allotment gardening course greenhouse of the future self sufficient life shanleya's quest self reliance mastery
Permies likes homestead and the farmer likes What to do with an old swimming pool? permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login
permies » forums » homesteading » homestead
Bookmark "What to do with an old swimming pool?" Watch "What to do with an old swimming pool?" New topic

What to do with an old swimming pool?

Kristian Rasmussen

Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 12
Hi all
This is my first post on the forum, although I have been perusing for a while
My girlfriend and I recently bought a piece of land with a house on it in the middle of the woods. The previous owner had installed one of those round swimming pools right in front of the kitchen window and had gone to great lengths building a non-functional solar heating system (everything made with plastics that couldn't take the heat or the pressure, go figure) First thing we did when we moved in was to stop putting chlorine in and let the chemicals evaporate over the summer and fall. Before the pool froze over this winter it had turned very dark green, and the water is no longer toxic to plants.

Now for the question of what to do with pool, there is a lake on the property, so that is where we will go swimming, we don't want a pool. We live in Europe, zone 8 (Denmark) so if there is water in it, it will freeze every winter. We have thought of storage for potatoes, apples and so on, but it almost seems a waste. I have been messing around with the idea of painting the surrounding concrete black for thermal storage and try to grow a few exotic species of fruit perhaps (after drilling holes in the bottom obviously) Does anyone in here have any clever ideas? The pool as it stands this morning, looks like this:
Chelle Lewis

Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 423
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
Check out THey write: "We created to document our journey of converting an old backyard swimming pool in to a way to feed our family and live more self-sufficiently. ....."
Jay Green

Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 587
Aquaponics (pronounced: /ˈækwəˈpɒnɨks/) is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In the aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients, after which the cleansed water is recirculated back to the animals. The term aquaponics is a portmanteau of the terms aquaculture and hydroponic.
lil hodgins

Joined: Feb 06, 2012
Posts: 39
Location: s w france
can you put an elevated cover on it and use it to grow tender veggies/ raise young chicks etc. ?

Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5724
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Edible pond garden? That's what I would do.

Idle dreamer

Kristian Rasmussen

Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 12
@Chelle, Awesome link and very fascinating setup. I would be hard pressed to keep the pool from freezing in winter though, and looking at Talapia, they need at least 28 degrees Celsius. Also we are converting the whole south facing side of the main house to a greenhouse with integrated hydroponics. Thanks a lot for the link, it has a ton of great info

@Lil, One of our initial ideas was to cover the pool with decking and use it as a porch of sorts, then we could use the "downstairs" as storage or chicken coop. Was that what you meant?

@Tyler, Great resource site mate. Reading through it though there would be a few difficulties making a design like that, the walls on our pool are vertical with no steps or anything going in, only a small ladder. Also the thing will freeze almost to the bottom in winter which would kill many of the plants. We do have a small lake where the info on this site will be fantastic though, so thanks for that
lil hodgins

Joined: Feb 06, 2012
Posts: 39
Location: s w france
yes kinda! i would probably use it for plants and bringing on chicks, but being close to the house i'm sure you have lots of ideas, it will be very handy so close to the house......i suppose it depends as well on what your climate is like......
Paula Jakobs

Joined: Oct 10, 2011
Posts: 6
Location: Central Texas, zone 8
Another option might be to go ahead and build your porch on it, and turn the "downstairs" into just a water storage tank for rain water from your gutters. The water could go into rain barrels and then a hose would empty the barrels into your storage tank. I guess you'd need a pump of some sort though to draw the water out to use it for irrigation.
Virgil Palmer

Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 5
Location: Southern Missouri
I had an in ground swimming pool once, got tired of it and converted into a pond with fish and Cherokee water lilies. worked great.
You will have to use an aerator to keep balance in a small pond. It was very enjoyable.

Good luck.

Jennifer Whitaker

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 43
I'd like to add my vote to the aquaponics!

"Life's a daring adventure or nothing." ~ Helen Keller
Willliam Seward

Joined: Feb 20, 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Bastrop, TX
I'd just be echoing what others have said. I like the idea of rainwater storage in the pool itself, stone painted black so whole thing warms as much as it can, then greenhouse or raised beds above. I don't think you mentioned what side of house it is on, or how much sun it gets in the winter.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
oh no ! MY MIND IS GOING BONKERS !! I would love to have that to play with.

