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    A huge natural swimming pool tucked into a hillside

    Natural swimming pools for you鸿运彩票手机appr backyard: How they work, plus 32 gorgeous examples

    Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you鸿运彩票手机app. Find out more here.

    Do you鸿运彩票手机app love to swim, but hate the smell — and eye burn, hair damage, skin dryness and swimsuit fading — you鸿运彩票手机app get every time you鸿运彩票手机app jump into a chlorinated pool?

    A natural swimming pool might just be the answer for you鸿运彩票手机app.

    A natural swimming pool (NSP) is an alternative to the typical chemically-treated swimming pool concept. Like their commonplace counterparts, the natural pools are specifically constructed to contain water — meaning they don’t have muddy or sandy bottoms or sides.

    In fact, some pools can look very much like the gunite-bottomed swimming holes Americans have come to know and love over the decades, while others have much more of a pond or creek vibe.

    Natural swimming pool with plants terracing

    But what’s really different is how these pools clean and filter themselves. Instead of the water being disinfected and sterilized by chemicals (such as chlorine), it is instead clarified and cleaned by hydroponically-rooted plants that feed on the nutrients in the water — made possible by a pump feeding a natural filtration system.

    The plants are kept separate from the swimming area — in what’s termed a regeneration zone — through which the water from the pool flows, nourishing the plant life.

    More technically, “A natural swimming pool is a balanced wetlands ecosystem based on the principles of limnology, hydraulics, hydroponics, and modern pool construction methods,” notes , who brought natural swimming pool construction to the US in 2008.

    How does a natural pool avoid getting swamp-like?

    So how, exactly, does that explain the way a natural swimming pool will stay clean? “The water is treated biologically. There are no chemicals used, nor are there any devices used that would disinfect or sterilize the water,” says BioNova.

    “The movement of the water through the biological filter, the action of the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in the filter and regeneration zone, as well as the plants feeding hydroponically on the water, is how the water is cleaned.”



    The in Germany, one of the first to build these unique sustainable pools, notes that the ratio of the swimming zone to the regeneration zone is generally 1:1, and the depth is at least two meters [6-1/2 feet] in the swimming area.

    “This is the basis for a functioning pool. If more technology is used, the regeneration area can be smaller with less depth.” They further note that their pools are “inoculated with zooplankton (water fleas, rotifers, paramecia), which play an important role in the cleaning process. All it takes is a little bit of patience until the pool finds its balance.”

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    Patience, and a little TLC. BioNova says that some aspects of maintenance are the same as for a traditional chemical pool. “We need to periodically empty and clean skimmer baskets, empty and clean pump baskets, vacuum the pool and clean the filter. Water garden maintenance is also necessary — removing unwanted plants, trimming and maintaining existing plants, and cutting them back at the end of the season.”

    The origin of man-made natural swimming pools

    The first NSPs were built in the early 1980s in Austria, and by the mid-1980s, companies in Austria and Germany began creating natural pools for 鸿运彩票手机appowners. Slowly, the market spread throughout Europe — where they’re often called “natural swimming ponds” — and the concept first made a splash in the US when the New York Times wrote about the pools in 2007. It’s taken a few years, but now the trend is heating up stateside.

    America’s heat, though, does change the business a bit, since it’s actually hotter in many states than it typically is in the regions around Berlin and Vienna.

    Natural swimming pool

    A natural swimming pool offers a slice of suburban paradise

    Mick Hilleary, President and Designer at Kansas-based explains how the pool construction and systems need to be adapted to suit to different environments. “Plants alone, even in expansive zones, don’t provide the cleaning horsepower needed for the warmer climate we have here in the USA,” he says.

    We love water plants, but technically, it’s the beneficial bacteria that cleans the water — the more living space you鸿运彩票手机app give them, and draw water through, the more nasty stuff they consume.”

    Even with extra filtration power needed, natural swimming pools are still a very eco-friendly and sustainable option. They only need to be filled once, don’t leach chemicals into the environment (or into you鸿运彩票手机app), and use power efficiently.

    And, perhaps be best of all, these man-made “swimming ponds” offer 鸿运彩票手机appowners a uniquely tranquil experience. As Peter Petrich, owner of Biotop, says of his creations, “A natural pool is an image of nature that one can have in one’s own garden, a biotope that exists in the lively cycle and interplay of plants and animals.”


    Natural swimming pool photo gallery

    As these 30-plus photos demonstrate, a new kind of backyard oasis is growing in popularity worldwide: natural swimming pools, or NSPs.

    You can think of these pools as Mother Nature, managed: no fish, no chlorine, no dirt, no algae… but plenty of clear water, along with some beneficial bacteria, frogs and harmless aquatic insects.

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    Photo gallery: 32 eco-friendly natural swimming pools
    The beginnings of the NSP movement

    , the Austrian company that is credited with inventing the original natural swimming pools three decades ago, has since built thousands of pools with its partner companies around the world.

    Peter Petrich, MD of Biotop says that worries about chlorine-treated pools were a driving force behind starting the business. “These concerns are one of the reasons we invented the natural pool 30 years ago, so that people can swim in crystal clear water entirely without chemicals and feel at one with nature, in the safety of their own gardens.”

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    The company looks back to history for proof-of-concept. “In the 1900s, prior to the industrial revolution when the first indoor public bathing pools were built, people of all ages would only ever swim in the natural waters of rivers, lakes and canals. This natural approach to swimming has started to see something of a renaissance in recent years with a growing desire by swimmers to experience the pleasures and health benefits of natural water.”

    Petrich adds, “Whereas many customers originally wanted a natural pool with a planting regeneration zone, for the year-’round beauty they provide, we have seen increasingly more requests from customers who are very interested in the positive health benefits of natural water swimming.”

    Do natural swimming pools cost more than traditional pools?

    In general, yes, according to . “These pools cost about the same per square foot as a traditional chemical pool, but because these pools are larger they will tend to cost more, typically starting out in the high five figure range,” they say — and also note that their company recommends a natural swimming pool be at least 535 square feet. “Additionally, natural pools need to have the aquatic plants acquired and installed.”

    The team at , an innovator in the US natural pool market, breaks down the cost in a little more detail. “A 50′ x 50′ natural swimming pool, with a 30′ x 30′ swimming area, dock and waterfall, complete with starter plants, generally runs $34,000 to $45,000, depending on access, soil type, etc,” they note.

    “For the materials alone, this same pond has $22,000 to $24,000 worth of pumps, liner, plumbing, wood, stainless steel screws, skimmers, waterfall parts, UV sterilizers, filter media stones, landscaping boulders, starter plants and electrical conduit, wire, GFI outlets, lights and timers. The rest of the cost is excavation, equipment rental and the labor to put it together.”

    “Ongoing operational costs are lower over the years as no chemicals are needed, and energy consumption is much lower than for a chemical pool,” BioNova adds, and reminds 鸿运彩票手机appowners weighing the costs to keep in mind that a NSP is a swimming pool and a water garden in one.



    And as a bonus: even though the pools are growing in popularity, you鸿运彩票手机app’re still very likely to be the only one on you鸿运彩票手机appr block — or maybe you鸿运彩票手机appr entire county — with one of these beauties.



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