I struggle sometimes when a homeowner tells me that they are interested in having a pool incorporated into their landscape design. Because a pool takes up a large portion of the available space, it is the dominating focal point. And if not done right, it can be an eyesore.
My conscience is particularly strained when the land is along a marsh or waterfront because I don't want a man-made pool competing with the landscape nature has provided. It can make a pool seem coarse and misplaced (although I have seen many that seemed perfect).
I like it when houses, pools, hardscapes and other elements seem to grow up out of the land, giving the feeling that they are supposed to be there.
When I found this example of an "eco-pool," it seemed like this was a good way to gracefully merge a pool into the landscape:
These pools, also called swimming ponds, are chemical-free and self-cleaning. The vegetation (like water lilies, iris and cattails) regenerates the water before it flows back into the swimming area. There is no need to worry about algae or sediment in these natural pools because the "regeneration zones" are separated from the swimming pool by walls designed to look like ruins. The sides and bottom are made of stone, so there's no worry about stepping on something squishy.
Most swimming ponds are in Europe, but the concept is being adopted in the United States as well. More information is available at Chester County Dwell.
The swimming ponds can be designed to accommodate any design style. A great catalog of examples can be seen at Biotop Natural Pool. If you are interested in a natural swimming pond, contact Scout Horticultural Consulting for more information.