Arguably one of the best ways to enjoy a sunny summer day is lounging in or by the pool. Unfortunately, public pools can be noisy, overcrowded, and poorly cared for.
A private pool in your yard requires frequent – and costly – maintenance, the regular addition of harsh chemicals such as chlorine, and can cost well over ten thousand dollars.
Imagine building your own pool that is relatively inexpensive and only requires a minimal amount of chemicals and materials. Sound like a dream? Fortunately, it is possible to achieve this by constructing your own natural swimming pool.
For a fraction of the cost – as little as $2,000 – and without the need for potentially dangerous cleaning chemicals, you can enjoy a scenic, soothing, fun natural pool in the comfort of your backyard.
What Is a Natural Swimming Pool?
DIY natural swimming pools have been rapidly growing in popularity due to all their benefits.
As opposed to traditional pools that rely on chemicals for filtration, natural pools utilize specific vegetation to serve as a natural filter. To effectively filter and clean the water, it is recommended to have a vegetation area roughly equal to the size of the swimming area.
In general, natural swimming pools are far more economical and much easier to maintain. For additional information on natural swimming pools, check out this informative video.
Advantages of a Natural Swimming Pool
- Can be 100 percent free of chemicals
- Lower in cost than traditional pools
- Requires minimal care (you want to keep it free of debris such as leaves, trim plants before they get too large, ensure the water level stays relatively constant, and clean the bottom once a year)
- No winter maintenance required (as a bonus, it can be enjoyed as a skating rink)
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Safe for wildlife
Read on to learn our top ten tips for building your own DIY, natural, affordable swimming pool.
1. Avoid Digging the Pool Too Deep
You can build your natural swimming pool as deep or as shallow as you prefer. However, natural swimming pools with depths requiring higher walls require a great deal of additional reinforcement.
In general, it is best to stick to walls that are a maximum of 2 meters high.
Unless you are concerned with diving safety, 1.5 meters is a suitable depth, easy to clean, and requires a reasonable level of reinforcement. If you are unsure, have a structural engineer double-check the strength of your retaining wall.
Deeper pools will also decrease the length of your swimming season since the temperature will be colder than a shallow pool. The only advantage to a deeper pool is algae growth: the deeper the pool, the less likely you will struggle with algae issues.
2. Steer Clear of Complex Designs
Aim to keep the overall design and features fairly simple. Although waterfalls and impressive natural stone structures look impressive, they increase both the difficulty of the construction and the cost.
Instead, focus on adding interest through the use of beautiful plants or natural stone steps leading up to the pool.
3. Put the Sun to Work for you With a Black Liner
Black liners create natural heat for the pool since it absorbs the sun’s rays and turns them into heat. This creates passive heat gain that decreases the cost of heating (or eliminates it entirely).
If remaining natural or sticking to a budget is especially important, bentonite clay will be a less expensive, natural alternative to synthetic liners.
4. Stick to a Flat Bottom
The uniform foundation of a natural swimming pool with a flat bottom equates to a much simpler digging process. It also makes the pool far easier to keep clean.
Sloped sides restrict the amount of area you can freely swim whereas flat bottoms maximize the swimming space.
5. Box Shapes Are the Best
The majority of swimming pools are box or rectangular in shape. This design is often the most affordable to build. It is simple, straightforward, and easy to find materials for.
Additionally, curvy pool designs are more likely to encourage algae growth.
6. The Bigger the Surface Area, The Better
The larger the surface area (and the deeper the depth) a pool has, the less likely it is to experience an overgrowth of algae. For a healthy pool, it is recommended to have a total area that is a minimum of 45 to 50 square meters across.
7. Understand the Importance of Gravel
Spreading a four to five-inch layer of pea gravel over your chosen pool liner will serve several important functions. This layer will provide an area for microorganisms to thrive.
The gravel also helps break down any organic plant materials that make their way to the bottom of the pool. Left alone, these plant materials will encourage an algae bloom.
8. Always Design an Efficient Drainage Plan
One of the top reasons for pool failure is poorly designed drainage. Be sure to set up a proper plan that allows surface and groundwater to move away from the pool.
It is essential to surround your pool with well-planned drainage channels to prevent a huge headache in the future.
9. Take Your Water Treatment Seriously
If possible, use a fresh source of spring water. This will guarantee high-quality water while keeping costs to a minimum. If fresh spring water is not an option, ensuring water quality is crucial.
In addition to devoting at least 50% of the pool’s surface to vegetation and lining the bottom of the pool with a layer of gravel, it may be necessary to use a natural filtration system.
If you do not want a constant battle with algae, be sure to set up a proper natural filtration system for your pool. Many companies offer easy to install filtration systems that are specifically designed for use with natural swimming pools.
To filter the pool, these systems circulate water through a pump with either a plant or gravel filter. Once a month, loose sediment is cleared from the pump.
These systems cut down on cost in the long run, reduce the risk of pool failure in the future, and reduce the amount of cleaning time needed. Some systems can even be run by a solar panel.
10. Be Strategic With Plant Placement
Position floating plants such as lotuses and lilies in deeper water near the edge of the pool. These help shade the water to discourage algae growth.
Taller aquatic plants – cattails, rushes, water primroses – should be placed in water that is less than three inches deep. The larger leaf surface of plants such as sedges and rushes will reduce the amount of algae-supporting nitrogen in the water.
Start Building Your Own Natural Swimming Pool Today
Building your own natural swimming pool can save you money and provide hours of entertainment without the risk of harmful chemicals. For more information, check out some of these spectacular natural swimming pools.
Have you ever swam in a natural swimming pool or thought of building your own?