The Beginning of the End of the American Swimming Pool

As California bakes, the fashionably eco-conscious are turning to natural ponds.

In a crippling drought, the swimming pool is the Ed Hardy T-shirt of landscaping. As dry earth explodes with flame and crops wither, your need to hoard more than 13,000 gallons of water for an occasional dip is now the status symbol of the damned.

Fortunately you can find salve from the hellscape that is the parched American West without being a dick. Get you a natural swimming pond.

Those ponds are designed to use natural filtration of hydroponics to clean the water. They’ve recently come into fashion among wealthy English homeowners; eco-conscious Californians have spawned a boom market stateside. The faux-nature will even attract real nature — birds, dragonflies — to better preserve the illusion you’re soaking in the innocence of nature and not in some backyard installation in Fresno.

It’s a promising landscape architecture trend, especially in a state traditionally associated with water-sucking palms and unnaturally green golf courses.

But like so many fashion trends, this one didn’t get rolling with the blue-collar swimmer in mind. A traditional in-ground pool already cost an average of $22,000. Natural ponds are even more expensive. If you can’t afford one, don’t sweat. As far as environmental impact, the public pool is to the private as mass transit is to the single-occupant SUV. If you’re belly-flopping with the rest of the park-going plebes you’re already doing your part.