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    Thread: Natural Swim Pond ... #1. for the grandkids #2. for landscaping aesthetics

    1. #1
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      Natural Swim Pond ... #1. for the grandkids #2. for landscaping aesthetics

      As the title suggests, this was a natural swim pond build that served TWO primary purposes:
      1. For the grandchildren to enjoy & take a dip in on a hot day
      2. For enhancing the backyard environment & bringing a bit of nature closer to the house

      Maximum pond size is 53' x 42' x 6' depth, "free-form" square.

      Here's the general concept:

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    2. #2
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      Holy smokes! That's twice as big as my inground swimming pool! Nice looking project. How do you make a lay-out like that? I have a idea I want to start working on and I don't have a clue how to start drawing it out except on paper.

    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by fishin4cars View Post
      Holy smokes! That's twice as big as my inground swimming pool! Nice looking project. How do you make a lay-out like that? I have a idea I want to start working on and I don't have a clue how to start drawing it out except on paper.
      Because a "natural swim pond" (NSP) generally has a "swim" area & "leave-it-alone" area they tend to be larger than most swimming pools. It's not uncommon to allocate 25% of the surface area for the wetland filtration area. However this can be done in a separate pond either above or below the main pond area.

      As for doing the design layout, it depends on the clients' needs. I use TurboCAD Deluxe for most commercial projects but 80% of all projects can be done w/a combination of either:
      • Google SketchUp (3-D perspective)
      • Windows Paint (general shapes)
      • MS PowerPoint (for layering & labelling purposes)

    4. #4
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      General bill-of-materials:

      Liner:
      • Qty (2) 50' x 100' Firestone 45mil EPDM Rubber Liner
      • Qty (2) 3" x 100' Seam Tape (double-sided)
      • Qty (2) 6" x 100' Cover Tape (single-sided)
      • Qty (4) Firestone QuickPrime Plus (gallon)


      General plumbing:
      • Qty (4) Koi Toilet I -- 4" Aerated Bottom Drains
      • Qty (1) Hakko 120L -- 4.4 CFM (124.61 LPM) @ 6' depth
      • Qty (2) 3" Swing Check Valves
      • Qty (1) 4" Swing Check Valve
      • Qty (2) 3" Ball Valves
      • Qty (1) 4" Ball Valve
      • Qty (2) 3" x 100' Flexible PVC
      • Qty (8) 4" Valterra Knife Gate Valves
      • Lots of 4" Rigid Sched 40 PVC
      • Lots of 2" Rigid Sched 40 PVC
      • Some 1" Rigid Sched 40 PVC


      Infinity Edge Skimmer:
      • Qty (6) 24" x 48" x 4" Perforated Grate Top


      General Filtration:
      • Qty (2) Aqua-Forte Ultra Sieve III
      • Qty (1) Aqua Ultraviolet 400W Viper UV


      Wetland Filtration:
      • Qty (1) Pump Vault w/Lid
      • Qty (1) 5-way Hub
      • Qty (17) Half Shell Extensions
      • Qty (80) Matrix Blocks
      • Bunches of 4-6" cobble stones (layered above matrix)
      • Bunches of 2-3" river rock (layered above cobbles)
      • Bunches of 3/4 - 1-1/2" river rock (top layer)


      Pumps:
      • Qty (2) 8500gph External (each operates USIII & feeds wetland filter)
      • Qty (1) 12500gph External (operates infinity edge skimmer & feeds underwater returns
      • Qty (4) 2" TPRs
      • Qty (4) 2" GPRs
      Last edited by WAC; 12-06-2011 at 05:23 AM.

    5. #5
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      Excavation & aerated BD placement ...

      BDs are positioned, connected to 4" pipe & 1" pipe for air & concreted into position

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      BDs are covered & area is tamped & backfilled

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      Rock clusters of granite field stones are generally dug-in & placed where their final resting location will be.

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      By pre-placement of the boulders, it allows them to be dug-in for a more natural appearance once they're set on top of the liner.

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      Note the virtually all the boulder sizes are beyond a standard 2-3-man boulder & almost all of them are placed by machinery and/or sling method.

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      Boulder placement is ideally done in general clusters working w/the general 3-5's & trying best to avoid a "pearl necklace" effect of having identical sized rocks placed in a ring-around the perimeter.

      When lined & filled, many of these will disappear underwater or be mere out-cropping above water level. A few of these are positioned to be diving rocks or sitting rocks or invoke the concept of an island.

    6. #6
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      That's very cool I can't wait to see more pics of the progress

    7. #7
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      This is gonna be a good one ! For my tastes, I find the natural style ponds with large boulders to be the best !

    8. #8
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      Wow, what a project! I can't wait to see how this turns out.

    9. #9
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      Wow! Simon, this looks like it is going to be fantastic! Thanks for sharing this with us!

