10 Tips for Building a Natural Swimming Pool
Creating a natural oasis in your backyard.
The refreshing feeling of swimming in your natural pool on a hot summer day is one of nature’s essential pleasures. What makes it all the better is knowing that you designed and crafted that pool by yourself. The demand for natural swimming pools is on the rise because they emulate the clean water swimming experience of a traditional pool without the chemicals and high maintenance costs. In our opinion, natural pools also enjoy the advantage of looking nicer: a well-designed natural pool will blend into, and indeed clean itself, with its natural surroundings. It is a much more integrated aesthetic that blends the water feature into your garden rather than taking all the attention for itself. Accordingly, the design and construction of a natural pool is a puzzle that seeks to harmonize nature and recreation in your very own backyard. If you are interested in finding out whether a DIY natural pool is viable given your budget and garden, this blog is for you. We will focus on tips for the design of natural swimming pools and discuss the best robotic pool cleaners.
10 tips for building a natural swimming pool
- Plan, plan, plan: the actual construction phase is secondary to the design in importance. No one knows your garden better than you so be sure to take plenty of time or ask for help in designing a harmonious pool that will utilize the natural advantages of your yard.
- Prepare the plant zone: the plant zone is your pools filtration area. Reserve at least 50% of the pool’s total surface area for aquatic plants that will be held in place by a shallow rim. The water from the swimming area will move into the plant zone, where the roots will remove contaminants and excess nutrients to prevent algae from growing. Decomposing organisms, which live in the plants’ roots will consume the bacteria, further preventing waste buildup.
- A mix of plants: the plant zone also provides for natural heating of the water. It is important to choose a good mix of plants for your pool including floating plants to provide shade for micro-organisms in the bottom of the pool and oxygenating plants which uptake nitrates and phosphates and contribute to the chemical balance of your pool, effectively limiting algae growth.
- Continuous circulation: simply building a plant zone does not mean that all of your water will circulate through the plant zone for cleaning. A pump ensures that the water flows through the water plants, filters down through the aggregates for scrubbing and then recycles through the pump, re-entering the pool cleaner. For people interested in spending even less time cleaning, there are proprietary filter systems that are energy efficient and will save you a lot of cleaning time in the future!
- Shade versus the sun: the less sun the better. More sun encourages photosynthesis and algae growth. If you do choose a sunny location, be sure to include plenty of floating plants to provide natural shade to combat algae.
- You are building a pool, not a pond: put thought into the drainage aspect. Make sure you surround it with plenty of drainage channels to move surface and ground water away from your swimming area. Furthermore, avoid building your pool in the lowest part of your yard.
- Focus on natural heat: while some people think they look unsightly, using a black liner for your pool increases the passive heat gain by absorbing more energy from the sun.
- Depth: remember that deeper means cooler. Construction-wise, your pool walls will need to be reinforced according to their depth. Walls over six feet need significantly more reinforcement than those under, meaning extra investment in concrete for the retaining wall. We recommend a depth of about five feet to offer enough depth to immerse yourself while keeping reinforcement relatively simple.
- Shape: the box shape works best for natural pools and is the cheapest to build. Again, you are building a pool, not a pond; the box shape offers the easiest flexibility for filtration and water flow to keep your pool clean.
- Surface area: For natural pools, we recommend a minimum size of 30-50 sq meters. This gives sufficient size for your plant zone while also allowing plenty of room for swimming.
Cleaning your pool with automatic pool cleaners
A key to preventing the growth of smelly anaerobic algae is aerating your pool to prevent stagnation of the water. You can oxygenate your pool by installing an underwater aerator that will bubble air through the water, but this may end up being the most expensive part of your DIY operation. Even with a perfect design and your best intentions of creating the perfect natural cleaning and filtration system, you will still need to clean your pool regularly. Automatic pool cleaners are designed to do the heavy cleaning work of scrubbing the pool floors, walls and waterline without disturbing the biology of the pool. The best robotic pool cleaners will perform the functions of using suction and internal filtering to purify the pool and remove algae, scum and undesirable floating objects without disrupting the plant and animal life in the pool. Many natural pool owners choose automatic pool cleaners to make their pools sparkle that little bit more.
The beauty of DIY Natural Pools
Building your DIY natural pool is like realizing a dream of your own design. Your costs will be lower in the long run, as well as your impact on the environment, but the initial input of research and planning required to install a successful natural pool is a bit steeper. Using these tips, we hope you are inspired to take on what we feel is one of the most rewarding DIY projects for homeowners. Please leave a comment revealing your secrets to DIY natural pool design and any success or failure stories you feel have to be shared!