Natural Design Swimming Holes Sacramento, CA Why Fly en-us <![CDATA[ Remodeling and upgrading swimming pools is on the increase in today`s market ]]> 2/8/2011 7:48:00 PM News  




<![CDATA[ Just Around The Corner... ]]> 2/5/2011 3:37:00 PM News Isn`t it odd how we mark the calendar based on events? As a swimming pool builder, the Super Bowl marks the end of football season and that means spring with the beginning of the swim season just around the corner.

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<![CDATA[ Adding A Spa To An Older Pool ]]> 11/14/2010 4:48:00 PM News Leslie Jackson provided us with the slide show and story below. We hope you find it of interest, to know that additions and alterations to Natural Design Swimming Holes are very possible and relatively simple.
–Bill Ehler, Natural Design

When Brenda and Guy Ellison bought a home with a Natural Design Swimming Hole in the back yard, they soon decided that they needed a hot tub to complete the outdoor living experience. However, they didn`t think that it could be added onto the pool so they looked at pre-fabricated spas.

Brenda`s criteria was that she didn`t want a "square wooden box" as a constant view, so she called Natural Design to see if it was possible to add a natural looking spa to the swimming hole.

Leslie Jackson, Natural Design`s Chief Designer, visited the Ellisons and explained to Brenda and Guy, that we do add-ons, remodels, or stage by stage construction often at Natural Design. A ball- park figure was provided and Brenda later told Leslie "It was not that much more than a top of the line prefabricated hot tub and included all of the features" she wanted!

View Slideshow

The Ellison’s signed the contract and before they knew it the project was finished (8 weeks) and ready to use. Again Brenda said "We were very happy about how it matched the previous work, how well everything worked and how quickly the water heated up! We have never waited more than 20 minutes for it to reach temperature “.

Since then, Brenda says "Our yard has become the neighborhood resort & vacation spot for our family and friends, our grandkids love it - we can set the spa temperature a little higher than the pool and the kids play in it for hours on end ". "We have lived in a lot of places but we love this one best -
“Thank you Leslie, Thank you Natural Design, you all did a fantastic job and things turned out even better than we could imagine!”


<![CDATA[ Swimming Holes: A Natural Look with Natural Heat ]]> 7/24/2010 11:08:00 PM News With towering stacks of rock, caves, waterfalls and grottos, a natural-looking swimming pool is a beautiful thing to behold. But look below the surface and you’ll find that it’s also the most energy efficient pool design you could have.

When a pool is designed to look like a natural swimming hole, it is actually able to heat itself without the assistance of any supplementary heating equipment. The pool itself becomes a kind of solar panel, collecting the sun’s rays and using its warmth to naturally maintain a comfortable temperature.
According to Bill Ehler, owner of Natural Design Swimming Holes in Auburn, the basic element inherent in the construction of natural swimming holes is the same element that maximizes the passive collection of solar energy—rocks.

While made out of the same concrete material as a traditional pool, a swimming hole-style pool necessarily needs more of the material to create the naturalistic facets, cracks and crevices of natural stone. Even as a smooth surface, such concrete tends to absorb the sun’s natural heat quite well. When molded into stones, the additional surface area and mass absorbs proportionately more heat. Any water that comes into contact with this surface is immediately warmed.

Beyond the mere presence of sculpted rocks, how they are arranged has a lot to do with how much heat is collected. Swimming hole designs typically include one or more shallow areas as an entrance, a children’s play area, etc. Design-wise, a shallow beach area makes a great transition area between any hardscape and the deeper pool. In this shallow area, water is heated up rapidly by the surrounding rock and bottom beach surface and circulated throughout the pool. For added dimension and/or to work with any uneven terrain, a raised beach works to the same effect as a shallow beach. The shallow, slow-moving water gets heated up and spills over the side as a hot spring-like waterfall.

Which leads to the importance of waterfalls in a self-heated pool. The most popular design element of natural swimming holes, waterfalls do much more than just look and sound pretty. They help circulate the heat of the sun from the aforementioned collection areas throughout the pool, either bringing heated water down from a raised beach area or to simply mix together the warmer water nearer the rocks with the deeper water. Special “bubbler” waterfalls can also be designed to send water from the filter back into the pool across sun-warmed rocks.

It is so successful a system that a separate heating source is rarely, if ever, needed. “I always recommend that clients wait a year after the pool is built before installing a heater or solar panels,” Ehler says, because they just naturally stay warmer. Consequently, “Fewer than 5% of the clients we build for add solar panels or heaters.”
With a design that is as functional and energy efficient as it is beautiful, a swimming hole takes “fun in the sun” to a whole new level. In other words, hot rocks make for one cool pool.

