The design of natural swimming pools and ponds come in all shapes and sizes with the only controlling factor being the designer’s imagination. A pool can be modern and minimalist or very natural, the swimming zone can be separate to the regeneration zone or integrated – the possibilities are endless – it is even possible to convert an existing swimming pool.
From a design perspective, a natural swimming pool becomes just another feature which can add both visual and environmental value to an overall garden layout, giving benefits not only of beautification, but the creation of a natural wildlife habitat. The added bonus of somewhere to take a dip on those hot summer days, is also very appealing.
Many selfbuilders and DIYers tend to be practical people and can suffer from jumping in with both feet, rather than take their time to plan both what they want and how they are going to achieve it. Design is essential. I am not saying you need detail drawings showing everything and anything, rather, you must commit to either paper or on computer what you are planning to build. First things first; you have to understand the basics of how a natural swimming pool works and what’s involved in creating one. There are a number of good practical books around but the best way is to attend a training day where you will learn the essentials.
Once you have a fair idea about what you’re doing you can set too designing your pool, but before you can start you need to carry out a site survey to find out whether ground water is an issue, where any drains, water, gas or electric services run, are there any large trees that may cause issues, do you require any permissions to carry out the work and any other features that may affect your design decisions. You must satisfy yourself that creating you natural swimming pool is not going to cause other problems.
With the survey out of the way, you can now decide upon size, shape and where to site the pool in the landscape. With a natural swimming pool, the water cleaning is performed by bacteria and plants so don’t forget that you need as much area for your regeneration zone as you do for your swimming zone. A natural swimming pool is not only a place for swimming on hot days, it should also be an area of natural beauty that encourages wildlife and can be enjoyed all year round. Plan the design and position to get the best from your unique landscape. The easiest way to get your pool shape and size is to use rope or a garden hose. You can lay it out and move it around until you are happy with the result. Whilst it’s laid out, you can decide where the swimming and regeneration zones will be and where to run pipes, house pumps etc. A can of marking out paint is very useful once you are pretty much decided but don’t get carried away or you will just end up with lines everywhere! Now you need to measure everything up and draw it out. This can be done on a cad package or simply freehand. Make sure you take a note of height variations as the pond must be level when finished. Take time to consider the surrounding landscape and how the existing garden features will interface with your natural swimming pool.