The house is now mostly finished, and we have an 11 week old baby girl named Luna. Little Luna has occupied most of our time lately, so I’m way behind on blog posts. Eventually I’ll get a chance to take some photos of the finished house (which still does need a lot of detail work – things like bathroom doors, shelves, cabinets, etc.) but for now here’s a look at our newest courtyard feature – the “eco-dipping pool” (aka. pondish-pool, water garden, swimming fountain). Its a unique design- its part pool, part pond, part fountain, part water garden, all wrapped into one efficient design that Kim came up with. It also helps cool the house and us.
We’re really happy with the way the house turned out and impressed that the Cool Roof actually does keep the house nice and cool despite the hot sun. But when thinking about Luna getting a bit bigger and wanting to play in water, we really wanted to put in a pool for her. Water conservation is really important down here since we have a long dry season with absolutely no rain, so we didn’t want to put in a large pool, just something big enough to dip into to cool off and allow little Luna to splash around.
After much research into pools, eco-pools and ponds and deliberation about the size, we decided on a 5’x7′ pool, 4′ deep with a bench along one side for sitting. The top edge sits 2′ above the patio floor to keep babies, toads, and other creatures and stuff from falling in. The 4′ depth is perfect for a chest-deep dip and keeps the water cool. There is also a 2’x2′ shallower lagoon for aquatic plants and a waterfall for filtration, aeration and soothing sounds. The pool sits partially under the patio roof overhang so it is in the shade by noon.
We wanted to keep it as simple as possible, low maintenance and functional while fitting with the style of the courtyard. We decided to go with just smooth cement, no paint or tiles, and a brick border. The gray cement gives the water a nice cool bluish-green color and needs no maintenance. We also wanted it to be as natural as possible, with little or no chemicals and the possibility of welcoming a couple frogs, fishes or turtles to join us. We don’t mind some algae in the water (good for the skin), a bit of silt and sand on the bottom and some water beetles swimming around – that’s the fun part of ponds and lakes. But, we don’t want it to go so far as mucky, murky or mosquitoey. So, the concept is somewhere between pool and pond. A pool with some life to it, a managed pond environment. Kim wants to create a little aquatic wonderland for Luna. How cool would it be to a kid to swim with tadpoles? So, how do you design for this? The aquatic plants will help filter nutrients from the water, the waterfall has a biological filter (bacteria living on volcanic rock that filter the water) that also cleans the water and aerates it. Instead of the $500 pool pump/filter system available at the pool supply store in Chinandega, Kim designed and built a skimmer with double filter from standard PVC fittings and an efficient (70 watt/700GPH) $60 pond pump. The pump sucks water through the skimmer filter on one side of the pool and pushes it to the waterfall on the other side, around and around.
Kim did the design in 3D on Sketchup.