A Natural Swimming Pool/Pond is a joy to see throughout the year... as long as it is visible! One of the best things about NSP's is that you don't need to cover or drain them over the winter. In fact, in all but the coldest places, you can run your pool/pond all year long, providing you with spectacular views of the waterfall(s), fish, plants, wildlife and crystal-clear water, even when you're not swimming! When designing a NSP onsite, we always consider the views from major gathering spaces, such as the kitchen or dining room window or a back deck or patio, often positioning waterfalls and other special elements so they are as visible as possible from these points.
Imagine it's a hot summer day and you are just dying to take a dip in your crystal-clear swimming pond! If your NSP is right next to your house, it is really easy to simply jump in and enjoy! Now, imagine you've built your pool/pond 50 feet or more away, in a back field or somewhere downhill from your house; enjoying your NSP becomes more of a day trip than a passing activity. Picture having to haul all your towels, water toys, refreshments, snacks, and sunscreen out to the pond every time you want to use it, corralling kids and pets along the way. Then, (inevitably) oops, you forgot something up at the house or you need to use the bathroom... time to hike again! Trust me, as someone who grew up at a lake and always had to endure at least 20 minutes of planning and organization before we could finally get to swimming, it is definitely worth it to put your NSP as close to your house as possible! Plus, if you have any family members or guests who are elderly or otherwise may have trouble getting around, it is much easier to include them in the fun if your NSP is near the house.
Many people see a depression or a low spot in their yard and automatically think "that's the place for the swimming pond". This is a common misconception and couldn't be more wrong! A Natural Swimming Pool/Pond is not like any old murky, muddy farm pond; it is a closed system, meaning we filter the same water over and over again and we don't want any runoff from the yard to drain into the NSP. So, your pool/pond is actually best off if it is placed at the highest point in your yard, which is typically right next to your house. It is also best to place your NSP in a relatively flat spot, which is also usually next to your house, where the site has already been graded. Locating your NSP near your home can save you a lot of money raising/grading a new spot in your yard and/or having to create additional site drainage to keep dirty water from constantly running down into your nice, new swimming pond!
A NSP is not just a swimming pool; it is also a focal point in your yard -- something you can design other elements around, like a patio, pergola, outdoor kitchen, fire pit, vegetable garden, treehouse, etc. Next to the pool/pond is where you will drink your morning coffee, host parties, read a good book, curl up with a glass of wine at sunset, where you will dangle your feet in the water after a long day and watch the kids discover frogs, turtles and dragonflies. Every well designed space needs a central focus, a main fixed element that everything else revolves around; that is what a Natural Swimming Pool/Pond can be in your yard!
With your Natural Swimming Pool/Pond right next to your house, you can better keep track of kids, pets and guests around your pool/pond. Instead of having to trek down to a pond every time your kiddos want to take a dip, you have the option of supervising from your back deck, patio or kitchen window.
The pump(s) for a Natural Swimming Pool/Pond will need to hook up to your existing electrical system (usually your house panel) and you will need access to water for the initial fill and for the occasional top-off. Typically, these utilities are easiest to access and cheapest to run when the NSP is closer to the house.
If you dread the arrival of warmer weather because it means you have to start mowing your grass every single Saturday morning when all you want to do is relax after a long week at work, then ditch that boring expanse of lawn and install a NSP! A Natural Swimming Pool/Pond is much less maintenance than a manicured yard and is a whole lot more fun! Plus, a pool/pond placed close to your house allows you to create spaces around the NSP or between the pool/pond and the house for low maintenance landscaping, decorative rocks and/or mulched beds. You can also hardscape between the NSP and the house with a deck or patio, so that you don't end up with an annoying strip of grass that you have to constantly maintain between the house and the pond.
When your Natural Swimming Pool/Pond is right next to a building with a large square footage of roof (aka your house), you can collect the rain water that drains off of your roof and use it to top off your pool/pond! This is called rainwater harvesting and can be done with relatively inexpensive collection barrels that are connected to your downspouts (some are even made to look like decorative pots) or with an underground rainwater harvesting tank. Adding a system like this is a really easy way to save some money and some water!
Because placing your Natural Swimming Pool/Pond by your house provides you with easier, quicker access to it and better views of it, you will automatically get more use out of it. That means you get more value for your money and more return on your investment! Plus, it keeps you from needing to spend money building additional site features near a distant pool/pond that you probably already have at your house, like shade on a hot summer day or access to a bathroom. If you build a NSP far away from your house, you will inevitably find in time that you now need to build an additional pergola, patio or pool house near it in order to give you some place to store water toys or simply some place to sit and relax when you're not in the water. You will get much more value for your money if you instead build that pergola next to your home, where it can be used for any number of activities outside of just enjoying the pool/pond; visions of summer barbecues, starlit family dining and a gently swinging hammock spring to mind! Rather than spending twice the money to create two separate destination spaces in your yard, you can direct your hard-earned money towards one multi-use space that will also enhance your biggest investment, the space you spend the most of your time in already; your home!
Depending on where you live, you may be required to install a fence around any pool or pond you have built on your property. It is much easier and less expensive to fence a NSP if you can use your house as part of the barrier. Plus, it doesn't spoil any views of your beautiful new swimming pond!
New NSP's (Natural Swimming Pools & Ponds)
In a rainforest, nothing goes to waste: every dead leaf, every nutrient is consumed by something else. It is the most intense and interconnected ecosystem on the planet. In an NSP, we are trying to grow this same rich, diverse environment on a smaller scale- in your own backyard and in a very short period of time. A properly designed, mature NSP hosts a thriving community of beneficial bacteria that is ready to consume (and eliminate) any contaminate that comes into the water, be it ecoli, suntan oils, skin cells, fish waste, etc. Growing this system can take 1-2 years.
In the meantime, there are a couple of simple things you can do to help keep the system healthy when it's at its most vulnerable: Maintaining pH (at 7.2) helps us to grow the right set of bacteria and safeguards against algae. If pH is maintained and you still have an algae issue, then try these safe ways to eliminate algae without killing off the existing ecosystem (which includes beneficial bacteria, plants, and fish):
1. Use safe dyes (algae needs sunlight to grow, so "shading" the water with dyes may solve it)
2. Add some fish (feed them very little or no food at all, and they will eat up the algae)
*Note: Algae needs nutrients like fish food and plant fertilizer to survive, so try eliminating fish food and be careful with
fertilizer (check out our "Water Lily Planting Guide" blog post for how to responsibly use fertilizer in the water)
3. Try barley straw or barley straw extract (this is an all-natural algaecide that won't harm fish, plants, or swimmers)
4. Eliminate stagnant water (we want water flowing constantly throughout the system)
So, NSP Owners: Have you had any issues with algae? What methods did you use to eliminate it? Have another topic you'd like to talk about? (Let me know and I will start a post for it).
Check back with us each month for tips, new project pics, news, and more, here on our Total Blog!