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Veterinarians warn you not to feed table scraps to your pets. But did you know that koi are the exception to this rule? Sure, you can spend money on fancy fish treats at the store, but in reality those treats are typically basic fish food packaged in a different shape. Why not share your table spread with your finned friends instead? Just make sure you choose these 8 healthy koi snack options!

1. Grapefruit – Cut the grapefruit into quarters before feeding to your koi. The sections float and your fish will be attracted at once. Make sure the skins don’t jam up your pump or skimmer. Also, don’t feed grapefruit to your koi too frequently as the vitamin C acid can scorch their lips and turn them to a pale pink. No harm done, just reduce the amount of grapefruit you feed them. Once per week is plenty.

 

2. Peas – Make sure the fish know you’re ready to feed them before you toss the peas into the pond. Peas sink fast and you don’t want uneaten peas polluting your pond. Some experts say the skins are hard to digest but peeling peas can be a tedious task. To make it easy, peel partially frozen peas. Give them a little squeeze and the pea pops right out of the skin and into the pond! Koi seem to really love them – as long as they know they’re there.

 

3. Sardines – You might be thinking it’s cannibalistic for koi to eat sardines. Regardless, they’re a healthy koi snack to serve in the summer. Thawed, chopped, frozen sardines are from salt water which means they’re less likely to carry parasites applicable to koi. Feed sardines to your koi in moderation.

 

4. Orange segments – Big fish will take mandarin orange segments right out of your hand! It’s a great party trick to impress your friends and family. Larger seedless oranges can be cut into quarters and fed to the fish, as well.

 

5. Cheerios – What child wouldn’t love to share some of their cereal with pond fish? Cheerios are low residue and low nitrogen. We’ve found that koi tend to prefer Honey Nut Cheerios.

 

6. Worms – okay, so you probably don’t serve worms at your dinner table, but nevertheless your koi will enjoy earthworms, Georgia reds, night crawlers, pinks, and others. Fresh, active earthworms are well accepted and safe, and when the first koi takes a bite, the rest will quickly catch on.

 

7. Romaine lettuce – Nutritionally invisible, but perhaps the least messy of greens for the fish to munch on. Don’t bother with iceberg lettuce. Get the darkest romaine you can find and cut it into six-inch long thin strips.

 

8. Watermelon – Koi like watermelon, but not as much as grapefruit. It doesn’t supply a lot of nutrition so keep this snack to a minimum.

Healthy Koi Snacks

Spring is in full swing and you notice your fish are swimming around the pond more while the water lilies are sprouting leaves. This time of year is such an exciting season for water gardeners! You might start to notice a slight drop in water level and wonder if you’re losing some water due to evaporation or whether you have a leak in your pond after experiencing a harsh winter. Understanding the basic principles of identifying and fixing leaks will help you repair the problem quickly and efficiently.

Backyard Aquascape Pond with Plantings

 

Evaporating Pond Water

First, let’s have a look at what evaporation is and what it isn’t. Evaporation is caused by water turning into a vapor and escaping from your pond. The amount of water loss will vary according to the region of the country and the time of year. Ponds that are located in areas of the country with moderate temperatures and high humidity can expect to see 1 to 1 ½ inches of water loss per week during the spring and summer. Most of this evaporation should be replaced naturally by rain. However, if you live in an area with high temperatures and low humidity, it’s possible to see 3 inches or more of evaporation in a week.

The quantity and size of your waterfall(s) also affects the amount of water that is lost. Regardless of the climate, a 4’x 6’pond with a 20-foot stream and 5 feet of cascading waterfalls may lose as much as 2 inches or more every day! Why? Splashing and moving water has greater exposure to additional evaporation than does the still water in the pond. If that same pond was 16′ x 21′, you’d probably never even notice the additional evaporation because it’s a larger pond.

Be advised, evaporation is not filling your pond up all the way one evening, and waking up the next morning to find the water six inches lower. That’s a leak! If your pond is experiencing a loss of water at a more rapid rate than normal evaporation, you likely have a leak and we’re here to help you find it.

Low Pond Edges 

Look for any low edges around your pond. Settling at the pond’s edge is the most common cause of a leak, especially if you own a new pond. Typically, the low edges are found around the stream and waterfall where settling may have occurred after a few rainfalls. These areas are usually built up during the construction of the pond using the soil from the excavation, and are prone to some settling.

