Natural Swimming Pools

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Natural swimming pools are based on ponds and pools that were once found so abundantly in the landscape. They are a chemical free combination of swimming area and aquatic plant garden, and so form an intimate part of the garden landscape. Natural swimming pools can also make a very important contribution to the restoration of aquatic flora and fauna.

They always take the form of a swimming area and a regeneration area. Sometimes these are at the same (water) level and sometimes the regeneration area is at a separate level.

Natural Swimming Pools - Basic Rules

There are some basic rules for their construction:-

1) You will need a deep area for swimming, between 5 feet (1500mm) and 7 feet (2200mm) with vertical walls.

2) You will need a similar expanse for the regeneration area, which will vary in water depth (down to nothing at the edges). The regeneration area will contain aggregate for filtration in a mass from 2inches (50mm) to eighteen inches (450mm) and averaging 1 foot (300mm).

3) You will need to follow local laws (sometimes quite stringent) for safety fencing.

4) A total area of 50 square metres (25 for the swimming area and 25 for the regeneration area) is recommended by some, but many people are now finding that 100 square metres (50 each for swimming area and regeneration area) gives better, more stable, and more predictable results.

5) You will need a circulating pump to draw water through the gravel bed of the regeneration zone, if the regeneration area and the pond are on the same level. If the regeneration area is above the pond it may drain naturally into the pond, but you will still need a pump to feed it.

Running Cost

You will save money on running costs and you will save on some special features (such as chemical treatment units) but the capital cost is at present quite high reflecting to a degree the complexity of organizing the biological processes. It is arguable that installing a �normal� swimming pool is a entirely mechanical process that can be handled by competent builders/engineers without much specialist knowledge. On the other hand a �natural� swimming pool requires specialized skills and knowledge, for which at the moment you are paying a premium.

You will have to allow for slightly higher maintenance. The regeneration area will be actively managed � removal of excess vegetable matter, replacement of plants that are not doing well, and so on.

You will also have a pool which integrates much better into the garden landscape. If you always wanted a pool for exploring the attractions of pond life, aquatic plants and so on then this is your excuse.

Extra Sources of Information

There are good but slightly academic sources of information on the internet about natural pools. The best is from Europe, where hundreds of natural swimming pools have been built, but really what you must do is make contact with natural swimming pool builders, who not only know the practical wrinkles of building and landscaping a pool, but who will also be able to point you to actual examples.

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Author:
Chas and Daff run a website called www.new-landscaping.com which is devoted to fresh landscape ideas which they have either carried out or researched with a view to incorporating them in their own gardens in France. They live in Brittany and run three holiday cottages (see www.ruelmain.com.uk)

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