Ask G

Ask G: How do you create a natural pool?

Want to create a more natural-looking backyard? Why not try a natural pool.

I'd like to put a pool in the backyard for my kids, but I know that pools aren't the eco-friendliest features. Are there any options out there?

pool

Credit: iStockphoto

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If diving into a freshwater lake or river appeals more than a chlorine pool then you will like the idea of a natural swimming pool.

These are pools that work by mimicking the ecology of a natural lake or billabong by using plants and a gravel filtration zone.

Not only are these pools aesthetically appealing, they require no added chemicals to function properly.

While this approach is fairly new to Australia it has been tested in Europe for close to 25 years. In fact, in Europe there are 80 public natural swimming pools, some as large as 6,000 square metres.

Peter Watson, Australian licensee for the natural pool company Bionova, says, "unlike the artificial blue of a conventional pool our water is clear like a natural lake". Because these pools are effectively creating an ecosystem, they attract birds, frogs and dragonflies, which get rid of mosquitoes. "What we have is living water, not dead water," says Watson.

Pools can be created with a distinct plant zone and swimming zone, or as just one big pool. If the pools are separate, a small pump is needed to cycle water from the swimming pool into the plant filtration zone and back again.

As with a conventional pool, the water should be tested regularly to ensure the system is working.
Once a natural swimming pool has reached an ecological equilibrium it will need minimal maintenance.

"It becomes more of a landscape feature - not a pool that is a maintenance hassle," says Ian Boulton, joint partner of Acquavia.

Natural pools cost little to operate because they don't need pool chemicals and the pump uses 70 per cent less energy. However, installation costs around $5,000 - $15,000 more than a conventional pool.