Advice & F.A.Qs

What are the SwimPond maintenance Requirements and Running Costs?

All the equipment we use on our SwimPonds is powered by mains power supply and is connected and running throughout the year

The power required is dependent on the volume of water in your swimpond and the amount of equipment running: the pumps, filter, any aeration, skimmers and under water lights all draw power.

Average running costs are £30-50 per month, who your electric supplier is and whether you have any energy efficient power generation on site can make a big difference.

Inside you filter you will have a sieve, sponges or possibly even both. These need to be cleaned monthly from May – September. If you do not give you sponges a rinse yourself and dirt builds up, you may need to completely replaces the sponges. If you maintain the sponges with regular rinses, they can last for over 5 years.

The aquatic plants specified will be very young and will not require cutting back in the winter. Leave the plants for at least 3 years to mature, then, if you want to trim them back in Autumn, you can. This is down to personal preference on the ascetic of your pond and not essential. The more plants growing the more habitat you have for wildlife. We do not add bull rushes or any other fast-growing plants to our designs.

The only annual cost for maintenance is the change of you UV bulb. The filament in the bulb last for around 10,000hrs (approx. 1yr) It is absolutely essential that you swap the bulb at the end of each winter to ensure the pond does not go green with algae in the spring as temperatures rise. You can buy new bulbs direct from the manufacturer online. You can also find them on the well known online websites.

We offer annual maintenance packages where one of our dedicated filtration specialists will come at regular intervals to clean the filter, pump, and any other equipment for you as well as annually changing the bulb if you don’t always live at the property.

How Are SwimPonds Powered – What are the power requirements?

We use electrically powered mechanical systems to circulate the water and to biological filtration and Ultra Violet bulbs to clean it.

All equipment in the water like submersed pumps, skimmers, any additional aeration specified and under water spotlights are run from 12v for safety

The filtration units and UV bulbs sit outside the water so they can be accessed for cleaning. These are connected directly in to the mains power supply with armoured cable and a waterproof outdoor double socket.

2 phase power is needed, although 3 phase power is desirable is not essential. We are often asked if the equipment can be powered by solar panels. Currently it is not possible to use purely solar, too much power is needed to circulate large volumes of water although filtration companies are developing new products.

I may have Great Crested Newts – What Should I do?

Introduction

Great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) are the largest native newt species in Britain and are legally protected. They are widely distributed across lowland Great Britain, but absent from Ireland. Across Europe, numbers of great crested newts have declined, largely due to the loss of ponds and habitat deterioration. They spend a significant proportion of their time on land and return to waterbodies to breed in the spring.

Identification

The great crested newt is the largest of the three native species of newt and can grow up to 17cm in length. They are usually dark brown or black with a ‘warty’ or bumpy skin. Their underside is bright orange with black patches. The males develop a jagged crest along their backs in the spring with a white stripe. Females do not have a crest. Great crested newt larvae are mottled with black spots and have a long filament at the tip of their tail.

Habitats and lifecycle

Great crested newts spend a large amount of time on land feeding, dispersing, resting and hibernating. From around late September to mid-October, when night temperatures drop, they enter hibernation until temperatures warm up again from early February.

The habitats great crested newts can be found in on land include:

  • Rough grassland.
  • Cracks or crevices in the ground.
  • Bases of hedgerows.
  • Logpiles.
  • Mammal burrows.
  • Woodland.

From February until April/May, adults will move from their hibernation sites to their breeding ponds. Once they reach their ponds, they can breed between early March and the end of June (with seasonal variation). Females will lay large numbers of eggs within a waterbody, with each egg wrapped inside the leaves of pond plants.

Whilst great crested newts prefer to breed in small to medium sized ponds, they are also known to occur in other habitats including:

  • Large ponds.
  • Drainage ditches.
  • Storage tanks.
  • Mineral extraction sites.

Great crested newts can travel large distances between breeding ponds and their resting places, and it is considered that they may be supported by land within 500m of a pond.

Protection

Due to the decline of the species across Europe, great crested newts are a European Protected Species. As such, they are protected by both European and UK legislation, meaning it is illegal to:

  • Capture, kill, disturb or injure a great crested newt (either deliberately or by not taking enough care).
  • Damage or destroy their resting or breeding place.
  • Obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places.
  • Possess, sell, control or transport live or dead newts, or parts of them.
  • Take great crested newt eggs.

Any such offence could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months and a £5,000 fine for each offence.

Works that could affect great crested newts

Situations where great crested newts could be present and therefore affected by works include:

  • Maintenance works to ponds, woodland, scrub or rough grassland.
  • Removing dense, scrub vegetation and ground disturbance.
  • Removing materials, such as dead wood piles.
  • Ground excavation works.
  • Filling in or destroying ponds or other water bodies.

Great crested newts and development proposals

If it is considered that great crested newts could be affected by a development, further surveys by an ecologist may be necessary. It is usually necessary to check for great crested newts if:

  • There are historical records of newts within the land, or close to the land proposed for development.
  • There is a waterbody within 500m of the application site boundary.