Your first line of defense is to carefully inspect the edges of not only your stream and waterfall, but also the perimeter of the pond. As the dirt around the stream or waterfall settles, it can create low spots that may cause water to escape over the edge of the liner. Keep your eyes peeled for wet mulch or gravel, or muddy areas around the perimeter of your pond – this is a dead giveaway that you have a leak. If you find a spot that’s leaking, all you have to do is lift the liner up and push some soil under it in order to raise the edge. Bingo – leak fixed!

Another possibility is that water is splashing out of your stream. To fix a “splash leak,” all you have to do is adjust a few of the rocks under and around your waterfall. This contains or redirects the splash and effectively eliminates your splash leak problem without a lot of effort on your part.

 

How to Fix a Pond Leak

Obstructions in the Stream and Waterfalls 

Make a visual assessment of your stream or waterfall. Rocks and excessive plant or algae growth inside the stream, or even in your biological filter, can restrict the flow of water and divert it over the edge of the liner. Plants and algae should be maintained by trimming them back in order to let the water pass freely. If you don’t like pulling string algae out by hand, apply EcoBlast Contact Granular Algaecide to the affected areas.

Still Leaking? 

If you’ve done all of the above and your pond is still showing signs of a leak, don’t panic! You just need to do a little more investigating. Start by shutting your pump off for a day so you can determine the approximate location of the leak.

When the Water Drops

At this point, you may want to consider calling in a pond professional to locate and repair the leak, but you can do it yourself if you enjoy working in your pond:

Steady and Level 

If after turning off your pump for 24 hours you find the water level remains the same, then it is safe to assume that that the leak is not inside your pond. Your next step is to check the pipe, the plumbing fittings, and the pump connections for leaks.

Another possible culprit is the faceplate of your skimmer, if you have one. If the water level stopped dropping above the bottom of the faceplate, you should investigate the skimmer. It may not have sealed correctly.

If the Leak Is in the Skimmer …

Finding and fixing your leak doesn’t need to be a frustrating, complicated process. Start with the most obvious possibility (low edges) and work through our list to find your leak and repair your pond. You’ll soon be back to watching your friendly fish swim about the growing water lilies.

Many pond owners opt to locate their water garden in a shady location of the yard. This way, they can enjoy watching their fish while being protected from the heat of direct summer sun. While a shaded pond is ideal for cooling off in the summer, it can pose a problem for enjoying the beauty of water lilies. Most water lilies typically need a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight in order to produce beautiful blooms. Fortunately, there are a few hardy varieties that will bloom their hearts out with as little as three hours of sunlight per day. Following is our list of favorite shade tolerant water lilies categorized by color, along with their sunlight requirements.

 

Nymphaea James Brydon Water Lily

 

Red
James Brydon – 3 hours sun
Little Champion – 3 hours sun
Red Attraction – 3 hours sun

Yellow
Comanche – 3 hours sun
Texas Dawn – 3 hours sun
Joey Tomocik – 3 hours sun

Pink
Somptuosa – 4 hours sun
Arc-en-ceil – 4 hours sun

Peach
Peaches n Cream – 4 hours sun
Sioux – 4 hours sun

Miniature Varieties
Berit Strawn – 3 to 4 hours sun
Graziella – 3 to 4 hours sun
Helvola – 3 to 4 hours sun
Hermaine – 3 to 4 hours sun

Toss aside the notion that you can’t enjoy water lilies if you have a partially shaded pond. You can find shade tolerant water lilies at your local water gardening store, or you can order them online from a reputable aquatic plant retailer.

Shade Tolerant Water Lilies for Your Pond

More Water Lily Articles:

Why Choose Tropical Water Lilies

How to Plant a Water Lily

If you notice your fish being rambunctious in the pond during the spring season, you might assume the koi are fighting with one another. In reality, just the opposite is true. Your koi are spawning and it can be quite a sight to behold!

Koi are river fish with mechanisms developed for river life, which means that when it comes to producing offspring, they scatter their eggs everywhere rather than laying them in a neat and tidy nest like other pond fish. The mother and father koi never give their fry another thought and don’t provide any after-care. In your pond, all the same stuff happens as in a river, but you get to see more of the intimate details!

Magic in the Pond

Two things begin the process of koi spawning in your pond. First, the water warms up in the spring, and second, the days grow longer. These two changes in the environment cause hormones to be released by the fish, causing the female to become full (gravid) of eggs and the male poised and ready for fertilization!

