The natural pool was invented in Austria and Germany in the 1980s, and has been growing in popularity ever since. The invention is based on algae and sand filters that purify water without any chemicals. The design can be anything: most natural pools look like real ponds, but they can also imitate a conventional tiled pool. The principle of a natural pool is almost the same as a traditional pool, but because it doesn’t use chemicals to clean the water, your skin and hair don’t get damaged, no matter how often you bathe.
How does it work?
The principle of a natural pool is this: an area called the regeneration zone is planted with plants and covered with gravel to act as a filter. A natural pool specialist or landscaper selects special plants for it to create a working eco-system.
How do the zones interact with each other?
The regeneration zone is shallower than the swimming part of the pool, and its size and depth depends on the amount of water that needs to be cleaned. The cleaned water gradually flows from the regeneration zone into the deeper part.
It happens that debris, as well as leaves and even tree branches fall into the swimming area. To prevent large foreign objects from clogging the filter, the regeneration zone is fenced with a special mesh filter. It is essentially a large sieve that pre-cleans the water before it enters the biological filter. To maintain the balance in the pool ecosystem you can install additional equipment ─ e.g. a sand filter to clean the water from phosphorus.
How much space is needed?
A natural pool can be small and fit in the backyard of a town house or huge, as big as a lake ─ for a country residence. The location of the regeneration area and swimming area also depend on the shape and size of the plot. For example, a large rectangular area can be used as a swimming path and located along a fence. In this case, the water circulation apparatus is installed underground and drains water to the regeneration zone, which is located in a completely different place. However, most often it adjoins the swimming area (as in the photo), and the boundaries of the latter are designed so that part of the water flowed into the regeneration zone. To clean the water quickly, the two zones should be about the same size.
Which plants are used?
The choice of plants depends on the climate and type of terrain, but the basis of the regeneration zone is always the same ─ it rests on a bed of gravel and plant roots which create the right conditions for beneficial bacteria.
Three types of aquatic plants are used to create the regeneration zone.
- Floating: plants that float on the water surface, including flowering species like lotus and water lily.
- Semi-submerged: different kinds of reeds, sedges and other grasses that are planted around the edges of the zone.
- Submerged: plants whose roots grow deep into the gravel bed and help oxygenate the water.
Different climate zones have different plants for each of the three types.
You can incorporate the regeneration zone into your garden landscape by planting wading plants around it. Species that do well in moist, occasionally waterlogged soil are great for natural pool design.
How to care for it?
Both traditional and natural pools require daily care, but taking care of the latter is more like working in a garden. Filtration grate should be regularly cleaned from debris, and plants – trim. Insects and frogs are sure to be found in the regeneration zone. Do not let this scare you, because for them it is their natural habitat, and in the swimming pool area they will not get. In the spring of the pool will have to update, replanting new plants.
When the swimming season is over it will be necessary to trim the plants and drain the pipes and mechanisms so they will not be damaged by frost. The pool itself does not need to be drained.
You can build a natural pool at any time of year if the weather allows. Usually work starts in the fall to plant plants with the advent of spring. This way they are better adapted to the climate and the new environment.
Naturalistic or architectural?
A naturalistic pool is characterized by a bottom of pebbles or gravel and sloping slopes of the “shore”. Smooth descent makes such a pool as similar to a real pond as possible, because you enter the water gradually. Architectural style provides liner pool bowl granite or concrete blocks, and the descent into the water is usually done in the form of stairs in a few steps. In general, natural pool can look like anything – it all depends on your imagination and professionalism of the designer.
Decking made of wooden boards is a frequent addition to the natural pool design. An alternative to it can be a platform, tiled or even concrete. Either way you will have a place to put a couple of lounge chairs and a table. The platform is often made on the border between the pool itself and the regeneration area, thus creating two different parts of the garden – for walking and for swimming. However, the naturalistic style is more characteristic of placing the two zones side by side, without a noticeable boundary.
Ultimately, the style is determined by parameters such as the shape of the pool, the materials used to make it and the finishing of the borders. I recommend seeking the help of an experienced designer or architect who can help blend the natural pool into the landscape and turn it into a real oasis. And be sure to find a company that takes care of natural pools, then you will definitely have no worries!