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Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond?

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond?

Brad – Phoenix, AZ

Pond owners looking to flex their green thumbs this spring are already planning their aquatic plant purchases. Including plants in your water garden or decorative water feature can help add shade and filtration to the water body while painting the landscape with beautiful colors and accents.

The Ann Chowning Iris is an excellent selection for ponds that are exposed to constant sunlight. The Ann Chowning has intense red flowers with deep yellow accents. The flowers have a velvety texture and the iris produces beautiful evergreen foliage growing to a height of 36” and a width of 18-24”. Blooming in the spring and into summer, the Ann Chowning iris prefers full sun but will tolerate some late hour shade. The brilliant contrasting colors make this iris a great cut flower that can be used in centerpieces and indoor decoration. For pond owners in more remote locations the Ann Chowning is a great choice as it is resistant to deer which love to frequent ponds for a quick snack and drink.

As with other aquatic plants the Ann Chowning can be planted in planting baskets with planting media and placed in and around your pond or water feature. As the Ann Chowning prefers moist, well drained soil you will want to keep this iris contained to the shallow regions and edges of your pond. Be sure to fertilize your plants with pond-safe plant fertilizer to achieve even brighter and bolder colors.

Pond Talk: What unique plants have you incorporated into your pond?

Ann Chowning Iris

Can I enjoy my plants indoors for the cooler months? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can I enjoy my plants indoors for the cooler months?

Can I enjoy my plants indoors for the cooler months? Josh – Speed, KS

With winter on the way, you are probably starting to wonder how to go about protecting your plants through the colder months. Just as each plant is unique in looks and application, different types of plants require different means of protection to survive winter. You will want to properly identify which types of plants are present in your pond and proceed accordingly. If you are willing to go the extra mile and care for your plants indoors you will be able to enjoy them all season long and dodge the expense of re-buying plants to garnish your pond next Spring.

Plants are typically categorized by hardiness which gauges their survivability in specific temperature ranges. Some plants, like Bog Bean are rated from zones 3 to 10 which means they can withstand very cold temperatures but can also thrive in warm weather. Tropical plants like the Antares Lily are hardy only in zones 10 and 11. For help, see our Plant Hardiness Zone Map which breaks down temperature lows in each zone. With this being said you will now understand that some plants may need to be stored earlier and longer than others and may require a little more attention depending on their warmth and light requirements and if you maintaining the entire plant or only storing tubers.

Hardy Lilies and Lotus can be trimmed back to about an inch` away from the top of the planter as they brown. To over winter these plants you simply sink the baskets to a depth in your pond that will not freeze solid, normally at least 12” in water depth. As the temperatures warm back up you can move the basket closer to the surface and let nature take its course. If your lilies aren’t potted, they are more than likely planted into lily pockets that are already 12-18” in depth and simply trimming them back will suffice. Any tropical plant, however, will have to come inside for the winter. These plants can be maintained if placed in a warm and sunny area or under a full spectrum light and the root of the plant is kept submerged.

Submerged Plants that are hardy in colder climates can just be sunk to deeper regions of your pond that will not freeze solid in the winter. If they require warmer temperatures you can bring them in and store them in an aquarium with full spectrum lighting.

Floating Plants like Water Hyacinths and Water Lettuce are sensitive to colder weather and are a little more difficult to over winter. If you choose to bring them in for the winter, they require a warm sunny location or under full spectrum lighting. You will also want to add some liquid fertilizer like Microbe-Lift® Bloom & Grow™ to keep them healthy.

POND TALK: Tell us how you over winter your aquatic plants.

Easily maintain your plants!

How do I calculate my pond size? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I calculate my pond size?

How do I calculate my pond size? Pete – Steele, AL

If someone were to ask you how big your water garden is, how would you respond? Most pond owners have an idea of how many gallons their pond my hold or how many square feet their water feature occupies, but have you ever really measured to see how close your guesstimates comes to the actual numbers?

