PondsRecreation PondUncategorizedNatural Swim Pond Trend – Recreational Ponds

February 27, 2024by Bill Seeds

pond builder medford oregon

Swim ponds are the hottest outdoor living addition on trend. A return to nature has been an ongoing trend in the past decade, with an emphasis on homeopathic health remedies, organic food choices, and even landscaping.

Many people are ditching their pools for a ecologically conscious and increasingly more beautiful alternative such as recreational ponds.

Swimming Pools Vs Recreational Swimming Ponds

A typical swimming pool is characterized by its construction and filtration system. Swimming pools are generally built of concrete, preform plastic, or heavy duty liner. They use chlorinated filtration systems to create a sterile swimming environment.

Recreation ponds are typically made of rubber liner, boulders, gravel, and instead work with mother nature not against her. Utilizing biological filtration, a living ecosystem is simulated to keep the swimming area naturally filtered.

Many people are fed up with synthetic environments and are searching for a holistic approach with their home spaces. Incorporating a biologically filtered swimming pond limits exposure to chemicals for not only you, but also the native wildlife that will depend on your feature.

Recreational ponds are also enjoyable 365 days a year, because they do not need to be closed down during non-swimmable months. Waterfalls and fountains can also be run all year which increases their appeal with viewing angles indoors. Boulders and rock work are incorporated into the landscape to make it appear as if the feature is a natural spring.

Recreational Swim Pond – How?

There are a few key components with having a properly constructed swim pond. The big 3 are filtration, circulation, and aeration.


Mechanical filtration, or the ability to remove large debris such as leaves is paramount to protecting the biological filtration. Mechanical filtration is typically characterizes as a skimmer, skim cove, or intake bay. Debris is pulled into this area so that it may be removed. Then the water that is pulled from the intake bay skimmer is then sent to the biological filter.

The biological filtration relies on bacteria and aquatic meiofauna to process nitrogenous waste such as fish waste and decaying nutrients into soluable nitrates for plants to consume. This is known as the nitrogen cycle. In our case we build constructed wetland filters that do an incredible job, integrate seamlessly into the landscape, and can be maintenanced easily without the risk of clogging like other regeneration zone systems.


Pumps are the heart of the system. We need to draw water into the skimmer and out through the wetland for the entire system to function. But with larger bodies of water, especially those deeper than 3 feet, additional circulation is needed in order to limit dead zones and keep the water body moving. Otherwise debris can settle and create nutrient overloads when they decompose. Jet systems, similar to pools, are utilized in key areas to keep water moving and circulating towards the skimming system.


The bacteria acting as the kidneys of the system are aerobic, meaning they need oxygen to survive. This is why adding in a waterfall, and occasionally aeration systems, are mandatory to keeping the oxygen saturation as high as possible. Circulating the water also limits dead pockets. Breaking surface tension, and feeding the most highly oxygenated water to the biological filter optimizes their efficiency.

You should be weary of any contractor building these systems that can not recite these basic principles because they are fundamental to having a healthy and sustainable ecosystem.

Swim Pond Cost

Generally this will vary from contractor to contractor. We average 200$ per sq ft as of 2024. So for instance a 20′ x 25′ pond is 500 sq ft. This will place the cost around $100,000.

As you may have noticed there is more to the pond than just the area for swimming. An intake bay skimmer, wetland filter, and pump house are included in the design and expand the footprint.

Many people go smaller and create dipping ponds, generally 20′ by 15′ and 3′ deep is a common size accomodation. These will run anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 depending on access and accompaniments.

The build cost of a swim pond is more than a pool in many cases, but when you take into consideration the value of enjoyment all year round, the limit of chemical exposure, the added gardening benefit, and less general maintenance cost compared to a pool, you are at a net positive.

Swim Pond Maintenance

Initially the pond has to season, meaning it needs to accumulate bacterial colonies before it can become sustainable. This can take anywhere from one to three months depending on the location. We recommend a bacteria auto dosing system to add beneficial bacteria into the system during the warmer months. You will need to replace the bottle of bacteria periodically depending on the size feature.

We recommend weekly, or even daily removal of debris from the skimmer depending on the season. This will help the system remain consistent without having to battle extra nutrient load.

A yearly pump out of the wetland filter as well as the intake bay is recommended in the spring. This is a simple procedure that only takes a solids handling pump and a garden hose to complete. You can find out how to clean out your pond if necessary here.

Depending on how your pond was constructed you might only need to give it a thorough cleaning once every five years.

Cutting back plants inside the pond during the fall is also recommended to reduce excess nutrients being introduced.


For most people we would not recommend constructing a swim pond yourself. Along with the basic principles outlined above there are additional skills needed to construct a properly functioning system that includes properly built rockwork, underliner drains, design, and site constraints.

But with the right expertise you can have a gorgeous, natural body of water perfect for the hot days of summer, and still enjoyable throughout the winter. If you are interested in having a recreational swim pond built by us complete our contact form, include a photo of your space, and we’ll set up a complimentary phone consultation to discuss some options.

Check out our Recreation Pond Packages for dimensions, a list of items used, and pricing.


1103 Wildflower Drive, Merlin, Oregon, 97532
(503) 983-7663