Natural Design Swimming Holes has been designing—and winning awards for—naturalistic swimming holes and surrounding outdoor environments in and around the Sacramento area since 1978. For more information on the design of a natural-looking swimming hole and the solar advantages therein, contact the experts at Natural Design at (530) 823-5164. You can also contact them and/or view some of their finished projects online at

Written by Nissa Hallquist on Behalf of Natural Design Swimming Holes

<![CDATA[ Natural Design Receives 2009 Best of Auburn Award ]]> 8/25/2009 9:53:00 PM News U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 -- Natural Design has been selected for the 2009 Best of Auburn Award in the Swimming Pools category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

U.S. Commerce Association

<![CDATA[ Design and cost saving tips for hillside swimming pools ]]> 5/20/2009 News Hillsides or even a severe slope to the yard can present some design and construction issues when building a pool, if not handled correctly. But if the swimming pool designer takes advantage of the terrain, the results can be dynamic and the cost reasonable.

Too often designers will alter the terrain with retaining walls, in order to create a flat, level area for the pool. In my opinion this is a mistake and the designer is missing an opportunity to create an extraordinary swimming pool that really blends with the landscape.

Retaining walls are expensive to build, especially large engineered walls and I feel there are many alternatives that are more attractive and cost less.

The swimming pool structure can easily be built to act as its own retaining wall. By nestling the pool into the hill, or bank and raising the bond beam (pool edge) on the side that is against the hill, the soil is retained and the designer has used a single structure for a dual purpose. The additional cost of the pool is more than balanced by eliminating the need for a separate wall.

To take advantage of the retaining characteristics of a pool, the decking and patio areas will need to be eliminated from the high side of the pool and be concentrated on the low side. In other words, the pool will not have a deck completely encircling it. The higher portion of the yard will be devoted to green belt and consequently not as sterile looking as it would be with perimeter decking and a separate retaining wall.

The pool will appear to have been designed and built into the landscape, rather than the terrain having been altered to accommodate it. This results in significant cost savings and a far more attractive yard.

Add a waterfall or fountain on that high side and you gain a dramatic cosmetic asset to the pool that will also control soil erosion. With the greenery to compliment it and the added elevation giving it stature, a water feature here automatically becomes the centerpiece of the landscape. The original “problem hillside” now becomes an advantage to the overall swimming pool/landscape design.

Concentrating the poolside entertainment space on the low side of the pool also has advantages. Without perimeter decking circling it, the pool area does not become a race track for kids and is therefore safer. Secondly, all patio areas will have a good view of the most attractive part of the pool and the landscape. In addition, eliminating the unnecessary pool decking around half the pool saves cost, while effectively blending pool and landscape together in perfect harmony.

Bill Ehler is the owner operator of Natural Design Swimming Holes, based in Auburn Ca. His company has been building naturalistic swimming pools with sculpted stone in California and Nevada for more than 30 years. As a pioneer in the faux rock industry, Natural Design has received national recognition for their innovation and unique swimming pool designs.

For more information visit --

<![CDATA[ Natural Design Swimming Holes reflect the beauty of nature, but maintain the practicality of traditional pools. ]]> 5/13/2009 News For immediate release—
Auburn California—May 10 2009

Natural Design Swimming Holes reflect the beauty of nature, but maintain the practicality of traditional pools.

However, in most naturalistic pools the sculpted rock ends at waterline or slightly below and abruptly changes to a traditional monotone plaster. Not so with Natural Design Swimming Holes. These pools employ sculpted structural concrete throughout, so the rock work is not a veneer and can be continued to the floor of the pool.

The end result is the most completely natural looking traditional concrete swimming pool on the market. The rock formations are custom sculpted, without molds on each individual project. This allows all of the functional swimming pool features, such as, steps or swim out benches to appear to be just an accident of nature.

Swimming Holes really do look different, although they use the same filtration systems, building materials and pool equipment as typical in-ground pools, the cosmetics above and below water are very different. These pools bring a very exotic and natural looking element to the landscape. Dynamic waterfalls, shallow sandy beach entry’s and other interesting rock formations, are obvious at first glance.

But another real difference is below water. The sculpted rock formations extend down to the floor of the pool, where the rock meets a white sandy bottom, just as it would in nature. This carries the naturalistic theme throughout the pool and makes the swimming experience more like swimming in a safe lagoon in the tropics.

The development of faux rock has had a dramatic impact on the swimming pool industry over the past 20-30 years. It is largely responsible for many of the cosmetic advancements in the very natural looking theme parks as well as resort and residential swimming pools.

Entry into a Swimming Hole is via a shallow sandy beach that has the underwater interest and natural appeal of a beautiful tide pool. In fact all aspects of these pools are carefully crafted to look like a natural occurrence and to blend with the landscape, but also serve a practical purpose.

In this age of “Green Consciousness” and “Staycations”, Natural Design Swimming Holes are a great way to bring a little piece of nature into the yard and create a naturally beautiful entertainment center for all.


Bill Ehler is the owner operator of Natural Design Swimming Holes, based in Auburn Ca. His company has been building naturalistic swimming pools with sculpted stone in California and Nevada for more than 30 years. As a pioneer in the Faux rock industry, Natural Design has received National attention for their innovation and unique swimming pool designs.

For more information visit