Building a Natural Swimming Pool in 7 days in Spain
Last week we put together a three person team from Total Habitat (Mick, Kathryn, Joanna) to consult for a Natural Swimming Pond with the a local crew and built it in just seven days. The Spain crew finished the excavation process before Total Habitat's contribution and were able to complete the Natural Swimming Pool in record time thanks to the dedication and efficiency of both crews working together. The Spain crew was amazing to work with and we had a great time getting to know Scott, Helder, Chris, Robbie, Miguel, Mario, and Valdi.
We were able to source materials almost exclusively from the island where the home was located. Having local materials helps the NSP harmonize with the surrounding landscape as well as keeping costs and environmental impacts lower. This particular Natural Swimming Pond is roughly 25,000 gallons (~94,600 liters) with a tall water fall feature nestled into the hillside of the property.
Which would you Prefer?
One of the biggest advantages a Natural Swimming Pool/Pond has over a Traditional Pool is that it is beautiful year round. You don't have to drain it or cover it in the fall or winter like a traditional pool, and, in most places in the USA you can leave your NSP running all year long. If you live in a cold enough climate, you can even let your pond freeze over and ice skate on it!
It's important when building a Natural Swimming Pool/Pond to know the requirements for winterizing depending on which climate the NSP is built in. For example, you need to bury certain parts of your plumbing underneath the frost line to prevent damage to your pumps or other parts of the mechanical filter system. Every climate has different and specific adjustments that need to be made to ensure it runs smoothly for years to come.
1. Better Views
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.
2. Easier Access
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.
3. Better Site Drainage
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!
4. Creates a Central Gathering Space
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!
5. Easier to Supervise Kids & Pets
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.
6. Better Utility Access
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.
7. Less Maintenance Than A Lawn
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.
8. Provides Rainwater Harvesting Opportunities
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!
9. More Value For Your Money
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!
10. Easier to Fence
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!
Using dye in your Natural Swimming Pool/Pond is important because it helps protect the water from harsh direct sunlight. The sunlight doesn't harm the water itself, but is a large factor in algae growth. There are a few key times in the life of your NSP when dye is especially helpful. The first being when your NSP is first built. When you've filled the NSP and your pump system is going you need to introduce the dye to protect the water for the first few weeks when the biological filter is establishing itself. The beneficial bacteria needs time to grow into all the nooks and crannies to prevent an algae bloom. The second key time for dye is when you are most likely to experience an algae bloom in your NSP, which is early spring. Spring is the beautiful time when everything begins to grow back in, sadly this does include algae, which will be one of the first and easiet things to grow in your NSP. The dye helps prevent that spring sunshine from creating an algae party in your pool.
Head over the the Kansas City Zoo to see the Tree Kangaroos and keep an eye out for the Sloth exhibit where you'll see more of our trees coming soon!
We built a Natural Swimming Pool for a wonderful family back in 2017. Their NSP features our wooden swim walls, octagon piers, and black liner which gives the swimming area a stylish reflection pool look. It is complete with a small water fall feature and some rock work around the perimeter of the pool.
The clients were so happy with our team and the work we did to create their very own chlorine & salt-free swimming pool that they asked us back to create an aviary attached to their house for their Blue Macaw. If you check out our Instagram you can see more pictures of our time building the aviary. You'll also see a few candid shots of team members Matt & Evan getting some bonding time with the Macaw. This family graciously let us stay with them in their home during the building process and it was a joy getting to know them.
They have continued to share photos of their NSP with us. Below you can see how beautifully the plant life has grown with their pool. Our Natural Swimming Pools fit seamlessly with the surrounding landscape and just get better with age!
At Camp Prairie Schooner's new Aquatic Center in KCMO, our goal was to create a naturalistic climbing experience that would excite and challenge campers for years to come! The main attraction, an enormous, themed concrete boulder features a carved climb-able face which users can swim up to (one at a time) and free climb, without the use of ropes or harnesses. Once to the top of the wall (or as far up as they can get) users fall or jump back into the water, ensuring a safe yet challenging climbing experience. The camp's new Aquatic Center, which also features a naturalistic splash pad and several other themed concrete edge boulders is open to campers as of Summer 2019!
Hey everyone, we have been working on something brand new to us at our workshop this past week. As many of you know we build exhibits for zoos as well as natural swimming pools. We have been working at the Kansas City Zoo, and our most recent addition was installing a sun shade for Cairo the Hippo.
With this shade we also happened to take on the biggest sewing project in Total Habitat history. Over a hundred pins, 5 broken needles, and hundreds of feet of thread later we came out with a huge, beautiful, completed sun shade! With the added bonus of several of our employees getting to brush up on their sewing skills.
For more photos of this project check out our Instagram or Facebook page.
Matt for scale ^
^ Sophia the lead seamstress
At Wolf Park in Indiana, we are currently building a metal hoop house style structure to serve as the Grey Fox exhibit! The large metal hoop house framework will be covered with a netted grid wire and will feature a wooden vestibule (see the concept rendering above left). The pergola-style entry will have a double door system which will allow visitors to safely enter the enclosure without letting the foxes out.
The featured space, aptly named Grey Haven, will give visitors the opportunity to get up close with the fox ambassadors of the Wolf Park. Wolf Park is an education and research facility located in Battle Ground, Indiana that specializes in the study of wild canid (dog) family species such as wolves, foxes, and coyotes.
The Total Habitat team onsite will, after taking a safety course, get to meet a wolf ambassador (the most socialized & trained of the wolves) up close and will hopefully get a “face greet” -- meaning a wolf will lick your face if they like you!
Check out the Wolf Park website to learn more about their research here
To do your part for the planet this Earth Day check out your local government and parks and recreation department for volunteer clean-up opportunities, or check out the earth day website to find out more what Earth Day means and how you can help with even small efforts. If you are local to the Kansas City area like us, check out Friends of the Kaw or Bridging the Gap for volunteer or donation opportunities!
Check back with us each month for tips, new project pics, news, and more, here on our Total Blog!