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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

Should I build a pond or a waterfall feature? Which is better? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Should I build a pond or a waterfall feature? Which is better?

Q: Should I build a pond or a waterfall feature? Which is better?

Bill – Antioch, CA

A: Ahhh… during the heat of the summer, there’s nothing better than sitting nearby the cool, tranquil trickle of running water flowing from your own fountain.

Water features – whether a half-acre pond with a 6-foot waterfall or a small table-top fountain that sits on your deck – create a slice of personal serenity in your yard or garden, as well as drawing birds, dragonflies and other wildlife.

You know you want some of that tranquility for yourself, but before you rent the Caterpillar and start digging, run through these questions, below. They will help you choose the right type of water feature for you.

What kind of budget do you have?

First of all, consider what kind of money you want to spend. In most cases, the larger the water feature, the more expensive it will cost. If you’re unsure, call a pond-building professional in your area to help you assess your needs and determine your budget.

What kind of space do you have?

Next, take a realistic look at your yard. Is it large or small? How can you blend a water garden and fountain into the existing landscape?

If you have a sprawling backyard with room to build, consider The Pond Guy® 11-by-11 or 11-by-16 foot Pond Kit or the smaller Pondbuilder™ Serenity Pond Kit, all of which include everything needed to build a pond, including fish-friendly rubber liner, underlayment, skimmer, filter, pump, check valve, plumbing fixtures and hardware, and complete instructions with a how-to video. The package even includes some beneficial bacteria to jump-start your feature’s biological filtration.

If you have a postage-size yard or one that’s tightly landscaped, consider a smaller water feature, like one of the Pondbuilder™ Cascading Falls disappearing waterfalls. The kits come in three sizes – 10 inches, 14 inches and 22 inches – and contains a waterfall box, basin, pump vault, pump, liner, underlayment, tubing, waterfall foam, check valve and instructions.

Who will visit your water feature?

Do you have grandchildren or young kids running around the backyard? If so, a waterfall with no open body of water, like the Pondbuilder Cascading Falls, would be an ideal choice. You’ll be able to enjoy the sound of running water without the potential danger.

Perhaps, however, you want your pond to be open – thanks to a water-loving dog sharing your house, a blooming love for tropical water lilies or a brand new fish-keeping hobby. If that’s the case, then consider a Pondbuilder™ Serenity Pond Kit or one of The Pond Guy® Professional Pond Kits, both geared toward to do-it-yourselfers.

How much maintenance time do you have?

Finally, think about your schedule and what you enjoy doing. Do you work long hours and simply want a peaceful place for an occasional night on the back porch? Do you like to have the sounds of running water – but without all the maintenance? If so, Pondbuilder Cascading Falls is right for you.

If you’re a gardener, or someone who spends a lot of time outdoors working in the yard, tending your plants and improving the landscape, then one of the pond kits, like a Pondbuilder Serenity Pond or The Pond Guy’s Professional Pond, should be your pick.

Pond Talk: What was the first type of water feature you had?

The Pond Guy Professional Pond Kits - Create Your Own Backyard Oasis

How Can I Own & Maintain A Water Feature With My Busy Schedule? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Can I Own & Maintain A Water Feature With My Busy Schedule?

I travel a lot and I don’t have time to take care of pond plants or fish. Is it possible to have a water garden in my yard?

Gentra - Bucyrus, OH

Of course it is, but a standard backyard pond is not your best bet. Successful ponds require fish and plants to keep the ecosystem balanced, and proper filtration and aeration to prevent algae growth.

A pondless waterfall is one option for you to consider. A Pondless Waterfall has no standing water. All of the water that splashes down the rocks is contained within an underground basin. There is no pond ecosystem to maintain. Simply flip a switch to enjoy the sounds of a waterfall and turn it off when you are done to save electricity.

Another option is a Disappearing Fountain. Despite their name, disappearing fountains are very visible. They are made out of fiberglass to resemble decorative urns, pouring vases, or natural rocks. They also feature below-ground basins to house the water. Simply flip a switch to start the pump and the soothing sound of water is yours.

Pond Talk: Should you hire someone to “pond-sit” when you are out of town?

Pondless Waterfall Kits

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

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

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

There are so many different types of pond lights. How many do I need – and which are the easiest to install? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

There are so many different types of pond lights. How many do I need – and which are the easiest to install?

There are so many different types of pond lights. How many do I need – and which are the easiest to install?
Fernando – Garden City, SC

It’s true. Although it seems like it should be simple, the sheer variety of available pond lights can make it a bit daunting to choose what’s right for your needs. But in truth, that’s where it starts: decide exactly what you want to light – and how – and the choices sort of narrow themselves. So take a moment to think about what you’re trying to illuminate. A waterfall? A fountain? A spitter? The whole pond?

As luck would have it, we have options to fit all of your pond lighting needs. For submerged waterfall lighting, our Halogen Waterfall Light is fully waterproof, and exceptionally easy to install. For more generalized lighting both underwater and around the pond, our HalogenMini™ 3-Pack Halogen Light Kits are simple to install, and they offer the added appeal of colored lenses for a lively, customized look. For greater energy efficiency and exceptionally long bulb life, our LEDPro™ 36 – 3 Pack Warm LED Light Kit is the ideal choice. These lights can be installed in or out of the water. Because LED bulbs can last for up to 100,000 hours, they’re essentially maintenance free. Regardless which light kit you choose, installation is simple. Our transformers are designed with quick disconnect fittings – and there’s no need to recruit an electrician to get your pond wired and ready.

