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.
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.
Welcome South Africa’s handy helpers to the garden and reap the rich rewards. Fall in love with your eco-friendly backyard that’s flying, swarming, and crawling with life!
Local is the lekkerste: Growing indigenous plants means more habitat creation for our local wildlife, while also increasing our native plant species reduced by urbanisation and deforestation. SA’s critters and greens have a lekker advantage of being naturally adaptive to our environment, meaning less maintenance and more life in your garden!
Bring in biodiversity by
Planting for pollinators: Attract bees, butterflies, birds, and eco-barometers like frogs and lizards by planting salvia, borage, lavender, and antirrhinum.
Companion planting: Get your edibles elated, your flowers flourishing and seeds spreading by adding pentas, echinacea, marigolds and sunflowers to the veggie patch.
Organic pest-control: Naturally repel a variety of pests by planting basil (for flies), citronella grass and rosemary (for mozzies), as well as chrysanthemum (for spider mites).
Helpful predators: Avoiding pesticides attract natural predators such as ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies and praying mantises who make quick work of mealybugs, aphids, scale, and more.
Happy soil = happy plants: Make sure you’ve got good drainage, use compost, mulch up, and fertilise.
Wonderful water: Give your garden critters a drink with water features and birdbaths. Enjoy watching all your favourite friends come to visit.
House wildlife: Install bird, bat, bee, and owl houses around your garden for fewer rodents, mozzies, and locusts. Become a beekeeper and harvest your own honey too!
Indulge in indigenous: Clivias, vygies, African lily (Agapanthus spp.), crane flowers and salvias attract colourful indigenous flyers for your viewing pleasure.
Evade the invasive: Remove invasive plant species from your garden. Aliens may overconsume water, negatively transform the land, and hinder our local biodiversity.
The tree’s knees: Our local Wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) tree is a massive wildlife attractor and butterfly breeding gem that is also spring-blooming and suitable for container planting and small gardens.
Celebrate the return of spring with some spectacular indigenous plants and trees that are in bloom now.
Colour popping plants
- Plectranthus ‘Mona lavender’ is an evergreen shrub with dramatic purple flowers and aromatic dark green leaves. They are shade-lovers and well-suited for containers.
- Botterblom (Gazania krebsiana) will flourish in full sun and require little water. This tufted, evergreen groundcover boasts blooms in a vibrant array of colours and petal details.
- Wild garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) is an excellent pest repellent with brilliant pink to lavender flowers. Grow them in sun to semi-shade and enjoy their flavoursome leaves in salads.
- Blue Daisy Bush (Felicia amelloides) will reward the garden with sweet blue flowers contrasted by a bright yellow centre. This fast-growing bush likes full sun in beds or pots.
Try these too: The Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) has tubular red flowers that attract nectar-feeding birds while the Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) has blue-purple blooms and is host to the common blue butterfly (Cyclyris pirithous). Does not show up in the directory at all, not by its common name and not its official name either
Top tip: Remember to prune back all bushes and shrubs after flowering to increase their blooms during the next regrowth period.
Local trees for wildlife
- Tree wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) may well be the epitome of local luxuries. With its graceful weeping habit and gorgeously fragrant, violet-blue blooms, this small tree is the perfect addition to all sunny beds and containers. They attract a host of butterflies and wild animals like monkeys, gemsbok, and grey duikers.
- Tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida) is medium-sized and hardy with brick red to orange tubular flowers that grow in clusters directly off the branches. Regarded as one of the most valuable, they attract sunbirds, white-eyes, thrushes, robins, pigeons, flycatchers, loeries, mousebirds, barbets, as well as bees and butterflies.