Natural Pools Or Swimming Ponds

Vassilis / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Vassilis / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Let nature clean the water…
natural pool
Chemical-free water garden and swimming pool. The plant portion, or regeneration zone, is separated from the swimming area by the wall seen a few inches below the water’s surface.

natural pool
The pools have skimmers and pumps that circulate the water through the regeneration zone and back into the swimming area. The aquatic plants filter out contaminants and use nutrients from the water as food, which helps prevent algae. Then rocks, such as granite river rock or haydite, to which friendly bacteria attach, act as biological filters. More questions answered here: &

natural pool
There are many design options. Beneficial bacteria (micro-organisms and microbes) colonize the rock and help cleanse the water. (

This video from natural pool expert David Pagan Butler is an introduction to what he calls “wild swimming at home.” His pool or pond costs a fraction of traditional construction. It requires no special contractor to do any of the work. And no chemicals are needed to keep it clean. In the video he shows his homemade innovations: insulating the swimming zone to keep it warm, building a noiseless pool filter from scratch, and the solar-powered circulation system. The wall of the pool is made of sandbags and wood. Beyond is the “planting zone,” which is an equal area to the “swimming zone.” Animals and plants in this zone act as natural filtration to keep the water clean.

natural pools
A gradual slope contains the plants, gravel and loamy sand, a wall keeps them separate from the swimming area.

natural pool
Vacuum but twice a year and tend to the plants as needed. The plants will need to be cut back in the fall so they do not die in the pool. (

natural pool
The regeneration zone can be along the perimeter of a natural pool or a pond unto itself, as long as it’s connected to the swimming area. (

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For a true natural pool with no help from ultraviolet light or other such technology, the requirement is half-swimming area, half-regeneration area. (

natural pool
Plants steal the nutrients away from invasive algae. (

This time-lapse video shows the construction of a natural pool on Nantucket Island, off of Cape Cod. Once the barriers of the pool are staked out, a machine digs out all the dirt. Then the liner is laid around a temporary wood frame. A barrier is built to separate the swimming area from the natural plants area, and forms laid out for the pouring of concrete. The sides and bottom of the pool are concrete. Once the concrete is poured, the forms are removed. The filtration and water pumps are arranged. The earth is filled in around the pool, and stones are placed along the exterior for a more natural look. A lining is applied to the bottom and sides of the pool. Then, it is slowly filled with water. At the end of the video the final product is shown with the landscaping. Beautiful.

21 Amazing Natural Pools

There are so many different ways to incorporate a natural pool into your yard, whether it is a clean cut modern style, or an aesthetic natural design.

1) Hidden Oasis

natural pool
Half regeneration area, half swimming pool (

2) Woodhouse Demonstration Pool

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Natural predators such as water striders and dragonflies will come to live in the enrichment area and feast on mosquitoes. If you chose to have a skimmer installed this will keep mosquitoes in check as well. Woodhouse demo pool from

3) Oxfordshire Natural Pool

natural pool
Use your pool as an ice rink in winter, as there is no need for a cover. (

4) Clear Water Revival Pool

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A first year pool will need at least 60 days to self-adjust, but installing an ultraviolet sterilizer in the pump area will have you swimming almost immediately. (

Andy Marsh of Georgia shows off the natural pool he built. He says he did all his research online. His pool is lined with gravel, the water circulates through the gravel, and microbes in the gravel help filter it. It looks really clean! He shows the divide between his swimming area and planting area. As he’s in Georgia, with a warm climate, his planting area is the same size as his swimming area (in colder places you might get away with a smaller planting area). Under everything is a rubber membrane. Most of the stone lining the pond is a gray granite he was able to get 10 tons of for $300! He used 18 tons of gravel for the pool.

5) French Natural Pool

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Note the plant pond to the right in the natural pool in France. (

6) Les Vans Pool

A great example of how a natural pool can be a fun addition to family gatherings.

7) Natural Swimming Pool Ecological

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The pools are most popular in Austria, where a company called Biotop has been designing them for residential and public use since 1986. (

8) Two-Tiered Pool

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The two-tiered waterfall helps oxygenate the pool. (

9) Cottage At Home Pool

Though this project was difficult for the builders, the end result is truly breathtaking! Combining the aesthetic of a pond with the functionality of a natural swimming pool.

10) Hybrid Natural Pool

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A hybrid natural pool usually has two circulation pumps. One where water is circulated through the plant and rock filters before being discharged back to the bottom of the pond. The second surface circulation system pulls water through one or two skimmers filtering out floating debris. Water drawn through the skimmers passes through a filter system, such as a UV filter and/or a biofilter—essentially a box filled with bacteria-laden bio-media—before returning to the pool. A waterfall helps with oxygenation. (

This natural swimming pond was built in Central Illinois, along with 400 meters of hugelkultur beds—in just 10 days! The walls of the pool are giant cinder blocks, with tamped sandbags adding extra height. Gravel was poured along the sides of the pool for future landscaping. The designer, Zach Weiss, explains that adding oxygen is very important for natural pools, so he built in a waterfall, fed by a water circulation device. The stones blocking the water also help release oxygen. The material Zach excavated to form the pool, he used in the hugelkultur bed. No waste! The property is going to be a bed and breakfast.

