Owner of design-build company Eco Brooklyn Gennaro Brooks-Church has added a chemical-free pond to the backyard of his Carroll Gardens house, the Eco Brooklyn Green Show House. Plants and beneficial bacteria clean the water by gobbling up all the food and starving the algae. A liner holds in the water. Natural Pools, as they are known, were invented in Germany, and often use a filter to keep phosphorus low to inhibit algae growth. Click through for info about mosquitoes and costs. Here, the 5-foot-5-inch deep swimming area is surrounded by a moat of gravel that creates surface area where the beneficial bacteria can grow. A pump passes water through the gravel to maximize cleaning. An aerator keeps the surface water moving, so mosquitoes can’t land and lay eggs. “The pond actually reduces the amount of mosquitoes in the neighborhood because it is a breeding ground for mosquito predators,” said Brooks-Church. The pond is not crystal clear like a chlorine pool but has a slight green tint to it from single cell algae, yet it is clear enough to see the bottom. “The first day I filled the pool, my backyard was full of beautiful dragonflies and birds. They appeared out of nowhere,” he said. “The water is so clean and fresh to swim in.” A Natural Pool costs about twice as much to build as a chlorine pool, at least in Brooklyn, where you have to build the moat and bring in a lot of gravel without easy access to the backyard. But it’s cheaper in the long run, since chemicals are not needed to maintain it. The finishes can vary the price wildly. For example, homeowners can choose walls in stone, stucco or wood, a deck, or a waterfall. An “average” Natural Pool in a Brooklyn backyard might cost about $50,000, Brooks-Church estimated. The house has a green roof, all native plants, native turtles and a bee hive. It was renovated with salvaged materials and loosely based on Passive House standards. By the way, Eco Brooklyn is an advertiser in the Brownstoner Directory.
Photo by Loretta Gendville