Posh nature pools

Picture your next swim; chemical-free and full of life - that’s the sort of posh pool we’re after! Success means different things to different people, but we’d like to think that a living pool is one of those grand stamps of achievement and style for the gardener. Known also as eco-pools or Earth pools, these swimmable (and often drinkable) mini wetland-lakes are the perfect waterway back to Mother Nature. Get connected and join Life is a Garden with top South African experts as we splash into the magical world of biofiltered, living water! 

 

Swap the chlorine for nature’s green

An eco-pool uses a biological filtration system instead of chemicals to clean the water. A biological filter uses natural processes, microorganisms, and selected smart plants. With the correct ecosystem in balance, biofilters actually purify water better than pool chemicals!  Although such chemicals are designed to kill living organisms (like bacteria and algae) they don’t actually remove other harmful substances like ammonia and phosphates. 

Biofilters, however, are able to remove ammonia, phosphates, and nitrogen from the water so that algae struggles to grow, resulting in water that you can even drink! Biological filters, or biofilters,  include plants and beneficial microscopic life, like good bacteria, plant plankton, and zooplankton (small good-guy animals). Aiding this process is water which is constantly filtered through a sand/gravel filter along with a powerful pump to trap any algae and insoluble material in the water.

Did you know? You can easily convert your existing pool into a natural pool as conventional set-ups are very well suited for conversions. There is a selection of creative and inspiring options to help you transform your pool into a living wetland wonderland, just be sure to seek expert advice and professional services.

Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis
Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis

Will I swim in a swamp?

No. A regeneration grow zone with plant life and a gravel bed is built adjacent (and still connected) to the primary swimming area, which is kept open and clear like a standard pool. The smart plants and substrate in the designated grow zone are what act as the natural water filter. In conjunction with a strong pump or two, water from the regeneration zone circulates in and out of the plant life, and all around the swimming section of the pool.

Simply put, you’ll have one section acting as your wetland purification system, and the other as the standard swimming area. With a little research, you will quickly see how many stunning designs and options are out there. Some families have opted for a wrap-around wetland, while others have created lush living islands as the centre piece to the pool. 

Top tip: Be a Water Warrior by covering the swimming part of the pool to prevent evaporation during the hot summer ahead. Remember to leave the regeneration grow zone open so that plants can still receive sunlight.

Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis
Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis

Make your own natural waves

The challenge with setting up a natural pool is that it can be costly in the beginning, and you really need expert guidance on biofiltration to ensure you get your water ecosystem correct. After that, maintenance is minimal and mostly consists of cleaning the pool floor and surface leaf skimming. This can be done with a standard creepy and a net. There are also several pond vacuums on the market.

Here are some of the advantages to look forward to:

  • Health: no chemicals mean no skin rashes or dryness, eye irritations, or hair thinning (not to mention the carcinogenic properties of chlorine).
  • Financial: significantly save on money needed for chemicals and electricity.
  • Environmental: work with Mother Nature, not against her. Natural pools are a life-giving asset that positively increases our green footprint. Wetlands are also highly endangered and a living pool provides additional habitat for endangered life forms.
  • Aesthetic: your natural pool can be enjoyed year-round as it is essentially a beautiful, buzzing garden you never have to water.

Fishies for thought: Certain small local fish species will thrive in your living pool, adding to the mind-body-soul benefits of the garden. Swimming with a school of fish and investigating the other friendly wetland visitors is a thrill for all ages and helps us reconnect with the natural world.

Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis
Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis

From the expert’s spout

Neil fromNature Life Pools gave us his top 5 tips to consider when starting a living pool. You can find more helpful information and inspiration on their website, as well as from your favourite GCA Garden Centre.  

  1. Use indigenous water plants in the grow zone section of the pool as our plants are used to low nutrient systems. This is ideal because you don't want algae to grow so you need plants that can survive low nutrient waters. 
  2. Avoid tropical plants that need feeding, which will negatively affect your pool’s ecosystem. We have, however, found a way to assist clients who have fallen in love with tropical plants by installing specialised containers inside the pool that keep the water systems separate, allowing tropics to be fed safely. 
  3. My top local wetland plant picks are soft rush (Juncus effusus) and mat/umbrella sedge (Cyperus textilis) for sunny spots. You can also go for water parsnip (Berula erectasemi) if some of your pool is in semi-shade. 
  4. Circulation is key; the substrate must never get clogged up and must be able to flow through all water and plant pathways.
  5. Understanding biofiltration is essential so always consult an expert to avoid being disappointed by a pool that’s turned to a swamp.
Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis
Garden Pools, Natural Pool Design, Eco-friendly Gardening, Sustainable Landscaping, Aquatic Plants, Water Features, Garden Water Conservation, Wildlife Habitat, Garden Pond Maintenance, Organic Pool Design, Biodiversity in Gardens, Natural Swimming Pools, Water Gardening, Ecosystem Balance, Garden Oasis

“Humanity is becoming more and more disconnected from the natural world through the constant desire to sterilise nature. We are part of the bacteria of life - inside our bodies, the water we drink, we air we breathe, and the rich soil we walk on” - Heine du Toit

We hope to have washed up a well of inspiration this December (just in time for holiday projects). Access Life is a Garden’s online GCA Garden Centre directory for gorgeous water plants to add to your living wetland. Remember to ask for help when choosing the right plant for the right job! https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/category/garden-centres/

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