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Ultimate guide: How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

A natural pool, also known as an eco pool a bio pool, an organic pool or a recreational swimming pond is a human made water feature designed to replicate the look and function of a natural body of water like a pond or a lake, but it also provides a safe and enjoyable swimming environment.

Have you ever wondered what the benefits of a natural pool are and how it compares to conventional, chlorinated pools?

This article will help you better understand the benefits of an eco pool and explain how they actually work. Read on to find more about natural pools.

How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

How do natural pools work?

Unlike traditional chlorinated swimming pools, which use chemical treatments to maintain the water quality, natural pools use biological processes, like plants and beneficial bacteria.

These filter and purify the water by absorbing nutrients that are flowing through them and passing the nutrients onto the plants. That way, there is nothing left for the algae and that is how the bio pool is left clear.

With a chlorinated pool one is constantly trying to 'stem the force of nature' instead of letting work for you. With a natural pool, we harness the force of nature.

If designed well, a natural pool can achieve the same clarity of water as a conventional pool.

Natural pools are not ponds, but highly technical mini eco systems to biologically keep algae at bay. By not using chemicals, they are far more environmentally friendly, and a sustainable alternative. They provide a beautiful and refreshing swimming experience while also promoting biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem within the pool and around it.

How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

Is a natural pool the same as a pond? 

A natural pond is not the same as a pond. The latter is a haven for biodiversity and wildlife but is not ideal for swimming. In contrast a natural pool boasts a sizeable and concentrated regeneration area through which water is constantly flowing and this achieves a far superior quality of water to that of a pond. 

How do I build a natural pool ?

We think that building a bio pool is best left to professionals. The guide below will however help you understand the mechanics of these pools so you know how to ask the right questions before and during the build of your pool. 

The zones of a natural pool

Typically a natural pool will be divided into two zones. You have the swimming zone and then you have the regeneration zone which is also known as the plant zone, the biofilter zone or wetland area.

The regeneration zone normally includes a lot of aquatic plants and natural filtration media like gravel which helps to clarify the water through biological processes. 

Natural pool design

There is a misconception that natural pools are wild, pond-like and informal. However, eco pools come in many different shapes and forms, depending on your own requirements and preferences.

They can be very be very formal and resemble a conventional pool or something in between or they can be far more organic and wild-like with a wetland border around the pool. This is referred to as a swim pond or a recreational pond. They can also have a floating wetland inside the pool.

Below are the steps for creating a natural pond. The excavation depth depends on your preferences. There could be a more shallow area as well as a deeper end to dive in. The more shallow border is normally where the wetland will be placed to help filter your water.

Once the excavation is complete, a liner will be placed all around the pool. Natural filtration material like gravel will be placed around the bottom and then you can finish your design with a deck and entry points like a ladder or steps.

How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

Project completed by Ellicar

How is a natural pool different to a chlorinated pool? 

One thing that sets the natural and chlorinated pools apart in terms of design is that it can harmonize far better within the context of a garden and a landscape. It can be be made to look like it was always there. 

Regardless of the design, the underlying principle of how they work always remains the same. 

How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

Above and below: projects completed by Ellicar

How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

Benefits of a natural pool 

1. A bio pool keeps you healthy

It is first of all healthy for you because you are not swimming in chemicals like chlorine and just how toxic is chlorine? Let's have an overview. 

As a a chemical, chlorine is very toxic, it is very effective at keeping pathogens at bay. But it does come with serious downsize because it can irritate the skin, the eyes and the respiratory system. 

Inhalation of chlorine fumes can be especially dangerous and lead to respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis. If you have a pool (and I do) you know that you literally have to open the chlorine tub with your mouth closed and remove the necessary quantity of chlorine or chlorine discs without taking a breath in. It is that bad!

Belgian researchers found that the risk of hay fever more than doubled with exposure to chlorinated pools. The study was published in the online issue of Paediatrics in 2009. 

It is worth noting that a salt pool is still a chlorinated pool. Salt is sodium chloride. There is a misconception that it is just sea water but it is nothing more than a chlorinated pool with just less chlorine. 

Chlorine can also have an impact to the environment. It kills beneficial bacteria in the water and pollutes groundwater and surface water. It reacts with organic matter in the soil to form harmful chemicals, like chloroform.

How to create a natural, Eco or Bio Pool

Above: project completed by Ellicar

2. Natural pools make you feel better

A second benefit is that it just feels better. Human body has more beneficial bacterial on our body than we have human cells, And when we swim in chlorinated water, we kill those. 

Anyone who has ever swam in a natural pool always notes how different it feels. One feels renewed and revitalised. 

3. Natural pools are Eco friendly

They have a minimum ecological impact compared to chlorinated pools. They offer a diverse natural habitat for frogs, toads and small insects. Aquatic plants improve the quality of your environment. Predatory insects offer natural pest control. 

4. Eco pools are more beautiful

While this is certainly subjective, natural pools are just more beautiful as they bled into your environment.  

5. Natural pools need less maintenance

While they do need maintenance you don't have to worry about the daily measurements of pH, adjusting chemicals and adding chlorine or acids. Natural pools find their own balance. Maintaining a natural pool is more akin to gardening which is more enjoyable. 

6. Natural pools have lower running costs

Once established, natural pools have lower operating costs compared to traditional pools. They need less energy for circulation and filtration and they don't require the constant purchasing of chemicals (which also increases with the size of your pool. 

Can I convert a chlorinated pool into a natural pool?

The good news is that you can convert your conventional swimming pool into a natural pool, even with the addition of a highly effective floating wetland. This method give you crystal clear living water. The process can take up to a couple days.

Next: What plants can I use in a natural pool?



Jenny Kakoudakis likes to blog about interiors. She launched the award-winning Seasons in Colour in 2014. When she is not chasing criminals out of the financial system (her day job), she gets creative by redecorating her own home.

Download her free bathroom renovation guide here.



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