By Katie Mendelson
When Dave Walter and his family swim in the natural pool they built at their -Wichita, Kansas, home, the experience is about a lot more than simply cooling off. “You’re floating next to water lilies and cattails, smelling the patches of peppermint, and listening to the sound of the waterfall,” Walter says. Aesthetically too, the pool provides an unconventional experience: It has no traditional edge, just a loose border of river rocks. “It’s more like being in a swimming hole.”
The Walters are part of a small but growing group of Americans who eschew traditional chlorine-cleansed, concrete-decked backyard immersions in favor of natural pools, which utilize aquatic plants to maintain a hygienic swimming environment. Popular throughout Europe since the mid-1980s, when Biotop, an Austrian company, first introduced them to that market, natural swimming pools mimic the self-regulating process of wetlands.