What To Do With An Old Pool – When Dennis and Danielle McClung bought a rundown house in Mesa, Arizona in 2009, their new backyard featured a broken, empty pool. Rather than spend a small fortune to repair and fill it, Dennis came up with a far more forward-thinking idea: He built a plastic cap over it and started growing things inside.
With the help of family and friends and lots of internet research, Garden Pool was born. What was once a seething cement pit has been transformed into an incredibly productive closed ecosystem, growing everything from broccoli and sweet potatoes to sorghum and wheat, along with chickens, tilapia, algae and duck feed, all symbiotically providing enough food to feed a family of five . .
What To Do With An Old Pool
Within a year, Garden Pool had cut three-quarters of McClung’s monthly grocery bill (they still buy things like cooking oil and coffee, and yes, you can’t eat tilapia
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Day). Within five years, it has created an active community of garden pool advocates – and garden pools – across the country and the world.
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What started as a family experiment and blog is now a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a small staff. The Garden Pool was voted Phoenix’s Best Backyard, received press coverage from National Geographic TV and Wired and Make, and spawned a meetup group in the Phoenix area with nearly a thousand members. It attracted hundreds of local volunteers, students and gardeners who helped build a dozen more Garden Pool systems in and around Phoenix.
The garden pool has been visited by scientists and engineers from Cornell University, Arizona State University and even the aerospace industry. This spring, “GP” traveled to Haiti with the volunteer organization Naturopaths Without Borders to build a garden pool there. In addition, Dennis says, “we’ve helped build three dozen across the country” through email and phone consultations “from Toledo, Florida to Palm Springs.”
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At first, McClung just wanted his family to live more sustainably. Now that he’s seen the catch on these ideas and how amazingly productive a backyard pool can be, he says, “I want everyone else to build amazing systems.”
Nice nice Garden pool plants grow on clay pellets or coconut instead of soil. Excess moisture drains into the pond below and this, combined with the rain-harvesting system, means it all requires a fraction of the water used in a normal garden. This is especially important in a place like Mesa, which receives just over nine inches of rain per year.
Instead of commercial fertilizer, chicken droppings fall through a wire mesh strewn in the deep end of the pool, feeding the algae and duckweed in the pond below. The tilapia eat the steam lanterns, releasing their nitrogen-rich feces, and then the fish water is pumped (via a solar-electric pump) into a hydroponics system that grows the family’s crops.
The McClungs added a hedge and a bunch of fruit and nut trees to the backyard mix, so their mini-farm is starting to look like a very promising—and very tasty—urban future.
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Dennis says building your own backyard pool is not as labor-intensive and complicated as it sounds. In addition to free online tutorials such as “Getting Started with Barrelponics” and “Growing Duckweed,” McClung teaches certification courses for family practitioners; so far he has certified about 20 “GP” enthusiasts in Arizona and about 12 more during this spring trip to Haiti. He plans to help some graduates start their own meetup groups in Los Angeles and New York.
Healso has just released the second edition of the Garden Pool Comprehensive Tutorial Book, which contains 117 pages of detailed instructions, illustrations, photos and QR codes that link to video tutorials. Its goal is to encourage garden pool aspiring gardeners to build and maintain their own aquaponics greenhouses, regardless of whether they have done something similar before and whether they have a pool or not. (One of Garden Pool’s main taglines is “use an old pool or just dig a pond!”)
Thanks to endless experiments with new crops, filters and areas, McClung says his yard is now “basically a Frankenstein’s laboratory” and not as beautiful as the shiny Garden Pool replicas and spinoffs he helped build around town. Various experiments have had varying success (blueberries and amaranth haven’t done as well as eggplant and asparagus, for example), but the list of things that grow as weeds in the garden pool is long (McClung recommends turning to page 96 in his book look. ).
She manages pest control by adding ladybugs to the blight and choosing plants like marigolds and garlic that respect whiteflies and spider mites. Since the system is closed and controlled, it’s a great way to experiment with organic gardening methods.
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As far as they’ve come in the past five years, Dennis says they’re just rolling up their sleeves. Now that all the nonprofit paperwork is out of the way, Garden Pool staff can apply for grants and hopefully “hop around and make things happen.” He would like to help build more garden pools in Haiti, Africa, South America and around the world and eventually become an international closed research center.
Anyway,” he confirms. “I love it. I dream about it. I’m inspired by seeing the lives of families change, seeing communities change, watching change.”
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At , we don’t believe in paywalls. Instead, we hope to provide input to our readers so we can continue to bring solutions-based climate news. Do you live in the area? Passion Pool & Pond installs pools within 45 minutes of our St. Place of Mary
Controversial Pool Dug Up
Have you moved into a house with an old pool that needs updating? Have you enjoyed your family pool for years but haven’t made a much needed upgrade yet? Whatever your reasons, there are many different ways to modernize an old pool. This will not only improve the appeal of the pool and increase the value of your pool and property, but it will also extend the life of your pool.
Upgrading an old pool can help breathe new life into an otherwise boring garden. You can replace your liner or old features, upgrade your pool equipment, improve your landscaping by building a deck around your pool, invest in greenery or completely change the style.
Whether you’re looking for a simple upgrade or a more luxurious appeal, our team can help you transform your pool. Upgrading an old pool is no easy task, but our team will be happy to help you put together a plan of action so you can enjoy your beloved pool back in the warm summer sun. Spending hot summer days by the pool? Here are five ways to repair, recycle or dispose of pool-related items. No pool? Share it with a neighbor who has one and you might get an invite.
Pool chemicals: Use them whenever possible. Empty and rinsed plastic containers can be recycled in the trash or in the shopping basket. Chemical residues are considered household hazardous waste and should be taken to the Eco-Depoo collection event; find it at rirrc.org/ecodepot.
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Foam noodles: Never put foam in your household trash can or cart. These pool noodles are also a great example of spongy foam that is also not used in the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation defoaming program (no spongy foam, no packing peanuts). Spongy foam goes in the trash.
Inflatables and Rafts: When you come across an inflatable pool item, don’t throw it away right away. You can get a vinyl patch kit or use a waterproof sealant to make it look like new again. If vinyl items cannot be repaired, they cannot be recycled and must go in the trash.
Children’s pools: This is a great example of a bulky plastic item that is only suitable for recycling. First, check with your city (rirrc.org/local) to see if it has a container for bulky plastic, or bring it to the RIRRC for free (rirrg.org/dropoff).
Old bathing suits: Once they are dry and odorless, you can toss them in a bag with all your other dry, odor-free textiles (both clothing and non-clothing) and drop them off at a clothing donation bin in Rhode Island. For more information about textile recycling in the state, visit RITextiles.org. Like many above ground pool owners who wanted the amenities of an above ground pool, I built a pool height deck around the pool. This scenario has served us well for many years, but at some point, as many know, our lifestyles change and the pool may fall out of service or need to be replaced. With the intention of giving this space a new life, I decided to find a creative space
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