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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 do I remove algae and debris from my waterfall? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I remove algae and debris from my waterfall?

Q: How do I remove algae and debris from my waterfall?

Richard – Wexford, PA

A: Get out your hip waders. It’s spring cleaning and summer chore time in your pond! Getting rid of all that debris and gunk that has accumulated in your waterfall is probably one of the items on your to-do list, especially if you have patio and pond parties planned, right?

Don’t worry: Waterfall cleaning isn’t a backbreaking chore. And if you use a cleaning aid, like Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Cleaner, the task is made even easier. Here, we’ve outlined five simple steps for cleaning your waterfall using Oxy-Lift™.

1. Power down your pump. Before you begin, turn off your waterfall’s pump to stop the water flow and allow it to drain from the feature. Oxy-Lift™ works best when it’s undiluted and comes into direct contact with the gunk, so no-flow is the way to go.

2. Sprinkle Oxy-Lift™ over waterfall. Once the waterfall is drained, sprinkle some of the powder over the moist debris-covered rocks, using the amount recommended on the product label for your water feature’s size and/or the area you’re treating.

3. Wait 10 minutes. Go pour yourself a tasty beverage and enjoy it pond-side while the Oxy-Lift™ activates and starts cleaning. The bacteria-free product uses the fish- and plant-safe power of hydrogen peroxide to “lift” debris from pond liners, rocks, gravel and waterfalls – which means little or no work from you!

4. Add some elbow grease. For tough, stuck-on debris, you may need to lightly scrub the waterfall’s surfaces to help loosen it. A pond brush, like the one that comes with The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Combo Net, can help – particularly as it’s attached to a telescoping pole that extends to 5 feet long. You can also use the net to scoop out larger chunks of debris.

5. Turn waterfall back on. When you’re happy with your (and Oxy-Lift’s) work, turn the waterfall pump back on and congratulate yourself for a job well done. If you use Oxy-Lift™ regularly as part of your pond maintenance routine, it will reduce or even eliminate yearly pond shut-down and clean-out.

A quick tip for those who spruce up their pond prior to a backyard shin-dig: Oxy-Lift™ will temporarily make the pond water cloudy, so do your chores the night before. That will give the product a chance to disperse and clear before guests arrive.

Pond Talk: How often do you clean your waterfall?

Pond Logic Oxy-Lift Defense - Remove Stubborn Debris With Ease

Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year? Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year?

Sandra – Granger, IN

There is an assortment of filter media out there in the pond world from filter pads to bio-ribbon to bio-balls. Knowing when to replace it or clean it is critical to keeping your pond in tip-top shape. Spring is the perfect time to inspect and, if necessary, replace filter media in the following 4 areas.

Skimmers: Your skimmer is the first line of defense in collecting debris and protecting your pump. Most skimmers have a filter pad to remove finer debris. Check the media for frayed edges or tears and replace it needed. Most skimmer manufacturers offer replace filter pads but if you’re like me and like to save a little money, it’s much easier and economical to cut your own. Check out our 1” and 2” filter media pads that you can purchase by the foot.

Waterfall Filters: If you have a waterfall filter, this is the main filtration area of the pond. Most standard filter media pads in the waterfall filter should be replaced once each year. You can get a little more life out of filter pads by going with Matala Filter Pads. These filter pads are built to last and can last usually 2 to 3 seasons. Also, the waterfall filter is a great place to add additional media such as bio-ribbon or bio-balls. These types of media rarely need replacing.

In-Pond Filters: If you have an In-Pond Filter, such as a Pondmaster Pond Filter or ClearSolution, have their own types of media. For instance the Pondmaster Pond Filter contains not only a filter pad, but also a carbon pad that should be replaced each season. The ClearSolution contains bio-media rocks that should be inspected and replaced every couple of seasons.

Pressurized Filter: This is similar to the In-Pond Filter, Pressurized Filter Media should be replaced each season to ensure the best possible filtration.

If you are unsure which media to purchase, simply give us a call, we are glad to help.

