Swimming Pond or Natural Pool in Your Garden

Swimming pond or natural pool in your garden

A swimming pond is not a swimming pool but a naturally designed pond that provides enough swimming space. It combines a garden pond and a swimming pool. Because there are plants in a swimming pond, the swimming pond uses fewer chemicals than a swimming pool. So what is the difference between a swimming pond and a natural pool? Differences are in the water treatment. This article informs about the differences between the two variants and should help you with your decision.

Swimming Pond – a Piece of Nature

The swimming pond is even more natural than a natural pool. It is a large garden pond that offers enough space for swimming. It is like a garden pond divided into shore zone, shallow water zone, and deepwater zone. The deepwater zone makes up the most significant part, as it also serves as a swimming area. In the different zones, there are aquatic plants. They not only give a natural look, but they also act as a biological filter and ensure good water quality. The planting zone should make up about 50 percent of the pond area. Zoo and phytoplankton, which play an essential role in water quality, develop in the planting zone. It eliminates bacteria and other impurities. It is vital to choose the right aquatic plants to ensure optimal water purification. Submerged, marsh, and reed plants must be in the right proportion.

Your swimming pond should consist of the swimming part and filtering part. The deepwater zone should be at least 4.5 feet (140 centimeters) deep for a comfortable swim. However, for good water quality and less effort in maintenance, a water depth of 8 feet (2.50 meters) is recommended.

A swimming pond is a standing body of water. The swimming pond can provide a biotope for various animals such as frogs, newts, and insects. A swimming pond cannot do without technology, even though most cleaning is done by plankton sedimentation and aquatic plants. Your swimming pond will need maintenance. You need to take care of the plants and should remove algae and mud from time to time.

Natural Pool – Integrated with Nature

A natural pool does not have different zones like a swimming pond. It comes without plants, but you can design it with other plants that you plant, as in hydroponics. Generally, a natural pool does not have integrated plants. The natural pool is cleaned by sand and phosphate filters, which are located outside the pool. These are biological filters. To achieve a beautiful appearance, you can hide the filters under the wooden border of the pond. Since there are no plants in the natural pool, the usable area is much larger than in the swimming pond. Pool water flows through the sand filter around the clock. The resulting biofilm ensures biological balance. The phosphate filter prevents the formation of algae since algae feed on phosphate. Besides, it would be best if you had a pump. The pump must be in use throughout the season to maintain good water quality. You can use the natural pool on calm days, and outside the actual swimming season, heating is possible.

While a swimming pond can become cloudy, the water in the natural pond remains crystal clear. Unlike a swimming pond, the natural pool does not provide a habitat for animals. If you would like to design your natural pool close to nature, you can plant the shore area.

Fundamental Differences Between Swimming Pond and Natural Pool

The table shows the primary differences between a swimming pond and a natural pool:

Swimming pondNatural pool
Minimum size:
1000 square feet (around 100 square meters)
Minimum size:
No minimum size
Usable area:
50 percent
Usable area:
Up to 85 percent
Plant growth:
many plants
Plant growth:
no or few plants
Various animals
No animals
Plants and plankton
Filter with biofilm build up
Possible in spring
No turbidity
Plant care, Sediment removal
Sediment removal
Algae removal:
If necessary
Algae removal:
If necessary

There are also significant differences between swimming ponds and natural pools in terms of operating costs. It depends on the swimming pond or natural pool’s size and the technology, how high the operating costs are. In general, however, the operational costs are lower for a swimming pond because it uses less technology than a natural pool. With a natural pool, the operating costs can increase even more if you heat it. With both variants, water lighting can lead to higher operating costs.

Differences in Space Requirements

If you want to create a swimming pond, you will need a lot of space. If you’re going to swim comfortably in your pond, the usable area should be at least 540 square feet (50 square meters). Since the functional area for swimming should be 50 percent of the pond area, you should expect the swimming pond’s minimum size to be 1080 square feet (100 square meters).

You will need less space for a natural pool. If you calculate with a length of the swimming area of 33 feet (10 meters) and a place for swimming of 485 square feet (45 square meters), you need a total area of at least 810 square feet (75 square meters) for the natural pool.

