Principles of swimming ponds

Popular because of the Kings Cross swimming pond these have been featured in magazines recently

Swimming ponds in a garden setting:

  • Use plants to keep the water clear
  • Have at least 50% of your total water area as a planted zone
  • Create bacterial conditions in the planting area among the plant roots to help cleanse the water. Useful micro organisms like water fleas also thrive.
  • Do not use chemicals or chlorine
  • Brings the swimmer closer to nature
  • Encourages many species of wildlife creature to colonise this new garden habitat.
  • Exclude fish and ducks from your swimming pond as both create high levels of nutrient and bring a risk of unhealthy impurities
  • Allow ‘swimming pools’ to fit into the garden rather than looking like a separate, functional item in the garden 
  • Can be a safety hazard for children and should be monitored carefully. Deep water in the swimming area is hazardous for the young who are instinctively drawn to water.
  • On the upside children can see nature close up if they are supervised.

Constructing a swimming pond

  • Usually built by specialist swimming pond contractors.
  • Create a deep area for swimming (at least 2.4m = 8ft deep) with one liner 
  • Create a separate area for the plants of a shallower depth that has its own liner – called regeneration zone.
  • Separate the 2 areas by a barrier that allows the water to flow across the top of the barrier between the 2 areas but not to allow materials like soil to spill from the planting zone into the swimming zone
  • Contain a circulatory pump system to keep the water on the move around the system which could include a biological filter unit.

Planting a swimming pond

A range of aquatic plants are densely planted – submerged oxygenators, waterlilies, floating plants, shallow marginals, deep marginals, bog and waterside species.

  • It is good to use indigenous Native plants as they are most adapted to our climates and grow vigorously but ornamental varieties can also be included.
  • These will increase the range of colour and flower type and extend the season of interest and the period of active nutrient usage in the regeneration zone.
  • Aim for at least 9 plants per m2 of planting area.

The shelf plants favoured for a swimming pond are:

British Native structural plants suggested:

Non Native structural plants:

Rafting plants: