Build a Natural Pool the Natural Way

Want to build a natural pool? Read our guide to learn how to build a natural pool. Learn about the design, construction, costs, and maintenance of natural pools. Here are the steps to take to build your own natural swimming pool.

Who doesn’t enjoy a lazy day by the poolside? For many, this summertime treat is just what they need to beat the heat. The idea of a natural pool isn’t new, but its popularity has increased as people realize its many benefits.

While most pools are built with concrete made from harsh chemicals, a natural pool uses soft materials like clay and limestone, making them both earth-friendly and comfortable for swimmers.

In this article, we’ll talk about what makes a natural pool different from a traditional swimming pool, how you can incorporate a natural pool in your backyard, and the pros and cons of a natural pool.

How to Build a Natural Pool?

A natural swimming pool with forest

Natural swimming pools are pretty common in Europe, but the concept is still in its infancy in the United States. 

When you ask most American swimming-pool contractors to build a backyard pool, they’ll most likely respond with a long list of materials, including rebar, gunite, fiberglass, chlorine, and an energy-sapping filtration system, among other things.

However, in the past years, there’s a growing number of builders who’ve figured out how to build a natural pool without using manufactured materials and chemical additions. They discovered that it is possible to design swimming pools that work with nature and its natural surroundings. 

Natural swimming pools utilize gravel, stone, and clay instead of concrete, fiberglass, and aquatic plants instead of hazardous chemicals and complex mechanical filtration systems. The plants add oxygen to the pool, sustain beneficial bacteria that consume waste and possibly dangerous creatures, and provide a home for frogs, dragonflies, and other aquatic life. 

The result is a beautiful, organically sustainable system that is relatively affordable to build. A natural pool may be built by hand for as low as $2,000, but traditional pools can cost tens of thousands of dollars. 

Natural swimming pools need no hazardous chemicals, are relatively low-tech, and require just a minimal amount of care once constructed. You won’t have to empty out the pool every fall. You’ll only need to fill the pool once, except for topping it up now and again.

Building a Natural Swimming Pool by Hand

Building a natural pool by digging a hole in ground

The simplest and most environmentally friendly method of constructing a swimming pool is simply to hollow out a hole in the ground. You may create your pool as shallow or as deep as you like, but the most important thing to remember is that the edges must slope to prevent the soil from caving in. Pool owners follow a ratio of 1-foot vertical drop for every 3 horizontal feet. 

“It’s not a bathtub effect, but more like a soup bowl”

Tom Zingaro, Denver-based Blue Lotus Designs.

One of the primary reasons classic swimming pools are designed with a steel structure is to guarantee that the walls remain upright and perpendicular to the pool’s bottom surface. A pool built with sloping sides will not require any steel reinforcement, which will save you money on construction costs.

Zoning Your Natural Swimming Pool

Natural swimming pool with lots of trees and plants

To reduce the need for chlorine and expensive filtering systems and pumps, it would be best to put aside at least 50 percent of the pool area for planting shallow plants, either at one end of the pool or in a ring around the edges.

You’ll want to separate the swimming portion of the pool from the filtration area, often known as the plant zone. As water flows through the fibrous root structure of the plant, the plant’s roots function as a biological filter, eliminating pollutants and excess nutrients from the water.

Decomposer organisms, which are also present in the root zones of plants, eat bacteria, resulting in a significant reduction of waste in the water.

The plant zone’s depth should gradually get deeper, reaching a maximum depth of 18 inches just near the swimming zone. The plant zone must be enough for taller aquatic plants. At the deeper part of the plant zone, you can add submerged and floating vegetation.

Natural Swimming Pool Benefits

A gardenlike feature with a natural pool

Natural pools can adapt to different climates. Though they may evoke images of a brown pond with muck at the bottom, most are filled with concrete, and if you want to make your natural pool seem nearly precisely like a regular pool, you can—you can place a gravel filter hidden and underground.

You may also take the other approach and build a pool that resembles a pond or pool found in the woods, finishing it off with rocks and pebbles. In general, these are more design-friendly than conventional pools.

A natural pool is more eco-friendly than conventional pools because it eliminates pool chemicals that may damage the environment.

Organic or natural pools require far less maintenance and have reduced operating expenses compared to conventional pools. They do not necessitate chlorine, chemical filtration, pH balancing, or any of the other expenditures and multiple daily and weekly duties associated with maintaining a traditional pool. Keeping the pool well-skimmed and free of debris is about the amount of pool maintenance you will need to perform.

Natural pools are suitable for use in a wide variety of temperatures; however, during winter months, these types of pools could freeze over just like a pond in the wild.

Natural Swimming Pool Downsides

Natural pools are usually built by hand and tend to be much more expensive than conventionally constructed pools. You will need to dig the pool yourself, and you may also need to add the finishing touches yourself (like putting in a pebble wall) because contractors often charge a premium when building natural pools.

You’ll also need to know about the various plants that grow in your region and how they can help you maintain your pool’s cleanliness without chlorine or filters. Yet knowledge is power! Natural pool owners must learn how to manage their water chemistry so that the water remains friendly for swimming all year round, so it’s a good idea to consult with other natural pool owners in your area first before building one. 

Additionally, natural pool owners must be aware of the various parasites and diseases that might inhabit their pool. It is best only to allow the use of clean and healthy animals in the pool area.

The aesthetics of a natural pool may put off some swimmers if they are accustomed to swimming in clear, blue, chemically filtered water.

Pool algae in green water

Depending on the presence of algae in the water, organic water might take on a brownish color, and it is hard to eliminate debris and certain living organisms from an organic pool. Although the water is entirely safe to swim in, your natural pool may not be as attractive as a Grecian-style pool with beautiful blue water.

Check out these articles to learn how to eliminate algae from your pool: Best Algaecide, Mustard Algae, Pool Algae Infestations


Natural swimming pools may sound like an odd idea, but this green space could be just what your family needs. Many natural swimming pools are used to have a fun, relaxing space to swim and relax both alone and with friends. If you have a large backyard, it’s nice to have a natural swimming pool – if you don’t have that much budget or time on your hands for a traditional pool.

Another reason natural swimming pools are great is that they look unique compared to the old way of building standard concrete pools. They also do not cost as much as other types of pools. That being said, they do need more maintenance than your average pool, but that is very easy to maintain even if you’re on vacation or feel busy. I hope this article has given you some insight into the benefits and drawbacks of natural swimming pools and maintaining them better.

Check out these backyard pool ideas that give you all the information you need to design the perfect pool for your backyard.

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