Matala Filter Media Pads

What Can I Do To Maintain My Pond This Season? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

This will be our first full season with our pond. What should we do for proper maintenance?

Joe – Aurora, CO

The first season with your new pond can be an exciting and relatively hassle free endeavor, as long as you take the right precautions to maintain it properly. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place to learn exactly what you’ll need in order to successfully maintain your pond for the season.

Remember, a balanced ecosystem is key. Listed below are the main elements used to maintain a balanced pond.

Filtration – Whether you have a waterfall, pressurized or gravity type filter, make sure the included Filter Media is clean and in good condition. Mechanical filtration like skimmer filters should be cleaned regularly to prevent clogging. Biological filter media, like the pads in your waterfall or bio-media in your pressurized filter, should be cleaned sparingly to promote an accumulation of water-filtering beneficial bacteria.

Fish – The highlight of many ponds, fish add color and life to your decorative pond. They also, however, add waste and nutrients that can quickly accumulate and unbalance your pond. 1-inch of fish for every square foot of surface area is a rough guideline for maximum fish load. Keep in mind that your fish are continually growing. That means your 3 inch fish that were added last year are now 4-6 inch fish which more than doubles the waste that needs to be filtered. The more fish you have and the frequency at which you feed them plays a large role in how much filtration you will need to remove this additional waste.

PlantsAquatic Plants are an enormous natural boon to your water garden or fish pond. Not only do they provide habitat for your fish, maintaining 40-60% plant coverage shades your pond and prevents dramatic increases in water temperature on sunny days. Plants also provide additional natural filtration as they extract nutrients from the water added by organic debris and fish waste.

Aeration – Proper aeration is another key factor for pond maintenance. An aeration kit like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ will provide extra circulation to keep debris from accumulating at the bottom of the pond while increasing oxygen levels for your fish and water-filtering aerobic bacteria.

Natural Pond Treatments – Natural products like those contained in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® will greatly increase water quality by boosting aerobic bacteria counts, binding up phosphates from organic material and eliminating organic debris.

Including each of these key pond elements in your water garden or fish pond greatly reduces stress and guesswork associated with a troublesome unbalanced pond. Simply put, a stable ecosystem means less work on your part. If a problem does arise, you can then pinpoint and adjust whichever element above that is throwing your pond out of balance.

Pond Talk: Is your pond balanced? If not, have you discovered which of the key elements is missing or lacking?

Pond Filtration Media

What is waterfall foam? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What is waterfall foam?

What is waterfall foam?
Krystal – Howell, MI

When you build a backyard waterfall, it’s important to remember that, unlike a natural waterfall, every drop of water that cascades down the face of your mini-Niagara is delivered by a pump. In order to make that limited supply of pumped water – and your waterfall – look as dramatic and beautiful as possible, it helps to seal up the nooks and crannies behind and between rocks. And that’s just one of the places where Waterfall Foam comes in handy.

When applied carefully, Waterfall Foam seals the areas beneath and around rocks where water naturally flows. When those areas are sealed, water is diverted over the tops of the rocks, making the waterfall look fuller and more beautiful. In addition to its aesthetic benefits, Waterfall Foam also helps to secure and stabilize larger rocks, which in turn reduces maintenance.

But why use Waterfall Foam instead of hardware store spray-foam insulation? First and foremost, hardware store foams are formulated as insulation – and their chemical ingredients can be harmful or fatal to fish and plant life. Waterfall Foam is carefully formulated to be fish and plant safe. Second, hardware store foam simply isn’t designed to blend in – where Waterfall Foam looks natural, and works wonders to enhance the look and longevity of your waterfall.

Pond Talk: Have you used waterfall foam in your pond?

Waterfall Foam

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I'd like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me?

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? Maude – Frogsboro, NC

Water Features That Fit

Creating a water feature is a fun and exciting process consisting of endless designs and limited only by your imagination. Many people think they are have to have a large amount of land to create a great water feature. In reality, a beautiful water feature can be constructed in even the smallest yards or even indoors. Before you start purchasing materials for your pond project, sit down with a pen and paper and take some time to research and design the perfect water feature that fits your situation.

