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I would like to build a backyard pond. What do I need to know? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I would like to build a backyard pond. What do I need to know?

Q: I would like to build a backyard pond. What do I need to know?

Carolyn – Jackson, TN

A: Are you dreaming of summertime landscaping projects? Yep, we are too. With the cold season upon us, there’s nothing like some backyard pond planning to warm up those chilly days and get excited about diving in to your favorite hobby.

Whether you plan to build a half-acre pond with a recirculating stream and fish, expand on your existing feature, or install a petite 200-gallon in-ground aquatic water garden, you should consider these points as you design your backyard dream:

Start with a Budget

First of all, consider what kind of money you want to spend and develop a project budget. In most cases, the larger the water feature, the more expensive it will cost—but some of those top-of-the-line accessories for smaller features can cost quite a bit, too. If you need some help, call a pond-building professional in your area who can assess your needs and determine your budget.

Look for Higher Ground

Next, take a close look at your landscape and plan to position your pond on a high spot rather than a low spot. It might seem logical to locate your water feature in a valley, but it’s actually better to situate it on higher ground. This will prevent rainwater from running into your pond, which can cause water clarity and algae growth problems later on.

Size It Right

While you’re inspecting your outdoor space, consider what sized water feature will realistically fit within your existing landscaping. Do you have a large yard and want to go big? Do you have a small space that’s perfect for a preformed pond with a small fountain? Perhaps the area is best suited for a pondless stream or waterfall. Many seasoned pond hobbyists have admitted that, in retrospect, they wish they had gone bigger with their initial designs …

Consider Your Audience

Who will be enjoying your water feature? When planning your backyard pond, keep your audience in mind. If you have young kids running around the yard and safety is an issue, a pondless waterfall with no open body of water might be a good choice. If, however, you and your family have a passion for aquatic plants or fish, it would make sense to go with a traditional pond.

Go with a Kit

As you’re planning your backyard dream pond, make the process easier by buying a pond kit, which comes with everything you’ll need. Different kits are designed for different types of ponds. Here are three that we recommend:

  • For a large waterfall with big sound: The RapidFlo™ Ecosystem Pond Kit is ideal for those who want a large waterfall or stream, lots of sound to drown out nearby noise, and a system with the capacity to deal with heavy debris from nearby trees.
  • For fish lovers: The AllClear™ Ecosystem Pond Kit is designed for hobbyists who want their pond to be all about their fish, not a waterfall. It works well in yards with full sun exposure and few falling leaves.
  • For easy maintenance: The Cascading Falls Pondless Pond Kit is perfect for busy people who want to enjoy the sights and sounds of running water but have little time to maintain a traditional water feature. It’s also well suited for small yards or families with children.

Have Fun with It!

The most important thing to know about planning a pond of your dreams is that you should have a great time doing it. You’ll enjoy this backyard feature for years, so do your research, think through these points, and spend time designing something that you’ll love!

Pond Talk: When you built your first pond or water feature, what inspired your design?

Build Your Dream Pond - The Pond Guy(r) RapidFlo(rm) Ecosystem Pond Kits

Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Debbie – Johnston, RI

A: Easy care is one of the most attractive features of a pondless waterfall, particularly for those who have a penchant for ponds but no time to perform routine maintenance on them. You get all the benefits of a water feature—the sound of running water, the added aesthetics in your garden space, even the plants and wildlife that it attracts—but you don’t have to deal with those pesky seasonal chores.

As ideal as they are, pondless water features do require some attention. Here are three simple steps to keep your waterfall looking its best:

1. Keep Your Water Clean and Clear

With no body of water, your pondless feature may not require you to remove muck, fish waste, decomposing leaves or other collected pollutants, but you still should keep the water looking clean and clear. Plan to periodically add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in Liquid Clear™, to gobble through any fine debris that may discolor your water or feed algae blooms.

2. Remove Buildup from Your Rocks

Rocks and other surfaces in your pondless waterfall will no doubt become breeding grounds for string algae and other debris, so take time to remove any buildup with an algaecide, like Algae-Off® String Algae Remover or Oxy-Lift™ Defense®. These fast-acting solutions use the power of oxygen to lift and wash away accumulated algae and muck. For best results, plan to turn off your system’s pump to ensure the powder contacts every surface, restarting it after the product has time to work.

3. Check Your Water Levels

Because the water basin is hidden, you can’t always see how much water there actually is in your pondless waterfall. To prevent your pump from drying up, make sure you periodically check the reservoir — or, better yet, add an auto-fill valve, like the PondBuilder™ Automatic Water Fill Kit, that will refill any water lost to splashing or evaporation. It’s easy to install and can be adapted to any garden hose, ½-inch irrigation line or vinyl tubing.

