22 Jan 2016

Why swimming ponds are becoming the water feature of choice

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Swimming ponds are increasingly becoming an alternative solution to conventional swimming pools. Tim Evans, Director of UK leading swimming pond provider Garternart gives some guidance to those self-builders considering a swimming pond.

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A swimming pond is basically a low-nutrient lake. Similar to a lake in the mountains – where the water is usually very clear and clean, this is not because it is cold but, because it is low in nutrients. When a swimming pond is designed and built it recreates this natural environment in a domestic setting.

Swimming ponds are designed to be safe and family friendly. In a conventional swimming pool you do not want water to go green – which is caused by single-celled algae – and if you drink some of the water you do not want to become ill which can be caused by bacteria and other pathogens. So the traditional solution is to kill everything with chemicals. The aim is not to kill anything deliberately, alternatively the idea is keep everything alive in a very low-nutrient environment. When nutrients are very low the growth of single-celled algae is much slower and this, as well as bacteria, is controlled by other organisms that maintain the water balance.

Swimming ponds have a smart design process when it comes to water filtering. The main filter is actually the whole water body, equalising in each part of the water constantly being filtered by microscopic life-forms. However, the concept in setting up the swimming pond is to keep the nutrient levels low, therfore a filter and pump would be required for this. Water is passed through gravel and other mediums. Plants also help as they take nutrients out of the water as they grow.

There are many other factors in keeping nutrients out of the pond, such as preventing runoff from surrounding areas, using a skimmer to collect leaves and also not letting ducks spend too much time there.

Many homeowners desire a landscape feature they can swim in. There is a general move away from the use chemicals where possible. Another alternative is a natural pool, here the technology behind the pools work in the same way.

There are a few specifications required to install a swimming pond. You need enough space; ideally a flat or reasonably flat section of land. Ponds are commonly between 10m and 35m in length. If you are planning on including a natural design pond in your self-build, it would help to have clay or chalk soil – this will eliminate any need for internal structures.

Heating can be installed if required. However it is often suggested that people try the pond without heating for a season. It is common in July and August for the water temperature to reach over 25°C without the use of heating.

Planning permission may be required dependant on the nature of the project. Planning permission is needed if the property is listed, or if the site is outside the area of curtilage, or if you are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Otherwise planning permission is generally not required.

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