11) A Sustainable Homestead Natural Pool

This homestead pulled out all the stops, including a natural pool to their sustainable property.

12) A Gesamtkunstwerk Natural Pool

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Love the deck amongst the water plants. An original Biotop pool (

13) A Large Natural Pool

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Access through an enrichment area. (

14) Natural Pool For Demonstration

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Love the diving boards. (

15) English Natural Pool

So Quintessentially English! #englishcountrygarden #englishgarden #quintessentiallybritish #quintessential #gardenlife #ecopool #outdoorliving #pool #naturalpool #natureporn #homestyle #homestyle #house #myfriendshouse #england #trees #greentrees

A post shared by Joanne Paddon Design (@joannepaddondesign) on

In this English backyard, the modern design of the natural pool steals the show.

16) A Long Natural Pool

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Natural pool in the UK. (

17) Pierce Lanucha Swimming Pool

These designers used a large regeneration zone to create a beautiful waterscape.

18) Castle Rock Natural Pool

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Convert a pond into a swimming pond. Mother Earth News says there are a few options for liners—bentonite clay to seal the soil or a synthetic liner. If you choose synthetic, they recommend ethylene propylene diene monomer rather than PVC. (

19) Growing Plants For Regeneration Zone

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Close up of a pond built by Biofermenta.

20) Building Up The Natural Wall

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Western Massachusetts Water House Pools (waterhousepools)

21) Construction Of A Natural Pool

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New free-form construction. (

How To Convert A Traditional Pool To A Natural Pool

See pics of a conversion process here:

natural swimming pool
Conversion with added beach.

Here is a conversion in Australia from a 1980s style brick-pool to a natural pond. The conversion was done by the homeowner, but with help from the company that produced the video. He explains that the “power-hungry” pumps of traditional pools are replaced by low-power pond pumps. They used the existing skimmer box to run lines for circulation and to add oxygen. Even in the offseason the water quality stays good. They don’t have to pump chemicals in to keep it clean in winter. The pond has biofilters that are incredibly clean even after 18 months of use. The equipment is small and practically noiseless. Low-maintenance and self-sufficiency = inexpensive and simple life.

Plants For Your Natural Pool

Every pool needs to be cleaned. A natural pool is cleaned with plants instead of chemicals—have you ever thought about how many pounds of chemicals go into a typical swimming pool?

A range of aquatic plants are used—submerged (oxygenators), floating, shallow marginals, deep marginals, bog/marsh and waterside species. Whenever possible, use indigenous plants. Some examples of typical water plants: cattails, bulrushes, sedges, duckweed and water lilies.

How To Build A Natural Swimming Pool

  • Mother Earth News: The author goes into depth about the specifics of building a natural pool.
  • Schwimmteich-Selbstbau: this article has many links embedded within, giving you even more resources then the article itself. The site is in German, but there is an option to translate the information.
  • Woodhouse Natural Pools: If you don’t know where to start, this site has a lot of pictures for inspiration.

The Best Natural Swimming Pool Books

Natural Pool Builders

If you don’t have the time to make your own natural pond, you can hire one of these companies to help!

Natural Pool Builders in Europe

  • Biotop has been in business since 1984 with more than 3,500 satisfied customers. Their partner network covers 17 countries. (Austria)
  • BioNova is a global network of partners on 6 continents who work synergistically to push the state-of-the-art of natural swimming pool design, construction, aesthetics and maintenance. (Germany)
  • Bioteich Baignades Naturelles (France)
  • GartenArt has naturalistic options, making swimming ponds for your enjoyment. (United Kingdom)
  • Woodhouse Natural Pools with BIOTOP have been developing and building naturally filtered swimming pools in the UK since 2000. (United Kingdom)
  • Clear Water Revival are builders who also sell kits to the more daring. (United Kingdom)

Natural Pool Builders In The US

  • Total Habitat works with all kinds of clientele, including contractors, individuals, and zoos. (Kansas)
  • Expanding Horizons not only constructs pools, but can remodel your pool as well. (California)
  • Water House Pools will help you design your natural pool, even managing the construction. (Massachusetts)
  • Rin Robyn Pools can build a relaxing natural pool, building for both individuals and spas. (New Jersey & MA)
  • Kane Brothers, make beautiful swimming ponds, they can also be hired for maintenance. (Illinois)

Natural Pool Builders In Canada

Natural Pool Builders In Oceania

Natural Pool Builders In Africa

  • EcoPools have many great designs, ranging from modern to urban styles. (South Africa)

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.


