My contractor friend Dave Albin [] bought a fixer-upper vacation home in LaPorte, Indiana, has been working on it for a while now, and we drove up to check it out and have some end-of-summer R&R. It’s on a couple acres of land, so he put a lot of thought into landscaping the backyard, and came up with a great alternative to a traditional swimming pool. He researched and built a natural swimming pond, using a phyto-filtration system that apparently is really big in England. The idea is to have a deep area for swimming and surround that with a shallower area that’s planted with special grasses that purify and oxygenate the water, eliminating the need for chemicals. The water is kept circulating by the different water temps, a small waterfall and a solar-powered pump. I love the natural look of it, with all the rocks and waterlilies (and some melodic frogs, and friendly fish as well), and it’s going to be a lot more interesting to look at in the winter than a tarp-topped rectangular hole in the ground.