The Spawning Dance

During the spring season you might witness your koi chasing each other around the pond; usually first thing in the morning. It’s a remarkable sight because large koi can really cause a raucous in the pond with their shenanigans. They will bull around the plants in a group, upsetting pots, rocks, roots – all for spawning. The female, usually a larger rounder fish, is “driven” by one or more males, and in their blind excitement, even females will join the pursuit of the female laying her eggs. They all get together going in one direction like, “Hey, it’s a Conga line!”

While you might assume this is too traumatic for the female koi, this flurry of activity has to happen because she has no ability to push her eggs out with her abdominal muscles. Instead, the eggs are basically leaked out of the fish from the passive pressure that comes with pushing the female fish around the pond, usually against something like a rock or some plant material. The males bump their heads into her flanks to provide the extra oomph needed to expel most of her eggs.

If there are no shallows, obstacles, or plants for the female to push into, it is unlikely, to almost impossible, that a female koi will spawn on her own. In plain liner ponds with no decorative elements, rocks, plants, or shallow areas, the fish have no obstacles to spawn against and they may require artificially induced spawning hormones.

It Can Get Pretty Rough

If you have a few koi in your pond, it’s important to know about spawning behavior because in the spring, you might be shocked and appalled to see your fish “fighting” when, in fact, they are not really fighting but are rushing each other in a spawn.

It’s also good to know that when the female koi gets rushed into the side of the pond, the shallows, or the rocks, she may endure some abrasion of her face and/or flanks. These will quickly heal under two conditions:

  1. Be alert to the number of females in your pond. Ideally, there should be about two males to every female. If there is a higher ratio of males to females, she becomes basically the only gal in the pond, and is pretty much rushed all day. When this happens, she can get pretty beat up and severe injury can occur. Remove any female that gets run for more than four hours.
  2. If the water quality is healthy and the important nitrogen numbers are all zero or nearly so, then she should be able to heal quickly and properly. If the water is high in ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, or if the pH is sagging low, the female will not heal well and infections are inevitable.

When you experience spawning in your pond and worry about the female, keep in mind that rocks under water are not abrasive! Give any rock three weeks under water and, unless it’s a foamy piece of lava rock, it’s going to be slick. The slime on rocks is called bio-film and it’s wonderment to the fish as well as a beneficial cleansing component for your water.

Now What?

Once spawning occurs in your pond, the water can get quite foamy.  You might want to perform a partial water change at this point.

In two days, the eggs released during spawning will hatch but they are so small that you really can’t see them. If you have gravel in your pond, it makes a great place for them to hide out, away from the danger of being eaten by bigger fish. They will hide there for another day or so using their yolk sac for energy then, when they are 24 to 36 hours old they will swim up into the foliage of the pond.  If you have no foliage, it’s a short story of delicious fry sushi and no babies the following day.

The fry eat microscopic plants and animals. If you have a pond with a coating of bio-film and a thin greenish layer of algae on things, then the fry will have plenty to eat. They grow fast. Unfortunately, some of the fry will be spied by their elder siblings and parents and enjoyed as a meal. Others will survive by color or cunning, and live to join the shoal.

Are They Really That Cute?

Baby fish (and young koi in general) grow an inch per month in the first year, especially in biologically filtered ponds with an abundant plant, cope-pod, nematode, rotifer, crustacean, molluscan, and protozoan-rich gravel bed to sustain them. In clean, liner-bottom, drained ponds, few fry live.

Of the babies that live, a very small percentage of fish will have colors of any appreciable pattern or brilliance. Fish of collectible quality are very rare, and are hand-selected from a hundred thousand babies by talented breeders in Japan who recognize good fish nearly at birth and discard all the rest. In your pond, of the hundred thousand offspring, a thousand will hatch and a hundred will live to even be seen by you. Of that hundred, 10 will get big enough to catch with a net and be examined, and of that 10, maybe one will be tolerable as a “keeper.”

The vast majority of spawned “homemade” babies in your pond will be grey or brown. This is partly because the genes for that color are extremely common, and that grey and brown are good survival colors for koi ponds. So these will be the dominant babies you’re left with.

A Word of Warning

A word on mixed populations of goldfish and koi – koi don’t like baby fish very much. Oh sure, in a pinch, they’ll consume them – probably more accidentally than intentionally. Goldfish, on the other hand, love baby fish – especially the big, chunky koi eggs and babies. When you keep koi and goldfish together in the same pond, the surviving babies will all be goldfish babies, not koi babies.

