If you own a traditional pool, you’ll know the swimming season is a short one that’s filled with chemical balancing and constant cleaning.

However, there is another way.

They’re called natural swimming pools. A concept that originated in Germany and Austria and one that has now made itself at home on social media around the world.

“The whole idea is underpinned by being ecologically-friendly,” said Arne Diependaele from Red Fish Blue Fish.

“In the other instance, you’re working against nature. In this instance, you’re working with it.”

The water is blissfully fresh — cleaned not by chemicals but by the plants and microbiology that inhabit it.

“It’s all those tiny bacteria and enzymes, all that macrobiotic cultures that convert organic waste into inorganic compounds that are nutrients to plants.”

Four times a day, the water circulates through a bio-filter and then into a regeneration zone that’s packed with plants. The plants take up the nutrients, feeding themselves and cleaning the water.

“There is a little bit of algae that might form but the balance is clearly in favour of the plants,” Diependaele said.

Peter Gough had one of the first natural pools in Auckland when he built it 10 years ago. Its cascading waterfall and thriving regeneration zone make a stunning backdrop to their outdoor space.

“I didn’t want to spend once a week or once a fortnight cleaning it and testing pH and that.”

Instead, he’s created a thriving ecosystem with plenty of life.

“All summer it’s croaking. We started with five fish, now I think we have 18 after three years.”

Time is an important factor in building a natural pool. Experts say it can take years for the biological life and plants to find a balance and so owners need to be patient.

They also need to be very relaxed. Thankfully, Gough is.

“I don’t care if it gets dirty because it’s pretty dirty! It’s got algae and whatnot in there — leaves and stuff.”

If the odd piece of algae between your toes is too much there are other options. They’re called living pools.

‘Magic stuff’

In the heart of Auckland, Brigid Connor’s little tropical escape could pass as a traditional chlorinated pool.

The Living Pool owner would’ve loved to have a larger plant-based system but space was limited in her Mt Eden villa.

“It’s the next best thing. I still have a garden. It’s just not a water garden, and there’s some magic stuff that happens under the deck.”

A special biological filter creates a cleanliness that would leave traditional pool owners envious. She uses no chemicals and only has to backwash the filter every few months.

She stands by its cleanliness so much that she’s prepared to drink straight from the pool.

“It tastes like water, doesn’t it? Better than what comes out of the tap in Auckland.”

While most pools get a few warm months of use over the summer season a natural pool acts as a water feature all year long.

“You have to think of it as a pond. When people think of it like that, they start to enjoy the perks that come with it,” Diependaele said.

He said the cost is similar to establishing a traditional chlorinated pool.

“From then onwards, your maintenance will be more around the maintenance of your plants and filtration zone.”

A pond, garden and habitat all in one also serve as a great place to cool off.

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