Water Turbidity in Swimming Ponds and Natural Pools

Since a swimming pond is a standing body of water but a biotope, turbidity can occur in the spring. However, with proper care and a healthy balance of plants, the swimming pond is mainly stable. It will then not get out of balance so quickly. A substantial input of nutrients makes itself felt with turbidity. Within a broader range, the swimming pond functions excellently. The natural system allows a more comprehensive range of fluctuation.

If you have chosen a natural pool and integrated the filter, turbidity will no longer occur. Approximately after two weeks, the effect of the filters becomes apparent. The pump must be in constant use to achieve stability. Nutrient input makes itself felt with filamentous algae. Suspended algae remain in the filter. Within the given parameters, a natural pool works well. The natural pool copes worse with large nutrient fluctuations than a swimming pond.

The Functioning of Swimming Pond and Natural Pool

There are two cleaning mechanisms in a swimming pond, of which plankton sedimentation is the most significant. Dead plankton sinks to the bottom during plankton sedimentation. From the bottom, you can vacuum up the nutrients stored in the plankton. You should avoid stirring up the nutrients. Otherwise, they will re-enter the water cycle. A water depth of 8 feet (2.5 meters) ensures good water quality. Underwater plants are competitors for algae and make their contribution to water purification.

In the natural pool, biofilters provide purification. A biofilm forms in the filters and binds the nutrients. For this to work, a permanent supply of oxygen is required. This only works if the pump is in operation for the entire season. Every day, the entire water content of the natural pool flows through the filter at least once. Therefore, the water is guaranteed to be always clear.

Plants in Swimming Pond and Natural Pool

The swimming pond is characterized by lush plant growth. Submerged plants, water plants, and shore plants are settled. The plants should harmonize well with each other. Native plants are best suited. You can also use water lilies. In the shore zone, you can settle a lot of flowering plants.

The situation is entirely different in a natural pool. You cannot integrate water lilies there. Only a few plant species can thrive long-term in a natural pool:

  • Cyprus grass
  • Sedges
  • Cottongrass
  • Mint species
  • Yellow iris
  • Purple loosestrife.

Plants do not have a cleaning function in a natural pool. If you want to design a natural pool with plants, you should plant the shore area.

Care Requirements

The swimming pond does not require much maintenance. It would be best if you vacuumed it once or twice a year. If you have a floating skimmer in your swimming pond, you should run it for a maximum of two hours a day. Most of the work is taking care of the plants. You will need to cut back the plants. Plants multiply over time and need to be divided.

Since there are only a few plants in the natural pond, maintenance is limited to pruning the fall plants. You will need to vacuum the sediment regularly. In the skimmer pond, you will need to remove surface debris. You can also use a robot for cleaning.

Combination of Swimming Pond and Natural Pool

If you want to combine the advantages of a swimming pond and a natural pool, you can choose a combination pond. It is characterized by excellent water quality. With a combination pond, you do not have to do without lush plants. You can create a plant area separate from the swimming area. Like in a swimming pond, you should create a shore zone, shallow water zone, and deepwater zone and equip them with the appropriate plants. In the plant area, the plants ensure good water quality. You do not have to do without water lilies either.

It would be best if you created a large swimming area enough to swim comfortably. Therefore, a combination pond is only suitable if your garden offers enough space. To maintain good water quality in the swimming area, you will need a filter and pump.

The combined pond requires more maintenance than the natural pool. However, it is an excellent alternative to a purely natural pool if you do not want to do without lush plants.


Swimming pond and natural pool differ in some basic things. In a swimming pond, many plants provide excellent water quality. Cleaning in a swimming pond is mainly done by plankton sedimentation. In a natural pool, there are no or only a few plants. Sand and phosphate filters are required for purification, and a biofilm forms in the filters, which takes over the cleaning. In a natural pool, you always have crystal clear water. Since the pump has to run constantly in a natural pool, the operating costs are higher than in a swimming pond. If you want to combine the advantages of a swimming pond and a natural pool, you can create a combination pond. It has a plant area that is separate from the swimming area.

Florian Egert

I am Florian Egert, the owner of pondlovers.com. I live with my wife and two children in Germany in a small village in the countryside.

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