One of the more common ways people ease their way into pond building is by using a preformed pond basin. I am sure most of you have seen them when walking through your local home & garden stores. These plastic liners are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and depths which appeals to customers looking to install a pond in a limited amount of space. These liners are great for people new to ponds as the shape and dimensions are already figured out for you. This does however limit your creative influence on your soon to be pond. It is for this reason that more and more brave newcomers opt to install Rubber EPDM liner instead. Using rubber liner allows you the freedom to create whatever size pond you desire, filled with curves, plant shelves and waterfall streams. The rubber liner is flexible and therefore is not prone to cracking like the harder plastic performed liners. Rubber EPDM liner can also be pieced together using a Seam Kit to accommodate a large array of designs. Pond Kits are packaged with 45Mil EPDM Rubber Liner to create ponds as small as 8’ x 11’ or as large as 21’ x 26’. You can also purchase rubber liner in 5’ increments for smaller or larger applications.

Those of us who enjoy the sounds and sights of flowing water but are not thrilled by the prospects of managing an entire pond, have other means of entertainment. Using a small basin and a pump, you can create a beautiful, streaming waterfall that disappears into a hidden reservoir underground. We call this a pondless waterfall. The great thing about pondless waterfalls is that they can adapt to smaller areas very easily because there is no standing water. For instance, if you don’t have much of a yard and would like to hear the sound of water, a pondless waterfall is for you. There are Pondless Waterfall Kits available that contain all of the parts you need to get started and are available in different sizes.

When planning to build your water feature, plan for a weekend, one preferably without rain of course. Most smaller Pond Kits and Pondless Kit usually need only a weekend to complete and right now is usually the most popular time to build. Just remember it is far easier (and cheaper) to work with your pen and paper in the planning stages than it is once you start building your water feature. Planning ahead helps prevent any unwanted surprises.

POND TALK: What type of water feature do you have?

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

Waterfall Foam – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Waterfall Foam

Foam Sweet Foam

The key to constructing a quality water garden, or anything for that matter, is to use the proper tools. While you may be able to fashion a lot of your own components or incorporate random on hand materials into your pond build you can miss out on potential benefits that result from years of product testing and development as well as functional design. While this holds true for anything from skimmers, filter media, and waterfall boxes, it is also true of small scale materials like waterfall foam.

Waterfall foam is primarily used to aid in the placement and retention of stone in your water garden and to seal gaps between these stones to manipulate the flow of water down the waterfall and along the streambed. Simply put, the foam expands between your rocks keeping the water from flowing behind them. As the foam dries it also holds the rocks firmly into place so you don’t have to worry about stones washing downstream with the flow of water, rock collapse from seasonal shifting or the displacement of loose perimeter rocks.

12oz cans are available for one time use and include an application tip. You simply place the tip between gaps and crevices and pull the trigger to release product to the desired area. You can also use it as an adhesive to hold stones in place. Any excess foam that protrudes from between the rocks can easily be trimmed away. Another great aspect of using waterfall foam is that if you mess up, or decide to change the location of some of your rocks, you can still cut away the foam and re-arrange them. The foam is black in color to blend in with the surroundings and is plant and fish safe. For contractors, or those of you who change your minds a lot, you can purchase a Foam Gun and use 24oz cans which can be used in more than one application. If you decide to use a foam gun you will want to maintain it by cleaning it with Foam Gun Cleaner between uses.

POND TALK: Have you used Black Waterfall Foam in your water garden? Have you used it to create any unique rock formations or incorporated other natural materials into your stream?

Hold rocks in place with ease!

How can I keep my waterfall free of algae and buildup? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I keep my waterfall free of algae and buildup?

