Swimming Hole Gardens

Swimming Hole Gardens

Part of Ep. 1601 The Magic of Gardening

Chris Coutre of Coulee Country Landscaping shows off a swimming hole in a backyard of a home in Reedsburg. It is a natural chlorine free system where it's safe for the family to swim, play and chase fish and frogs.

Premiere date: Mar 01, 2008

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
Gardening isn't just about digging and weeding and hoeing and planting.  Gardening is supposed to be fun!  That's why so many of us do it.  I'm Shelley Ryan.  Welcome to a special edition of the “Wisconsin Gardener.”

Today, we celebrate the magic of gardening with a look at some very special gardens.  From large to small these gardens capture the fun of gardening.  And speaking of small, here's a miniature garden fit for any table top or patio.  We'll learn the history of miniature gardening and how to create one of our own.  In Onalaska, we visit a whimsical garden where surprises greet us around every corner.  In Green Bay, we learn how to create art from the garden.  It's so beautiful, you'll want to hang it on the wall.  But first up, a garden that speaks to the kid in us all.  A swimming hole garden.  “The Magic of Gardening” is coming up on the Wisconsin Gardener. 

Announcer:
Major funding for the Wisconsin Gardener is provided by Fiskars, a Wisconsin developer of universally designed ergonomic garden tools; designed for ease of use.  There's more to learn about Fiskars commitment to inspiring gardeners at fiskars.com Additional funding is provided by the Wisconsin Master Gardener Association. 

SWIMMING HOLE GARDEN SEGMENT
Shelley:
Boy, does this garden speak to the kid in me.  This is a swimming hole garden.  I grew up with fish, snakes, frogs.  This would be perfect in my backyard.  But we're in the backyard of a home in Reedsburg.  And I'm with the designer, Chris Coutre of Coulee Country Landscaping.  Chris, this is my idea of the perfect garden, I think.  Tell me about it.  It looks like it was here forever. 

Chris:
Well, Tom and Jill Holtz, I think it was about a year and a half ago... 

Shelley:
So this is young!

Chris:
This is a very young system.  It's still growing and maturing.  They had a small basketball court up here and just a concrete slab and a natural bluff that is still there.  They wanted something that their family could use like a swimming pool, but they didn't want to have chlorine. 

Shelley:
Oh, so no chemicals. 

Chris:
There's no chemicals.  It's all a natural system.  It has plants, fish and frogs.  And it's, you know, ready to go for kids and families to swim in every day.  It also has a waterfall, which you can see right there.  It makes it even more interesting. 

Shelley:
I suppose you have the kids climbing up there and sitting in there, too. 

Chris:
Sure, that's probably the best spot to get away from the crowds. 

Shelley:
I think that's my spot!  How do you make this work?  You need a clean environment for the kids and the fish.  Without the chlorine, how do you keep the water clean? 

Chris:
It's a combination of different stuff.  The way the system is designed, you have a shelving system in the bottom of the swimming hole.  It's designed so that it's real easy to clean.  And you also have a combination with the plants and the filtration system.  With that filtration system, you use bacteria to help keep the water quality in a real clear water quality. 

Shelley:
So there's no chemicals at all. 

Chris:
No chemicals at all.  Everything that's in here is very safe.  It's almost trying to mimic nature, as best as we can. 

Shelley:
How is this different from a pond? 

Chris:
A lot of the ponds that you use in backyard systems, you don't have as much of a filtration system.  Or you also don't have as big an area in which to swim around in.  A lot of those backyard ponds, you maybe will sit in them but to get around and swim around you know, chase fish or frogs, you just can't do that.  Where this, you've got the size and you also have this waterfall area to walk up and play in.  This system is six feet deep.  It also has like a kiddie shelf pool area where kids can rest, you know, where it's like 2-1/2 feet.  They can sit down.  There's a shallow end and a deep end.  These are all different aspects of this system over maybe a pond in somebody's backyard. 

Shelley:
I really like the rock you've chosen for this. 

Chris:
Oh, yeah, the rock-- Tom has a farm out in Rock Springs so a lot of the stones that are on the outside of this system we brought in from there.  We used local stones. 

Shelley:
That's neat. 

Chris:
We brought them in to help make this system even more natural.  And again, so that I didn't install it.  It was here before the homeowners. 

Shelley:
It looks like it's part of nature. 

Chris:
That's the idea. 

Shelley:
You keep talking about a special filtration system so that they don't use chlorine.  You've got me curious.  You said at the top of the hill, it looks like a natural spring. 

Chris:
Yeah, basically what we use for our filter system-- it's a lava rock.  It's a red volcanic rock.  And the filters are very massive.  It's five feet by five feet, by five feet.  And we fill this area up with lava rock. 

Shelley:
With just tons and tons of lava rock.  Why? 

Chris:
Well, it has a high surface area.  Bacteria can't grow on top of each other.  They can only grow side by side.  So by using this volcanic rock, it gives us a lot of area in which to grow the bacteria. 

Shelley:
And what does that bacteria do, then? 

Chris:
Basically, as the water passes through this filter, the bacteria feeds on all the micronutrients in the water.  And it basically eats the stuff.  And as a result, you're water's clear.  If we didn't use the bacteria mother earth would provide something to eat the nutrients which typically means you have like a greener... 

Shelley:
It wouldn't look clear. 

Chris:
Yeah, it would look like a green pond. 

Shelley:
That's really the way you get away without chlorine even though you've got a lot of kids playing in there. 

Chris:
And it works fantastic. 

Shelley:
This is lovely.  I know what I'm looking for for my Christmas present. 

Chris:
Yeah, me too. 

Shelley:
It's the perfect garden.  Chris, thank you very much. 

Shelley:
Thank you.

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Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.