Build Your Own Natural Swimming Hole
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The plant zone’s bottom contour should gradually reach a maximum depth of 18 inches near the swimming zone. The outermost 6 inches of the plant zone will provide a home for taller aquatic plants and ought to be no deeper than 2 to 3 inches. Submerged and floating vegetation occupy the deeper area.
In addition to cleaning the water and beautifying your pool, the shallow plant zone’s water is quick to warm in spring and provides habitat for frogs and many invertebrates. These animals appreciate the shallow and quiet water for breeding and repay the favor by eating mosquito larvae.
Bubble, skim, filter
For best results, your pool’s water needs to circulate through the plant zone so their roots can cleanse it – this will require a small pump and a bit of plumbing. Water can be channeled from your pump into the plant zone with PVC tubing. Zingaro recommends using flexible PVC in cold climates – check with your local plumbing supplier for the right material. In any climate, bury the tubing in the soil about 18 inches deep.
You should also aerate the water so the water organisms’ oxygen needs are met and to avoid problems with anaerobic bacterial growth and stagnation. Underwater aeration, which uses less energy than constructed waterfalls and circulates water more effectively, involves diffusing air at the pool’s bottom.
You can build your own aerator, using an air compressor (1/4-horsepower for a pool smaller than an acre) and high-strength tubing connected to a diffuser located in the deepest part of the pool, where swimmers are not likely to damage it. A brass manifold connected to the compressor helps to regulate the air flow. Don Schooner at Inspired By Nature (www.IBNature.com), an Ohio-based pond and lake restoration company, suggests aerating the pool four to eight hours a day: in the morning, when oxygen demand is greatest, and again in the evening.
Some folks use skimmers hooked up to an additional small pump, to suck off floating undesirables. While these devices are not essential, you might want to consider purchasing one if leaves or seeds from nearby trees and shrubs are likely to litter your pool. The skimmer removes detritus that would otherwise sink and contribute to algae growth.
Place your aerator, circulation pump and skimmer in a plastic container, such as a bucket or large plant container, and put a steel-mesh filter mat over the top, to keep debris out of your equipment. Expect to pay $1,000 to $1,200 for a quality underwater aeration system.
Installing pumps and compressors can be a tricky business because you’re running electrical devices near or in water. Hiring a skilled electrician will ensure the safety of the system.
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