Natural swimming pools are a new pool design trend that first started in Europe 20-30 years ago and has slowly begun to become more popular in the U.S. and Australia. Natural pools (NSP’s) do not require chemicals to maintain; instead, they benefit from beneficial aquatic plants that help keep them clean.
Filters and moving water perform all the heavy labor in a bio filtration setting. Soil and silt are kept out of natural pools by walls or membranes. They can be built from the ground up or converted from an inground pool system.
A natural pool doesn’t use any chemicals, rather uses a system of plants and low flow pumps to naturally filtrate the pool. The system works as follows: The pool is divided into two sections: a swimming area and a regeneration area with various plants that feed hydroponically on the water.
In addition, unwanted materials are removed by aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms in a biological filter and the regeneration zone. The water is cleared and entirely pure as it goes through the filter, through the zone, and back into the swimming area. There are many pros and cons to natural pools, but one of the biggest advantages is that NSP’s are a 100% chemical free pool solution.
The water in an NSP is not disinfected or sterilized using man-made chemicals, salt, or mechanical processes. As such, home owners may be concerned how safe they are. The water is cleansed by completely organic techniques. Since the water is always in motion, it goes through a biological filter and circulated back into the pool.
A natural pool’s water is safe to swim in, but it isn’t as blue as a pool that has been chemically treated. Although the water may appear to be comparable, there is a tiny difference in clarity. Some NSP’s have a tendency to have a green appearance because of the plant life in the pool. The appearance may be unfamiliar to visitors, as such you may have to explain to them that they are swimming in a natural pool.
Yes, a natural pool costs approximately twice what a normal pool will cost to build. The cost savings on chemicals is approximately $500 per year, making for a longer than average return on investment. However, for eco-conscious pool buyers who want a chemical free alternative and prefer a natural swimming pool environment, the cost considerations may be negligible.
Because of the larger lot sizes typically required to build a natural swimming pool (NSP), they typically cost much more than a normal inground pool. An NSP requires a regeneration zone. Aquatic plants bio filtrate the water in the regeneration zone and return it to the pool. As such, the average cost to build a natural pool starts at around $70,000 and can go up from there depending on the size, elevation, and features you want in your pool.
Natural swimming pools, when properly maintained, contain crystal-clear water and do not require chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems. In order to maintain a harmonic swimming environment natural pools often require frequent maintenance. As such, they are not necessarily easier to maintain than a chemically treated pool as the maintenance tasks may differ in nature to those performed on a chlorine treated pool. The time, materials and attention NSP’s typically require to maintain depend on the environment they are built in.
With a 16% market share in recreational water in Europe, NSP’s are becoming increasingly popular there. However in the United States they currently have 0.3% of the pool market. Natural pool environments in the United States may vary from region to region. It’s important to have an understanding of which aquatic plants are capable of thriving in the particular environment you plan to build one in.
Algae will grow—in fact, a small amount is required for the regeneration zone. An NSP will use aquatic plants suited to a specific climate to control this naturally occurring species. Algae has little chance of surviving. Good plants that are strategically placed in the regeneration zone will fight for nutrients. If algae does find its way into the pool, the pool sweeper or vacuum will take eliminate it.
Natural pool environments are an oasis for all sorts of wildlife. Chemically treated pools also attract their fair share of wildlife. Snakes and frogs may be naturally drawn to NSP’s. Any wildlife will rarely stick around very long because there is no consistent supply of food in the pool; however, hand skimming of the natural pool may be necessary from time to time to remove unwanted critters.
Mosquitoes prefer to reproduce in stagnant water. Homeowners don’t have to worry about mosquito infestations because the water is continually flowing.
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