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A natural swimming pool



To swim in a natural pool, without chemicals, surrounded with both plants and aquatic fauna…is totally possible.

Here is a special report on the subject.

Summary (click on one of the links below)

- A natural pool: introduction, design, upkeep and advice
- Private experience
- Elodée Creations: a company in symbiosis with nature, managed by a passionate person!

Introduction and warnings

Beware that your swimming pond will inevitably become the home of a variety of other animals such as water salamanders, frogs, toads, dragon flies and other insects. If swimming in that type of environment is not your thing, then this project is not for you!

We advise you to get in touch with your community administration to see if a building permit is required.

Don't forget that a water area is always a danger for children. Be very careful with the little ones, and explain to those old enough to understand the possible dangers. 

The design

The idea is to build several basins in which the water will circulate and be treated naturally.

Step by step, here is a photo with commentaries.


The natural swimming-pool is usually composed of a principal area for swimming (1) and one or more areas for vegetation (2) and (3). The design is "made to measure" and allows for a variety of shapes suitable for all kinds of gardens.
The minimal surface is 50m² with an ideal one of 100m² or more. The bigger the surface, the greater the guarantee you'll have to reach the desired biological balance. 
The preferred materials to use are the PVC liner or a gum rubber liner (EPDM).


The water purification process shall be natural with some marsh areas (3) and lots of vegetation (2) along with some biological filtration. 

The vegetated area must imperatively be protected and separated from the areas where the swimmers are. The wooden logs demarcate well the boundaries of the main swimming area and also serve as an overflow "valve" toward the vegetated areas.(4)

The communicating vessels principle

Technically, a water pump circulates the water in a closed circuit system. It starts in the swimming pool basin where several fish handle some of the cleaning process, then, it runs into basin n° 2 where it will be purified, thanks to the plants, and eventually by the use of a biological filter. A water pump, placed in front of the marsh area, will circulate the purified water back to basin n°1…..
Please note that each basin has been dug to different depths. The swimming-pool basin should have a depth between 60 cm to 1.80 m (from the top to the bottom of the picture), basin n°2 from 1.20m (bottom right of the picture) to 20 cm (marsh area n°3). These depths are absolutely necessary for the acclimatization of the plants and their development, but also for the fauna (insects, batrachians and fish…) and finally contribute to the good ecological equilibrium of the water areas.

Upkeep and advice

You may think that the upkeep of such a project will drive you to exhaustion! Well, you are wrong! There is little to do, it is economical and ecologic. If some sediment appears in the "swimming" part, you can easily clean it out with a vacuum designed for ponds. That is why it is advised not to put gravel in the bottom.

As much as possible, avoid having leaves or other rubbish fall into your water area. In autumn, a "net" cover is wise.

You fear a mosquito invasion ? Wrong again, because the natural predators will not permit their development.

Can I put fish in the swimming area ? Yes, it is recommended because the fish will do part of the cleaning. It is best however, to limit it to only several types (gold fish, trout for example…).

Can I swim with my solar cream on ? Please avoid it! You may put the fauna and the flora at risk. 

Other projects:

étang piscine structuré

A ne pas faire évidemment ! Juste pour rire...

Let's laugh a bit… this is not a good design, except for our canine friends !!!

étang piscine plus sophistiqué

A French reference / "Elodée Créations":


Mr. Roussille talks to us about his work:


Basically, the project remains more complex that that of a simple pool, which often is nothing more that a simple parallelogram made of parpen, covered with a PVC liner. It is also more complex than a simple aquatic garden. The swimming component effectively poses some constraints which have a cost.

There is also the reality of the market place. Natural swimming pools are just getting to be known, even if it is more and more in demand, thanks to people like you who so generously promote it.


However, its promotion is far from being properly structured. To propose, in a professional manner the design of a natural swimming pool, a person needs to have a very precise know-how, which could in time become a specialization. Such a specialization in turn supposes that it can be available to a market geographically widely spread. Therefore, to the high costs related to the fine tuning of this precise, yet polyvalent know-how, are added the costs related to distance. 

I wish to act simultaneously on two fronts:
- to develop a self management concept by offering support services for such endeavours, allowing a person to take control of the design and the construction of his project. The self -management concept allows us to go beyond the low demand concentration within a specific geographical area.
- Develop a proposal to educate landscape professionals in order that they can access the necessary know-how to be able to seriously submit a natural pool project to their clients.

The development of these two fronts should progressively reduce the costs.

The long term advantages are effectively important, not only for the pocket book, but also for one's sanity.

In terms of swimming-pool, we now have a choice between two strategies: either you go for the natural way favouring the harmonious development of life within the water area, or you go for trying to stop its development. This second strategy, on top of being costly, also has the inconvenience of placing the person adopting it in the psychologically uncomfortable position of fighting nature. Better to be for than against nature.

Philippe Roussille
"Elodée creations"
E-mail :




The swimming pond or the natural swimming pool is a formula for the future, especially in the north of Europe which receives little sun.


One can enjoy the aquatic garden year long, and the pool during the hot periods. Furthermore, the natural swimming pool integrates itself very well to all types of gardens (wild, structured, developed...)


Finally, this version remains, in the long term, less expensive than a traditional swimming pool, better for the health of us humans and especially in harmony with the surrounding fauna and flora.


Special thanks to Martine Demaret (translation 2003)


Welcome page / Designing a pond / Construction step by step and in pictures / Completion and oxygenating techniques and safety / Plant life / Animal life / Upkeep and seasonal tips / Evolution day after day / To visit / Reading / Contact and links


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