Backyard pools are a great way to keep cool, but some people believe you can save time and money by ditching the chlorine and pool cleaner to go natural.
Queenslanders are turning their pools into garden ponds using plants, fish and even crayfish and snails to keep the water fresh.
Heather Harris: “We created ours in mid-May this year — a simple conversion.”
Nick Bushnell: “Ours is going to have a separate lap pool section from the garden.”
Larry Matters: “Once established the cost of upkeep is basically nil.”
Creating a swimmable pond without chlorine
But how does it all work without getting stagnant and filthy?
Brisbane resident Sarah Eastwell said she created a garden pond that she could also swim in.
“The idea kind of grew as my mother gave me a water fountain and it made me wonder what sort of water feature I would like.”
She told ABC Radio Brisbane that her plan was to create something that was easy to look after but also cost-effective.
“I wanted something big and I really wanted to be able to swim in it, but I didn’t want to maintain a pool or have to use chemicals or power to run it.
“This has become a green option as I get the garden plus swimming and the wildlife as well.”
You never swim alone
While swimming pools are a popular choice for families, Ms Eastwell encouraged people to consider building a pond first.
“Many people’s pools sit for nine months with nothing going on,” she said.
“It is so much fun and it’s like having an aquarium you can jump into.”
Stocking the pond with fish also helps keep on top of mosquitos, she said.
“You set up the pond as an ecosystem with fish and plants and it regulates itself,” Ms Eastwell said.
“It has a nitrogen cycle where the fish produce ammonia, which turns into nitrites that becomes nitrates.
“These then fertilise the plants and the fish eat the plants and it goes around and around.
“We have native fish in the pond including rainbow fish and snails, as well as blue claw and there’s lots of frogs too.”
What happens when you swim with crayfish?
It’s fine — just be aware where your feet are.
“I get nervous of the blue claw, but there’s rocks on the bottom so I don’t put my feet under anywhere,” Ms Eastwell said.
Aquascaper Patrick Hanley said people needed to think of what plants they used to aid filtration and prevent pests.
“Mosquitos like a little puddle of water, and if the water is moving they tend not to breed in it as they like confined areas,” he said.
“You become more aware of cane toads when you add a water feature, so it’s an opportunity to humanely remove them from the environment and to do it in a kind way.”
He said to also ensure a fence was in place around the pond just as with a swimming pool.
“If you have an existing swimming pool, make sure the fence stays in place.
“If it’s a garden pond to swim in, then it’s still a body of water and you need to protect yourself and others.”