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  1. A small swimming pond can be build into backyard. You can enjoy swimming and can gain peace of mind and relaxation by sitting across it.

  2. Love these! Definitely on my ‘if I ever win the lottery’/ dream home list. Such a beautiful way to have a personal place to swim. 🙂

  3. Of course it would work. But can you afford it? Like one commenter said, when I win a $M, it’ll be the first thing I do. Add an aerator to the bottom, and you could have fishing, as well. Build it big enough, and you could add a motor boat. Put in a big fan, and you could even sail a boat.

    I suggest you go to a real lake or pond to swim, just like most people do. Get real.

  4. I have a question about the filtration system in the regeneration area is the system available or can it be made with PVC pipe? I was thinking of doing a concrete pour with drainage trays you would use in a driveway and running PVC conduit to pump station via manifold. Will this work or is there a different system under the stone?

  5. This does not have to be so complicated. I installed a wetlands filter in my Koi pond 17 years ago and the pond is as clear as tap water. I have large Koi, some over 30′ and as one would suspect, they product a considerable amount of waste. The natural wetlands filter works perfectly and there is NO maintenance. My fish pond is 14′ x 17′ and 4 feet deep so I am confident that this would work perfectly for a larger body of water.

  6. What a dreadful shame there are no supplliers in NZ!!!! I’d love one so people could came and see what an amzing idea this is.

  7. Atlantis Pool create an inviting environment while highlighting lighter areas such as a beach entry. Design a refreshing, clean environment with cool hues or create a dramatic look with darker tones.A product of the international market which has seeped into the Indian markets, the natural pools have surely become a talk of the town and are the most preferred and sought option by lot of builders, constructors and individuals and is seeming quite promising.

  8. Natural bodies of water attract frogs which snakes love, hope everyone likes the feel of slimey algae covered rocks becaues that’s what’s in natural ponds. Don’t have party’s & invite a heap of friends over for a swim as your natural pond doesn’t like having an overload of bathers. They seem to b very popular in the cooler climate regions of Europe. Wonder how they’d go over here in Australia, say central Queensland where summertime temperatures are a standard 45+ c degrees. Why do people keep trying to reinvent the wheel ? Stick to the most efficient tried & true salt water chlorination systems. By the way they don’t produce chlorine, they produce hypochlorous acid. A gas that can’t b seen or smelt

    • With a jack hammer??? You might find it easier to build an above ground regeneration area, pump water up to it and the build a waterfall back down to the pool.

  9. Well, they look nice. But you won’t get me in one – because I don’t care how many natural plants and everything else you put it in – it’s still going to be fresh water full of potential pathogens, parasites, and other horrid things you don’t want inside of you. Really bad idea- all the bad stuff of pond water without enough water volume to really filter any of it. I’ll pass.

  10. In all my days of swimming in swimming pools, I have yet to hear about natural swimming pools! This article opened my mind to a whole new world of what is possible with swimming pool design such as how the plants clean the water in your pool versus chemicals. I am definitely going to look into this further because I have been wanting a swimming pool for a while!

  11. Great site…have an existing swimming pond that we drained last year and looking to “upgrade” a bit …spring fed and beautiful but would love to keep it a bit cleaner without chemicals…certainly ongoing maintenance/leaf clean up etc. is key but most interested in the solar and/or wind pump systems to move the water…do these incorporate an aerator or is the pump the “aerator” because it does in fact move the water? Also, the pond is in the Northeast US so what do you do in winter? I have heard people leave the pump on and the pond does not freeze…but it does make a nice little skating pond…please advise!

    • We live in central Europe @30-35 centrigrade in summer and – 5 to -10 in the winter. A Bio pool can handle the temperature differences fine. And in the winter the children skate on the lake. There is no point in running the circulation as a) water/ground freezes at least to a foot deep, and b) there is no organic life in the pond without warmth and decent sun light.
      And for those who have never tried swimming in a natural pond- the water is like silk. Non of the hardness or chemical feel of a blue pool.

  12. quick and basic question:
    do i need a spring or fresh water source for one of these natural pools? or do i just fill it once with well water or rainwater runoff and thats it?

  13. Nice list but you shroud add to it in CA

    Pools by Nature organic swimming pool filtration system offer a complete operation method. This advance system does not depend nor it requires any regeneration plant areas to purify the water, instead it uses high-end automatic biomass removal and Biofermenta filtration technology, combined with water flow management, fitting configuration and broad expertise in water purification methods, the system achieves long-lasting ecosystem with excellent performances in water clarity and health especially in warmer climates!

    Consult to build organic pools all around the world, the system is adaptable and can accommodate various existing conditions with many advantages.

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