      By the way, what is the stocking level of gallons per grandkid?

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by WAC View Post
      Because a "natural swim pond" (NSP) generally has a "swim" area & "leave-it-alone" area they tend to be larger than most swimming pools. It's not uncommon to allocate 25% of the surface area for the wetland filtration area. However this can be done in a separate pond either above or below the main pond area.

      As for doing the design layout, it depends on the clients' needs. I use TurboCAD Deluxe for most commercial projects but 80% of all projects can be done w/a combination of either:
      • Google SketchUp (3-D perspective)
      • Windows Paint (general shapes)
      • MS PowerPoint (for layering & labelling purposes)
      Thank you! I will look into those! This is going to be interesting, Neat concept! Next question, is this for people use only? or a combination people/ fish pool/ pond? LOL I saw one that was built in California a few years back that was a combination pool/pond. I always thought that was really cool, all natural and it was set up for the owners to swim in as well, And they did! lol Looked very similar to your build but no details on installing or reasonings behind any of it. I'll be watching this build closely. I like it! ALOT!

    11. #11
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      I did some research on natural swim pond in the past and some of the concerns that I had were:
      1. Microorganisms that are able to live in this environment that are not very good for your health, either swallowing water or if you have a cut or scratch. Given it is worse here in Houston because the water temperature would stay near body temperature for a few months. Not a huge risk, but not nearly as safe as a chlorine pool.
      2. Algae that grows on the pool makes it super slick.
      3. They cannot handle a pool party or be used more than a couple days a week by 2-3 people. I know this depends on size, but this is for the ones the size of an average chlorine pool.

      I have never even swam in one, but these were just my concerns.

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      Wow! Simon, this looks like it is going to be fantastic! Thanks for sharing this with us!

      By the way, what is the stocking level of gallons per grandkid?
      Grandkids can wreak havoc on the system so it's 1" of child per 100gal. They cannot have anymore grandchildren. Or the kids aren't allowed to grow anymore.

    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by fishin4cars View Post
      ... Next question, is this for people use only? or a combination people/ fish pool/ pond? LOL I saw one that was built in California a few years back that was a combination pool/pond. I always thought that was really cool, all natural and it was set up for the owners to swim in as well, And they did! lol Looked very similar to your build but no details on installing or reasonings behind any of it. I'll be watching this build closely. I like it! ALOT!
      NSPs are a bit more common in Europe. Though w/a common swimming pool (esp. a standard chlorinated system), the philosophy has always been "kill everything but the swimmer" & residual chlorine doesn't do a body good. The side benefit is that it's enjoyable as part of the landscape when it's not being used as a swimming/dipping pool. Even the winter scenery looks nice whereas the stereotypical rectangular hole surrounded by concrete or covered by pool cover during the off-season.

      These aren't olympic lap pools ... although w/the right budget, they can be. Most clients willing to create a NSP tend to be a bit more "Green", Earth-friendly, Organic & big on Sustainable Design. Some will even go out of their way to pick a pump company based on their corporate practices in sustainability! So these systems are modular in the sense that if when their tired of dipping in the pond it will still be a perfectly viable water garden. Or if they wanted to go the route of fish, additional filtration systems can be added.

      This pond actually utilized a 400W Viper UV by Aqua Ultraviolet as part of the process.

    14. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by Stuart77047 View Post
      I did some research on natural swim pond in the past and some of the concerns that I had were:
      1. Microorganisms that are able to live in this environment that are not very good for your health, either swallowing water or if you have a cut or scratch. Given it is worse here in Houston because the water temperature would stay near body temperature for a few months. Not a huge risk, but not nearly as safe as a chlorine pool.
      2. Algae that grows on the pool makes it super slick.
      3. They cannot handle a pool party or be used more than a couple days a week by 2-3 people. I know this depends on size, but this is for the ones the size of an average chlorine pool.

