Hot Cool Natural Pool

How many frogs on logs do you see?
Count them one, two, three.
Sitting in the sun,
Playing the beach bum.
How many frogs on logs do you see?

Think about this before you read on.
Click on the photo above for a larger image.

These guys are in our swimming pool, along with fish, tadpoles and various toys which are joined by kidlin and ourselves on an almost daily basis after chores. It is a 12′ round kiddy pool that we scored years ago in the fall when it was on sale for 90% off. I wish I had bought all three of them. The liners alone, which we’ve replaced once, cost more than the $29 we originally spent for the whole pool! Holly says that the pool was one of our best investments ever. I think she likes the pool better than the pond in part because I can heat the water in the pool. Heating the upper pond is much harder.

When the kids swim in the pool they splash quite a bit. This waters my leek and flower garden that runs around the sides of the pool and makes for great big sweet leeks. I try to keep the leaks out of the pool though.

One must wonder as well what the various inhabitants think of the monsters that spash such waves. The good news is the splashing airates the pool and the spinning of the water we do at the end of a swim collects any dirt in the center of the pool where we can easily scoop it out. I would love to put a drain right there, next time…

I set it up so the water from the pool pumps up via that white hose in the background to the black 1″ water pipe where it circulates through about 80′ of black plastic water pipe along the top of the wall. This warms the water for Holly who prefers her pool not to be on the chilly side. It is a simple solar panel making for an inexpensive way to heated swimming pool. No extra electricity is being used since I would want the circulation pump to be going anyways.

At the end of the pipes I put reducers which slow the water down in it’s journey. Since the volume of the pump isn’t up to the full level of a 1″ pipe this keeps the pipe fuller and makes the heat transfer more effective.

But wait, it doesn’t stop there. You see I have a timer on the water pump. During the spring and fall when we want the water warmed we set the timer to run during the day when the sun is warming the pipes. Then during late July and all of August I set the timer to run at night instead in order to chill the pool via radiant cooling to the night sky. I call this a luna cooling panel and may use it in our cool room for refrigeration.

Rain adds water to the pool and about three times a year I change the water, emptying the pool out and refilling it with fresh water from the spring that supplies our house. It is nice not having chlorinated water.

By the way, when we installed the pool we did it on top of insulation so that the heat from the solar heater would not be lost. In our climate the heat loss is a issue in the fall and spring. In other climates one would invite that heat loss. Interestingly, even with that insulation from the ground warmth in winter the pool never freezes solid because the mass of water is so great (~1,800 gallons). This means we are able to over winter the fish (comets & shobunkin) in the pool – something you can’t do in a smaller pool as my mother and sister found out since their smaller water pools froze solid at about 100 gallons each.

The flowing water through the heating / cooling system serves another function. On returning it splashes back into the pool from about 2′ up. This airates the pool, stirs the pool up and moves the pool in the water about. All good things since we don’t use chemicals in the pool. Thus the green tint to the pool water. The pool is more pond like in that regard and the amphibians appreciate it as do the fish.

So how many frogs on how many logs did you see?
Did you count them all?
Did you miss any in the back?
Did you see more frogs than there are?
Did you see more logs than there are?
Did you read the instructions carefully?
There are no frogs. There are no logs.
They’re toads on surf boards!

Originally there was just one toad in the pool. Then it sang and was quickly joined by more. And more the next night. And more the next night… Time to time we take them out and return the toads, and any frogs, newts, salamanders, etc to the gardens where they help us grow food.

Toads are good in the gardens.
Toads eat slugs and bugs.
Holly does not like slugs.
Nor do I particularly.
Good toads.
Eat slugs.
Eat bugs.

And that is all the sillyness I’ll expose you to today…

Sat-Weds: Outdoors: 81°F/54°F Sunny, Overcast, A little rain
Farm House: 52°F/46°F planted corral, pens, house end, pond gardens
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/74°F watched concrete walls cure

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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28 Responses to Hot Cool Natural Pool

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ll add my pond to the failed list for overwintering. I have a 200 gallon pond nearly three feet deep and it also does not have enough mass to over winter comits..


  2. pablo says:

    I figured there was a trick to the question, and I would have said none since there is no log. But I wouldn’t have gotten the toad part.

