Building a natural and eco swimming pools – DIY

Ned Kampmann

In the same way that rivers and lakes without added chemicals look charming, there are incredible natural pools which are guided by the principles of sustainability and naturalness of all the materials used. Thus in such pools grow aquatic plants, which are designed to create a closed ecosystem and are able to keep the water clean. In addition such pools can make great water gardens, which can be the highlight of any home.

In this article you will find out how to build a natural pool.

DIY natural pool

Natural swimming pools

Natural swimming pools can be easily integrated into any home environment, because they can look almost like natural ponds in gardens, if this is the desired effect, and can be extravagant. In any case, such a pool will provide their owners with incomparable comfort on hot summer evenings and a romantic atmosphere. The ideal, though admittedly not so ecofriendly addition to a DIY natural pool is LED lighting.

Natural eco pool DIY

The main difference between a common pool and a natural one is its edge. If the term ‘board’ could be applied to describe the edge of a traditional pool, a more appropriate term for an eco-friendly pool might be ‘shore’. The pool is surrounded by what is essentially creating a piece of nature that acts as a self-contained filter and makes the pool more beautiful thanks to the abundance of greenery.

Easy-care natural pools

In fact, natural swimming pools are generally much more economical than their traditional counterparts in terms of maintenance, since all they require is a couple of types of annual treatment for plants, as opposed to having to constantly monitor the condition of the filter. The water in the pool will not need to be changed, but the level will have to be kept constant as necessary. Also, the bottom of the pool will need to be cleaned and once a year you will need to trim your plants so that they don’t become too large.

Organic pool veg zone

Natural swimming pools zoning

A DIY natural swimming pool differs from a traditional one in that they have, in addition to the area for swimming, an area covered with vegetation, which acts as a filter. The area for swimming and the area occupied by the plants should be approximately equal in size so that the plants can effectively filter the water.

DIY natural swimming pool

Professional landscape designers recommend combining natural pools with abundant vegetation in the garden, because they complement each other excellently, and what is more, with a natural swimming pool, there is no need for a concrete pad along the edge and you can make the transition from the garden to the pool smooth.

How to select a location for a natural swimming pool


When choosing a place for the pool, consider not only the wishes of family members and
their own aesthetic taste, but also some features of your site – the location of large plants, soil type, wind direction and the slope of the plot.

It is of course not recommended to build a pool near large trees, especially poplar, willow, broom or horse chestnut. In dry weather their roots will try to reach out to the water and can damage the waterproofing of the pool. In addition, it’s unlikely you will enjoy removing the leaves every day. If you don’t get rid of them, they will decompose and contribute to the rapid
development of green algae.

Not recommended to build a pool near large trees, especially poplar, willow, broom or horse chestnut. In dry weather their roots will try to reach out to the water and can damage the waterproofing of the pool. In addition, you will probably not like to clean water from the leaves daily. If they didn’t get rid of, decomposing they will contribute to the rapid development of green algae.

If possible, choose loam soil for the site of your pool. It is poorly permeable for water and thiswill be greatly advantageous if the waterproofing layer should become damaged.

Be sure to consider the prevalent wind direction in your area. The pool will inevitably accumulate garbage so it is desirable for it to be carried to a spot where it will easier for you to clean it up. In this place you will need to have an overflow pipe, or even better, two in the corners. Thus, the debris together with the excess water will go down the drain.

How to select a natural swimming pool shape

Natural pool shape

Here there can be many contradictions. Each household is sure to find a picture of some unrealistic pool and request something similar. Nevertheless, remember, if you are
building your own natural swimming pool yourself, photos in glossy magazines are a bad example to
follow. After putting in this amount of effort you are likely to get something totally unusual, not at all like what you were aiming for. And it is this desire that can lead to the collapse of the entire venture. The fact is that the more complex the shape of the pool, the more care it requires. It will be necessary to calculate accurately the optimal position for filters and their power and to keep buying additional reagents. So think about whether you need all this hassle.
The number of problems you have will depend on the shape of pool you desire. The optimal shape for a home pool is considered to be a rectangular, square or oval. And to make it more unusual, you can try adding an original staircase or a small change in the radius from one side of an oval pool.

Eco swimming pool setup

An artificial pond, or eco-pool, consists of several separate parts. Their interaction isresponsible for the natural way the pool water is maintained:

  • filtration area (decantation);
  • regeneration area (purification zone biotope or a microorganism cleaning zone);
  • oxygen saturation zone (this can be a stream, waterfall or a simple drop of water);
  • pool area.

Water purification in natural swimming pools is carried out in the sump. There purified water is separated and heavy particles settle. Then the water passes through the fibrous structure of plant roots, which act as filters, removing dirt and excess nutrients in the water.
Thus, the water in the natural pools is cleaned with interactive patterns of aquatic plants, and phyto- and zoo-plankton, and water circulation happens as a result of the simplified system
of filtration.


Also as with other types of pools, natural pools can be any shape, size, and purpose, and are equipped with various water attractions.

An eco-pool does not require winter maintenance. In winter, the pool can be used as askating rink.

Before creating a natural pool, consider some points. First, it must be possible to build a pool on the site: it requires a considerable area (a minimum of 700 square feet). Second, at least 50% of the pool area should be reserved for small plants.

