How to build your own natural plunge pool!

With all that we’ve written about natural swimming ponds, it’s easy to look at some of the photos and assume that natural swimming ponds only suit large yards.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Today we’re going to cover natural plunge ponds…

A plunge pond can fit in must suburban yards...
A plunge pond can fit in most suburban yards…


The reality is that most pools are not used for swimming.  They are used for entertaining – be it the kids or guests.  Is a spa any less sociable than a pool? Of course not.  And spas offer some unique advantages over pools:

  • They are usually very compact.  A spa 2.4 metres in diameter will seat eight adults comfortably.  In other words, a spa fits where a pool won’t.
  • Spas are relatively shallow and therefore do not need vast quantities of water.
  • Spas are easy to warm in winter and can be left unheated in summer for a more refreshing experience.
  • Spas are much easier to install than a conventional pool.

But let’s face the real disadvantage… kids and adults tend not to mix well in spas.  The kids want to splash and play while the adults want to relax and unwind.  A pool wins hands down here as each can do their own thing.

Let’s look at a way to combine the best features of each of them by building a natural plunge pond. It offers compactness while retaining all the beauty and benefits of a natural pond!

The concept of plunge pools goes back many hundreds of years in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.  They have also been a part of some Asian cultures for at least that long.  Japan, of course, has a whole culture built around thermally heated pools and ponds.

The challenge with a conventional pond is that you need three metres of slope for every metre of water depth. That immediately demands either a big area or a very shallow pond.

The solution:

Buy a precast water tank, dig a hole, drop it in, do your landscaping and voila!  You now have a natural plunge pond for a fraction of the cost, effort and mess of a conventional pool.  You can literally go from dry to plunging in well under a week!  What a great holiday project!

A quick bit of searching shows that a quality precast tank with a 3.75 metre diameter  and 1.5 metre depth costs between $3,250 and $3,500.  That’s a water capacity of around 10,000 litres. Of course, you will still need your filtration area but that is scaled accordingly.

Finishing your plunge pond

Our searching revealed that some manufacturers have the capacity to add a wider lip around the edge, thereby creating instant seating. Others are able to cast seating into the tank as it’s made!

You can choose to leave the raw concrete or tile just the edge or the entire interior. Don’t forget there are some excellent paint finishes available as well!

The only restriction is your imagination...
The only restriction is your imagination…

What do you think?  Can you see a plunge pool in your future?  Please share your thoughts below.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Kathleen Wieczorek

    what a story-but wait, where are the pics of the final end result?! sounds like the trauma we went through when we built an addition onto our house using a local ‘experienced’ recommended contractor-NOT. live and learn. good job.

  2. Rebecca

    Thanks Kathleen. The end result and final blog post is coming as soon as the kids go back to school and I have enough time to think straight! 🙂

  3. Deb Hethcox,

    Rebecca, I can’t wait to see the finished pictures and read your next post! It looks great so far! I have an 18×36 pool in my Alabama back yard that we drained and covered a few years ago. I would love to revive it a la natural. Could it really be as simple (lol) as building a reed filtration system and a pump? I understand that the rejuvenation area needs to be 50% the size of the swimming area. But what are the specifications for the water flow? i.e. how much water needs to flow how fast to keep it clean and do you have to operate the pump 24/7? I would appreciate your thoughts and input. Hope your girls are enjoying the pond to during these last days of summer vacation.

  4. Rebecca

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks for your words and yes there will be a final blog as soon as I can get some kid free time.

    We run our pump 24/7. It is an extremely low voltage pump, with an ideal flow of about 3 litres per minute (rough conversion is a flow of less than one gallon per minute). It basically just trickles along.

    Our plan was to run a solar pump but we couldn’t find one in Australia that could store enough power to run overnight. You might have better luck in the US.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

  5. DEB Hethcox,

    Rebecca, Still watching for final pictures and a 1 year later report/update. Hope all is well!

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