If things have really headed south, try performing a partial or complete water change along with using some beneficial bacteria. They will get you—and your pondless waterfall—back on track and ready for summer enjoyment.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite thing about your pondless waterfall or water feature?

Quickly Eliminate String Algae - CrystalClear® Algae-Off®

I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Cheryl – Charlotte, NC

A: Congratulations! You’ve just waded into a relaxing and exciting hobby that will give you joy for years to come—as long as take proper care of it. Here’s a quick rundown of what we recommend to new pond hobbyists.

1. Keep It Clean

First and foremost, it’s critical to keep your water column clean and your pond’s rocks and surfaces free from muck and debris. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a smelly, algae-filled hole in the ground, and who wants that—particularly if you plan on hosting backyard barbeques this summer!

We suggest you use the Pond Logic® DefensePAC®, an easy-to-use combo pack that includes Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®. These products work together to remove excess debris and promote a healthy ecosystem for your fish and plants all year long.

2. Beautify It

If you’re like many water garden hobbyists, you’ll soon be adding aquatic plants to you pond (if you haven’t already!). Water lilies, water hyacinth, irises and a host of other floating, submerged and marginal plants can do wonders to spruce up a backyard, adding pops of color and interest to your outdoor living space.

But that’s not all. Aquatic plants, like those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also naturally filter the water in your pond by removing harmful pollutants and gases, releasing oxygen and being a breeding ground for muck-destroying beneficial bacteria. Plus, your fish will use the plants as an underwater playground!

3. Add Some Finned Friends

Speaking of which, you may also wish to add koi, goldfish and other aquatic critters, like snails and turtles, to your pond. They’re fun to watch and care for, they add life and movement to your water garden, and they add another dimension to your new hobby. (If you haven’t been to a koi show yet, plan on it!)

A word of warning: Remember that fish grow, so don’t maximize your fish load from the get go. A booming population of goldfish, koi or other pond fish means an overload of fish waste, which can cause problems down the road. In general, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area.

4. Beef Up Your Filter Media

Finally, let’s talk filter media. Where is it? Do you have enough of it? Filter media typically lives in your filter box, and its purpose is to mechanically remove large debris from your water as it flows through the filter, as well as provide a home for gunk-gobbling beneficial bacteria.

When it comes to filter media, more is definitely better. You can easily beef it up by adding BioBalls™ Filter Media to your waterfall box or some extra Matala® Filter Media Pads to your filter.

Enjoy your new hobby!

Pond Talk: What was your first water garden like? What changes have you made to it since then?

Season Long Pond Care Package - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay?

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay?
Sue – Boston, MA

The reasons for aeration during the winter months are largely the same as they are during warmer weather. The oxygen provided by aeration is vital to the health of fish – all year ‘round. In the winter, aeration does double duty, both by introducing sufficient oxygen to the water, and by preventing the formation of ice that could contain harmful gases produced by leaves and other decaying material on the pond’s bottom. As long as the aerators keep some of the water from freezing, the fish in the pond will have sufficient oxygen to weather the cold.

If your aerator can’t keep up with the impact of a long cold snap, and the pond freezes entirely for a short time, your fish should be fine. Short term freezes shouldn’t pose a threat to a well maintained pond – and fish will have sufficient oxygen to survive the temporary freeze. During longer cold snaps, however, harmful gases can accumulate, and you may need to take measures to open the ice. To accomplish that task, it’s important to avoid the use of hammers, drills or other percussive tools. The effects of violent vibration can be harmful to fish. Instead, try applying buckets of hot water to melt vent holes.

To prevent freezing, we recommend the use of our Pond Logic® Water Garden Aeration Systems. With the system installed, it’s wise to prepare for winter by situating stones throughout the pond. For an added measure of assurance, you may also want to suspend some stones closer to the surface to generate more surface-level water movement, while leaving the bottom of the pond still for fish.

Pond Talk: Have you had your pond freeze over even with the help of an aerator?

Pond Logic FeatureFix

Should I use a heater or aerator in my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Should I use a heater or aerator in my water garden?
Lindsay – Pittsfield, ME

So you already know that it is important to keep a hole open in the ice that forms over your water garden during the winter months. This provides an outlet for harmful gases and an inlet for new oxygen-rich air. The question now is which device do you choose to get the job done. The good news is if you have already made your purchase for the season either one will perform excellently. Both a heater and aerator will maintain a hole in the ice but unlike a pond heater, this is only one of many tasks an aeration system performs for your water garden.