The first stage of a survey is likely to determine the habitat suitability index score. This will help assess how likely it is that great crested newts will use the site. If this score finds that newts may be present, a more detailed set of surveys will be required. It is only generally possible to undertake newt surveys in waterbodies between mid-March and early June and between four and six visits will be required during that time.

If great crested newts are found to be present and are considered likely to be affected by the proposals, it may be necessary to obtain a protected species licence from Natural England in advance of works taking place. As part of the licence, a mitigation strategy will be required which will detail how impacts on newts and their habitats will be avoided or minimised wherever possible.

Alternative approach

In August 2015, Natural England launched a pilot project in Surrey to bring more flexibility to the licensing system. The project aims to take a more strategic approach, ensuring that resources are focused on newt populations and habitat that will bring the greatest benefits, and making the licensing process more straightforward.

A local conservation plan will be prepared that will identify areas where development will have the least impact and specify where new habitats will be created, so that when development results in habitat loss, the habitat gains will already be in place to compensate.

Why Choose us? What are your accreditations and guarantees?

We have a 5 year guarantee on all our construction & installation work

The butyl rubber liner manufacturers have a lifetime guarantee on the integrity of the lining

We are registered Installers of OASE filtration equipment used on our projects so all equipment is covered by the manufacturers guarantee.

We are accredited by BALI, The British Association of Landscaping Industries.

The organisation works to maintain standards in the gardening and landscaping field.  

There are many reasons to hire one of its members. Here are just five for you to consider:

1. THE ‘SEAL OF APPROVAL’ SAVES YOU TIME.

A BALI registered landscaper is vetted and approved by the association, so you won’t have to go through the rigmarole of requesting multiple quotes and checking for references.

Once a company has earned membership, you can go ahead and hire them with the knowledge that they are able to deliver what they promise at a fair price. That’s a weight off your mind!

2. A TRAINED, FRIENDLY TEAM MEANS GREATER VALUE.

Professional development is a big deal at BALI and the association expects all of their members to train staff and adhere to the particular competencies of the industry. The result of this is that safety is maintained and applied.

This means the team you hire will be fully competent and productive. Furthermore, a strict code of conduct ensures impeccable behaviour is carried out on site at all times.

Increased knowledge and great customer service combine to reduce stress and give you greater value from your investment. What’s not to like?

3. A FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY TRANSLATES TO PEACE OF MIND.

All BALI members are called upon to operate in an environmentally ethically and commercially sustainable manner.

You won’t have to worry about the harmful effects of soil or water contamination caused by toxic compounds or chemical pollutants. You won’t need to think about subsidence caused by water displacement. In a nutshell, your home, garden and the natural environment will be in safer hands when you seek out BALI registered landscape gardeners.     

4. INTERVENTION FROM THE ASSOCIATION GIVES YOU PROTECTION SHOULD THINGS GO WRONG.

As with all things in life, we have to be prepared for the fact that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan.

Thankfully, BALI is there to act as an intermediary between both parties should any disputes occur about the work or service provided. The team will work hard to reach a resolution over any issues or concerns and you will be fairly advised and represented.

5. MEMBERSHIP PROVES A LEVEL OF COMMITMENT THAT SHOULDN’T BE IGNORED.

Finally, it’s worth saying that it’s not easy for companies in the landscaping or gardening industries to earn BALI accreditation.

For the paying customer, that’s a really good thing.

Companies that are willing to invest the time and money it takes to become a fully-fledged BALI member are demonstrating their commitment and dedication to their trade and their customers.

BALI membership is not just a process – it’s a revelation. It tells us something about the true culture of the company, the attitude of the management and the abilities of the team. 

You – as a client – can feel reassured that you will be dealing with a decent, reliable and quality driven partner who has your best interests at heart. 

Do I need a natural water source on site to fill my SwimPond?

You can use any fresh water to fill the Swimpond. Some water sources are easier to work with than others when working towards clear water. We create a filtered, enclosed, eco system which is maintained by a combination of filtration and aquatic planting. This means once the pond is filled for the first time, we do not continually add new water to the system.

If you have a running water source on your land like a stream, you can use this water to fill your SwimPond. We can often temporarily divert a natural running water source into the pond once the construction of the swimpond is complete to fill the pool with natural water.

If you have a spring or water beneath your land, you could install a well or borehole to tap into your supply. This could potentially be unnecessarily costly if you have no other use for the borehole. The levels of minerals in ground water can also be high which is detrimental the balance of the swimpond nutrients.

If you have collected a large amount if rainwater on site, this can be used to fill to swimpond. Rainwater can contain contaminants from pollution and elements from rooves can also leach into the supply. This must be addressed, and the relevant water treatments used.

The final and most common option is to use mains water supply to fill initially the pond. Again, the levels of phosphates and other minerals must be ascertained by water composition testing before the pool is filled.

We carry out testing of all water going into the SwimPond system so we can accurately specify the correct combination of filtration, UV requirements and aquatic planting. The level of sunlight must also be calculated into this equation. This is done by our technical team and is overseen by Michael Wheat.

Can I install a SwimPond near trees?

