Turf Design Build Magazine Magazine - January, 2013

COLUMNS

Dirt: Swimming with Flora, Fauna and Merry Weather

By Nicole Wisniewski

My husband's grandmother lives on 180 acres in Southern Ohio. Making our way up her winding driveway, one can't help but stop and admire the self-built natural pond in front of her country home.

I remember the first time we were visiting for a summer holiday weekend and everyone - my husband, his siblings, his aunts, uncles and cousins - jumped into the cool water almost immediately. The pond looked more like something one gazed upon vs. something one jumped in. But they made floating next to reeds, watching tadpoles swim by and giggling at frogs jumping in a wave-like pattern as they swam along the stone wall shore look, well, natural. It wasn't long before I, too, dove in to enjoy the unconventional, yet aesthetically pleasing experience full of the scent of nearby pines and the rhythmic twittering and croaking of neighboring birds and frogs.

Natural pools like this one are growing in popularity among Americans who are forgoing traditional chlorine-cleansed, concrete-decked pools to embrace aquatic plant and animal-filled natural environments, according to a recent article in Garden Design.

"Popular throughout Europe since the mid-1980s, when Biotop, an Austrian company, first introduced them to that market, natural swimming pools mimic the self-regulating process of wetlands," the magazine explains. "Though they vary in design - ranging in appearance from rustic organic to sleek infinity-edged - and exact mechanics, they typically consist of an in-ground vessel lined with an eco-friendly material (sometimes rubber) and divided into zones for swimming and filtration, the latter filled with plants and gravel that, along with beneficial bacteria, help purify the water. Skimmers, filters, and low-pressure, high-efficiency pumps are often incorporated to prevent stagnation and remove sediment and larger objects."

My husband's family's pool has a tile floor and an overflow pipe that feeds a nearby stream. The family even pulls from this stream to water their gardens.

For residential customers interested in adding pools, particularly because they want to best enjoy the nature in their backyards, this natural pool trend might be a welcome alternative.

I know for me it is always the ultimate interplay of people with water, earth, flora and fauna.

What other trends are you seeing in landscape designs this year? We'd love to hear from you. Send thoughts to nwisniewski@mooserivermedia.com.

Nicole Wisniewski
Consulting Editor