Knowing how large your pond is down to the square foot or the nearest gallon is not realistic nor is it, by any means, necessary. You will just want to verify that what you “think” is a 15’ x 20’ is not actually 30’ x 40’. People tend to associate size with common everyday items they see around their home. It is not uncommon to hear someone tell us that their pond is about “half of a horse trailer long” or “up to my knees deep”. This may seem like a reasonable answer at the time, but when trying to break down how many gallons are in your pond, or how many square feet of surface area we are dealing with, we, unfortunately, aren’t sure how long your trailer is or how tall you are. =) To keep everyone on the same page and make sure we are all dealing with the same units of measure, we suggest you break out a tape measure and break the pond down into feet and inches.

You may be wondering to yourself why you even need to really know how much water your pond holds or what it matters if you don’t know its surface area. Bacteria products like Nature’s Defense® or Liquid Clear™ are added to the pond based on the number of gallons you are treating. The same holds true with algae killing products like TetraPond® Algae Control and even Barley Extract. Other products require an estimate of the pond’s surface area for proper application. Aquatic Plant Packages and Pond Netting are examples of such products. Knowing the size of your pond can also help you determine how many fish your pond should typically hold or what size Pond Vacuum is best suited for your particular application.

Now that you know the whys of sizing your pond, let’s get down to business and measure your pond out. The easiest ponds to measure are those that are shaped as simple circles and rectangles, the more irregular the shape, the less accurate our measurements become.

Length x Width x Height

This is the formula used to find the volume of a rectangular shape. It can still be used to get you in the neighborhood if you are measuring a kidney shaped pond, the numbers you get on paper however will be slightly higher than what your pond actually consists of. Measure your pond at its longest point and then its widest point. To demonstrate, lets say the length came to 15 feet and the width 10 feet. You can then measure the depth of the pond. If it is the same depth throughout use this number in our formula. If you have a plant shelf or the depth varies, measure the maximum depth and cut it in half to create an average depth. Let’s say the pond is 4 feet at its deepest but has some shallow areas for plants. We will use half of that depth, 2 feet, for our formula. If you are just looking for surface area, multiply the length and width (15 x 10) to get 150 square feet. If you are looking to find how many gallons the pond holds then multiply the length by width by height (15 x 10 x 2) to get 300 cubic feet. A cubic foot can hold 7.48 gallons of water so to find out how much 300 cubic feet can hold just multiply the two (300 x 7.48) to get 2,244 gallons. If you are also running a waterfall take into account that there is also some water being held in the stream, use the length and width of the stream to calculate a rough volume on it as well. Just like that you now have the volume of your pond.

Easy As Pi

If your pond is round in shape we will use the formula Surface Area = Pi x R² or in other words Surface Area = 3.14 times radius times radius. The radius of your pond is simply half of the distance across. If the pond is a 10 foot circle then the radius is 5 feet. Multiply 3.14 by 5 and then multiply by 5 once more (3.14x5x5) to get 78.5 square feet of surface area. To find your volume you multiply this number by the depth and convert to gallons just like we did with the rectangular pond.

If you want to know exactly how many gallons are in your pond you can use a meter to physically measure the amount of water it takes to fill their pond using a garden hose. If you are constructing a new water garden or pondless waterfall don’t forget to take into account that some of the water from your pond will be held in the stream bed. Give yourself a little wiggle room when digging the basin pond to hold the extra water if you have to shut off the waterfall for any reason.

We have a few helpful Calculators on our site that can help you find your recommended fish capacity, select the proper pump, and if anything, play with your new found pond dimensions.

POND TALK: Now that you have a better understanding of how to measure your pond compare your results with what you originally estimated. Were you close?

How do I calculate my pond size?

How do I know if I have proper aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Don’t Under Aerate
How do I know if I have proper aeration? Felipe – Moscow, ID

The bigger the better when it comes to aeration.

When purchasing your aeration system you were told it will promote a clean, healthy pond with less algae and clear water. With more and more customers installing aeration systems in their ponds now may be a good time to discuss some of the assumptions and mistakes made when choosing an aeration system.