When we talk about pond heaters we are referencing units like the Pondmaster Floating Pond De-Icer which does not heat the water in the pond but instead keeps a ring of water open allowing gas to escape through the vent in the top of the unit. Since most ponds deeper than 18” do not freeze solid this is all that is needed to allow oxygen exchange while the fish are dormant. When running a pond heater periodically check in on the pond to make sure ice does not form over the vent hole. To reduce electrical expense most pond heaters are thermostatically controlled to run only during a given temperature range, but they are measuring water temperature instead of air temperature. This means it is unlikely that the water temperature will raise enough to ever shut off the heater. To save some extra money on energy bills use a Thermo Cube in tandem with your pond heater as it will determine when your pond heater should run based on the ambient air temperature.

Aeration keeps a hole in the ice during the winter by producing bubbles and water motion to slow the ice from forming. This allows for the same gas exchange created by a pond heater, however your Aeration System will circulate the entire pond volume and infuse it with dissolved oxygen making it more efficient at oxygen/gas transfer. People will sometimes run pumps beneath the ice trying to create this same effect but it is the tiny air bubbles that boost dissolved oxygen levels and create the friction that prevents ice from forming. Your pond benefits from aeration year round making an aeration system a helpful and highly functional tool regardless of the season. The installation process is simple and straightforward and aeration systems are available in various sizes and shapes allowing you to select a system that best fits your pond. When selecting a system make sure you purchase a unit that is rated for your ponds volume in order to provide enough outlet for proper gas exchange.

The performance of both pond heaters and aeration systems vary depending on how cold it gets in your area. Even when vented properly, layers of ice appear may over when temperatures dip well below freezing. If this only occurs temporarily, and is short in duration while the coldest temperatures and wind are present, there should not be any cause for concern, as a calm or sunny day will give the pond the help it needs to re-open the hole in the ice. If it is necessary to manually reopen the air vent do not try to break through it by hitting it with hammers or heavy objects as this creates vibrations that can harm your fish. If necessary pour a bucket of warm water over the vent hole to melt it back open.

Whichever unit you choose to use will perform to keep your fish safe for the winter months and ensure that they will be healthy, happy and ready to go in the spring.

POND TALK: Which type of system have you found to work better in your pond? Do you still notice some ice formation?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

I don’t have a pond, just a disappearing fountain is there something I can use for maintenance other then products designed for big ponds? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I don’t have a pond, just a disappearing fountain is there something I can use for maintenance other then products designed for big ponds?

I don’t have a pond, just a disappearing fountain is there something I can use for maintenance other then products designed for big ponds?

Monica – Chicago, Il

In the world of water features, disappearing fountains are in a category of their own. Because they don’t involve fish and plants – and typically don’t have filter systems – many people assume they’re maintenance free. But like all backyard water features, disappearing fountains do get dirty, and often gather debris that aren’t eliminated through simple recirculation.

As a result, disappearing fountains are susceptible to water discoloration caused by debris buildup. Fortunately, Pond Logic® FeatureFix™ Water Feature Cleaner is formulated specifically to safely eliminate accumulated debris and clear unsightly discoloration – often in as little as 48 hours.

To prevent ongoing buildup problems, a disappearing fountain is a prime candidate for regular maintenance. We recommend the regular application of Pond Logic® FeatureClear™ Bacterial Water Feature Cleaner, which contains natural, beneficial bacteria that digests organic debris to keep water crystal clear. It’s true. Disappearing fountains do require regular maintenance. But with FeatureFix and FeatureClear, it’s one item on your “to do” list that’s downright easy to check off.

Pond Talk: Do you have a disappearing fountain that requires regular maintenance?

Pond Logic FeatureFix

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter?

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter?
Andrew – Memphis, TN

Like a lot of people, UV components don’t tolerate cold very well. Unlike people (most people, anyhow), those components tend to crack when frozen. So, in the interest of avoiding unnecessary expense when you bring your pond back online in the spring, removing your UV for the winter months is a wise course of action.

In ponds where the UV is a component of the filter system, the same rule applies: it’s worthwhile to take the entire filter out for the winter. Fortunately, the task is pretty straightforward. When the time comes to shut the pond down for the year, the first step is to drain the water from the UV/filter and give them a thorough cleaning. Next, be sure to cap off the tubing ends with a plastic bag or a snug-fitting cap to keep debris from entering the system. Finally, place your filter components in dry storage to keep them in good shape for next season.

But wait! What about your fish? Even though you’re done with your pond for the season, they’re not going anywhere – and they’ll still need an adequate supply of oxygen to survive the winter. And nothing provides oxygen more reliably than our Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System and our Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Aeration System. With the addition of one of these systems, you’ll ensure winter water circulation – and keep your pond water well oxygenated for the fish that make your water feature a three-season sight to behold.

Pond Talk: Do you have a UV filter in your pond that needs to be removed?

