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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

I’m not running my waterfall over the winter. How do I shut it down? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m not running my waterfall over the winter. How do I shut it down?

Q: I’m not running my waterfall over the winter. How do I shut it down?

Valerie – Smithsburg, MD

A: You want to shut down your waterfall for the season? You’re not alone. When the outdoor temperatures dip, most people don’t spend a lot of time lounging outside by their pond enjoying the sound of running water.

Though a pond with ice formations can create a beautiful scene, shutting down your waterfall or stream when it’s not in use for the winter is a great way to save some money, prolong the life of your equipment, and prevent ice dams from forming and potentially draining your pond.

Putting your waterfall to bed for the winter can be done in just a couple of hours – or less if you have a helper. Here, we’ve outlined four simple steps to make the chore easy:

  1. First, remove the pump from your pond. Store it in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water in a place that will not freeze, like your garage or basement, so the seals do not dry out.
  2. Next, blow out your tubing with an air compressor. Though most tubing will be OK if water freezes in it, it’s still a good idea to blast away all the gunk and debris that could be in there. Don’t forget to cap it off to ensure no water or debris enters the tubing.
  3. If your pump is in a skimmer box, drain the water to slightly below the weir door. You can also place a milk carton or 2-Liter bottle about ¼ filled into the skimmer. This will alleviate some ice pressure on the skimmer walls.
  4. If you have biological filter media in your waterfall box, spray the filter media off with a hose to remove built-up gunk, and pump the water out of waterfall box and scrub it down. The filter media will be fine stored in the waterfall box for the winter.

Because your waterfall will be turned off and not oxygenating the water for your fish, don’t forget to run an aeration system. Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Kit is ideal for infusing O2 into ponds up to 2,000 gallons; Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Aeration Kit handles ponds up to 16,000 gallons. Both are energy-efficient and can be run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Have you ever run your waterfall or stream all winter long? What was your experience?

Keep Your Pond Oxygenated All Winter - Pond Logic(r) PondAir(tm) Aeration Kit

My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up?

Q: My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up?

Kate – Grove City, OH

A: Yep: It’s algae time! As the spring sunshine melts away ice and snow, the sun’s warmth and light reach underwater to give algae growth a little nudge along. When combined with all the extra leaves (also known as algae food!) that have blown in on windy days and a filtration system that isn’t up to snuff with bacteria, they create a perfect environment for algae accumulation.

So how do you get rid of it when water temps are too cold for bacteria and traditional algaecides?

Step 1: Spring Cleaning

If you haven’t already, consider doing a spring cleanout and starting fresh. Check out this blog post for step-by-step instructions for preparing for and giving your pond a thorough spring cleaning. If you’ve already gotten dirty this season, however, and have found that the algae is unwilling to give up its happy home, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Oxy-Lift™ Defense® to the Rescue

For controlling stubborn algae, pull out your Oxy-Lift™ Defense® pond cleaner. The product’s ingredients have no temperature restrictions, so you don’t have to wait for warmer weather to treat the green nuisance. Simply turn off your stream and, while the algae-covered rocks are still wet, sprinkle on the Oxy-Lift™ powder. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Before long, you’ll see the algae bubble and break free from the rock. Then turn the stream back on, and use a hand net to scoop out the debris or allow your filter to catch it.

Of course, don’t forget to stick to the basics—particularly as pond season kicks off! Keep your filter running and add the natural bacteria once temperatures are suitable to keep algae growth under control.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite spring cleaning tool to use in the water garden?

Lift Debris Away In Seconds - Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense®

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

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

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

Pondless or pond? Why not have both! | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Pondless or pond? Why not have both!

Pondless or pond? Why not have both!
Alvin – Boulder, CO

One of the greatest elements of decorative ponds and water features is that each can be as unique and distinguished as the person creating it. The shape, style and implementation of your water garden is limited only by your imagination. It is this freedom to inspire and create that keeps pond owners incessantly engaged in the hobby.

In previous blogs we have discussed the different types of ponds and water features available along with some of the perks and drawbacks of each type. While any of these water features, waterfalls, and ponds are great on their own, you can also incorporate the different feature types to create a truly breathtaking water feature.

