Top 10 tips for building your own affordable DIY natural swimming pool

Chemical free swimming has been big news this week.

With the Kingscross Pond Club opening over the bank holiday and the M&G garden at The RHS Chelsea flower show last week featuring a beautiful swimming pond (complete with synchronised swimmers in flowery caps) you may well be feeling inspired to excavate that unused patch of your own garden to create your own chemical free swimming ‘retreat’.

First and most importantly, you need to decide if it’s a DIY natural swimming pool you want to create or a swimming pond.

If it’s wild swimming, lots of plants, low tech and a pond like appearance then a swimming pond is probably best for you.  These emulate a truly wild swimming experience but are complex to build structurally as they need very specific design characteristics and carefully planted regeneration zones.  More information about swimming ponds can be found on our website.

On the other hand, if it’s 100% chemical free, clean, clear water and relatively wildlife free swimming and flexible design you are looking for or the ability to heat your pool then you need to build a natural swimming pool.

If this is the case, keep reading for our top tips for building your own affordable DIY natural swimming pool.

1. Keep your design simple

Keep the bespoke design features to a minimum. Whilst shallows, natural stone walls and water features look great, they all add expense and difficulty in construction of a DIY natural swimming pool.

2. Go with a flat bottom

A flat bottomed natural swimming pool means a simple dig and one level foundation for your walls which is much much easier.  It’s also lots easier to clean.

3. Box shapes are best

Most swimming pools are box shaped as its cheap to build! Liner manufacturers will box weld a liner for you, or like this pool you could just tank it. A word of caution though, make sure the tanking product does not contain phosphates that will feed algae in future.

Keep the design simple When building your own DIY natural swimming pool

4.  Avoid too many fittings

This same pool has its inlet and outlet pipes blatantly on show, you would think that would ruin the look but they have cleverly blended them in. With this small natural swimming pool you can skim the pool with a leaf net but if you want it to be skimmed automatically consider a balance tank to avoid tricky pool fittings.

Some pool fittings are not expensive but remember water proofing the pool is the hardest bit so best avoid too many fittings breaching the waterproofing if you are doing this without our skilled labour.

5. Don’t go too deep

Whilst swimming ponds need depth for stability natural swimming pools can be as shallow or deep as you like, but I would stick to 1.8m or less as walls 2m and over need a lot of reinforcement.

If you’re not fussed about diving safety then 1.5m is a comfortable depth, easy to clean and the level of reinforcement is still reasonable. Remember to check your retaining wall with a structural engineer if in doubt, and that the weakest point is where the wall joins the floor, and on long straight wall runs, so bolster them with extra concrete if trying to minimise use of steel.

Also consider using our insulated wall elements designed for DIY natural swimming pools. An all in one and simple to use package. Contact us for more information

6. Move away from concrete or prefabricated pool walls

If you hopper the bottom of the swimming pool you can create depth in the middle while bringing the base up to a shallower depth at the sides, here you could use stone or sand bags to form walls. Be careful though, this needs a good eye to make it look good, sloppy use of a flat liner and sand bags can give a poor finish.

7. Use a well or borehole if you have one

Get some advice on using your borehole water if you are lucky to have this as it will likely make long term fill and top up more affordable, not only is mains usually on a meter but you will probably need to treat it before use too. Please feel free to speak to us for advice on this treatment.

8. Use a black liner

Black liners produce a high passive heat gain, so heating becomes far cheaper or even unnecessary.

9. Always draw yourself a drainage plan

Poor planned drainage is high on the failure list for natural swimming pools. Work out how to move surface/ground waters away from the pool or choose a location that isn’t the lowest point in your garden, you’re not building a pond! Ensure you surround your pool with good drainage channels.

10. Use professionals for your water treatment

Use of a fresh spring water source on flow through will give you guaranteed good water quality while costing very little, but if you don’t have this and you want to have any warmth to your pool water, you need to deal with your water quality properly. Pumping water through gravel beds with plants in is not the answer although some sources of information may lead you that way.

If you don’t want to be battling algae for the rest of your days please do set your pool up with a proprietary natural swimming pool filter system

Clear Water Revival would be happy to provide their easy to install filter system into your DIY natural swimming pool design. Trust us, this will be cheaper in the long run, cutting down your cleaning hours and ruling out ultimate failure.  The whole system is very energy efficient and can be run on a single solar panel!

For more tips and natural pool information follow us on Twitter @Naturalpools

  • Fred Summers

    These are some great tips. I hadn’t really thought about the depth of the pool being a problem. I would have thought a rounded pool would have been easier to clean. These are some great tips on trying to dig out your own pool. Thanks for the advice.

    • Hi Fred, thanks for the comments. Glad the tips were useful.

  • All the tips are essential to gain long lasting swimming pond. A
    tip I will like to share is: One coat of Pond Liner Repair makes pond waterproof for next 5 years. I am sharing it on behalf of my personal experience.

  • ryan

    I live in Reno, Nevada. Its high desert, so a lot of xeriscaping and reduced water use… would it make any sense to have a natural pool in such an environment? Or am I just going to lose to much to evaporation for it to make any sense.

  • Alex Larson

    I’m glad to read such amazing and useful tip! Now I able to do this pool standing on my head 😉 Btw, it’s very important to seal and waterproof walls with waterproofing materials Liquid rubber can be very effective. N.B.: Do not forget the concrete surface should be free of dirt or debris.

  • Charles Stutzman

    how many times per day does the water need to be cycled through the system?

  • trigga

    Hi, thanks for the info. When I click on the link for the filter system it comes up wiht “page not found”. Could you please update the link?

    • Thomas Kline

      I see that they are linking to … in the source code, but I believe they need to change it to: …

  • Роман Петручик

    Nice, but how about algae in the swimming pool? It the most necessary thing to clean. hopefully there is a good instruction

  • Great post! One thing I am using to save my pond it may work with your pool. In my mind is Pondpro2000 which works excellently to cure leaks and prevent damages. For more details:

  • Winter pool cover pumps are a great tool to help keep the water off your
    cover, and it will also keep your pool from overflowing when the water
    makes it through the cover, and while you can do this by creating a
    simple siphon with just a garden hose, using a cover pump will make the
    job so much easier for you. Because let’s admit that you don’t want to
    be standing outside in the freezing cold siphoning water off your pool
    cover — your time is more valuable.

  • Jake

    would natural swimming pools still require a concrete foundation?