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Natural Swimming Ponds: The Pools of the Future!

Eco-friendly, customizable “swimming ponds” offer crystal clear water without the chemicals

Everyone loves jumping into the pool on hot summer days.

Now, what if I told you that there is an alternative to the classic, chlorine-filled swimming pool?

Enter… the swimming pond!

What is it? And how do you know if it’s right for you? We’ve put together this guide on what this water feature is, how it works, and why we think it would be an amazing addition to your landscape design.

pond with rocks

So, what is a natural swimming pool?

For many of us, ponds conjure up images of algae, goldfish or koi fish, and a whole lot of muck and dead leaves to clean up when fall rolls around. Come to think of it, if you swam in a pond, it probably would have lots of slimy mud at the bottom, right?

Absolutely not. Today’s swimming ponds are self-sustaining ecosystems that, through plants and water circulation, mostly naturally filter themselves. (There are some water treatments involved too.) So the water is crystal clear, and honestly, it feels a bit like you’re swimming in the Garden of Eden. Or in more Canadian language… bringing the cottage to your backyard.

Inspired by natural springs and lakes, a natural pool or swimming pond invites nature back into your outdoors and is an organic take on the traditional chlorine-filled pool. If you have sensitive skin or simply don’t like that eye-stinging pain resulting from swimming in chlorinated water for too long, natural pools are a great choice!

To stay clean, the water is filtered organically in what’s called a regeneration zone — which is built nearby — where the water either goes through a gravel filter or enters carefully constructed wetlands. And because a wall separates the swimming zone from the garden zone, there’s no algae, muck or mud where you’re swimming.

Since they’re customizable, natural pools can be a cost-effective option that will blend well with the landscape of the rest of your space. But the best part? You can swim in them surrounded by wildlife and loads of plant life. 

And one last thing — you can even include water features with it, like waterfalls and spillways. One of our clients actually had us install a “wading pond” where you can splash around, dip your feet and if you’re in the mood… sit on a small waterfall. The water flows underneath you, into the pond, and you get to stay cool while you soak up the sun.

pond waterfall

Why choose a natural swimming pool over a traditional pool? 

If we haven’t convinced you to consider this amazing alternative to the conventional swimming pool, maybe these benefits will…

  • The water is naturally filtered. — As we mentioned, there’s no need to use harsh (and expensive) chemicals to keep the water pure and safe. While some water treatment is necessary, it’s on a smaller scale than a pool. And when they’re properly managed, the water in these ponds is so clean you can drink it. (Yes, you read that right!). No need to shower to get the itchy chlorine off. As for opening your eyes underwater? It won’t hurt a bit.
  • You can make them nearly any shape or size. — You can tailor your pond to suit your backyard and landscape design. Want a more natural look? No problem! Want it to look more like a beach. Also no problem!
  • It feels like swimming in a lake. — Swimming ponds are generally lined with an EPDM pond liner and outfitted with clay, stone or rock to mimic the natural look and feel of a lake. Some even add a beach entrance with sand.
  • There’s no need to drain, cover or refill your pond in the winter. — In fact, you never need to cover it. In colder climates, you can actually skate on them! And it looks good all year long — not just in the summertime.
  • They require less maintenance than a standard pool — You don’t need a chemistry degree to care for a natural swimming pool. The plants do most of the work for you — giving the pool oxygen and supporting the beneficial bacteria that consume debris and other harmful organisms. Yearly costs for swimming ponds are considerably lower than they are for conventional pools. (All you have to do is keep it skimmed and free of debris and prune the plants occasionally.)
  • Mosquito & bug problems will be a thing of the past. — Natural swimming ponds are a habitat not only for plants but all sorts of local wildlife, including animals and insects who prey on those pesky mosquitos and other biters.

These pools do look their best in a naturalized setting, which is what we recommend. But it is possible to build one that looks more like a conventional pool too! We can help you design it however you want it to look.

pond with foliage

Want to know more about natural swimming pools?

For clients new and existing, we’re happy to explore adding a natural swimming pool to your landscape design. As an Aquascape Certified company — the team at Vandenberg can answer any questions you have with expertise!

Written by  Pat Vandenberg