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. (

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

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

13) A Large Natural Pool

natural pool
Access through an enrichment area. (

14) Natural Pool For Demonstration

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pool
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

natural pools
Close up of a pond built by Biofermenta.

20) Building Up The Natural Wall

natural pool
Western Massachusetts Water House Pools (waterhousepools)

21) Construction Of A Natural Pool

natural pool
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.


Leave a Reply
  1. Beautiful natural ponds, wish to make one in my house.

    It is a gift to enjoy swimming like if we were in nature

  2. Wowww

    Can someone help me? I had a lot to make a shrine where I can retire and other who does not had a place can come and visit too.

  3. can you explain how big the tubes need to be and type of pump needed. I am in the process of installing a pond and saw this natural pool. I would like to change my design. Is there anyone in Costa Rica that has done one of these pools? I could offer free stay for some help here.

  4. These are the types of pools you see on MTV cribs. These photos are amazing. Thank you for the insperation!

  5. I LOVE the swimming pond idea but i am nervous about building one in South Texas where a poisonous snake, the Water Moccasin is quite common.

  6. I have an indoor pool, but really hoped to put in a lap pool outside. This would be a terrific way to do this. We would probably need a separate pond to satisfy the lovely Blue Herons, but that can be easily done. All would be in keeping with the natural and green place we are fortunate to have, and add to our sons’ inheritance and love of this wooded and field place where they have grown.

  7. Is the liner absolutely necessary? I have an existing pond that would not be too difficult to separate a deep side for swimming, and a shallow side for plants/filtering, but would like to avoid the added cost of a liner.

  8. About seven years ago I wanted a swimming pool. Yet, I wanted it to look natural. Be natural. What you have created .. words can not express my feelings. Bravo! Thank you. Now I know how to begin.

  9. what effects will urine, drinks, sunblock, hair products, food, and other random unnatural crap that might find its way into the pool have on the plants and quality of the water?

  10. Please send me anything and everything regarding building and photos of these types of pools. They are absolutely beautiful! Thanks,


  11. This is awesome and I would love to be able to build one of these in my yard. Any information would be great. Can’t wait to learn more about this. Thanks!

  12. We love the idea of a swimpond but are concerned about the sand that will accumulate at the bottom of the pool-pond from the extreme winds in the New Mexico area- New Mexico being a sandy desert – Any advice?

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon –

    The DreamVon’s

  13. hi, thanks for the ref. you could refer people to our new website as for many more images of pools.

  14. Hello! I would love to have a natural swimming pond in Saskatchewan but I have concern about how it would fare given that we are in zone 3 where the winters get very cold. What do think?

  15. Hi , just wanted to ask what things need to be knowen for building a natural pool in a tropical location. Im in Broome WA Australia. Have there been other pools done in this kind of area ? Do love this web page and so glad i found it

  16. We have a swimming pond like that, having a hart time keeping the algaes out and having nice clear water.

    What can we use to make it clear and keep it clear???

  17. For what seems like a year I’ve been searching for some kind of instructions that would tell me how I can convert my built in cement pool into a bio friendly pond, chemical free. Everybody wants to sell you the instructions. I don’t have the money to pay everyone for info that doesn’t tell me anything more then what I can see and guess from web photo’s. There are not that many naturists left in the world I guess, that just want to share the love because it’s the right thing to do for the environment. Anyone have a suggestion, a link, a video, something that will tell me things like: will I need to raise the level of my pool or what plant are the best for natural algee filtration.

  18. A Natural Swimming Pool can be built in any climate that water and aquatic plants coexist. Use the plants that are native to your area and you will have a healthy regeneration area. Providing that it is designed and built right.

  19. How much does electric bill go up to keep the stream going 24 hours all summer long? Also, not really clear how to clean it every month (seems like a lot of maintenance). Other than that, looks pretty neat!

  20. These companies use the same copycat technology. What you missed in your photos are the most natural ponds I’ve seen. Since we aren’t allowed to use links here, try doing a search for natural ponds lakes and streams by spring creek aquatic concepts. There you will see what you really desire. Their ponds seem cleaner and a lot more natural appearing. It could be because they are actual Biologists.

  21. We have a large swimming pond with a concrete like bottom. Above we have the plants, waterfall and bubbler in the main swimming pond. It sounds like a lot has been done right. However, the bottom has probably a foot of mud like dirt and muck. How do I get this out of the bottom? We have used a net to remove it from the shallow ends, but there is too much in the deep end and the nets are not strong enough anyhow to withstand the weight. Please help with any advise.

  22. Please if you can help me with some advice. At the moment I try to arrange the garden. I also want to set up a pond. Specifically that the land is sloping and on the slope have lake . Pond at the moment is filled with small natural spring water and has a depth of 0.5 m I want to dig to a depth of 2 m is also filled with mace . Wonder if there sap springs give even more ? Pond being in the slope when it rains very hard water in the yard is it possible to drain even if terrace land . My idea would be to do it in a more natural , without PVC film or membrane and structure it with natural stone and sand on the bottom and the sides of stone rock . I think that the film becomes unsightly with time and in case of leaks in the pond can not be filed only on the bottom and no filters anywhere. Maybe there is the possibility of draining the lake in summer , spring flow depends here I need to check . But that would be the ideal solution ? I’d go with the 100 % natural . How do you advise me ?

  23. Hi

    We are building a house in the equatorial region of Africa in the tropical rain-forest. As we are trying to maintain the biodiversity of this area, we would like to build our own water reservoir/natural swimming pool. However I’m concerned about that the temperature will be too high for us to take a dip in it. Would planting trees in tree-islands and around help or is it failed attempt already?

    Any suggestions are gratefully appreciated.


  24. Sir/mam I have a form land & I am interested in constructing a natural swimming pond ,please help me to have technical guidance. From your side

    Thankyou with regards

    Balakrishna MG

  25. I am in Minnesota, United States. How do these pools/ponds hold up in extreme cold winters with the freezing. Do these ponds stay open? Do the plants do well with freezing? Any recommendations ?

    Thanks for your impute

  26. Beautiful! Creating a habitat,instead of destruction of habitat. What a welcome change! You have inspired me!My fish are going to enjoy a more interesting environment,and I may attract some frogs too! V exciting!THANKYOU!

  27. This is an awesome idea and a great website. Thanks for all the pictures – I am a very visual person and these pictures really got me excited!

  28. SO excited about my new pool now. The wife and kids will love it. great site I have just discovered something and will share with everyone i know

  29. Wow!! Such a nice blog. Thanks for sharing all the beneficial tips with us. All the website and photos you have shared are really impressive.

  30. My company, Zortacular Dreamscapes (, will travel to your site anywhere in the world and build your natural pool or convert your existing pool. We have trained with Total Habitat (, the first natural pool builder in North America, and we are able to keep your water clean with an unpatented system that costs less than the patented systems sold by our competitors. We have many success stories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hundertwasser Architecture

Whole Tree Architecture