Natural Pool Inspiration from Europe

Today I was looking at pictures of “schwimmtiechs.”

“Schwimmteich” is the German word for swimming pond or natural pool. Since this is a trend coming over from Europe, I looked at pictures and designs from people who have been building these water features in their own backyards.


Inspiration for My Natural Pool

One of my goals for my garden is to have a natural pool, I do not want it black though, I want it to look like a regular tropical lagoon but have a natural filtration system. This blog entry is to collect inspiring pictures for my project. Not everything has a tropical theme but they all contain a lush landscape.

The Natural Swimming Pool

So I have mentioned “the Natural Pool” earlier today. I was surveying the area in my garden where I want a pond. I had someone come start digging it out. During my research over the past few years for a pond I have consistently come across the natural swimming pool or swimming pond. The idea is that you use plants to clean the water and therefore need NO harsh chemicals. That is correct, no CHLORINE!

Chlorine has recently been linked to colon cancer, for obvious reasons, plus it dries out your skin and hair and those noxious fumes fill your backyard paradise. The natural swimming pool has none of these problems. In fact if you have you system set up just right it is super clean and the water NEVER needs to be dumped. You do need to have a plant area which is equal to 50% of your pool’s surface area. The area of your pool where your plants grow and filter the water are called plant bogs. Plants take care of waste and bacteria through their roots. You can add some fish for any water born insects. The fish waste feeds the plants. As long as you keep the water moving there is no need to worry about mosquitoes since they only breed in stagnate water.

Chlorine pools tend to start breeding harmful bacteria which begin to tolerate the pool’s chlorine levels. Due to chlorine resistant bacteria or “accidents” the pool needs to be “shocked” by adding more chlorine to an already toxic system. Over time the water itself loses its quality, I assume that it becomes filled with remnants of chlorine and other chemicals breaking down over time, which is why people have to dump the pool water about every ten years and start fresh. Can you see why the natural pool concept is so alluring!

There are of course other new innovative ways to clean pool but most of them still require some amount of chlorine. The natural pool just requires some healthy plants and a means to oxygenate the water. Growing up in Germany we often swam in all sorts of lakes, and “natural swimming pools.” Even in Southewest U.S.A. I have been to Elephant Butte, Balmorhea, and the 1990’s attraction Mountain Shadow Lake. I am hoping to make it to Sitting Bull Falls this summer. I love swimming in nature. My hair stays good and I do not smell like a chemical after. Balmorhea is actually my favorite because in 28 feet deep you can see crystal clear to the bottom with all the fish and amazing rocks. Balmorhea has to visited to appreciated.

Apparently natural pools and swimming ponds are popular in Europe and are starting to pop up all over the U.S. So here is the million dollar question!





One of my most favorite flower scents is the Gardenia. I have tried a few times to grow them and it has not worked out. This year one of the gardenias I still had from last year attempts managed to hang on. It even gave me a single heavenly blossom. Oh, how that one blossom filled my courtyard with the creamy gardenia fragrance. Yet the plant looked horrible!

I thought about it and decided it must be the silly container I have it in. Its just really silly, I was going for aesthetics and not practicality. Its a low soup shaped bowl / container. I do not think my poor Gardenia had room for its roots. While wandering around Walmart’s gardening center I found a really cool tall pot. (From one extreme to the next.) The color matched the pot I have my cherry willow in so I decided to get it for my gardenia. I also liked that since this pot is about 30 inches tall it makes it much easier to smell the future Gardenia blossoms. I think the Gardenia will be doing much better. It has a parade of new leaves already!



July 9, 2012 update

Patio Peach Tree

I have a patio peach tree that is designed to stay small and can be grown in a container. My patio peach has many peaches on it this year. However, it is not doing too well. The leaves have lost some color and hang more limp than they should on a peach tree. In comparison to the peach I rescued from Walmart, the leaves and vibrance are not matched. I decided that maybe something is wrong with the container.

Two nights ago, I removed my patio peach from its container and flipped it over to inspect the drainage hole. Although there are holes, it does not appear that the water has been adequately draining. To remedy the situation I pulled out my drill and made larger holes at the bottom. I also removed the soil front the container and replaced it will potting soil from all my old plant hanging baskets. Next I used a hand rake to poke holes all around the root ball of the patio peach. Some areas were very hard and compact. I hope that it will recover with the improvements.

