Think Natural Swimming Pools are Icky? Think Again

Woman swimming among lily pads in a natural pool Natural pools don't require chemicals to maintain clean, safe water. Image: Woodhouse Natural Pools

Want to take a refreshing, chlorine-free dip in a backyard swimming pool? Go to England. For years the Brits have been onto the idea of natural swimming pools — pools designed with filtration systems that don’t rely on chemicals to maintain clean, safe water for swimming. These wonderful backyard features are as beautiful as they are environmentally friendly.

Want to take a refreshing, chlorine-free dip in a backyard swimming pool? Go to England. For years the Brits have been onto the idea of natural swimming pools — pools designed with filtration systems that don’t rely on chemicals to maintain clean, safe water for swimming. These wonderful backyard features are as beautiful as they are environmentally friendly.

Why Europe and not here? We Americans think of a backyard pool as blue, sterile, and ripe with the smell of chlorine. Natural pools, however, are every bit as clean and safe: See for yourself at our slideshow on natural pools, where we dispel some common myths about natural pools.

Apparently, we Colonials are slowly coming to accept this more natural and healthful way of taking a backyard dip. “Business is hopping,” says Mick Hilleary of Total Habitat in Bonner Springs, Kan., one of the few natural pool installation outfits here in the States. In fact, Hilleary’s expertise is rare enough that he routinely flies all over the country to consult on and manage natural pool installations.

Acceptance here is still in its infancy because, for most folks, their first exposure to swimming is in a “chlorinated environment,” Hilleary says. Those who grew up swimming in lakes and rivers, he adds, are generally more open to the idea.

What’s in it for you? If you’re considering a pool, a natural pool offers chemical-free swimming for about the same cost to build as a chlorine pool. Ongoing maintenance costs are negligible compared with the $300 to $600 per year required of a chlorinated pool, and there aren’t any filters to change.

Full disclosure: I haven’t swum in a natural pool myself. But I did grow up swimming in Midwestern lakes, and the notion of naturally fresh water is extremely appealing. If you’d like to know more, check out Total Habitat’s downloadable ebook, Natural Swimming Pools/Ponds — The Total Guide. Or visit the websites of some of Europe’s outstanding natural pool builders.

Would you opt for a natural over chlorinated pool?