Self-builds: Natural swimming pool made using larch wood

When a woodsman and eco-builder and a DIY natural swimming pool champion come together, you get a self-build match made in heaven – a stunning, eco-friendly organic pool made from larch wood.

Woodsman, author and natural eco-builder, Ben Law, created the natural swimming pool at his home in the woods, Prickly Nut Wood, a working coppice woodland in West Sussex, UK.

Ben Law enlisted the support of filmmaker and natural swimming pool expert, David Pagan Butler, to create the natural swimming pool which utilises “ceramic air stones and plants for filtration” making the quality of the water crystal clear.

Natural swimming pools or swimming ponds work with nature to provide hygienic water for swimming. Plants and animals condition the water so there is no need for chlorine or other pesticides.

Describing the process of creating the natural swimming pool, Ben Law wrote on his website: “I have always loved swimming in fresh water away from the chemical waters of most commercial pools. Newts and whirlygig beetles, dragonflies and bats at dusk make the swimming experience a wildlife adventure.”

Filmmaker David Pagan Butler, from Saxthorpe, Norfolk, built a natural pool in the garden of his home more than seven years ago. It serves as a fresh water habitat and works with plants and animals to provide hygienic water for swimming.

A circulation system driven by a standard aquarium air pump moves the water through plant beds, sand and gravel, down to drainage pipes – and the water is filtered by the micro-organisms living there.

On average, an eco-friendly swimming pool costs around £6,000 to build,  but nothing to maintain.

David Pagan Butler says: “I built my first natural swimming pool, not because I like a challenge, indeed I’d prefer to be lazing by the side of a pool rather than digging it, but because it was the only way I could afford to have one.”

The filmmaker and father of four documented the process of self-building his natural swimming pool and turned it into a step-by-step video tutorial. He shared a clip in 2010 via YouTube, and the video has since clocked up more than five million views. He has also shared a manual, which is free to download here, for anyone wanting to create their own eco-friendly pool in their garden.

David Pagan Butler has inspired people around the world to self-build their own natural swimming pools. Natural pools from all around the world – including America, Brazil, Mongolia and Thailand – have been built thanks to David Pagan Butler’s help.

He said: “I have re-thought the processes needed to create hygienic swimming water and I have come up with a system completely geared to fellow DIY pond builders. I try to minimise resources, incorporating reclaimed materials and I even make filters from reused household objects and domestic plumbing.”

Making a pond is the most effective way you can increase local biodiversity, according to the filmmaker.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, David Pagan Butler said: “Our landscape used to have thousands upon thousands of ponds, but through agricultural practice and land development most have been lost.

“By encouraging people to make organic pools for their own health, wellbeing and all round joie de vivre, they are simultaneously creating valuable habitats and stepping stones for wildlife across our landscape.”

Both specialists in their own right, Ben Law and David Pagan Butler are keen to share their knowledge of natural habitats, the environment and eco-building techniques with like-minded people.

Apart from making a living from coppicing, Ben Law trains apprentices and runs courses on sustainable woodland management, eco-building and permaculture design.

Each year he also invites people, through ticketed events, to experience Prickly Nut Wood and visit his home, the Woodland House. The iconic roundwood timber framed house featured on Kevin McCloud’s C4 series Grand Designs. Kevin McCloud called it “a house so ecologically sound, it breathes in time to the trees around it”.

As well as a natural pool building service for the Norfolk and Suffolk area, David Pagan Butler also runs courses on how to build eco-friendly natural swimming pools.

For more information on Ben Law and David Pagan Butler and the courses they run, visit their websites: Ben Law and Organic Pools

Images: © Ben Law, © Organic Pools

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer specialising in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives:

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