10 Reasons to Install Natural Pools

Maybe you’ve already heard about the natural swimming pool trend: clean-water pools that blend with your landscape and resemble more of a swimming hole or lake than a traditional backyard pool. Much more popular in Europe than in the U.S., these pools are nonetheless catching on stateside with people who prefer organic and environmentally sustainable designs. Often using elements such as boulders, waterfalls, and plant borders, and relying on plants rather than chlorine to clean itself, natural swimming pools can look like a pond you chance upon on a hike or walk in the woods, but with less mud and tadpoles.

Is a natural swimming pool for you? Here’s why it might be:

1. They’re environmentally-friendly.

Natural pools operate by nature’s processes (naturally). Most models work via two connected pools, where one is intended for swimming, and one smaller pool called a “regeneration zone” holds plants like waterlilies and cattails designed to cleanse and regenerate the water as well as prevent algae. Alternatively, these pools can utilize plant borders that do the same thing. Also, because this ecosystem attracts creatures such as dragonflies and other friendly visitors that eat mosquitoes and tadpoles, pests are kept at bay. It’s all very circle of life.

2. They’re chemical-free.

The aquatic plants you use have roots that quite literally clean the water for you, and filter out contaminants and harmful bacteria, which eliminates the need for chlorine. Pumps keep the water circulating and UV filters or bio-filters remove additional undesirables, while skimmers can get rid of floating debris. Perhaps even better? You don’t have to keep tabs on chlorine levels or balance the pH.

3. Maintenance is easier.

Natural pools don’t need refilling or chemical balancing, and daily maintenance is decreased because the plants and filtration system take care of cleaning for you. Keep in mind however, that the plants need pruning as they would in any landscape. Most of the required maintenance is trimming dead plants, and extracting debris from the skimmer.

4. Cost is about the same as a traditional swimming pool.

The initial building costs for natural pools stay relatively equal to those of conventional pools on a per-square-foot cost basis, depending on landscaping features and regeneration zone size and type. Still, the operating costs tend to be lower than traditional pools  due to the eliminated need for chlorine and other chemicals. A smaller pump like those used in natural pools also result in lowered energy costs.

5. They can look like regular pools if you want.

If you choose to go for the look of a traditional pool, but want the environmentally-friendly and chemical-free aspects of a natural pool, you can do that fairly easily. Most natural pools can be designed in a wide variety of styles and existing pools can even be converted into a natural pool. In that case, you can keep the original swimming area and add a plant area around it for purification – or create another area in your pool to host the aquatic plants that clean your water naturally.

6. They blend well with natural landscapes.

The use of rocks, boulders, plants, waterfalls, and other natural materials are right at home in backyards with an organic landscaping look.

7. They consume less energy.

Smaller pumps and zero electric filters require less energy to operate a natural pool. Also, pool water warms as it circulates through the regeneration zone so you don’t need to heat your pool. Also, the rubber often used to line the pool retains warmth.

Natural Swimming Pools II
Courtesy of TotalHabitat.com

8. They can reduce skin reactions and allergies.

The chlorine used in many pools often has negative side effects on skin, hair, and allergies. The absence of chlorine in natural pools means less toxicity for swimmers in traditional pools.

9. The design options are endless.

Natural pools can be built with a nice variety of sizes, materials and designs. If your tastes run toward “Grecian pool,” that’s entirely possible, as is the “wild pond” look. Every preference for looks from traditional to swimming hole can be accommodated. Natural pools have either stone or gravel bottoms with sloped sides, or even concrete sides for a more conventional look. A skilled landscape architect can help you incorporate a natural pool into your backyard plan. Landscaping options around the pool include the addition of boulders, stone steps, wooden decking, and even pavers.

10. Natural pools work in any climate.

This benefit doesn’t apply to Southern California, of course, which boasts an average temperature of 70 year round and is the perfect warm-weather climate for natural pools, but it’s certainly a selling point for those in colder climates. Natural pools tend to freeze over in the winter in colder regions, just like any other pond or lake when it’s cold, and then “open back up” in the summer season. In temperate regions, natural pools stay swimmable all year long.

Natural Swimming Pools
Courtesy of TotalHabitat.com

How Natural Swimming Pools Work

Natural swimming pools include a swimming area and a regeneration “zone” lined with rubber or polypropylene and filled with native floating and submerged aquatic plants, and gravel filters that clean, filter, and oxygenate the water for swimming.  Many natural pools will also make use of a waterfall to pump water back to the swimming areas. Natural pools also rely moving water to stay clean and are constructed with walls or liners that keep out soil and muddy silt.

It’s important for homeowners to keep in mind that when pools are first installed, they take some time to stabilize achieve biologic homeostasis, which essentially means that the more established the plants in the regeneration zone become, the more transparent the water will look.

How Much Natural Swimming Pools Cost

As previously mentioned, the construction cost per square foot is about equal between natural swimming pools and conventional pools. It’s good to note, however, that a natural swimming pool can measure up to double the size of a traditional pool due to the inclusion of the regeneration zone.

Companies that Make Natural Swimming Pools

There are many more companies overseas that specialize in natural pool construction, than there are in the U.S. As natural pools catch on in America however, that could all change soon. Below are a few companies that build natural pools.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a homeowner thinking about your carbon footprint or just “returning to nature,” a natural pool might be worth your consideration. The sheer variety of pool designs and the opportunity to swim in truly clean water are benefits to be sure, as is the organic and naturalistic look of these beautiful pools. What do you think? Would you consider a natural pool?