natural pool project

Natural Pool Project, Stage 2

Natural Pool Project

If you have been following, you know that we have begun a natural pool project this summer. To say the least, it has been a huge project and we have learned a lot along the way. My first post in this series detailed the beginning stages of designing, planning, and digging our pool. This post will detail the next stage of natural pool construction.

Natural pool project
Adding sand to pool bottom

Digging and Setting Posts for Deck Framework

Once the digging was handled, the next step was to start getting the hole prepped for what was to come. First, we added a layer of sand to the bottom of the swimming areas; both shallow and deep. This was to add an extra layer of cushion, as well as to help flatten it out.

Natural pool project
Digging with the walk behind auger

We then turned our attention to digging post holes all the way around the perimeter that would hold the posts for the deck framing. This became a somewhat difficult job because our ground is pure Oklahoma clay and very difficult to dig through. We began with a walk behind the auger but soon pulled out the tractor! (The tractor made much quicker work of the task!)

Setting Posts and Building Perimeter Retaining Wall

Natural pool project
Digging holes with the tractor-Much Easier!
Natural pool project
Mason even did some manual labor to get the holes dug!

With the holes dug, we set the 4×4 posts in concrete and let them cure. Once they had cured, we built a retaining wall along the outside perimeter to hold in the topsoil that had to be packed in. The reasoning behind this was two-fold; natural pool construction requires a berm to surround the pool to keep groundwater from rolling in and as our ground slopes, we had to level it off.

We used a transit level to mark the proper height and went from there. The next step was a little more deck framework and then a WHOLE LOT OF SHOVELING AND WHEELBARROWING to get the topsoil packed in tight. We did this in layers; topsoil, water, tamping with a heavy cast iron tamper…then repeat…a lot! (Honestly, I was beginning to wonder if this part would ever end!!!)

Continuing the process to finish the Regeneration Area

Natural pool project
Tamping the soil into place next to the retaining wall

With the retaining wall filled up and solid, we continued adding some of the deck framework on one end so that we could go ahead and get the regeneration area handled. The first step that we took in this area was to add an underliner. The underliner helps to protect the liner from anything in the ground that might puncture it. Once the underliner was in, we added the liner.

Regeneration Area Build Up

Because of the shape and size of our natural pool, we ordered the liner in three different pieces that would have to be seamed together. We started with the regeneration area because it was very straightforward and would require the most finish work.

The last layer was another underliner over the liner in this side for protection from the pea gravel that would go on top of it. ….and then we did a lot of shoveling! We ordered 12 tons of pea gravel for our natural pool project and ended up putting about 10 tons into the regeneration area.

The regeneration area acts as a bio-filter for the pool. The gravel along with the plant life becomes a filter, through which, the pool water circulates and is cleaned. I designed it to have three different depth levels to accommodate the different types of aquatic plants that I will be using. The deepest layer of gravel will be our ‘bog’ level and needed a retaining wall to hold it all in place.

During the process of placing the gravel, we also had to place the distribution pipes that the water will pump through from the deep end. For that plumbing, we manufactured our own system with 4″ perforated pipe, pvc fittings and rubber gaskets, all of which would hook into the main pool plumbing. The rest of the plumbing couldn’t be installed until the rest of the deck framework was in place…so we jumped back into the deck framework.

Finishing Regeneration Area and Installing all Underliner

Our next step was to build the second retaining wall, that would hold the pea gravel in the bog area so that we could finish our work on the regeneration side. Then we shifted to completing the underliner in the rest of the pool. The underliner that we used was a couple of different things. We used an industrial carpet liner as well as some large pieces of old carpet. As I mentioned it’s only use is to protect the liner…but it also gives it a little more cushion.

Natural Pool Project – Videos of the process

Check out our pool update videos below that show the ongoing process of the natural pool project as we went along.

The next step in the process of our natural pool project would be to install the rest of the liner. Check back and see how that comes together in our very next post!

And you can check out our Pinterest Page for more images of really great Natural Pools. Just search ‘natural pools’



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natural pool project

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