Once you’ve identified your specific pond lighting needs, you should also spend a moment pondering the stage of your pond’s construction – and the flexibility you’re hoping to achieve. If your pond is brand new, or if it’s currently drained, it greatly simplifies the process of installing underwater lights. If it’s not, you may want to consider an installation without submerged lights. Through some creative design, the effect can be every bit as dramatic.

If you’re planning to automate your pond lighting, you may also want to consider installing timers, or photocells that trigger lights when darkness falls – without any need to flip a switch.

Pond Talk: What type of accent lighting do you have in your pond?

LEDPro™ 36 – 3 Pack Warm LED Light Kit

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Frank – Queens, NY

Just as variety spices up life, interesting shapes give a boost to the appeal of any backyard water garden. Because the kidney shape curves conveniently to form a perfect vantage point – where the entire pond is visible – it’s especially popular. It’s also a simple feature to install, starting with our custom cut Firestone 45 Mil Pond Liner. Using this 45 mil EDPM liner and some careful preparation, you can have your own custom-shaped water feature up and running in no time.

During your planning and preparation, you’ll want to consider the kidney shape, which allows much more than a convenient point to view your water garden. It also adds a touch of style without sacrificing function – while keeping the pond healthy by ensuring a generalized flow of moving water. That flow, of course, is best achieved by the use of pumps, skimmers and filters, which draw water from one end of the water feature to the other.

For maximum circulation – an immediate boost of visual interest – we strongly recommend the installation of a waterfall at one end of your water feature, with a skimmer and pump at the other. With the use of our Atlantic Pro Waterfall Filter Falls Box, your waterfall with double as an efficient filter designed to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem for both fish and plants alike.

Pond Talk: What shape is your water garden?

Waterfall Filter Box

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden?

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden?
Stacey – Grand Rapids, MI

Let’s face it: floating and surface plants, like lilies and hyacinths, are the rock stars of any water garden. They’re the show-offs, the preeners, the colorful ones that visitors “ooh” and “aah” over; the divas that pond owners proudly feature on center stage.

But, may we ask, where would the rock star be without his support crew – the techies, the roadies, the groupies? Still playing air guitar in front of his mirror, that’s where. Lilies, hyacinths and the like just happen to be the most visible and attractive feature of a supportive ecosystem that should include their plainer relatives – the Submerged plants, like Vallisneria, Red Ludwigia, Hornwort and Parrot’s Feather. These worker plants compete with algae for the nitrogen produced by decaying plants and fish waste,produce oxygen to help keep the pond properly aerated,andprovide shade and shelter for koi and other fish. Submerged plants may not be flashy, but they’re a critical component in maintaining water quality and general pond health.

The easiest way to add one of these workers to your water garden is to plant its stems in a Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Basket along with an ample supply of Microbe-Lift Aquatic Planting Media, and place it on the bottom of the pond. The baskets come in various sizes with mesh sides and bottoms – this allows the plant to seek nourishment outside the basket, without the risk of growing out of control.

Any performer will tell you that a well-fed support crew is a happy support crew. So to make sure your Submerged plants are getting the nutrition they need, we highly recommend the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Fertilizer Spikes, a verbal mouthful that also delivers the goods. Simply push a spike into to the soil near the plant until the cap is just above the surface and you’re all set for a year.

So, by all means, add Submerged plants to your water garden and let your lilies rock on!

Pond Talk: Do you utilize submerged plants in your pond?

Submerged Plants for Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration?

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration?
Robert – Racine, WI

Waterfalls are one of nature’s greatest creations. In addition to providing breathtaking beauty and places for daredevils to kayak and – for some inexplicable reason – ride over in padded barrels, they serve as massive aeration systems, introducing fresh oxygen into the ecosystem that fish and plants need to thrive. In backyard ponds, waterfalls serve many of the same functions – but their scale is often inadequate to provide sufficient aeration. They also fall a bit short as places for kayakers and barrel riders to strut their stuff.

So, while your backyard waterfall definitely helps to keep water oxygenated, additional aeration is always helpful – especially when algae begins to grow, and fish are faced with warming water and reduced oxygen levels. To provide the aeration any backyard pond needs, we strongly recommend our KoiAir™ and PondAir™ Aeration Systems. With a wide variety of options available for ponds of every size and depth, these systems help to increase circulation and reduce stratification to provide the healthiest possible environment for fish and decorative plants.

For signs that your pond’s aeration is insufficient, look for increases in muck and debris at the pond bottom. When properly aerated, muck is broken up naturally, leaving the bottom clean and the water clear. If you have fish, and they surface regularly or gather beneath a waterfall, your aeration may be inadequate. If that’s the case, you’ll give your fish cause for celebration by installing additional aeration – and you’ll have the satisfaction of a clean, clear pond that makes your backyard the perfect sanctuary.

Pond Talk: Do you run a separate aeration system in your pond?

Pond Logic Pond Air

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