Landscaping (Natural Swimming Pool)

With the swimming pool constructed it was time to landscape and plant up the surrounding area. The old dam wall was still in place but much higher than we wanted it to be. It needed to be lowered to the same level as the pool wall and decking so that the views could be enjoyed while swimming. The area on the hillside of the swimming pool also had to be backfilled and compacted carefully so that it was also level. Furthermore, the filtration pond needed landscaping so that there was a broad marginal area of about 0.5m deep for planting, but a central region of up to 1.5m deep that would hopefully stay free from the marginal plants. The rest of the old dam area was then also levelled to create a space for future development of lawn and other recreational areas.

The old dam wall still extended above the swimming area and blocked the view
Landscaping the filtration pond
Levelling the dam wall
The whole old dam area was flattened for versatility in future development
The filtration pond was lined with clay and compacted

Once landscaped, we filled the pond with water. This would help to check that the levels were correct, as well as help to settle some of the soil before the clay was added. Even without the clay the water level only dropped about 6cm a day, which was encouraging as it implied that the shale on its own had some degree of waterproofing qualities (bear in mind that much of our reserve is on sandy soil, which has no water retaining properties). Nevertheless, due to the size of the pond, this still represented 15,000 litres as day! Originally we were going to line the pond with bentonite. However, we were fortunate to be able to source local clay from some roadworks that were being conducted in the region. While it might not have had quite the same qualities as pure bentonite, we only had to pay for the cost of transporting the “waste” material. Once the pond had been lined with clay, the rate at which water leaked out of the pond dropped dramatically to less than 1cm a day or about 2,000l. A pipe has also been laid from the roof of our house so that when it rains it augments the amount the pond receives naturally. So far we have only had to top up the pool 3 or 4 times over the course of a summer and not worry about it at all during winter.

The final stage of the hard landscaping was done in September 2021, when the fence was built to provide the necessary safety measures. This was carried out by the Beach House Hub, who rose magnificently to the challenge of our various challenging contours and rocky ground. While the fence was necessary from a safety point of view we did not want it to interfere with the aesthetics of the swimming experience. We therefore created a wide perimeter, which added to the cost – 150m in total length. In particular, we took the fence down below the old dam wall, so that from the pool the fence was not visible when looking out over the valley – in much the same way as the ha-has of stately homes used to achieve. Black was used for the colour as the least intrusive option. While green might appear a more suitable colour, it actually jars with the landscape as manufactured green is rarely natural in tone. We had already discovered this with the pipe from our filtration pond into the filter chamber. For this we had used a green pipe, whereas in retrospect a brown or even black one would have been less noticeable.

The ground on the upside of the pool had to be back-filled and compacted. A stone path was laid using local Phillipskop rocks.
Swimming pool fencing was chosen to be as unobtrusive as possible, including disappearing down hill below the level of the pool
The old dam wall has been levelled and the fence disappears down the slope, so the views from the pool are now uninterrupted

More information on the design and construction of our pool can be found in these posts:

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