A great example of combining feature types into one functional display is the combination of an elevated pond that cascades down into a pondless waterfall. Think of this feature as a pondless water fall type water feature with a pond half way through the waterfall. Combining these two features opens up possibilities that may have been impractical with a certain feature alone. Pond owners with children are often drawn to pondless features as there is no potentially hazardous standing water body for them to wander into. By elevating the pond to a height that is out of reach you can still enjoy the freedom to incorporate fish and plants into your water feature while the pondless waterfall safely returns water underground and out of reach. As you will have to purchase the major components for either a pond or water fall feature, adding the additional parts to incorporate the two features together is easier and more cost effective than having to buy items for two separate features. Both Pond Kits and Pondless Waterfall Kits are available for purchase to eliminate the guesswork of what items your need to construct either particular feature. To simplify the purchasing process you can purchase a Pondless Waterfall for the main components and some additional 45Mil Rubber EPDM Liner and Seam Tape to construct the elevated pond.

Laying out and combining advanced water features and ponds may require expert advice or guidance. You can Chat Live, eMail, or call and pond guy or gal to help you choose the products that will need for your water feature. When constructing any type of pond or water feature it is imperative that you take your time and plan accordingly to ensure a smooth and enjoyable pond building process.

Pond Talk: What types of pond types have you combined in your water feature? Share your photos and stories for inspiration.

Pond Kits

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!

Can I create a Waterfall in my large pond too? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Can I create a Waterfall in my large pond too?

Can I create a Waterfall in my large pond too? Jason – Grand Junction, CO

You don’t have to own a water garden to enjoy the sights and sounds of a waterfall in your backyard. Although they are built a bit differently, it is completely feasible to construct a waterfall in your large farm pond.

Unlike a water garden, your waterfall feature does not have to boast filter media pads, lava rocks, or bio balls. Your farm pond waterfall focuses more on sound and appearance than it does productivity. All is not lost however; your waterfall will provide a small amount of aeration and circulation in the pond but not enough on its own to sustain the entire water body. Since your pond is not dependant on the waterfall for filtration or aeration you can turn it off and on at will and there is no need to run it 24/7. This is great as it can save you money in energy costs and wear and tear.

The materials required to construct your farm pond waterfall are similar to those of a smaller water feature with a few exceptions. You will obviously be building at a larger scale in comparison to a water garden so large high flow pumps are the weapon of choice to deliver water to the top of your falls. Professional quality pumps like the Norus 7,000 or Tidal Wave 10,000 are perfect for high volume, high head pressure applications. Instead of using a skimmer box to house your pump you will want to rely on a Pump Vault for protection. Available in multiple sizes, a pump vault will not only prevent solids from entering the pump but it will shield swimmers, boaters, or fishermen from coming in contact with the unit. You will want to put the pump in an area that is generally unused for recreation as well as in an area not in danger of running dry if the water levels drop in the warmer seasons. Just like a Koi pond, you will want to install a Pond Liner and Underlayment, for your water fall and stream to direct flow and prevent water loss. Your Black Waterfall Foam will come in handy for creating sealed areas between rocks and water fall boxes to further aid in flow direction. You will also still want to use a large Waterfall Box, or a couple smaller ones to provide a basin to collect water so the waterfall will spill evenly over the rocks instead of looking like a fireman’s hose. Because you will be dealing with a higher flow rate, a larger diameter tubing will be needed. Each diameter can handle a certain amount of flow; here is a handy chart to help you choose the best size tubing for your particular scenario.

Finding Proper Tubing Size for Optimum Gallons Per Hour (GPH)

Pump Size Tubing Size
500 GPH 1/2”
900 GPH 3/4”
1,500 GPH 1”
2,700 GPH 1-1/4”
3,600 GPH 1-1/2”
5,400 GPH 2-3/4”
13,500 GPH 3”
21,000 GPH 4”
42,000 GPH 6”

Maintaining your waterfall is as simple as using Oxy-Lift Defense to break debris free from the rocks and then rinsing the stream off with a hose or by running the waterfall pump.

Pond Talk: Have you installed a waterfall in your farm pond? Has it created any unique benefits or challenges in your pond?

Atlantic Tidal Wave Superflow Pumps

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