Pond Logic Pond Air Aeration System for Water Gardens

We just constructed out pond, how long should we wait to add fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

We just constructed out pond, how long should we wait to add fish?

We just constructed out pond, how long should we wait to add fish?

Jay – Phoenix, AZ

When you create a new pond, you’re effectively building a new ecosystem from scratch. At the beginning, your pond’s waters might look clean, clear and inviting, but nature’s just getting started. Until the initial nitrogen cycle is complete, there’s still work to be done before fish can safely take up residence.

At its early stages, any new body of water – whether an indoor aquarium or a backyard pond – goes through the nitrogen cycle. This cycle begins when living organisms break down nitrogen through their natural digestive processes. Until that cycle is complete, concentrations of ammonia naturally build up in the water – and too much ammonia is extremely harmful to fish. Fortunately, with the introduction of natural bacteria in products like ourPond Logic® DefensePAC® to your pond, you can speed up the nitrogen cycle, making the pond safe for new fish in four to six weeks or less.

In addition to DefensePAC, other products like Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus and Pond Logic® Water Conditioner go a long way toward making new pond water inhabitable. Stress Reducer Plus helps fish to restore their natural protective slime coats, making them less vulnerable to illness. Water Conditioner helps to neutralize chlorine and other chemicals in the water that can lead to stress.

But simply adding DefensePAC, Stress Reducer and Water Conditioner won’t tell you when your water is ready to support piscine life. For that, you’ll want to use our PondCare Master Liquid Test Kit, which tests water for pH, ammonia, and nitrite. When readings are consistently within healthy ranges – as clearly explained in the Master Liquid Test Kit’s documentation – you’re ready to welcome your new fish to their new home.

Pond Talk: Have you recently built a pond and are waiting to add fish?

DefensePAC

When should I switch my fish food? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

When should I switch my fish food?

When should I switch my fish food?

Jordyn – Milwaulkee, WI

If you’re eating fish food, you should probably consider switching it right away. I recommend pizza. Unless, of course, you’re a fish – which, for the purposes of this post, we’ll assume you are.

Fish, as you probably know, are extremely susceptible to seasonal cycles, and the environmental changes they bring. When gauging the best time to transition from one type of food to another, it’s vital to monitor water temperature – which, when you use our Pond Logic Floating Pond Thermometer, is a snap. The second, more subtle indicator is fish behavior. When water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, fish movement become slower and more sluggish, or they’re eating significantly less, it’s time to switch to a wheat germ-based food like Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food.

When fish ease toward their dormant months, wheat germ-based food provides easily-digestible nutrition, and ensures that your fish won’t go dormant with undigested food in their bellies. Because undigested food decomposes over time, it poses a serious health risk to fish, and can release toxins into their systems that can result in sickness – and even fish loss. When using our Spring & Fall Fish Food, you can continue to feed your fish safely, without exposing them to unnecessary risk of illness.

When water temperatures drop into the 40s or fish stop eating altogether, it’s time to stop feeding, allowing fish to settle in safely for their long winter’s nap.

Pond Talk: What signs do you fish give you to signal they are ready to relax for the winter?

Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond?

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond?
Joseph – San Francisco, CA

Leaves are notoriously difficult to train. Try as you might, they simply fall wherever they please. And when their drop zone of choice is your pond, the task of cleaning them out quickly loses its novelty. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep even the most determined leaves out – and cleaning your skimmer on a regular basis is just the beginning.

For those who experience limited leaf drop in their pond, a skimmer may do the lion’s share of the work by gathering up the majority of floating leaves and debris. For any surplus, and for leaves and debris that sink to the bottom of the pond, hand nets and vacuums may be sufficient to keep your water clean and clear.

But not everyone enjoys the satisfying sense of accomplishment that comes with manual leaf removal. If you’re one of those who don’t, we strongly recommend the use of pond netting to stop leaves before they reach the water. At The Pond Guy, you’ll find plenty of options. For economical, single-season purposes, try our Dewitt Economy Pond Netting. For a more durable option that stops leaves and debris, keeps predators at bay and allows abundant light penetration, consider our Clear Fine Mesh Pond Netting. For durable protection that will provide years of use, the nylon mesh construction of our Premium Pond Netting is an exceptional value.

For the ultimate in pond protection, though, our Nycon Big Top Pond Cover is a natural choice. Designed to prevent penetration by even the smallest debris – while keeping predators out – this durable cover forms a tent over your pond, and will provide years of seasonal service.

However you choose to preserve your pond’s pristine appearance, timing is of the essence. As soon as leaves start to fall, it’s time to take action. And whether you’re skimming, cleaning or covering, we have everything you need to make the job a breeze.

Pond Talk: Do you use netting over your pond?

Premium Pond Netting

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