I'd probably have to bust a hole in the bottom ..or two for drainage..but if you MOUND up some soil on it to a rounded mound..then it might drain off kinda naturally not sure..but it would be such a beautiful garden ..

my mind sees a gazebo over it..or some cattle panels formed into intersecting arches..or even a stronger support with grapevines or kiwi or something growing over it to make some shade..a ROOF of some sort might also help to DRAIN it..

I see a beautiful food forest type garden under the could use moisture lovers like say elderberries in a food forest type setting (see gaia's garden by Toby Hemenway or some other food forest type books) could grow other moisture lovers..if you put in some sl acid or mostly acid soil in an area of it blueberries would love it..and cranberries..even some shrub type willows..I'd love to se a criscrossing path meeting at the center with maybe a birdbath or feeder in the center so you have a lovely view from your house..and some of the vegetables that like wetter lettuces, filling in the beds..

you should be able to do a search on moisture loving plants that will growin your zone..

please keep this thread going and let us know what you do


Bloom where you are planted.
Willliam Seward

Joined: Feb 20, 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Bastrop, TX
Another thought that just came to me, from a suggestion by my one and only, use the pool to process graywater, maybe in connection with the greenhouse or exotic tree idea. I was just remembering someone near here who has a tall skinny greenhouse with a banana tree inside. We're zone 8b and dry.
rowean mcroy

Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Posts: 3
If you decided on a aquaphonics garden use a fish that don't mind being frozen in the winter but you can still eat. carp I happen to know can be frozen in the winter and still live the next summer as they are a species of fish that hibernate. You could use it to grow edible water plants during the summer or plants that have high water usuage
Kristian Rasmussen

Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 12
I really like the gazebo idea you had Brenda, it would fit nicely in that spot and the plants would have shelter and lots of sun to get a good start. Maybe just building a trellis and the planting Hardy Kiwis to grow over the top for shade and food. The reason why we bought this land in the first place was to start a food forest Spring is coming and we are just getting started.

So Gazebo on top of a wet'ish grow bed has first place for now, but keep the ideas coming, we will not start this project before the weather gets a little warmer.
Kristian Rasmussen

Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 12
Alright I think an update to the whole pool project is in order. Due to a lot of other project having priority, the pool thing became a quick experiment that I was running on the side. Although I would have loved to build a gazebo on top and all that, I simply did not have the time. SO, instead I started growing duckweed for the chickens, and they loved it! The pool had been left alone for a year prior to me adding the duckweed, so for the first season production was great, I pulled 2 to 3 kilos (4,5 to 6,5 pounds) of duckweed out every day during the summer for the chickens to feed on. the year after that production went down, not a lot, but enough for me to notice, so that year I regularly peed in the pool to keep the nitrogen levels up. I also considered putting carp in the pool, but the duckweed had formed a dense green mat so no light was penetrating and I think the oxygen levels would be pretty low... So last season (2014) I came up with a plan after doing research on the aquatic plant, Azolla. This has turned out to be a spectacular success that I can only recommend.
In the spring I threw in a small bag of Azolla, about half a kilo, just as the duckweed was coming out of dormancy. The duckweed seemed to take over at first, but then the Azolla got going and quickly started to dominate the pool, the chickens are happy to feed on both, although the duckweed is better for them nutrition-wise, a little sorting while harvesting is required to keep the duckweed from going extinct. The awesome thing about this system is that I now get several things from the pool. The Azolla fixes nitrogen in the pool, feeding the duckweed, but it does this to such an extend that the water becomes very nitrogen rich, making the water perfect for watering other plants, even the house pots. Every day during the summer (about 3 months here in Denmark) I can pull out 5(!) kilos of Azolla-duckweed mix for the chickens, OR for a boost for the compost. I have even been using it for mulch in my raised beds as the chickens free range during the summer and dont need much extra feed.
So this year I am combining this system with a small solar hydroponics setup, with 3 rain gutters, each 3 meters long with watercress in them, and then have the water from the pool run through before going back in the pool. It might be too big a nutrient drain on the system without adding fish, but I will know more come autumn.
Please note, if you want to try this, Azolla is hyper-invasive and it spreads via spores like other ferns, if it reaches a waterway, it will spread like crazy and potentially poison lakes, rivers or creeks with nitrogen, which then results in algae blooms, oxygen deprivation and so on. Frost does kill it, but all it takes is one little piece surviving somewhere and come spring, it will explode again. In fact, this plant may have changed the climate at one point in the past as described in the Azolla Event

here are some pictures of the pool at the end of this years season, the duckweed has gone dormant and the azolla is struggling with the cold.

subject: What to do with an old swimming pool?