  3. PV says:

    Walter walter my how yor garden grows!!!!!!!!

  4. Haymaker says:

    I’m impressed that it takes only 100′ of black poly to warm up the pool. Good idea… Ours is downright frigid, having just filled it two days ago. Well, 60 degrees, anyway.

    I don’t know if I could get used to toads in the pool though.

  5. Actually, the garden photos are from last summer. This year’s garden is not that far along. Don’t I wish!

  6. Paul says:

    I just picked up a small pool at Target in one of those “end-of-season” sales. Normal price was $180.00, but marked down to $45.00! This is for an Intex 15′ x 36″ pool, with filter unit and cleaning and maintenance supplies! Now all I have to do is rig up a solar heater — the kids are tired of swimming in a 65 degree pool. :)

  7. ptblues2 says:

    You are taking a risk with your families health by not treating the water. Natural spring water only last one day. Then it is growing all kinds of nasty stuff.

    • Really? So you’re saying that we need to treat all the world’s waters with chlorine and other chemicals to make them safe? Interesting. Interesting but completely and utterly wrong. I have a hard time believing that there exist people who would actually believe such a thing. Don’t be taken in by the advertising from the chemical companies. They’re out to get you(r money).

  8. Ecopepper says:

    I worry about that too. We live in Florida and have had a child die. They close the Rock springs if the test are not safe. But I too have wanted to do this and love your pool. I have a 20,000 pool and am so tired of shocking it! Everytime I goto the pool store they want me to put all these stupid chemicals in it. I would love to have it as a pond. But no one would allow thier kids to swim in it for the fear of infection. I wonder if I could just use the same test they use at the springs?

    • Some ideas as to why it works here and in other places but might not in some places:

      1) climate: Florida is always a lot hotter than it is here. Our temperatures get up into the 70’s. Once we got to 86°F and that was a record for us.

      2) Our spring water comes out of the mountain cold.

      3) Our solar heater heats the water up very hot but then it mixes with the cold water to temper it. The high heating may kill off stuff without chemicals.

      4) We have plants, fish and such in the pool which may be naturally balancing the life forms and keeping the water healthy.

      5) There aren’t a lot of people swimming there – just our family and occasional visitors (<1/month).

      I know little about warmer climates as I've lived my entire life up here in the north country. It may be that there are things that work in one location that don't in another. For years we used the pool above with excellent success. We now use the upper pond who’s primary purpose is to act as a water storage for our farm livestock’s drinking needs but we have fish in it and swim in it as well. That is fed by six small springs. Again, it’s a natural pool. Hope went swimming in it near the end of April – before the ice flows had finished melting. She must be part seal.

  9. ptblues2 says:

    A pool is standing water. As a swimming pool or pond, standing water immediately begins to grow nasty stuff that can lead to overwhelming infections. A simple case of swimmers ear is painful for 5-6 weeks. You cannot remove human skin cells or urine from standing water without chemicals. I know, my kids don’t pee in the water. Go ahead and believe that….

    • That is one definition of a ‘pool’ but not the only one. A pool is also a section of a stream or at a spring. Our upper pond is a pool. The pool in the photo is stream fed. Of course, if you have problems swimming in natural pools then best not to do it. By the way, the fish pee in the pools.

      This reminds me of a funny story. When we were on Cape Cod once at the beach there was this woman who was ranting and raving about this topic. My wife wanted to mention to her that whales poop in the ocean. Fortunately Holly bit her tongue instead. Er, that didn’t sound right. I mean Holly bit her own tongue, not the womans! :)

  10. Eva Mendelsons says:

    Local temperature and water temp are a big thing. I have a suspicion that most of us would find walters ponds and pools way too cool for our taste. Yankees swim in frigid water and disease doesn’t thrive there because of the cold.

  11. Jen says:

    Im with Walter on this one. All natural pool here and pond to. The idear of clorinating everhining is obsessive compulsive and over reaching. The chemical industry has convinced people they need toxic kills and have made people fear nature. Take it to the limit and skinny dip in a aunatural pool!!

  12. anna says:

    never had any problems with swimming in unchlorinated pools. done it all my life. There is a big difference between a home pool and a public pool and a pond or lake. i say skip the chlorine and let the natural life live. I like the thought of the fish in the pond. that is cool. do what you want in your pool.