Eco pool skating

How to build a natural pool DIY

To construct the pool you will need the following materials:

  • cement
  • sand
  • gravel
  • fittings
  • boards for formwork and bars
  • liquid glass
  • clay


  • shovel
  • hammer
  • hacksaws
  • Bulgarian
  • pliers
  • plumb
  • level

DIY natural swimming pool (order of operations)

The first stage. Excavation and fortification.

  1. Mark the pool area;DIY natural pool
  2. Remove the turf and put it aside;
  3. Dig a pit: first dig a rough pit and then line up the walls;
  4. Cover the pit edges with boards for walking – then the ground round the edges of the trench will not be compacted;
  5. At the bottom of the ditch lay a clay coating and carefully stamp;
  6. Use a wheel to measure the pit dimensions, cut valve rods to the desired size using a grinder;
  7. Around the border of the ditch, approximately 2’’ from the top, drive in an armature at 1’ intervals;
  8. Having installed the valve, proceed to its horizontal piping. The distance between the horizontally positioned rebar can also be 1’, although you can make it less. Clamp the fittings together using wire and tightening it with pliers;
  9. At the bottom stack the armature and pipes.
  10. Arrange the pipe system according to the sewerage and water recovery plan.
  11. DIY natural pool constructions

The second phase. Coating the bottom of the pool

  1. Prepare the grout, blend the cement and sand, then add the gravel and water, and thoroughly stir it in the mixer. If you don’t have one, prepare the solution manually.
    The proportions of constituents for the preparation of the concrete mortar: 1 part cement, 3 parts sand and 4 parts gravel;
  2. Pour the ready concrete mix on the bottom of the pit, stamp and give it at least 12-14 hours to dry.

Important: When concreting the bottom don’t forget to create a small slope so that the water moves towards one place. Subsequently it will be possible to drain water from the
pool through the pump.

Third step. Panels for formwork

While the concrete screed at the bottom dries, you can start making panels for the formwork.

  1. Cut the boards to size. Be aware that after you install the boards in the pit, between its walls and the formwork must be a space of at least 5’’
  2. Hammer together panels of cut boards and planks.
    How to build a natural pool DIY

The fourth stage. Concrete walls

Before proceeding to the installation of formwork, lay roofing material on the concrete screed bottom and cover it with panels so that it does not restrict the setup of the formwork.

  1. Set the shuttering boards inside and fasten them to each other;
  2. Prepare a grout solution in the same proportions as for the concrete screed at the bottom of the trench;
  3. Lay the concrete in layers of 6-8’’ and compact each layer.
    DIY natural pool instructions

The fifth stage. Finishing the walls of the pool

Dismantle the formwork, grout the walls of the pool and finish the surface and the bottom of the pool with a layer of liquid glass. Or you may decide to finish the walls with tiles.

DIY natural pool building

The completed eco-pool will require maintenance. To keep the pool in good condition, it is necessary to regularly remove fallen leaves, trim the dead parts of plants, and clear the filter lattices. Also, pay attention to the fact that every 5 years you need to carry out “major” cleaning of the reservoir to remove silt and debris.

Natural pool design

Water filtration system

The principle of natural lake filtration

In an artificial pond or natural pool created on the basis of a biological filter, repeat the process that helps maintain the natural balance of the aquatic environment. For this purpose the principles of water treatment occurring in natural lakes are used. An eco-pool operates due to the constant exchange of the upper and lower water layers, which is caused by temperature differences in larger pools and forced filtration in small ones. As a result of all this, all the water passes evenly through the biofilter, cleansed of impurities and enriched with nutrients.

Natural pool zoning

The mechanical filtration system

Cleaning and filtering the water in a lake happens thanks to a biological filter. However, to achieve the best possible quality of the aqueous solution, dry leaves, grass residues and other contaminants that enter the water body should be promptly removed from the water surface. To do this, use a mechanical filtration system that allows you to relieve the biofilter of this
unnecessary additional load. In the cleaning process, mechanical filtration accounts for 20% of the total filtering. Its main task is to extract from the water large and suspended particles.


The biological filter

Biological filtration accounts for 80% of the total filtering. The shallow area, which is the regeneration area, is inhabited by microorganisms and aquatic plants, which filter all the
water. Here water is cleaned and the necessary natural balance is created which distinguishes natural pools from pools with conventional chlorinated water. The main task is to extract
from the water nitrogen-containing compounds and heavy metals, NH4, NH3, PO4, NO3, NO2 and Fe2O. Specially selected plants and microorganisms maintain the regular hydrochemical

Biofilter natural pool

Water purification in the natural pool

Natural pool setup

The principles of operation and cleaning of a natural swimming pool are simple and complicated at the same time. The reservoir consists of two parts: deep and shallow. The difference of depths typically ranges from 1’ to 7’ (0.5-0.3 to 2.0 m). The deep part is designed for swimming and the ancillary part is responsible for water purification and performs a decorative function. As a rule, it contains a large number of plants. This area is a water garden, which is also known as a “regeneration area” or “plateau”.

Plants feed on organic matter that falls into the pool, and thus purify the water. The range of vegetation is selected specifically to control harmful algae. The plateau can be further inhabited by natural colony of microorganisms that contribute to the cleaning of the reservoir.

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