Monday, March 11, 2013

Natural Pools: An Eco-Friendly Take on the Traditional Chemical Pool

Picture yourself floating in a crystal clear body of water, surrounded by the song of finches and sparrows, chirping crickets and the soft croaking of a nearby frog. You watch butterflies and dragonflies flutter in the distance among cattails and other aquatic plants. While the pristine nature surrounding you is cleansing your mind, body and spirit, you are liberated further knowing that the water you are swimming in is clean, filtered, natural, mosquito free and is your very own natural swimming pool.

Natural swimming pools are a healthy and Eco-friendly alternative to the common chemical, ozone and salt pools. They are beginning to crop up more in the United States and have been popular in Europe since the mid 1980's. "Today, there are over 20,000 natural swimming pools in Europe, 100 of which are actually public pools in Germany." (3)

Photo from Houselogic.com

Natural pools can be constructed to varying degrees. They can blend in with nature to look as if they've always been a part of the land, or they can be designed to accentuate the architecture of an adjacent home. While design options are limitless, natural pools all commonly lack chemicals, additives and energy depleting filtration and heating systems that other types of pools use.

Natural pools cost about the same as a chemical swimming pool to install, but lack the over-wintering procedures and additional chlorine and chemicals being dumped into them. Once established, natural pools are very low-maintenance and less expensive to keep running than other pools. They even provide nice winter interest once frozen over. The most you’ll have to do is skim fallen leaves off the surface (2).

How do natural pools keep the water clean enough to swim in as confidently as we do a chlorine pool? The pool is designed with two main areas: "1. The swimming zone is the area intended for swimming that resembles a conventional swimming pool or pond. 2. The regeneration zone consists of a lined overflow pool filled with specific filtration substrate (gravel, sand or lavastone) and flora. Plants used for water regeneration can be supplemented with decorative flowering species to create an attractive water garden environment"(2). The plants provide a working Eco-system for the pool. They support beneficial bacteria and add an attractive natural aesthetic.

Natural pools can be constructed with clay walls or liners with gravel bases. Because the aquatic plants are designed outside of the swimming area, aquatic life remains segregated in the same way. Frogs, dragonflies and other birds keep mosquitoes and their larvae at bay. An aeration system is added to oxygenate the water to prevent the buildup of unwanted film and help circulate the water through the plant roots for cleansing. Thus, natural pools can remain just as clean as other types of pools while lessening the impact on our Mother Earth. Monette Friedlander is an Ohio based independent landscape designer and consultant.

To learn more about Monette and her services offered visit her online at GardensByMonette.com.

RESOURCES
1. How to Build A Natural Swimming Pool by Douglas Buege and Vicjy Uhland.
www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/2002-08-01/Natural-Swimming-Pool.aspx 
2. Natural Swimming Pools: 9 Myths Busted. www.houselogic.com/photos/pools-spas/nautral-swimming-pools 
3. Natural Pool. Wikipedia.org