Natural Swimming Pools: Pros and Cons
Natural swimming pools are a beautiful and organic way to enjoy your backyard year-round. This alluring European trend began in the 1980s and is slowly, but surely becoming more popular in the United States. These miraculous pools provide you the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing swim without bathing in a plethora of dangerous chemicals. These pools either use plants, or a combination of plants with sand filters to keep the pool clean. The pool is made up of two separate areas with completely different functions. One area contains its own ecosystem and is used for filtration, while the other area is a vegetation-free swimming area. A pump causes the water from the swimming zone to continuously be pulled through a biological filter and then filters the water back into the swimming area. The filtration process is so efficient that it has the ability to keep the water clean enough to drink. However, natural swimming pools have a list of negatives to go along with all of their positives. If you’re debating on installing a natural swimming pond, it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into first.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 emergency room visits each year that are caused by pool chemicals. The majority of these visits are from kids under the age of 17. With no chemicals required, natural pools can completely eradicate that risk for you and your family.
- The natural filtration system allows the pool to remain absent of any harmful chemicals and the dangers associated with them. Natural ponds can make your red eyes, dry skin, and that dirty feeling after getting out of a pool a thing of the past. The cleanliness of the pool will leave you and your skin feeling refreshed afterward.
- Traditional pools will require you to add and manage chemicals on a weekly basis, if not daily. The chlorine, hardness, pH, and alkalinity levels all have to be monitored week by week on top of shocking your pool every 5-7 days. With a natural pool, all of that can be forgotten. You can spend more time enjoying your pool rather than maintaining it.
- The natural ecosystem will allow the pool to practically maintain itself by eliminating the need to add or regulate any chemicals. Other than vacuuming, skimming, and maintaining the garden here and there, you won’t need to worry about the constant upkeep that a traditional pool requires.
Low Long Term Costs
- This is a direct result of natural pools being low maintenance. All of the costs associated with buying chemicals and maintaining a typical swimming pool are eliminated, allowing you to use your hard earned cash elsewhere.
- Natural pools can practically inherit any style that you can imagine. The adaptability of these pools allows them the ability to fall on either end of the pool spectrum. They have the ability to be integrated into any environment as long as there is enough space for it to exist.
- If the style of a traditional pool appeals to you, the regeneration zone can be placed away from your pool at a separate location in your yard. If you would prefer your pool to look like a pond you would find in the forest, the regeneration zone can be placed around the outside of your pool. Any combination of the two can work as well.
- As the name implies, natural swimming pools are natural and blend right into the environment. They use their own ecosystem to keep the water clean, so there aren’t any dangerous pool chemicals being released into the environment. They also provide a home for any wetland dwellers.
- Out of all the inspected hot tubs/spas in the United States, 56.8% of them are in violation of local environmental health ordinances. The CDC also states that 11% of hot tubs/spas are so bad that they require immediate closure. I’m sure if every single spa was inspected, those numbers would be multiplied.
- These pools use far less electricity than traditional pools, due to the whole filtration process being done naturally. The absence of any filter powered by electricity allows the system to use smaller pumps, making these pools more efficient. Also, natural pools have the ability to be powered by solar panels, which in return could make them even more energy efficient.
No Winterization Needed
- Natural swimming pools can be treated as any other pond in the winter. You will be able to let your pool freeze over and use it as an ice rink in the colder months. Once the pool thaws in the spring, everything will be ready to go.
Limits Pesky Insects
- The population of mosquitoes and other stinging insects will help be reduced by natural swimming pools. The regeneration zone will attract natural predators, such as dragonflies and frogs that will feed off of these insects. Mosquitoes thrive off of stagnant water, so the continuous flow of water in the swimming area will force them to the regeneration zone where the predators will be waiting for them.
High Initial Investment
- Natural swimming pools are typically the same price per square foot as traditional pools. However, the regeneration pool needs to be accounted for, which will generally make natural swimming pools twice the size. Also, the process of finding a company with the proper knowledge to install a natural pool may prove to be more costly.
Requires More Land
- Because of the regeneration zone, the pool is going to take up more space than a traditional pool. Instead of having one swimming pool, you’re pretty much going to have two pools with two completely different functions.
Looking After a New Natural Ecosystem
- Since these pools have their own ecosystem filtering the water, you are going to need a basic understanding of what’s going on to make sure everything runs properly. The plants may need to be thinned or replanted, and algae will always need to be managed and limited. It is important to know how to address any problem that may arise.
- Natural pools create a natural habitat for animals, so there are going to be a number of different specimens living in your pool. Luckily, the animals are going to migrate towards the regeneration zone and stay clear of the swimming area. However, it’s inevitable that some of these animals are going to wander into the swimming area here and there.
- The regeneration pool can be placed at a separate location, which can help contain the wild-life away from your pool. Either way, the regeneration zone is going to attract more wildlife to your yard.
Filtration may be Insufficient
- According to European experts, natural swimming pools may not be as clean as they’re made out to be. A study at the University of Barcelona took a look at four natural swimming pools and analyzed the water quality in each one of them. The study revealed that three of the four pools exceeded the recommended limits for E. coli and fecal enterococci.
Water may not be Perfectly Clear
- The water may take on a brownish tint depending on the number of algae that is present in the pool. Also, it is possible that all of the sediments won’t be removed from the pool. If any sediment passes through the filtration system, it will eventually need to be vacuumed up.
Overuse can Damage the Pools Ecosystem
- Overuse can cause the natural filtration system to take on more than it can handle, which in return will not allow the ecosystem to regenerate properly. For example, Kings Cross Pond Club in the UK has a public natural swimming pool. The club has a limit of visitors allowed in each day and they will not allow more than 100 swimmers in the pool at a time. The pool is 32 feet wide and 131 feet long, which can give you an idea of what’s considered overuse.
- The sunlight promotes algae growth, so natural swimming pools with higher amounts of sunlight exposure will have more algae that need to be managed.
Related: 23 Breathtaking Natural Swimming Pools from GoodHousekeeping.com