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the pool was here when I got here  RSS feed

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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A big chunk of what should be zone 1 on my property is taken up by a pool yard and inground pool. With the small children who don't swim, it's a bit of a worry, although I have taught them pretty well to respect it.

In the spring the cover acts as a vernal pool and our amphibian population is healthy.

The amount of work and chemicals that goes into this this is ridiculous. I can't get rid of it as we rent the farm from my father in law. He spent thousands on a new liner last year. It is nice to have a place to swim right here and our big kids love it but from a design perspective it's a bummer.

Two questions- how could we make better use of our space when there is a big pool/pool yard "in the way"? And moving into the future, how could this situation be turned to something better someday. I love ponds but am not sure I want an aquaculture system right there. There's a big fence around it. It is on the north side of the house.
 
Darren Collins
Posts: 34
Location: Jamberoo, NSW, Australia
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Hi Matu (I'm another Collins, but no relation!).

There are some amazing pictures of a pool-to-pond conversion here: http://www.aussieslivingsimply.com.au/forum/backyard-projects/212564-converting-an-inground-pool-to-a-pond

A brochure about such conversions from a Council near me: http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/files/a10844cd-58bc-4c2c-ba36-a20a00a7c1c8%2F2013_Pools_to_Pond_Factsheet.pdf

Another option is to build a cover over the pool and use it like a greenhouse: http://gardenpool.org

All of these projects should be reversible if you need to revert it one day. I hope these ideas help you figure out what to do with it!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Maybe we're relatives if you go back far enough...

Another question is what is the cleanest/ lowest impact way to maintain a swimming pool?
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1129
Location: northern northern california
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maybe container gardens all around it?
not just in pots, but maybe large containers that could be made with scrap wood?
 
Andrew Millison
Instructor
Posts: 112
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
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Here's a cool video about what the gardenpool folks did with their suburban swimming pool:



Another option might be to drain it, put a frame and a membrane or some other materials over it, and use it as a sunken greenhouse. You could build a ladder or stairs down and have a totally tropical sheltered eco-bunker. Makes me think of this cool book from the 1970's "Survival Greenhouse":
webpage
You mentioned it's on the North side of the house, so perhaps solar exposure is an issue.

It sounds like you don't want to have water in it, and it's not okay to fill it in or damage it, so I think the sunken greenhouse garden is one way to go. If you move, you could dismantle it and maintain the pool for your father-in-law.

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Well, until I have a really great alternative proposition to offer, the pool will stay a swimming pool. My father in law has put a lot of money into making it a working pool, so for now we have a big fenced in yard in what should be zone 1 and we only use it three months out of the year. We do enjoy it, it just seems like a lot of work and chemicals for the enjoyment and space. It's not really up to me.

The pond idea is interesting. I wonder if there would be a way to raise foods for the chickens in there. As it is the chickens know the signs of me cleaning out the skimmer basket and the vacuum robot and they come running to eat the beetles and roly polies. (I only feed them when the chlorine level is very low, but we're really minimal with the chemicals so that is often)

For now, I wonder if we can use the yard somehow the other 9 months, and if there is a better lower maintenance way to keep it clean. I wish I had one of those natural ponds... has anyone tried the saltwater pool thing? I don't know much about it.

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Andrew, you've given me an idea- when the apocalypse happens and we have no more electricity and pool chemicals, it could be a root cellar...
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Matu Collins wrote:

For now, I wonder if we can use the yard somehow the other 9 months, and if there is a better lower maintenance way to keep it clean. I wish I had one of those natural ponds... has anyone tried the saltwater pool thing? I don't know much about it.



The "saltwater pool thing" should really be called a "brackish water pool thing" because it is only about 1/10th the salinity of seawater. When you taste the pool water, you can barely tell it is salted. If it was soup, you would say "needs salt". The reason this is done is because chlorine in really, really fresh water doesn't want to stay there; it pairs up with another chlorine and off into the atmosphere they go. That's why chlorinated pools smell the way they do. When you throw in some salt (I had 40 lbs in a 17,000 gallon pool), the presence of a counter-ion keeps the chlorine from recombining and off-gassing.

