May 142012

A natural swimming pool is a chemical free pool that uses nature’s processes rather than chlorine for cleaning. I spoke about natural swimming pools or swim ponds, as they are sometimes called back in February. It was a bit too early for swim season then, but I had it on the brain and thought ya’ll might enjoy the concept and videos.I also had the liner from last year’s pool project. Decisions.

Well… We bit the bullet so to speak and have started our natural swimming pool build. We’ve completed the swimming area and now we’ll begin construction on the regeneration zone, deck and biological filter. I wasn’t going to post about our natural swimming pool project until it was finished, (that’s a bad habit of mine) but I’ve realized that these projects really are a labor of love and we may never be truly finished.

Ember’s illness has us on hold for the video editing of this project, but I’d like to show you where we started and how far we’ve gone. Clif and I have about 6 days of work in on this project. We work well together so your experience may be different. If a natural swim pond is in your future, don’t give up! You really CAN do it yourself one step at a time!


We chose this location for our natural pool because this walnut tree blew down in last years storm.It was 60 inches round. Walnut trees are notorious for having a shallow root system and we believed that this would HELP us during the build. We erroneously assumed that if the root ball was cut away from the roots still in the ground, the stump… dirt and all would come out of the hole.

You should carefully consider your design BEFORE you begin building your natural pool. Here is an idea of what we are striving for:


We began to dig. Dig. DIG. At this point we had removed 12 wheelbarrow loads full of dirt. Man-sized loads, not the whimpy teeny ones I can safely carry. When we encountered a root we chopped it off at the ground with an ax, or in the case of bigger roots a chainsaw.

Our first few attempts to pull the stump out of the hole didn’t go so well. We broke one tow strap and tore up the yard a bit. We recognized the need for a tractor, but as yet we still don’t have one. We removed dirt from the root system with shovels, picks and a rock bar until it was light enough to drag out. YAY! At this point we were feeling like we’d climbed a mountain. At the end of day two the stump was GONE.

Our goal is to complete the natural pool as cheaply as possible. This requires us to do all the work ourselves. Like everything else around here that means working as a family to complete projects. Here the kids are screening clay that will eventually be used in the final stages of the project. The process of screening really means you are sifting clay until it is the consistency of sifted cake flour.

What do you do when its too hot to dig during the day? Dig at night! I’m not sure why nighttime digging seems so much easier… other than the heat factor, but switching to digging at night allowed us to complete the digging portion of this project (for now) on the third day.

As we dug we removed roots, and rocks from the hole. It’s imperative that you get the rocks out, otherwise you’ll puncture the liner when it fills with water. You also need to look for nuts (not the ones digging), but the ones that fall of trees. Walnuts, pecans, acorns etc will wreak havoc on a pool liner.

Building your own natural swimming pool is a labor intensive job, but the reward is astronomical compared to the work. Here’s a picture of today’s “work.”

Don’t want to dig a natural swimming pool? Build your own above ground pool– We did! I think our disclaimer from last year is still appropriate “If you haven’t already done so, please visit our About page. If you’re not comfortable building your own pool please don’t attempt it, and if you do build your own pool we can’t be held responsible for the results. If this project isn’t for you browse around our Project Center to see if you find anything else of interest.

  6 Responses to “Build A Natural Swimming Pool: Digging The Hole”

  1. Love how you have even the chickens helping dig that pool!

  2. I’d love to convince Hubby to do this…but our septic tank is in the way. :( Very cool though.

    • Amanda,
      I thought it would be hard to convince my hubbs too, but it really wasn’t. I was willing to dig right along with him and the aftermath is a $30,000 savings. It was an easy “yes.” Hope you get one too!

  3. wow!! good for you!! looks like fun for everyone!

  4. Hello,

    Great amount of information on your site! I am curious as to how far along are you on the natural pool? We are in the planning stages of doing this and would like to know how things are for you.


    • We are up to building the deck around the outside. Once we get that done we will add our regeneration zone. We love the pool and use it everyday. Its been one of the best investments in time we’ve ever made. I hope you guys enjoy yours as well!

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