Yes, it is possible but there a few considerations

Consider the wind direction from trees to the possible pool location as leaves or blossom falling from trees may end up in your swimpond. It is not deal to have a lot of debris falling into the swimming area. We can install a skimmer that hoovers leaves from the water’s surface and is collected in a basket before the leaves drop to the bottom and turn to sediment. This can be turned on independently, so it is only running at the times of year needed. Be aware skimmers will not collect heavier items like conkers or acorns.

If you have overhanging branches, consider cutting some back to reduce leaf fall into the pool. Another benefit of reducing the shade from branches is that your pool will be in more direct sunshine which will help to increase the temperature of the water naturally earlier in the season.

All tree species have different root systems. Mature tree’s roots may extend a lot further than expected. If the tree’s roots are close the swimpond location, they may be damaged when excavating the swimming area. Some trees can survive with part of their root system removed, but others will not. Specialist consultancy from a qualify and registered arborist is advised before you engage on a swimpond design plan with us.

You may want to consider completely clearing an area to install a pool. We’d prefer that no trees are fell to make way for a SwimPond. Our ethos revolves around eco friendly design, and we aim to increase biodiversity in your garden, not contribute to decreasing it.

You should check with your local council to see if your trees are protected by any preservation orders. If the trees are protected by law, they cannot be removed.

Can I have a swimpond if I also have dogs?

Good news, The simple answer is yes

You might be worried about the hair from you dog in the pool and how this affects the water and the system.

The submerged pump moves the water around so there are no still or stagnant areas. This pump also helps to move any floating debris, fur or dirt from paws into the filter sieves or sponges. This means any particles including human hair, oil from skin, leaves and any fur or dirt from the dogs hair and paws will be captured in the filter box

Dog fur and dirt will not build up in the pool floor or between the plants so cannot disrupt the water’s nutrient balance.

The other consideration is claws – we are often asked if they might puncture the waterproof rubber pond lining. It is true that sharp stone or metal and put a hole in butyl rubber.

To avoid any chance of dogs claws (or deer hooves for that matter) puncturing the lining, we add an additional layer on geotextile over the lining for protection, we then add a think layer of curved river pebbles and boulders the shallow areas and shelves that the dog may stand on. This method ensures the claws have no chance or pressing down onto the lining with any force.

The deeper shelves do not need extra protection as dogs and deer only have access to the shallow water’s edge.

We are cautious to design a swimpond with the client’s brief in mind, often you know your dog will 100% go for a swim and we make sure we are certain the swimpond is fit for purpose. Our liner has a lifetime guarantee. We have even designed a swimpond for a dog training centre!

How much extra space do I need for the aquatic planting?

Not a lot at all, definitely not 50% of the swimming space

You might be under the impression you need a lot of additional space for the marginal plants. This area is a shallow shelf filled with nutrient absorbs aquatic plants. When swimponds were first conceptualised in Germany in the 80s, the designers only used plants to keep the water nutrients balanced and did not add any equipment.

Mechanical and Biological fresh water filtration technology has come a long way. Along with a submersed circulatory pump, the filtration unit with UV  Bulbs does all the heavy lifting on keeping the water moving and take care of the water clarification.

We use a combination of plants and filtration on our projects. This means we aren’t relying on a single method of water purification which can be at a higher risk of water clarity issues (as it is more complex to maintain)

Relying solely on plants, you’d need serious consideration of the plant maintenance schedule. This is a hassle a lot of our clients do not want or need. With our hybrid design approach, there is less worry and less maintenance

There is no wasted space used up by huge planted shallow shelves that you can not actually swim in. Its great news for clients or architects with more compact spaces. Filtration can be over specified to reduce the amount of plants down to a very minimal level which is mostly a decorative design feature.

If you already have a chlorinated swimming pool, it is possible to swap the chlorine system for a fresh water alternative and the planting area can be designed to be added on shallow shelves inside the existing pool footprint.

What is your lead time for installations?

With each site being subject to different planning regulations, the time needed for obtaining permission to install a swimpond can differ across locations.

If you don’t live in a listed building or within a conservation area, planning consent isn’t needed and we can go straight from surveying and drawing to costing and then directly onto your installation without any planning delays.

As a rule, the lead time on booking a survey is around 2 weeks. Once the site visit and survey information has been collected by your consultant, the drawings and 3D renders of your design can be completed in 3-5 weeks by our design team at head office.

If you have a clear design brief and budget we can usually present a design concept that doesn’t need too many amendments.

We have an average lead time of 4-5 months. This is from the date of engaging with us on a design plan to when we break ground.

For clients being the design process in the Autumn, their project can be complete in the Spring and ready to enjoy the following summer.

How many swimponds have you built?

We have been designing and installing ponds for since 2009, over 11 years at the time of writing, and have installed over 300 projects

The company is growing as the market and demand for chemical free swimming options increases each year. We are completing more projects annually as our training academy and installation team continues to grow.

Over the last 5 years our SwimPond designs have become increasingly popular with eco conscious architects and landscape architects wanting to improve biodiversity of their designs. More private clients are now aware of the benefits to the environment of not using chlorine and want the mental health benefits of fresh water swimming.

We have 4 installation teams working across the country at any one time, on average we complete 3 – 4 projects per month.