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Help how to re-use a swimming pool I don't want

 
Posts: 39
Location: S.W. France
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I'm hoping for some cool ideas and technical info from you guys.

As retirees, we are trying to buy a house with more space for growing, raising chickens and so on, but many of the homes we see (and the one we're interested in at the moment) have swimming pools. Of course these houses are more expensive, and when we first started looking we just wouldn't look at any with a swimming pool.

Problem is, there aren't many on offer with all the features we want, and COVID is not helping (the people from town are fleeing to the countryside and people aren't feeling it's the moment to sell), so... we are considering buying one that has this unwanted and expensive feature.

- We've thought about using it as an underground, if not very deep, storage for rainwater to use in the garden and, after the proper treatment(s), the house. But swimming pool lining is probably not the kind of material you want your water sitting in, and how do you close it up and get the pump in and all ? And it's below the level of the house on a sloping site.

- We've thought about using it as an underground, if not very deep, cool cellar for storing produce, but we'd probably only be storing enough for our personal use and it would be far too big, plus it's situated in a very sunny spot.

- We've thought about using it as part of a greywater and sewage treatment, but again it would probably be completely oversized and far too deep for that, and how would you create drainage from it ? (ps Yes I would like to put in a dry toilet and do humanure but we will no doubt have a poor water "flushing" toilet too)

- We've thought about using it as a pond for wildlife and perhaps ducks or fish/aquaponics, but would that work ?

We're really a bit flummoxed by the whole thing, and don't have enough technical knowledge about all these options, furthermore we are not handy (or now fit) enough to envisage doing anything more than really basic DIY.

I'd rather just pay a professional who knows what they're doing to put in a water collection tank and a reedbed system, (which is what I'd hope to do if we find a house without a swimming pool)  However I'm sure they'd want to put in their standard systems and not do a complicated conversion.

If we DO buy this house with a swimming pool we'll have to do something useful with it, but what ?

 
pollinator
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The aquaculture / aquaponics is tempting to me, but so is an in-ground greenhouse. Probably not the optimal design for that, but I think it would be cheaper to heat, or be easier to use for season extension without heat, compared to above-ground.
 
Rocket Scientist
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Hi Sonya;
I added your thread to rainwater catchment and ponds.
If there is another you would like it in just ask.
 
Sonya Noum
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Oh thanks !
I'd completely overlooked the option of an in-ground greenhouse, that makes a lot of sense and sounds much easier than all the other stuff ! Tho it seems like an awfully big space for a wee bit of extra seasonal stuff. Maybe I could take it further and make a solar oven or something in it !
 
Sonya Noum
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Thanks Thomas !
 
gardener
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I have seen some videos where people set up floating veggie gardens on the surface of old swimming pools and put fish underneath. The water wicks up to the beds and the fish provide fertilizer but I don't have a pool, so I've never looked into how balanced they're able to get it - they probably do at least some water pumping to oxygenate the water for the fish, but it's not a full-on aquaponics set-up where there's "flooding of gravel beds".
There are definitely people doing floating plant beds in moving water systems - a fellow installed one on a lake in China and cleaned up the water in an amazingly short period of time. He grew flowers to sell because of the level of contamination he was dealing with.
 
master steward
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This is a cool post from someone who has tried several different options that you might enjoy:

that same pool has been my chicken coop, compost pit, wood chip reservoir, compost tea brewer, egg making, FIRE ANT breeding, science project for the last few years.  By filling the pool with free wood chips, I am now able to make all of my compost on site.  It is a lot of labor to shovel the chips into a garbage can, haul the garbage can up the stairs of the pool, over to the screen sifter, and then sift out the bigger chunks.  All of my food scraps go in the pool, all the yard trimmings from the property (I'm on 1/3 acre urban with no lawns), and pretty much anything organic I would otherwise throw away.  I put hardware cloth over the domed area where the plastic for the greenhouse was.   The compost tea is basically just rain water that the pool naturally collects and that I can pump out with a bilge in the deep end.



https://permies.com/t/154940/Underground-green-house#1214403

The thread is also about underground greenhouses.

https://permies.com/t/154940/Underground-green-house

 
Posts: 28
Location: MD, USA. zone 7
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If the bottom's level, add some steps and a railing and you have a sunken deck. Pergola the top and you've got a great place for vines.

Do you like bamboo or other ferocious plants? Fill it in and you have a contained garden box.

If you put a roof on it, maybe a sunken greenhouse, workspace/studio, or plain old storage.

If you keep it wet: water storage, wildlife pond, aquaponics pond, duck haven.
 
Sonya Noum
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Thank you all for these wonderful ideas, I'm beginning to feel it's actually feasable (even if I still don't know quite how)
 
master steward
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I've heard, in some areas, if a pool is empty it can cause problems.  I'm not sure if it was a high water table lifting the pool out of the ground or if it was some other problem.  You might want to check with pool installers in the area to see if it might be a concern.
 
T Melville
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Tho it seems like an awfully big space for a wee bit of extra seasonal stuff. Maybe I could take it further and make a solar oven or something in it !



Other (complementary) options: Chickens, rabbits, and / or fish. Chickens or rabbits would extend your season slightly farther, (body heat) and can generate loads of fertility for the plants. The downside would be a probable need to circulate air so everyone breathes better in there. Depending on your summers, they may require shade, extra ventilation or relocation when it's warm. Fish would provide fertility, the water would be a thermal mass, and could provide for watering the plants, if desired.
 
gardener
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As I love amphibes and they are in a dire situation in Europe I would opt for a pond!

My French is not good enough to do a research, but a quick search on German websites gave me some that talk about pool to pond conversion. There are DYI solutions (like lining the walls and adding stones and suitable soil) and companies specialized in that conversion.
I give you the links anyway, maybe google translate works for you, if not you can at least look at the pictures:
https://www.husmann-gartenbau.de/blog/vom-pool-zum-schwimmteich/
https://deavita.com/gartengestaltung-pflege/landschaftsbau/gartenteich-im-pool-anlegen-idee-garten-gestaltung.html
https://www.homify.de/ideenbuecher/561/vom-swimmingpool-zum-gartenteich

My garden is very small but three years ago we built our own mini-pond. It makes me so happy!
Just to sit there and look at the water with the life all around, water bugs, dragonflies, insects that drink, little spiders, sometimes a newt or even a frog, snails moving under the surface of the water. And we don't have mosquitoes. Of course mosquitoes will lay their eggs, but there is enough aquatic wildlife to feed on them. A water barrel is far more critical in that respect.
If you are lucky you even might get a visit from a kingfisher or similar.

So my vote goes out for pond.
 
Sonya Noum
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Thank you for all your wonderful creative replies.

Finally, we've decided not to buy that property, in fact the pool was new and in excellent condition so there was no way they were going to bring the price down as much as we'd have wanted, plus the place had other defaults. But the ideas are out there and are inspiring and useful anyway, whether you inherit a pool or not !

Yes an empty pool will inevitably fill with some water and become a breeding ground for mosquitos. Tropical mosquito-borne deseases have arrived in the south of France with global warming and human trafic and  transiit, so mosquitos are definately not a good idea !

And yes, I will definately have a pond whereever I end up !
 
pollinator
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Finally, I used to build inground swimming pools, if left empty they can pop out or collapse the walls.
I would use it for fish etc and veges, but also install a tank for rainfall collection in the pool as well.
 
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While living in Arizona, I heard of a guy who turned his backyard pool into a covered Aquaponic dome as an experiment and it worked really well for him. He called it a Garden Pool and has a website www.gardenpool.org

Here also is a news story done on his Garden Pool and what he was able to accomplish.
 
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