The leaves were not falling off yet and it has lost very minimum amount fruit. Most of the peaches are still hanging on and seem to be receiving enough water since none of them have shriveled up. I am also going to take some time tonight to give the tree some Peter’s plant food. I will use this post to track its progress.

Here is an update on my peach tree. This is about ten days later. I know , I know, I am not sure whether to laugh, cry or just sigh. I am hoping that once the ripe fruit is gone along with the damaged leaves, the tree will grow new leaves. The stems are still green and it is still taking in water. Since the peaches are not withered the tree is still sending water to them. I am planning on setting the tree out in direct sunlight as well.

My Trumpet Vine!!!!

Trumpet Vines are also called hummingbird vines. In some parts of the country they are considered and well known as invasive pests. As a gardener in the dry desert southwest I search out these invasive plants in my local nurseries because they have genes fit for survival in the hot dry desert.

I saw a picture of an amazing trumpet vine online that had engulfed a light pole. I saw images of the gorgeous trumpet flowers and its quick growth inspired me to have one. It can be grown over arbors and even as ground cover.


I bought mine last year at Lowe’s and I have been so happy with it. In just one year it has wrapped itself (with help) around a square column in the front of my home. It grew the fastest on days where El Paso registered over 100 degrees. This year not only do I have amazing green compound leaves as foliage, but the trumpet flowers have also bloomed. (Last year I only had one cluster of blooms.) They are a very vibrant melony red color. I saw a humming bird come for a visit two days ago and a brilliant orange butterfly this morning!

I hope that it grows over my tile roof this year. I have a pigeon problem and since they do not like plants but love manmade structures, maybe this vine will choke them out. I do have to routinely tie the vine back and secure it here and there to help it out. It grows super fast. I will warn you that you should wear longer sleeves and gloves if you are a very sensitive person. Trumpet vines can cause a mild irritation which is why they are also known as the cow itch vine. (I hope pigeons can feel it.) I always feel a very mild irritation after working with it. I would also like to warn you that sometimes it shoots out. I nearly got poked in the eye going to work this past week.

Here is a photo of my trumpet vine, please excuse the crazy long piece of white rope, I am attempting to train it unto my roof.

I have gifted my mom with a trumpet vine who like how fast it grew. I have since purchased three more for my own garden. Now there are two trumpet vines in my courtyard and two in my backyard. One is in the ground, I am still trying to figure out where to place the last one. I hope they cover my rock walls. I can appreciate the rock wall versus other options but I do not like feeling squared in by them and the heat they give off at night is unpleasant.

Here is a May 2015 updated photo of my monster trumpet vine. 


My Chitalpa

I finally purchased a Chitalpa. I nearly bought a very expensive one. I am so glad I wander through the Lowe’s nursery on a regular basis. I found a tall multi-trunked Chitalpa tree for only $68.00. The trunks are quite thick and it is about 6 feet tall. This particular Chitalpa also has larger leaves than most I have seen. I hope they stay large as the tree matures. Behind the Chitalpa near the rock wall I have a small peach tree I rescued from the Wal-mart gardening center for only $3.00 about two years ago. It has nearly been dug out by one of my dogs, however it is doing great. It has some large sized peaches. I will have to make a blog post about it as well. Once I planted the Chitalpa tree in the left side of my backyard yard, I felt a sense of completion, as far has plants go. Now I only have to wait for these trees and plants to mature. As for the rest of the yard well . . . .  I will discuss it my natural pool posts.

Chitalpa May 2015 


My Mimosa

I have a Mimosa tree that I purchased last year. I bought it because I love how the Mimosa flower smells. It has more of a perfume aroma than a flower scent. From research about them they are supposed to grow pretty fast. They have compound leaves which close in the evening. The flowers look like pink puff balls. My mimosa had an injury due to the winds, it did not die however some of the branches did not leaf out this spring. I am not sure if I should go ahead and cut those branches off or not. Here is a picture. If you have any advice it is welcome.

In fall of 2014 I decided to go ahead and copice my mimosa. Now we are in March 2015 and I would like to share with you the results. As you can see it worked out great my mimosa is coming back it already has about the same amount of growth that it had when I first cut it all off. I am confident that over the course of the 2015 growing season my Mimosa will probably be bigger than if I had not copied my tree. I did not copice it down to the ground. Only below the scar from wind damage.