for a charity accepting the certain items you are trying to offload or you can just drop off your items at the NCL thrift shop “Miss Charity’s Attic” or your local Goodwill. Odds are someone in need will end up with your item and you can sleep easy knowing that your item is being put to good use.

Spring cleaning has come early this year. In looking through your old items you more than likely found some things you have no use for anymore. Granted, you could just dump these items in the trash, but why do that when you can continue their life cycle and give them to someone else. Giving these items to someone else will help keep you in the giving holiday spirit and help you sleep at night knowing others are benefitting from your generosity.