Natural ponds are the way to go. When I get some more $$, enthusiasm and initiative, I am going to turn the large hole in my backyard into a natural pond. Here is the ultimate resource that will tell you everything you need to know.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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One of the frustrating things about having a pool in New England is the huge chunk of what should be Zone 1 taken up by the pool yard. The good sturdy fence has been a good paddock for the chickens this winter as I taught them to follow me in there. Safe from the canid mamas (fox and coyote here) who come out during daylight hours when nursing pups. One of my goals for 2014 is to keep the chickens safe from predators- so far pretty good, and the pool yard helped.

I'm really looking forward to the appearance of the tadpoles in the pool cover. I'm hoping to pump the water from the cover out to a little pond I'm digging in the garden in hopes of more toads and frogs.

 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 203
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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I've got a pool on the northwest side of my house that I'd like to do the green house thing with but my husband is attached to having a pool. I've got some pots up on the deck but I recently decided I'd add some on the pool concrete surround too, for herbs and heat loving plants like peppers.

For now we're using an ion system that allows us to use less chlorine to maintain it. The cost of running the pump for three months of the year gets me too! The ducks do enjoy the frogs my husband flings their way when he cleans it though!
 
Andrea Wisner
Posts: 31
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Whatever you do with a pool is going to be expensive, and draining the pool will cause permanent damage as the ground shifts and the water is not there to hold up the walls. But the greenhouse thing gave me an idea: build a floor over the top of the pool and put a greenhouse on top. The water underneath will help moderate the temperature. Keeping the water in darkness will prevent it from growing algae. The floor should be tight enough to prevent little things from crawling or falling in.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2738
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Matu Collins wrote:Maybe we're relatives if you go back far enough...

Another question is what is the cleanest/ lowest impact way to maintain a swimming pool?


saltwater pools are less to maintain than your normal chlorinated water pools.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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I love the idea of the saltwater pool, but the ionizer thingy is like 800 dollars! If I were committed to keeping the pool I'd get one for sure.

A lot of the cost of running it is the electricity for the pump and filter.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
gardener
Posts: 318
Location: Buffalo, NY
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I just found this topic after my friend sent me the garden pool article on the web. I'll provide the links that I have:

Garden Pool webpage

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Update:
We've decided, for this year, to keep the pool covered and let it be a pond on top of the pool cover. This will at we have we are taking on more decision making power. ast save money and work. We will still have a locked fenced in chunk of prime zone 1 real estate (and it really does have to stay locked with young children and insurance companies)

Last winter I used the space for daytime chicken territory and this winter I am doing the same. The grass is thick and lush and green in there because of years past with dogs in there. Also along the fence we have some thick vines with stacked functions. Wisteria for beauty and structure and trumpet vine for the hummingbirds. The underneath is a nice safe tunnel/cave to protect the chickens from the many varieties of birds of prey that live here.

I foresee the pit greenhouse now and I love the idea. I think my father in law will be on board. He's trusting us more to make decisions as we fix up the house and property and prove the value of our odd permaculture ways. I am so grateful that he and my mother in law thought to build this cozy home and plant fruit and nut trees. I recognize that many people would love to have one of my bad days, it's an embarrassment of riches, my life! Most of the riches are not in cash form though, thus the pool cover pond. I'll think of it as rainwater storage.

We have used the pool cover water as the soaking water when building many of our hugelkultur beds. A simple sump pump does the trick!

 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Woo hoo! We have clearance to develop a plan to get rid of the pool! Now, what to do?

I'd like a greenhouse, but the plans I have found are for cement pools and ours is a vinyl liner in earth/sand. Also, the fact that the pool is on the north side of the house puts a damper on things but it could still be ok, it's not right up against the house.

There is a great cedar fence around the poolyard, so I don't want to bring in heavy equipment in and knock down the fence trying to fill in the pool.

I'm looking for a low-impact solution that will not effect the house's foundation and will not have water standing. Even a little pond makes the house diffucult to insure, and insurance cost is driving the removal of the pool. I'd like the space to be useful. Is a simple greenhouse design possible? If we just fill it in, what could we fill it in with and how?

