With summer heat at its peak, imagine slipping into your own private billabong surrounded by plants, a few native fish and a turtle or two. More Australians are doing just that, seeking an alternative to the traditional backyard pool.
Natural pools aren’t for everyone – many people prefer to see the tiles and know exactly where they are treading water. However, landscape contractor and natural-pool expert Julien Roy from Sydney company Landforms says demand is growing every year. «Once you’ve experienced a natural pool, the chemical alternative just doesn’t add up,» he says.
The amount of wildlife you want to swim with is up to you. You don’t have to have fish or other critters in your pool, and if it’s done right, mosquitoes aren’t a problem as filtration can be used to remove the larvae. From a design perspective, there are no constraints in terms of shape or size, although rectangular pools tend to work best in formal gardens, with symmetrical pockets planted with glorious flowering plants such as water irises or lilies. In more informal situations, your natural pool can resemble an abundant bush waterhole surrounded by lush ferns and mossy sandstone.
You don’t need to start from scratch, either, with designers often converting traditional chlorinated or salt-water pools into natural ones. An effective bio-filter keeps the water clean, and heating can be used for year-round swimming.