      I have never even swam in one, but these were just my concerns.
      1. Because the popularity of NSPs began in Europe, much of NSP designs & concepts have been under EU scrutiny. As mentioned before, the concept of a Natural Swim Pond (NSP) isn't for everyone. Some people are willing to jump in a lake/pond/stream/river whereas others will wait til they get to the swimming pool at the hotel. Much like ponds & water gardens, proper design is critical & filtration systems can be "beefed" up to clients' standards. One of the more extreme scenarios I have done is a system that utilizes TWO 550W UV sterilizers -- w/a flow rate of 4000gph thru each. The increased dwell time of the slower flow rate (4000gph) thru 550W [x2] was an add-on that the clients wanted. The potential for micro organisms exist everywhere but in general NSPs have acceptable test results to European standards. One could also argue the amount of chlorine & bromine added to systems can cause health issues as well.
      2. Algae can & does grow in the pond. That's why all NSPs should have multiple human entry/exit areas that are maintianed specifically for that purpose. This is often done w/overhanging decks, entry & exit ladders & diving rocks/boulders. Much like any other form of water feature (INCLUDING a swimming pool), an appropriate amount of maintenance must be performed. This is also why NSPs have a "leave-it-alone" area generally referred to as the regeneration zone. This is the area that is highly planted for upflow wetlands filtration. Realistically design creativity can allow these areas to be either part of the pond or completely sepearated. The regeneration zone can be as far away on your property as space allows w/a stream connecting to the swimming area. This can be either up-stream or down-stream.
      3. That's correct, the size of the pond plays a factor but realistically the size & style of the filtration plays an even bigger factor. Just as we've all seen w/ponds or a koi pond, some are content w/a lined hole, submersible pump & stock tank filled w/pot scrubbies. All systems are as strong or capable of their foundation & guts. Incorporating mutliple stages of both mechanical (Sieves) & biological filtration as well as photological (UV sterilization) & phytological (vegetative) filtration I would venture to guess that some of my NSPs has more filtration incorporated into than some koi ponds & many swimming pools despite the use of chlorine. To be honest, I don't believe true sterilization can occur in any outdoor system whether it's a koi pond or NSP or relection pool, etc. There's too many nooks & crannies -- but for high current & turnover rates, free-floating non-benthic pathogens passing thru UVs at appropriate rates can do wonders.


      For this project, approximately 10,000gph is passing thru the 400W Viper UV ... for others, I've done as slow as 4000gph passing thru 550W UV w/dual circuits ... that's 1100W UV w/8000gph for a residential application -- a pretty good zap rate & dwell time to attack some floaties. This deviates a bit from the "organic" aspect of some NSP but just as w/all pond design, there's no ONE right way of doing things.

      Some of the information or mis-information provided tends to "clump" a category w/o evaluating the vastness a system can be.

      Here's a 10,000 sq ft PUBLIC swim pond designed by a German company (Polyplan GmbH) that is 100% chemical free. Most of the "regeneration zone" is located off-site & water is pumped back in. So yes, they can handle a pool party w/more than 2-3 people ... it's all about "scalability", space & "budget" -- no different than the vastness of koi ponds & water garden design.
      Attached Images Attached Images  

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      6oz Geotextile Underlayment (non-woven polypropylene fabric) is laid out prior to the 45mil EPDM

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      45mil Firestone EPDM Rubber Liner is jockey'd into position to be un-rolled & un-wrapped.

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      Oh no! The bottom drains have disappeared!

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    16. #16
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      Wow. The European one shows that it can hold a lot of people.

      How often to the up flow gravel filters (wetland filters) need to be cleaned?

      I am interested to see how this looks when it is done.

    17. #17
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      Awesome, can't wait to see more.

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      fishin4cars ... I forgot to answer one part of your question earlier: the addition of fish should be kept at a bare minimum & definitely not koi! A couple of goldfish is ok or even Gambusia (mosquito fish) but solely for the purpose of mosquito larvae control. Water features of all types can be sensitive enough but for human use -- the suggestion of a quick shower before & definitely AFTER is 100% recommended. Just like in public pools, this will assist in limiting the amount of potential soap/detergent/hair gel/tanning solutions that gets mixed in the water. Limiting the amount of chemicals going in & also washing off after use is a must. Systems can be built to create an illusion of a koi pond but in actuality are 2 separate systems completely. This can be done w/"floating bridges" partitioning a koi pond from the human use area.

    19. #19
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      I'm seeing more and more salt water filters being used in our area, I looked into cost compared to a Chlorine pool and over a five year period it is actually cheaper to run than chlorine pools, But the unit cost more in the beginning. I never explored the idea further but wondered if the system could handle fish, not just carp species but maybe even/or brackish type fish. Don't know if it could be run at a stable dosage that the fish could handle safely and still be effective in sterilizing the water. I've swam in lakes and ponds since I was a child, have no issues what so ever putting goggles on and looking in the pond I have now. Algae is not a issue as far as I would be concerned. Not like I get in the pool more than once or twice a summer anyway. LOL, I KNOW I was in the pond more than the pool the last two years! Just maybe not swimming...

    20. #20
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      Everyone has their own degrees of tolerance. As a kid I had no apprehension of jumping in a creek or a quiet pond to chase after turtles. Actually as an adult, I still don't! My tolerance level is a bit higher than most when I'm in the "ponding" mode ... but it's not like I don't clean up thereafter.

      I've never dealt w/saltwater applications for a natural swim pond but w/varying salinity level, most of your standard aquatic vegetation which does such a good job in the filtration process would perish.

      Of course saltwater pools aren't relying on plants for filtration either.

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