When most homeowners think of adding a backyard pool, they picture pristine, blue water and expertly installed tile in a myriad of stunning colours. Few people jump to pond waters replete with frogs and wildflowers, but a growing trend in the pool and spa industry looks to change this.
When designing and building natural ponds, contractors often hear their clients say, “I want it to be spectacular.” That said, while every contractor prides themselves in his/her ability to create something unique on every job that will exceed their client’s expectations, sometimes the scope of the project does not allow for much creativity. Therefore, when a project does materialize that gives a natural pond design/build firm the opportunity to let their creativity shine, the crew’s excitement and energy levels get much higher. This was the case for this particular project in Guelph, Ont.
Planting in natural swimming pools (NSPs) is not only pleasing, but also plays an important function in the water’s ecological balance. In particular, planting native species is recommended as they are suited to the climate and are generally more robust than non-native specimens. Further, nature should be used as a model, putting together groups of seven, eight or even a dozen of most species. Extremely fast-growing plants should be avoided, if possible, as they have the ability to overpower less vigorous specimens. This article provides a basic guideline for novice NSP designers/builders who should also note the importance of the zone where the NSP is being built. Each zone has its own specific guidelines and rules of thumb which must be adhered to.
After finalizing the plans and design with the clients for the Okanagan gold rush project, the next step was a massive cleanup and preparation of the land where this approximately 7.74 m2 (12,000 sf) backyard feature would be created. The general plan outlined the gold rush cabin, outdoor kitchen structure, putting green, and the natural swimming pool (NSP)/pond. The land preparation had to be performed in an environmentally sensitive manner not only to be less invasive in general, but also to try and save as many of the existing plants, shrubs, and trees as possible to incorporate them into the final landscape plans.
On the surface, natural swimming pools (NSPs) look like a natural garden pond; however, they are in fact much more. They are specifically designed so people can swim in clean, pure water without the use of any chemicals. A NSP or swim pond comprises two zones: a deep, central swimming area, and a shallow surrounding area, which encompasses various plants specifically chosen to filter the water.
What does a gold rush cabin from the 1800s, mining cart, putting green, and a natural swimming pool (NSP/swim pond) all have in common? They are the focal point of an award-winning landscape design in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. This project was not only filled with some challenging tasks, but was also highly rewarding in that a tranquil, beautiful setting was created for the client who was seeking something unique and environmentally friendly. So, what goes into a project of this undertaking, which won several design/build and environmental awards?