I'm still keeping the cover on for tadpole season
 
Jessica Padgham
Posts: 99
Location: Denver, Co 6000ft bentonite clay soil
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We have a pool built like that and had the liner replaced two years ago so I've seen how they are put together. If yours is built like mine the top 4 ft or so have sheet aluminum walls. If you pull out the liner to fill in the pool I would leave these walls in place until you get the level of dirt up that high. At that point the danger of collapse is lower (though not gone). My next step would be to pull out the walls and finish filling in the hole. Next would be to remove the concrete deck and plumbing/electric if that is desired. By leaving the concrete for last you can continue to use the cover and fill the hole in a little at a time as you can source fill dirt. I see a lot of free fill dirt offered on Craig's List around here so you might try that.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 503
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
26
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You could use the existing hole as the excavation for a root cellar and pit greenhouse. Build your structure a few feet in from the edges ( I would use something like Oehler PSP or Paul's WOFATI structure). Build some sort of retaining wall system and enjoy that pre-made hole!
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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Matu Collins wrote:Woo hoo! We have clearance to develop a plan to get rid of the pool! Now, what to do?

I'd like a greenhouse, but the plans I have found are for cement pools and ours is a vinyl liner in earth/sand. Also, the fact that the pool is on the north side of the house puts a damper on things but it could still be ok, it's not right up against the house.

There is a great cedar fence around the poolyard, so I don't want to bring in heavy equipment in and knock down the fence trying to fill in the pool.

I'm looking for a low-impact solution that will not effect the house's foundation and will not have water standing. Even a little pond makes the house diffucult to insure, and insurance cost is driving the removal of the pool. I'd like the space to be useful. Is a simple greenhouse design possible? If we just fill it in, what could we fill it in with and how?

I'm still keeping the cover on for tadpole season


MEGA HUGELKULTURE!

Just kidding, sort of.

Other ideas:

Root cellar
Storm/bomb shelter
Geothermal
Snake pit (sorry, can't help it this morning)
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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The project is in the works. What has been, effectively, a big chunk of zone 5 right next to the house, is to be transformed into a sunken garden/greenhouse/tree propagation area. Possible small pond, we'll see if we can get the insurance company to ok it.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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The project has been stalled. I am attaching a photo of where we are at. The wild birds enjoy the pond just like the frogs did all summer. I am sick of having a locked hate around this chunk of prime zone 1 real estate. Step 1, clear the fence where the backhoe can come in, was done back in August. We are all dithering about how to move forward. Should we just fill it in with bought fill? That's what folks do with old pools around here.

I say, dig the walipini/sunken greenhouse, use the scooped out fill from that dig to stabilize the hole left by the pool and create a natural slope into a kratergarden where I can propagate trees and plants out of the wind and with the fence to protect from deer. The deer could probably hop the fence but they don't like coming that close to our house. Plus, I make the gardens uneven to navigate and we have artemisias to plant around the fence.

I will get the sump pump out when it seems like the backhoe might really and truly arrive. Mostly I need approval from my father in law and possibly funding, depending on how fancy I want to get with the walipini.

If I can get the pool out I will feel better about having more widely publicized events with children. We do small and word-of-mouth events now but it makes me nervous because parents are nervous and litigious and children can be silly and poorly trained. There is a wealth of opportunity for education here and a hunger in the community fir outdoor children's education, but this body of water is a stumbling block. And so expensive on the insurance!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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Photos from the second story window
20160101_132307.jpg
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20160101_132319.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20160101_132319.jpg]
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
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We now have a good layer of snow on the ground an it's been cold. I noticed birds drinking out of the edge of the pool cover where the sun had melted the edge of the ice. Now I've been smashing the ice in that corner and scooping it out of the way. The birds really appreciate the drink and the brushy hiding places I left for them. I let the chickens in this yard for a safe place to poke around and they like the drink too.

It will be nice when we get the new design implemented, but I have grown fond of the pond.
 
Did you see how Paul cut 87% off of his electric heat bill with 82 watts of micro heaters?
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