    • Fortunately, it is still somewhat of a free country so we can each do our pools the way we want. Certainly in an urban pool used by many people some sort of filtration may be needed. There are natural methods of filtration such as using plantings, micro-bogs and sand. Personally I would rather not have the known toxic chemicals in my pool. I do use chlorine in my cloths wash sometimes as well as when sterilizing things. A place for everything.

  13. JessicaYomm says:

    @PTBLUE2: I think you are on the wrong web site. Walters place is a farm. I am sure he and his family get exposed to a lot of other bacteria than just swimming. There is all sorts of articles in the news about how farm kids have strong immune systems BECAUSE THEY ARE EXPOSED TO StUFF! So maybe all that chlorination is bad for you. They also say that the chlorination is making girls out of boys like having breasts and small penises (can I say that word here? Sure I bet!) by mimicing estrogen and making girls come into puberty younger and grow up fatter.

    • Yes, you can say penis on Sundays. I wonder if there is anything to that? My wife thinks that girls today are a lot more buxom than in the past. Is it weight gain? Chemicals? Breast implants? An illusion?

  14. Ecopepper says:

    Yes it is Florida being warmer for sure. And I was thinking today that the springs we have probably are poisoned anyways. Too many people and septics near the streams and springs. I am going this wednesday before the warm weather and pollution ruin my chances. Now to have what you have in your own backyard is great! Got room for 4? lol

  15. A pool goer says:

    This is just to funny. People there are rivers and streams, they may not be stagnant, but they sit there a LONGGGG time without cycling, but there are plenty fish and other monsters out there that have bacteria, I grew up going to the man made beach on a river and swimming, I swam in stagnant natural ponds too, there is nothing differently this person is doing but showing a eviornmentally safer way to water his plants, and letting his kids go swim instead of having to drive them to a lake or something. Yall spoiled little runts need to get out and get some algae between your toes and say eww, and then fall on a few rocks and scrape your knee.. YES THE CHEMICAL PEOPLE do want your money, but basically they are just letting you have the products to make your pool clear, and see through for a luxury, I make well enough to get a expensive filter and buy all that stuff every week, but no need to…. Here comes the religion, but GOD made everything, and basically you’re too scared to bathe in a river like they did before they had it??? I like this idea, even though I wouldnt use it in this case, and maybe would ocassionally clean it out, not saying you dont Walter…. but thanks for the great ideas you posted…. Like they say once your on the internet you have to ignore the IQ’s that can use it…

  16. Cal spring says:

    I love your pool how wide is it.? Do you think the fish help keep the algae down?could you do this without the upper spring water, and just ground water from garden hose and the solar heater or would the water get too murky? I live in Maine and have clean ground water and want to have a swimming pool without chemicals… Thanks for your thoughts.

  17. David Edison says:

    How lovely!

  18. John Lindsay says:

    All toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads…. So any one saying frogs would also be right…lol

    • Exactly – and there are no logs. :) You are of course right. For those interested in deeper discussions, here’s Wiki’s take on the topic of frogs and toads:

      A distinction between frogs and toads is not made in taxonomy, but is common in popular culture, in which toads are associated with drier skin and more terrestrial habitats than animals commonly called frogs. In taxonomy, toads are found in the families Bufonidae, Bombinatoridae, Discoglossidae, Pelobatidae, Rhinophrynidae, Scaphiopodidae, and Microhylidae. A group of toads is called a knot.
      Toads on Wiki

  19. Lenah says:

    Hi! I have a Intex 15 * 4 ft above ground swimming pool with a Hayward Super Pump (that’s for in ground pools ) and I’m taking over the cleaning now, but I don’t want to dump chemicals in it. How do I convert it, it is June 12th the pool is filled from last year’s water and fresh rain water but its green and got a ton of tree frogs and tadpoles in it, I haven’t ran the pump yet BC it was broken, working on that now, but I would like to know how to get it up and running without chemicals. Any help would be great!!

    • Note first that we no longer have the pool, no we have our upper pond. But, if I was doing it with a pool and pump I would setup a good set of filters to keep critters out of the pump and then send the pump water through a sand filter to clean it. For ultra clean you might want to do a UV filter although I probably would not go that far. Good luck with your pool pond.

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