Swimpond with deck

Are there any regulations I have to comply with before I can build a  swimpond in my garden?

Local bylaws vary depending upon community but generally, if the design requires retaining walls over 4’ high a building permit will be required. The pond must also be fenced.

What materials is a swimpond made with?

The pond must be sealed with a waterproof membrane such as an EPDM pond liner. The side walls can be built with stone, concrete blocks, recycled plastic lumber or panels.  Various crush gravels are used in the filter beds that are planted.

What are the essential differences between a regular swimming pool and a  swimpond?

A swimpond does not use any chemicals to keep the water clean. Instead, natural processes within the planted regeneration zone filters the water, while nutrients are absorbed by the plants.
Swimponds are usually not heated, other than by the sun. However, heat pumps could be used to help stretch the season.

Swimponds require very little maintenance, and the pumping systems used to cycle the water through the gravel beds are very economical.

Swimponds attract wildlife and look attractive any time of the year.

What sort of space do I need and where should it be located in my garden?

Preferably locate a swimpond in a sunny but sheltered location.  Think about what size swim area you want, then double it for the planted regeneration zone. Then add areas for sitting by the pond, an access area, a mechanical room, and access for machinery to build.

What are the smallest and largest practical sizes for a swimpond?

Swimpond kits are available in Europe that can fit into very small backyards.  However, these are not so much for swimming in, but splashing around perhaps. A swimpond designed for diving and swimming laps needs a space about 100’ long, 40’ wide. Swimming lakes can be any size you want.

How do I choose the best size of swimpond for me?

Consider how you and others will want to use the pond; splashing around with kids, swimming laps, a deep end for diving?

How long does it take to build a swimpond?

Depending upon the scope of the project and additional landscaping details, expect this to be a 3 month project.

How do you fill the pond?

A 40,000 gallon pond would take all winter to fill naturally. To speed the process, you might have a well that can cope with this demand, or spring water can be trucked in.  A rainwater catchment system can be used to keep the pond topped up.  Water loss from evaporation on a warm windy summer week can be several hundred gallons.

Can I have fish in the pond?

No! Fish can upset the biological balance of the pond by producing too much waste, which encourages algae growth.  They also eat the plankton that eats the algae.

What about algae and mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are not an issue in a balanced pond. Tadpoles, dragonfly larvae, frogs and water boatman ensure this.  Algae need nutrients to bloom.  Blooms will happen occasionally in the 1st year, but less frequently as the regeneration zone plants become established. These pond plants will absorb all the nutrients available once established. A UV purifier can be used occasionally to guarantee water clarity.

Are swimponds hygienic?

Yes! Pathogenic coliforms will not survive in a swim pond as long as the water temperature is below 28’C.  It is advisable to encourage swimmers to shower before using the pond, and no sunscreens, pets or ducks allowed.  Also, test the water once a year, and install a UV for back up if you might be concerned.

I am not very interested in swimming.  Can you convince me a swimpond is a worthwhile investment for me?

A natural swim-pond is not that far removed from a regular pond that you might be interested in.  Any water feature carefully designed and built will add interest and value in a garden setting.

 Will I save money choosing a  swimpond?

The design and construction of a swim-pond is going to be about the same as a regular pool.  Where you save money with a swimpond is with the pumping, heating and maintenance costs.

What are the benefits of swimming in a natural swimpond?

It is chemical free, living water, just like swimming at the ocean or the lake, but in your own backyard.

Is there any way I can regulate the water temperature?

The pond should be sited in a sunny location out of the wind. Water can be circulated through the shallow rocky areas where the water warms quickly in the sun. Back up warming can be provided by solar blankets or even a heat pump. If not, a thin wet suit works very well if you want to swim in the early Spring or Fall.

Some ponds have UV filters and other equipment.  Is it necessary to have other filters?

No, a UV is not necessary but might be helpful as back-up during algae blooms. I recommend installing a bubbler system to ensure the water is aerated sufficiently. Phosphate filters are sometimes used, but the key is a sufficiently large enough regeneration zone, and letting the pond find it’s own balance.

A natural swim-pond is quite a big investment. Will it add value to my property?

Of course! A well designed and carefully built swimpond will add tremendous aesthetic value to a garden and home.

What accessories do I need?

A dip net is useful sometimes, to pick up any stray debris that might blow in. A pool vacuum could be useful to keep the pool floor clean. Lighting in and around the pond makes a night time dip fun and safe.


Andrew Lewis (++1) 250 653 4770

The benefits of a naturally filtered pool for swimming compared with traditional chemical filtration methods.

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