An Airmax® Aeration System can make the difference when it comes to your pond’s health, so selecting the right system can be very important.  In the long-run there is no free lunch.  If you try to “Make Do” with a smaller aeration system than what is recommend, it may come back to haunt you.  When an aeration system is sized correctly it will eliminate any thermoclines (thermoclines are a separation of water based on temperature). Have you ever swam in your pond and felt very cold water at your feet? Most pond owners believe this is a spring, when in reality, it’s caused by a thermocline. Proper aeration improves water quality, breaks down organic debris (muck) and improves the overall ecosystem in your pond.  Aeration works by circulating the entire pond’s water column from top to bottom.  The tiny bubbles created by the diffuser forces cool oxygen deprived water from the bottom depths all the way to the pond’s surface. This circulation drives oxygen to the bottom of the pond allowing “good” bacteria to digest muck, reducing nutrients and increase the overall dissolved oxygen in the pond.  If the system is undersized it will not create uniform circulation and simply pump small amounts of the cool nutrient-rich water from the bottom of your pond to the top.  This is the equivalent of adding fertilizer to your pond.  This can result in additional algae growth, odors and even fish kills.  This can all be especially true during the warmer months of the year.

If you currently have an aeration system running and you are not sure if it is sized correctly, there is an easy way to tell with a thermometer and long string.  You will use the string to extend the reach of the thermometer taking temperature readings every 24 inches, letting the thermometer rest long enough to get the true temperature reading at your desired depth.  Take readings every 24 inches until you reach the bottom of your pond. If there is more then a few degrees difference in any of your temperature readings you are more then likely under aerating your pond.

If you haven’t purchased an aeration system yet take advantage of The Pond Guys and Gals, we offer free aeration mapping and technical support.

Can Koi get sunburns? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can Koi get sunburns?

Can Koi get sunburns? Dan – Bane, VA

Now that beach season here it is time to venture out into the great outdoors and soak in some of that summer sun. You can safely bet your Koi will be doing the same, as they love the sunshine and can be found sunning themselves in the shallows of your pond. Unlike us, however, they can’t lather on the sunscreen. So what can you do to make sure they don’t overindulge and end up with a sunburn?

Koi can get sunburnt? That’s right, your Koi can burn if overexposed to the sun. Some Koi will loiter close to the surface in your pond or in shallow areas that leave their backs very close to the surface of or, at times, partially out the water. This is the most common reason why your fish tend to experience sun damage. Another less common contributing factor is the lack of shade and cover from sun exposure. Some pond owners do not provide any Floating Plants, shaded areas, or recessed areas for fish to hide within in instances of intense sun which leaves them completely exposed. If your pond receives direct sunlight throughout the day, make sure you provide adequate habitat to protect your pets. You can also add some Pond Shade to limit the amount of UV light that is able to penetrate the surface of the pond. A great way to prevent burns, illness, and parasites in your pond is to dose the water with Pond Salt. Pond salt will improve the slime coat on your fish and improve their gill function which protects them from illness and exposure to the elements.

When your fish are over exposed to the sun and outside elements you will notice their slime coat will turn white and start to peel off. If caught in time they will regenerate their protective coating and the old damaged areas will start to break off and wash away. If no steps are taken to address the problem your fish can develop blisters, ulcers, and open wounds that can lead to pain or infection. If you do notice a bit of sun damage on your fish you should quickly asses your pond’s layout and investigate the possible causes of why your fish are being over exposed. Add shade where necessary or if you see that one or a couple of your fish keep surfacing in the shallower areas of your ponds, section them off in deeper areas that are abundant in shade until their protective coating heals. If blisters or sores develop, treat the effected fish with an Antifungal/Bacteria treatment like MelaFix, PimaFix, or TetraPond® Fish Treatment.

Always take into consideration the environment your fish are exposed to and adjust as necessary to keep them comfortable. Your fish will enjoy the sunny warm weather quite readily which provides great opportunities to play and interact with your pets. Occasionally checking in on your finned friends and reacting to their needs will keep them healthy, happy, and safe this summer.

POND TALK: Has your koi ever had a sunburn?

Turn your water garden into an outdoor oasis!

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing?

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing? Mark – Schaumburg, IL

Tell Your Pond To Get A Night Life

Like so many other water gardeners out there, you’ve labored diligently throughout the seasons to build the perfect back yard oasis, but between work and errands you are never home early enough in the day to sit and enjoy the scenery! A few simple steps can make the difference between some night time relaxation or simply being stuck in the dark.

