Natural Swimming Pools Revisited

It's funny how motivation makes things seem more doable. I've thought about natural swimming pool conversions before - I even blogged about it a long while back. The idea recurred to me during the native garden tour on the 12th June, at the Eurs garden - Mr Eurs sank an old hot tub, filled it, planted it, and just has a simple circulation pump to keep the water moving (that just looks like a leaky faucet!) and it's a lovely restful spot to sit and enjoy being.

Then yesterday, I was at a pool supply store to get the swimming pool water tested. The water chemistry is so far out of whack the people in the store just shook their heads at me, sadly and a little reproachfully.

I paid them nearly $300 for a supply of chlorine tablets, and a lot of sodium hydrogen carbonate to raise the alkalinity of the water, I went home to dump it into our pool and turn on the filtering system for several hours, with a joyless goal: dead, inert water. And at what cost to the environment?

We spend so much time vacuuming and brushing and chlorinating the pool - albeit ineffectively - and we actually have not been IN it at all this year.

But it could be so much more fun than this. It could be a natural pool, with a swimming zone down the middle and a shallow filtration area round the edge, full of interesting water plants, little fishes and other pond life of interest. Or we could construct additional pools for the filtering plants. We COULD do this all ourselves. And the water - they say - is clear and living and healthy.

I really love the idea of learning more about native California wetland and pond plants, and getting into the whole ecology of a natural pool.

It's a European trend that is catching on over here - you can Google to see quite a lot of hits.

Check out this short British video to see how lovely this could be:

I'm going to have to do some serious research on all this!


Anonymous said…
Wow that sound quite fascinating. I will have to read more about these pools! :)
Benjamin Vogt said…
I love this! Want want want! My parents have a saltwater pool, and it doesn't seem all that easier to take care of than a chlorinated one. However, they are thinking of putting in a floating plant island in their pond which always gets green and nasty to clean up the water.
Town Mouse said…
Well, considering how much trouble I have to keep my little water barrel free of algae (mostly) and dead plants, I'm not so sure. I think it's a big undertaking, and I wonder how well your water will work for water plants -- but then, there's nothing like trying it out. I'd expect you could revert back to "traditional pool" fairly easily.
Country Mouse said…
Small pools are definitely harder to keep healthy than large ones - large ones get an ecosystem going. That being said, I'm thinking of making a pool in the south garden to try things out - it'll have to be a medium deep one to try to avoid the difficulties of the small - and shallow - pools. This is what I've learned so far, anyway!
Dear CM, I agree with TM that this is a big undertaking, but if you pull it off it would be rewarding, I think! Our new-ish pond hasn't yet developed a healthy ecosystem and we are dealing with a lot of algae. My husband says it needs a bigger filter. Oh, dear -- more expense. P. x
Sue Langley said…
What a great project this would be,...exciting once you would make 'le plunge'. Neat video. I like the image of the frog turning into child jumping in.
Brent said…
How interesting. I never thought of an engineered pond like this before. I'll have to keep this idea in the back of my brain.
Last summer I start a natural swimming pool. But suddenly I realize that exist a lot of mice near the house and they will swim in the pool too. ¿How about Hantavirus and other infections without chlorine? Now I'm not sure.
Country Mouse said…
Gloria - sorry, I didn't realize your comment was "awaiting moderation" - just now noticed. I don't know that deer mice like to swim. I don't see deer mice around here - they are the common carriers. I don't know if you are more or less likely to catch the disease from water or from touching a branch etc where the infected critter has urinated or licked. Our plans are on hold right now - we don't have time or resources for this large project. It's a good question, and I don't have an answer, sorry.