Crafting a recreational swim pond in West Michigan

By Ryan Farnol

Published on April 1, 2024

recreational swim pond in West Michigan
Swim pond illuminated

Nestled within the rustic greenery of a West Michigan backyard, a hidden gem awaits. This is a recreational swim pond like no other. Crafted with over 350 tons of natural outcropping and weathered limestone, this aquatic paradise boasts a white sand beach area. Eight aeration jets provide optimal circulation and natural stone steps meander into the crystal-clear water. More than 25 aquatic lights strategically placed throughout the pond cast a mesmerizing glow during evening swims. Cascading waterfalls make for spectacular views.

As a seasoned contractor, the journey of building this recreational swim pond was full of unique obstacles and creative solutions. The initial hurdle we encountered was the natural grade and slope of the land we started with. To ensure the foundation of the 1,800-square-foot swim pond was secure and level, we brought in approximately 300 yards of fill sand to level out the grades. Massive tree clusters had to be cut down, many with stumps between 3 and 4 feet in diameter, to make way for the 70-by-30-foot, 6-foot-deep swim pond. Utilizing small trees, rock placement and shrubbery, we carefully graded out the areas sloping away from the pond, ensuring that every element of the pond harmonized with its natural surroundings.

construction photos of recreational pond in western michigan
Swim pond and wetland construction

Stonework craftmanship

However, the true test of craftsmanship came in the form of the large, 1-ton outcropping slabs that were used for the walls of the main pond. Unlike traditional pond construction methods that involve pre-digging and shaping, this project required us to build up with stonework as we progressed. Each outcropping slab was meticulously placed to form a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing structure. A mix of weathered limestone outcroppings and boulders were utilized above water level. The swim lane, a key feature requested by the triathlete homeowner, spans an impressive 75 feet. Extending from one end of the rock wall to the other, it provides ample space for laps and aquatic workouts.

Natural elements of the recreational swim pond

Swim pond with waterfalls
Majestic waterfalls

One of the most rewarding aspects of this project was the opportunity to incorporate natural elements seamlessly into the design. Using large outcropping boulders not only added rustic charm to the pond, but also served a functional purpose. It provides stability and durability to the structure. Working with the natural grade of the land with a more than 6-foot vertical rise, we built an incredible 50-foot stream with majestic natural waterfalls to connect the swim pond to the wetland filter. The 625-square-foot wetland filter, is nearly 35% of the size of the whole pond. This ensures the swim pond will remain crystal clear!

As a contractor, it is always a rewarding experience to see a project come to life and exceed the expectations of the client. The recreational swim pond was a challenging but ultimately fulfilling project. It showcases the beauty of natural stone and the artistry of skilled craftsmanship.

About the Author

Ryan Farnol is the owner of Platinum Ponds & Landscaping, a premier water feature and outdoor living designer and installer in West Michigan.

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Designer: Ryan Farnol – Platinum Ponds & Landscaping
Installer: Platinum Ponds & Landscaping
Contact Info: 616-581-8124, ryan@miponds.com
Project Location: Ada, Michigan
Size: 75′ Length x 30′ Width x 6′ deep Pond, 50′ Stream w/ Waterfalls (6′ vertical height), 25′ x 25′ Wetland Filter
Components: Aquascape
Time to Complete: 1,900 person hours
Crew: Platinum Ponds & Landscaping
Cost: $425,000 (includes putting green, fire pit, walkways, and surrounding landscape around the pond)

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