How can I keep my waterfall free of algae and buildup? Renee – Heber Springs, AR

While the warm sunny weather is great for enjoying the outdoors this summer, it can also create some headaches in your water garden. A lot of you may notice that your stream and waterfalls are growing a nice coat of green algae as we continue through the warmer summer months. In a lot of cases, especially if you are using beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense your water is clear but algae and debris is attaching itself to your stream, waterfall and rocks. There is really simple fix to this green monster, in less then 15 minutes you can have amazing results.

It’s simple, use Pond Logic Oxy-Lift Defense direct to your waterfall, stream, or anywhere you have debris or algae accumulating. When used on damp areas, the Oxy-Lift Defense will lift stuck on debris and algae off their attached surface so they can be easily rinsed away avoiding the need for a pressure wash or tough manual labor. Simply shut down your waterfall and quickly remove any debris or algae with your hand, then sprinkle on the Oxy-Lift, you’ll be able to hear the Oxy-Lift working to break the debris off the rocks. After 10-15 min restart your waterfall. You can scoop the loose algae out of the pond or let your skimmer do the work. We recommend applying Oxy-Lift later in the day when you will not be viewing the pond as the pond may become a little cloudy or foamy for a short period of time. Regularly cleaning your waterfall will ensure that maintenance is short and sweet keeping you from having to spend hours trying to wrestle your stream and waterfalls into submission.

If you are having issues with algae not only on the stream but also in the pond itself you can also apply a dose of Tetra Pond Algae Control to quickly kill undesirable growth in the pond even if it contains fish and plants! Using the proper products to maintain your pond will save you time and money in the long run and ensure a faster turn around process should your pond find itself in an algae attack? While algae blooms can not always be prevented the duration and intensity of their visit can drastically be reduced when your pond is properly kept. For best results consider the DefensePAC it includes everything you need in one simple package such as Nature’s Defense, Oxy-Lift, Clarity Defense, Muck Defense, and Seasonal Defense.

Pond Talk: What is your favorite part of having a water garden?

Keep your Water Garden Clear!

Why do people build water gardens? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Water Garden and Water Lily

Why do people build water gardens? Amanda – Clearwater, FL

More Than Just A Pretty Face

Maybe you’ve entertained the idea of constructing a water garden in your yard, but feel you are not quite up to the task. Perhaps you are one of those people who don’t understand what all of the “hype” is about when it comes to back yard waterfalls and pricey Koi. To those of you who have yet to experience the triumphs and challenges of owning your very own water garden, there really is more to pond ownership than fish, water, and rocks.

Thanks to the progression of the pond industry, both the process of selecting an appropriate type of water feature and the installation procedures associated with each style have been dramatically simplified. This broadens your selection to a wide range of water features from small pre-formed ponds for beginners, low maintenance and space saving Pondless Waterfalls, or large water gardens equipped with intricate streams and waterfalls for those of you with more experience or are daring. You can also take advantage of the cost savings of purchasing a complete Pond Kit which can save you the time and trouble of trying to purchase each component independently. Regardless of which type of pond you decide is best for you, remember to take your time and do your Homework. Being prepared will ensure that the entire pond process from design to finished product is an enjoyable experience.

When done properly, a water feature can become an outdoor retreat, providing soothing sounds and sights to create a calm and relaxed atmosphere. Your water feature will accent your home and the surrounding landscape creating an inviting appearance and an increased curb appeal. Implementing Aquatic Plants and Koi into your water feature is a great way to further increase its value. Having fish present in your water feature creates fun activities that you can do with friends and family. Witnessing a few fish antics alone provides a great source of entertainment, while feeding your fish is an excellent group activity that can create a little extra “together” time with friends and family. If you have children it is also a great way to teach them about the responsibilities of pet ownership.

Every person has their own unique story about how their water feature came to exist. For some it may just seem like a logical step and for others it starts with the gift of one small goldfish. Intentional or not, it is easy to fall in love with your water feature. While there is some time and expense associated with any water feature, it all seems trivial once you see the results of such a rewarding investment.

POND TALK: How has your water garden changed your lifestyle?

Pond Kits

What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!

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