Pond life

PUBLISHED: 01:30 31 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:41 20 February 2013

Pond life

Pond life

Natural swimming ponds are the ultimate garden feature – practical and beautiful. Take a dip in Charlotte and Oliver Morgan's pond near Woodbridge

Natural swimming ponds are the ultimate garden feature practical and beautiful. Take a dip in
Charlotte and Oliver Morgans pond near Woodbridge

Oliver and Charlotte Morgan live by the edge of Rendlesham Forest, near Woodbridge in east Suffolk, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So, what could be more appropriate for their garden than a swimming pond?

A swimming pond is a natural pool specifically designed for swimming in pure, clear water with no chemicals. Its design can range from formal to entirely natural and the beauty is that its a practical swimming facility, a stunning landscape feature and a wildlife sanctuary.

Oliver and Charlotte used a specialist company, Gartenart, to create their swimming pond.

"I think we first read about swimming ponds in a magazine," said Oliver. "We didnt know anyone who had one. But we did know we wanted something natural, we wanted something that worked, and we wanted something wed want to use.

"We looked at a few companies, what they did and how long theyd been doing it. We then made a few enquiries about cost and how the technology worked.

"You do still have various concerns though beforehand such as will the water be clear and will the temperature put people off?"

Work on the Morgans pool began with a survey in June 2010 and was constructed over ensuing months, working through a very tough, snowy winter. The Rendlesham setting meant the team were digging into sand, so a blockwork wall had to be built between the swimming and planting area.

By August 2011 the project was completed on time and the Morgans were able to use their pool.

"In the first month to six weeks the water was a little cloudy and we wondered then whether the balance of micro-organisms would do the job and if it would become clear," said Oliver. "In fact it did and has been clear ever since.

Theyre delighted with the end result.

"I would say the pond has exceeded our expectations. We wanted something that worked and clearly it works the waters beautiful. How often do you normally swim in fresh water? Very rarely its either the sea or the swimming pool.

"Swimming in fresh water is wonderful. Its like swimming through silk."

The pool is unheated, relying on the sun to warm the water and the couple wondered whether the temperature would put them off, particularly the children.

"In fact the children were in the water pretty much every day all the way through the summer, and quite a long way into the autumn with wetsuits. In that sense, having it here and usable throughout a large chunk of the year is just fantastic.

"In terms of what it looks like, again I would say its exceeded our expectations because its just beautiful. It really is."

One of the best aspects for Oliver is the way its changed the way the family use the house and garden.

"The children just adore it. Their friends want to come back all of the time. Our own friends love it although some get it and some dont. Most interestingly though, everyones children get in it."

Swimming ponds: Your questions answered

How does the water stay clean?

Clear, clean water is the naturally occurring state in ponds and lakes if the body of water is large and deep enough. Swimming ponds are built to emulate this state. The basic principle of a swimming pond is to use the natural purifying properties of plants and micro-organisms to sustain clean, clear, healthy water.

A conventional swimming pool uses chemicals to kill micro-organisms. In a natural pool cleaning work is carried out by micro-organisms which exist in equilibrium.

So, no filter?

In natural water, the main filter is the whole water body, which is constantly being filtered by microscopic life-forms. In swimming ponds it is essential to keep the nutrient levels low and in balance, to ensure that single-celled algae is always controlled. To do this water is filtered through shingle and other mediums using a small pump.

How much maintenance is needed?

A swimming pond needs much less maintenance than a conventional pool, as there are no chemicals to add and manage. The key to maintenance is ensuring the pond receives a small amount of regular attention emptying the skimmer and ensuring that any leaves which may have blown in do not build up in large quantities.

Can you heat the water?

The water can be heated to 27C or higher in some special cases. We generally recommend people try their pool for one season without heating. Pipework can be installed during construction and if required, connected to a heating system later.

Natural water feels much more comfortable on the skin. What might feel cold in chlorinated water, 22C for example, actually feels comfortable in natural water.

What happens in winter?

A swimming pond looks beautiful all year round. The water is not emptied and in fact the more mature and established the water the more stable it becomes.

Do we need planning permission?

Swimming ponds currently fall into the same official category as swimming pools, and according to current regulation (Town and Country Planing Act 2008, Part 1, Class E) you generally do not need planning permission if your property is not listed, the site is within the curtilage of the property
and your property is not situated in
an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

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