Jane's Delicious Garden
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
Converting our chemical pool into a natural pool has revitalised that area of the garden, with birds splashing and drinking, dragonflies constantly hovering and dipping, and frogs croaking under the moonlight.
We now use it year round: in hot weather experiencing the joy of swimming in fresh clear water and in cooler weather, enjoying the beauty and calm of a wondrous natural space.
This is what it looked like before . . . .
When we moved into our house, there was a sparkling blue pool. With the first summer storms it instantly turned green. So began an ongoing battle involving pool testers and endless visits to the pool shop to have the water assessed, which usually resulted in adding chemicals with scary warnings. When the pipes developed yet another leak, we covered it up and it remained under wraps for three or four years.
Until Tosca arrived.
A cute bundle of white fur who soon spotted the puppy-sized puddle in the middle of the pool covering. It took her about two seconds to bite her way through the netting to romp in the water. It was very cute while she was a pup – but 30 kg of fully grown German shepherd began wearing the edges of the cover and we had visions of it tearing and Tosca floundering and drowning. We uncovered the pool immediately. Surprisingly, although the sides were covered with black growth, the water itself was lovely and fresh. And so the idea of a natural pool began to germinate.
At first I simply turned the pool into a pond by adding large pots of papyrus, bulrushes and other water plants. Four goldfish quickly multiplied into dozens. The pool became a beautiful reflecting pond, with the natural water attracting birds and other wildlife. But it wasn’t
brilliant for swimming. The plants kept the water semi-clear, but in hot weather algae would grow. And with the plants and fish, a mucky pond floor began to develop. If I wanted a clean swimming area it needed a bit more work. It needed to change into a natural wetland filtered pool.
How a Wetland Pool Works
Wetland pools work hand-in-hand with nature to create clean, healthy water. Water is circulated between the swimming area of the pool and a wetland. The wetland, with plants, animals and substrate, filters and cleans the water, returning it to the swimming pool so clean and pristine that you can drink it. A natural pool requires far less electricity and all harmful chemicals are eliminated.
Our pool was a standard rectangle, something I have never liked, as all the shapes in my garden are natural and flowing. Instead of simply dividing the pool (which is the way most conversions are done) I wanted a deep splash pool inspired by rock pools, with a wide step for lounging in the water and flat rocks to bask on after a swim. It was a daunting task and I decided to call in an expert. Architect Anthony Philbrick of wetlandPOOLS built his first wetland pool in 2007 for his four-year-old daughter. He has since created more than 200 wetland pools, perfecting the art of using nature to purify the water. With his imaginative architect brain, he jumped at the opportunity to create something different. He suggested we create an elliptically-shaped pool rising out of the shallow end, with a seat running around the inside. Water would flow from the ellipse, over a waterfall, into the wetland, which would be created in the remaining area of the pool. This would completely change the shape of the old pool and create a new and exciting space. So we began.
For the step-by-step click here