One of the best things about your pond is that it’s present both in the night and day. The soothing sound of flowing water is one of the most common and enjoyable products of your water feature. If you do not have a small fountain, waterfall, or stream, consider installing one to instantly up your pond’s enjoyment factor. For smaller ponds a pump like the MagFlo™ 590 comes with both a fountain head attachment and a diverter to route water to a small waterfall making installation fast and simple.

With some soothing sounds added to your pond, we can now turn our focus over to the visual side of the spectrum. A somewhat obvious way to get some late night pond side time is to implement some cleverly placed lighting. Floating Solar Lights and a 10-Watt Waterfall Light can add soft subtle accents to the pond, drawing your attention to desired areas. 3-Pack HalogenMini™ and LED Kits can be used in or out of the pond to softly illuminate large areas of the pond. If you are looking for a little more power you can use a Multi-Color High Intensity LED to flood an area with light or a 12-Watt Single Light light to spot light and accent a particular area or item.

Tip: When installing pond lighting underwater, make sure to wrap an appropriate amount of excess power cord around the light to allow the ability to replace the bulb if needed. This excess power cord will allow you to pull the light out of the water for a bulb change instead of having to either move rock or drain the water. Also make sure you point lighting away from where you will be viewing the pond.

Another less known but equally effective way to accent your pond in the twilight hours is to use night blooming plants. Night blooming lilies like the Trudy Slocum still possess the same shading and filtering properties as your other lilies; the only difference is the blooms open up in the evening and throughout the night so you can enjoy a little extra color when the lights go out.

Each pond is special and unique so there is never one specific layout when it comes to adding lights and plants. Select items that match the surrounding colors and landscaping of your pond and use lighting to accent them accordingly. With a little practice and experimentation you can achieve a beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable pond, even at night.

Pond Talk: What products do you use to make your water garden more enjoyable at night?

Light up your pond at night!

I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pond Fish & Koi Acclimation
I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? Paul – Baytown, TX

Best In Show

So you’ve made the decision to invite a few new friends to your home, but are you getting more than you bargained for? As is true with any purchase, you want to make sure you are getting quality before you hand over your hard-earned dollars. Inspect the fish you intend to purchase for symptoms of illness or poor health. Look over their fins, mouth, and gills for blemishes, discoloration, or signs of fin rot and check their body for growths, loose or missing scales, or other blemishes as they may be an early indicator of disease or parasites. Take a few moments to observe your prospect’s behavior to make sure they are active and having no mobility hindrances.

Prep The Pond

Your newly purchased fish are typically handed over to you in an oxygenated plastic bag or container to allow adequate time to transport them to their new home. While it may be tempting to just dump them into your water garden upon your return home, you will want to make sure your pond is ready to accommodate its new inhabitants before you begin their acclimation process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the water in your pond is free from potential fatal heavy metals and chlorine by adding a Water Conditioner during your water changes.
  • To help prevent disease and reduce fish stress in your new tenants, add Pond Salt to the water between your water changes. To ensure the well being of your Aquatic Plants, only add 1 1/4 cups per 100 gallons of pond water.
  • You can purchase a Master Test Kit to verify acceptable pH and Nitrate levels in the pond.
  • You can prevent many potential health issues throughout your fish population by simply maintaining a clean and healthy pond. You can read more about pond maintenance here.

Well, You Better Get Used To It

Now that the pond is ready for the addition of fish, it is time to get your finned friends ready for the big show. You will want to gradually equalize the temperature of the water your fish are currently occupying with that of the water in your pond. If the container carrying your fish floats, go ahead and place it in your pond. As the bag bobbles around in your pond, the water inside will start balancing with the outside water temperature. This process should take no longer than 30 minutes. During this time frame, slowly add small amounts of water from the pond into the container which will allow your new fish time to acclimate to the chemistry of your pond water. Most of us have, at one time or another, jumped into a pool too early in the summer only to find that the water is unimaginably cold. Those of you who’ve been in that situation understand why you will want to take your time with the acclimation process. Now that the water on both sides of the container is the same and the fish have had time to try out the make up of the water in the pond, you are clear to release them into their new environment! Take a few moments throughout the day to check in on the pond and monitor the behavior of the newly introduced fish. Active and curious fish are happy and healthy fish.

POND TALK: Are there any tricks that you’ve done to acclimate your fish?

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