Video: Total Habitat
4. Natural swimming pools
If you love the feeling of swimming in a lake’s fresh, clear waters, then a natural pool system may just be right for you.
Originally developed in Austria in the 1980s, natural swimming pools rely on plants and beneficial microorganisms, instead of chemicals, to filter and purify water – just like naturally occurring pools, ponds and lakes.
Natural pools combine a swimming area, which is usually lined with rubber or foil, with an aquatic plant garden, where microorganisms like bacteria and zooplankton break down organic waste into nutrients for plants. The two areas are separated by a barrier wall to prevent soil and plants from encroaching into the swimming section, but there is a free transfer of water between each area, circulated by pumps and small waterfalls.
Water in a natural swimming pool is clean and safe, but not sterile, so the pool is able to sustain plant life and attract beneficial insects, frogs and salamanders. This ability to support local ecosystems, while operating 100-percent chemical free, make natural swimming pools one of the most sustainable chlorine pool alternatives.
While the high cost to design and construct a natural swimming pool may deter many potential customers, maintenance over the pool’s lifetime should be less expensive than that of a conventional pool, as natural pools require no chemicals and simple maintenance, such as pruning plants and skimming large plant debris off the water’s surface. Plus, many natural pools incorporate passive solar heating, which can help ease the pool’s impact on your utility bills.