After 30-plus years of swimming in chlorinated pools, I can tell you that I’m sick and tired of red eyes, dried-out skin, green hair and bleached swimsuits. I’m ready for a change, and that change just may be a natural swimming pool (NSP). These chemical-free beauties are not only eco-friendly, they add loads of natural beauty to your backyard. Since natural swimming pools are a relatively new concept in America (they’ve been popular in Europe for more than three decades), let’s take a closer look at how they work.

What Are Natural Swimming Pools?

Natural swimming pools use a combination of plants and gravel to keep the water fresh and clear. Water passes through this biofilter — called the regeneration zone — and filters back into the swimming area, clarified and completely clean. A specialized skimmer removes any debris from the surface of the swim zone before the water is circulated back into the regeneration zone.

Natural swimming pools don’t have to look like “ye old swimming hole” — they come in a variety of styles. Furthermore, their size can be adjusted to fit your needs; they work in everything from small urban yards to large rural properties. The most important thing to remember is that the size of the regeneration and swimming zones should be equal for sufficient water cleansing, so keep that in mind during the planning stages.

How Do I Install a Natural Swimming Pool?

Though there are DIY kits and books mapping out how to install a natural swimming pool, it’s highly recommended you hire a professional. NSPs are constructed wetlands ecosystems, based on the principles of limnology, hydraulics, hydroponics and modern pool construction methods. Long-term success is dependent upon ecological stability, which means all these principles must be carefully incorporated. If you want a safe, clean and beautiful pool, the whole system needs to be planned and crafted by an experienced and knowledgeable landscape architect or pool builder.

How Do I Maintain a Natural Swimming Pool?

Though natural swimming pools can be used immediately, it takes roughly two to three years until a stable biological equilibrium is reached. Once balance has been achieved, an NSP will need significantly less regular maintenance than a traditional swimming pool. Daily maintenance consists of tending the water garden and clearing the skimmer of debris.

Seasonal care and maintenance is still…