Gartenart garden swimming ponds and natural swimming pools.

Gartenart | Portfolio | Patricia and Howard Birch, Essex
Gartenart | Portfolio | Patricia and Howard Birch, Essex
Gartenart | Portfolio | Patricia and Howard Birch, Essex
Gartenart | Portfolio | Patricia and Howard Birch, Essex

Patricia and Howard Birch, Essex

Patricia Birch lives with her family in a village in Essex, and found a natural solution by converting her pool to a swimming pond...

“When we came here there was already a swimming pool but it was already run down," says Patricia. "It was a concrete and metal hole with a liner, and it was already in a poor state. At the time I had very young children and it was not high on the list of priorities so we fenced it off and made it safe. Eventually we decided that we had to do something, and so what do you do?

"You can fill it in, but I didn't want to do that. I grew up by the sea and I love water and it just seemed a shame.

"We looked at making it a pool again. But the cost of rebuilding and having a pool with all the chemicals, and that you could keep heated at the right temperature, didn’t seem sensible. So that was quickly forgotten.

"Next I looked at turning it into an ordinary pond. But the costs of relining it and using pumps to filter it were about the same as for a swimming pool. So we still weren’t winning.

"Then I heard about people using reeds to filter water. So I started looking on the internet to find out about it but there was very little information. No-one would tell me how to build a reed bed. There was just no information out there.

"I shouldn’t think about the hours I spent searching this on the internet. On one of my searches on a garden site talking about reeds, I linked to Tim’s site at Gartenart."

“Gartenart were enthusiastic about working with what we’d got. They were prepared to work with us and for us to use our own men, and Jose, their foreman, would come and oversee it all. I already had a plan in my head and they listened and came up with the designs - and it was as if they could see exactly what I wanted.

"Our own men changed the shape and depth of the hole in a few places and Gartenart installed the liner and filtration system. It was a case of everybody working together really."

"The pond was finished in summer 2008 and it's matured since then. Yes you can swim in it, but it’s far more than that. It’s my favourite part of the garden. I’ve got a little pony up at the top and without fail I go and see my pond every single day - regardless of the weather, I include it in my walk. It’s just wonderful. Where it is, it gets the sun all day so the temperature is fantastic. You can swim quite early on in the year and you can still swim in September. It gets up to 26 degrees in the summer. The shallow parts keep it warmer.”

"At first my husband wasn't into the pond as much as I was, but now he loves it just as much. It might not get swum in all the time but it is always used. It’s where we entertain – even though it’s not outside the back door.

"Friends are always surprised. You can swim in your pond? Really? Are you sure? When they see the girls getting in, they all come in. Any parties we have now, people know to bring their swimming costumes. No-one ever comes out of there and feels they have to shower. Never. It’s always a really clean feeling."

"The wildlife we have up there is fantastic. We swim with the frogs. We have deer, rabbits, pheasants and the birds first thing in the morning.

"I was up there three weeks ago and a kingfisher just skimmed over the water. Not a sound. You could easily have missed it. It was the most beautiful blue. Now where did that come from?”

"The children are all in their teens and twenties now and if they are having friends over, they’ll prefer to sit up there, even late in the evening.

"It’s a gathering place, it’s like the Aga in the kitchen. It brings people together. In the garden this is the heart, the hub.

"It’s a playground for all ages. Even my father goes up and enjoys sitting up there. He’s 87 and I can leave him just sat up there dozing in the sun and listening to the birds.

"Cup of tea, lunch, whatever, we take it up there. I wouldn’t be without it.”

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