Imagine a fresh, clear-watered pool that contained water clean enough to drink yet also full of water lilies, rushes and a complete ecosystem living harmoniously together. Not only does the ‘ecological’, ‘biological’ or ‘natural’ swimming pool take all the complications out of the swimming pool building process, by avoiding the use of complicated filtering systems, but it also saves you a whole load of cash!
With this natural pool– gone are the days of expensive filters, endless pH monitoring and the addition of eye-stinging and ultimately carcinogenic pool chemicals- it just takes care of itself… naturally!
The natural swimming pool uses a similar system to one that I used to use 20 years ago when creating ponds for koi-carp, who require water so clean that it can be drunk! A system of gravel with active and harmless bacteria remove the bulk of the dirt, naturally, then a final ‘rinsing’ pool relies on the use of dense Iris and bulrush roots together with oxygenating plants to remove any remaining residue with their natural enzymes- leaving the water spotless! I must say that all those years ago, when I set up ponds for koi-carp collectors, I was always amazed at the results and even back then I saw the potential – it all seemed so logical to use a natural system to clean the water.
Shallow areas thick with oxygenating plants provide the final purification and the water can then be pumped up again slowly from there to begin the whole natural process of running through the gravel beds and falling back into the main pool. At this stage one can get as artistic as one desires – installing cascades of water with warmer lounging pools above. A changing room can even be hidden from view with a waterfall- what more natural a way could a showering lady be hidden from view?
Years have passed and the biological pool has now really taken off, with over 2,500 now installed and functioning in Germany and many more popping up all over Italy, France and Austria, where the system was first patented. I have a curious group of ladies near me in Italy that don their workers gloves, jump on their excavators and create this type of natural pool for a living and here are some of their work. Luciani giardini operate in association with Interior designer Anna Mrakic to link house and garden in natural harmony.
Now, there are even ways of heating the water by using thick, black plastic pipes hidden amongst lavender on sunny banks that have water slowly pumped through them with a tiny pump and absorb the heat from the sun to warm the water with surprising success.
The whole thing has become very logical and the use of intelligent construction materials, combined with almost natural gravel beaches, marginal plants and local rocks can provide a natural yet chic effect that can rival any of the now out-dated Californian style bright blue pools of the 70’s.
All this system needs is a little more confidence from the public and even swimming pools will have become organic, sustainable and totally ecological!
By Jonathan Radford and…