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The Good, The Bad, and The Green About Natural Swimming Pools

Natural Pool

This trend is not new, but it is one that has continued to gain popularity in the United States. “Natural pools have been seen in Europe for decades. The first natural swimming pool was built in Austria in the 1980s. The private pool began to gain popularity, and the first public natural swimming pool was built in Germany in 1998.”

These backyard centerpieces define customization for unique needs. There is nothing shiny commercial or traditional about these beauties, except that it costs some cash to create your own ecosystem. Natural swimming pools are a viable alternative if you are looking for a lower maintenance, eco-friendly pool solution in regions with sunny, warmer climates.

What Is a Natural Pool?

As the name implies, these pools are constructed to resemble actual ponds. They are not necessarily symmetrical but take on the silhouette of a body of water created by nature. Like conventional pools, they can be offset with sparkling waterfalls and framed by rocks and boulders.

Natural swimming pools or ponds (also referred to as NSPs) are filtered organically, not by chemicals. A “regeneration zone,” which is actually a second pool, is installed nearby. Instead of flowing through typical filters, the water instead enters a gravel filter.

Note that this regeneration zone is like an actual wetland, filled with plants that serve to clean the water. In the scenario of life imitating nature, this is the same process that helps to keep actual ponds clean.

As is true of these water bodies beyond your backyard, this ecosystem of your own making will tend to grow and change as time goes on. It will attract insects and even animals who are lulled by the familiar. They will refrain from swooping in on your pool space however, as that environment won’t really feel like home to them.

Despite their growing popularity, like any home renovation, you need to carefully investigate both sides of the organic pool solution for your outdoor entertainment center.

What Are the Natural Pool Positives?

There are three primary (and some secondary!) reasons why a natural pool will add some splash to your life.

The most popular point being that they are environmentally friendly. In other words, with an NSP, there will be no need to safely stow and then dispense the chemicals required for traditional pools. The same chemicals that can potentially be a skin irritant, and over time, damage the environment.

Another big plus is that natural pools require much less maintenance than their conventional counterparts.

Because there’s less maintenance, monthly recurring costs are lower as it’s not necessary to pH balance the water or buy chlorine or even hire a pool company. The only ongoing maintenance that will take a little time would be the need to skim the surface to keep it free of leaves, twigs, and any other debris. And that just involves a little Zen time, just you and the net.

As far as the annual ritual of closing your pool up for the season, you can take that off your list as well! Your outdoor oasis will just freeze over like any other pond.

It’s also a common misconception that you’ll be “roughing it” with a natural pool; thick mud bottom and all. But actually, they are sophisticated as most are built from concrete. And if you’d really like to streamline the aesthetic, the gravel filter can be made subterranean.

As far as style, unlike with traditional pools you have a great deal of latitude to make these look very “earthy” – like a scenic enclave you just stumbled upon while hiking.

So, your natural pool pros are:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Decreased monthly costs
  • Flexible design options

What Are the Natural Pool Negatives?

In pools and in life, we have learned that we have to take the good with the not so good. There are just as many reasons NOT to install a natural pool as there are to install and enjoy their unpretentious beauty.

Despite the lower ongoing maintenance costs, you will be looking at higher costs on the front end as these installations can be more expensive than would appear at first glance. Reason being that they require what is essentially a secondary and separate pool for filtration purposes, so you’re looking at a double installation so to speak.

Even if you are fine with absorbing a little sticker shock, you will find that you must forfeit more real estate to these pools as their footprints are larger. That regeneration zone is typically as large in size as the pool itself, so that may be too invasive if you have visions of an outdoor kitchen or a gazebo or to expand your gardens and add some ornamental trellises.

Visually, the appearance may be a little off-putting to some as this “organic water” can reflect a bit of a “swimming hole” façade. The water may take on a brown tint depending on the algae concentration. Although all of that can’t be filtered out, you can still safely swim in it. You may just be more accustomed to the classic clarity and blue waters of standard backyard pools.

Additionally, it’s not likely you will have a ton of contractors from which to choose. You can’t just hire any pool installation specialist, as these pools are a completely different home improvement animal. You need a solid professional and must also ask about actually seeing pools their company constructed. Then speak with the homeowners for details about the experience, and if they found this option was right for them.

Any finally, House Beautiful quoted a pool designer who offered this caveat, ‘One important thing to think about is the orientation of the sun. Since natural pools don’t have heaters, you want to have a pool that’s in the sun almost all day, if possible. During the summer, if it’s oriented properly, it will be reasonably warm without a heater.’

So, your natural pool cons are:

  • Needs more space
  • The water may not have the same “clarity” you find in conventional pools
  • The initial build costs are higher
  • Requires a natural pool specialist who may be a rare find

Obviously, there’s a great deal to consider. But as long as you know the facts ahead of time, you can make the most informed decision possible. Either way, a backyard pool will make an undeniably beautiful change to that tract of land behind your home!

Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves all kinds of pools. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.