My husband and I are planning on digging a natural swimming pool sometime within the year. We live in the States, GA to be specific, and we are having a hard time finding anyone who knows what natural swimming pools are, let alone has helped dig one. There is one contractor that we can find in GA that has only done 2, and wanted to charge us $80,000 so obviously we laughed and said "No thanks!". We are hoping that with enough research that we can hire someone to dig the hole for us and that our family can assist us in doing the rest (liner, rocks, plants, etc).
We want something simple, just a basic sloping "soup bowl" type of pond with the middle being about 5-6 feet deep, but we want it to be maybe 50x50 ft - more than just a small swimming hole. No ridges, no huge boulders, just a sloping smooth bottom. I'd love to connect with anyone who has actually built one, especially in the way that we want to, that could offer some advice.
We are thinking lining it with Bentonite Clay is the best option, although Im unsure how well it will stay since it will be sloped and not flat. We also want a shallow wading area in the front for our smaller kids to play in. We do plan to add fish in the future - possibly Koi, Tilapia, and a Fin Shark.
Im attaching two images from Google to show what we are looking for. I hope to get some great advice from all of you!
I have been doing some research into this as well, I think it would be generally better to approach people about "building a pond" instead of a "natural swimming pool, as that seems to add the idea of a premium kind of thing. that said, machines and experienced operators are very expensive and there is no getting around that. depending on your soil and everything (which will require some testing) you may not exactly need to line it at all, just have an experienced pond builder that knows what they are doing and have the appropriate siting and soil tests. I don't have experience lining ponds with bentonite, but i have experimented with it a little bit, here's one thing to consider: if you don't entirely cover the area that's lined it will remain incredibly slick forever. It is very slippery. so keep that in mind. Are you planning on having some kind of filtration for this or will it be more of a static pool? if so that changes how it's designed a little bit. Here are a few videos that might have some good relevant information for you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N4ftMi_I1I <--this guy in the second video might be worth contacting, I know he did a nice pond in tennesee which you will see in the video there, he will have a lot more practical guidance than I can offer and he might even be kicking around on the forums here somewhere... also I hear sepp holzer has a book on pond building but I have not sought it out yet.