So if you want koi babies this spring, consider relinquishing your goldfish to another party who wants them, and keep just your koi.

Spring is simply the most exciting time of year. Birds return from their southern migration, furry critters waken from their winter slumber, trees are budding, and your pond fish are stretching and warming up their fins for summer swimming! The best thing you can do for the health of your pond this season is to clean your pond – whether it’s a deep cleaning or just a bit of sprucing up.

Take a good look at your pond and ask yourself, “Does my water feature need a full clean-out this season, or does it just need to be tidied up a little?” To help you decide, it’s worth knowing what to look for. First, if there is a layer of “crud” at the bottom of the pond and the water is dark in color, it would be a good idea to do a full clean-out.

How to Clean Your Pond

On the other hand, if there is just a small amount of debris that you can stir up and capture with a net and the water looks clear, a little tidying up is all that’s in order. If you’re going the full clean-out route, plan on spending a half to a full day to complete a pond clean-out. A Pondless® Waterfall will take considerably less time. You can, of course, hire a pond pro to clean your water feature for you.

The best time to perform a pond clean-out is the early spring, before your water garden completely awakens from its winter dormancy – ideally before the water temperature in the pond creeps above 55º F. If a clean-out is performed when the water is warmer, after bacteria colonies form, the balance of the ecosystem will be thrown off and your pond will go through another period of algae blooms before the bacteria colonies become re-established. Be patient, your pond will naturally balance itself provided you don’t have a fish overload.

Here’s what you need to clean your pond:

Drain the Pond Water

A Gentle Cleaning

Cleaning the Filters

Acclimating Pond Fish

For additional spring maintenance tips, watch our video with helpful tips to get your pond off to a good start:

 

 

When you have a beautiful pond, waterfall, or fountain, you want to enjoy it from every angle of your yard possible.  Since you spend a lot of time in and around your pond, you need a durable ground cover that can withstand lots of foot traffic. Check out these six favorite ground covers to aid in naturalizing the look of your water feature. (All photos courtesy of Midwest Groundcovers.)

Elfin Thyme

The purple blooms of this ornamental herb are displayed upon tiny evergreen leaves. The aromatic foliage will spill over edges of rocks and can withstand light foot traffic. Tuck this charmer in between stepping stones. Zones 4-8.
Thymus-Elfin

Platt’s Black Brass Buttons

This fuzzy carpet-like perennial displays striking bronze-black fern-like leaves. Tiny yellow flowers bloom in the spring, adding to this plant’s appeal. Great for rock gardens and planting in between flagstones, it fills in quickly to help prevent the spread of weeds. Enjoys moist, shady areas. Zones 5-10.

Black-Brass-Buttons

Irish Moss

Small white flowers dance in the spring on the deep green foliage of Irish Moss. Perfect for using along walkways or between stepping stones. This evergreen perennial is hardy in Zones 4-8.

Irish-Moss

Scotch Moss

Lush, light green to yellow moss-like foliage creates a soft mat underfoot, tolerating moderate traffic. Tiny white flowers appear in the spring and add to this evergreen perennial’s charm. Zones 4-8.

Scotch-Moss

John Creech Stonecrop

When you need to smother weeds, this scalloped green-leaf groundcover is the perfect solution. Pink flowers in the fall create a colorful layer. Great for tucking in between rocks. Zones 3-9.

Sedum-John-Creech

Blue Star Creeper

Tiny, light-blue star-like flowers appear in the spring between the tiny green leaves of this creeping perennial. Great for filling the edge of the pond as this little darling enjoys getting its feet wet. Can be used between stepping stones and other areas of high traffic. Zones 5-9.

Blue-Star-Creeper

 

Thanks to Matt Zerby, President of Wasco Nursery and Landscape in Wasco, IL for his assistance in choosing the top contenders!

 

PIN IT for later!

Ground Covers for Pond Pathways

Chagoi (Chah’-goy)

Chagoi KoiIf you want a fish with personality, look no further than the basic Chagoi. You’ll discover this pet is probably more intelligent than other koi in your pond too. It is almost universally agreed to be the friendliest of the koi classifications because it is the most aggressive at feeding time and almost always the first fish to become hand-tame. For this reason, the Chagoi is sometimes purchased solely for the purposes of taming the rest of a group, and not for its color. Once one fish starts eating from your hand, it’s not hard to bring the rest about.

The Chagoi is basically a brown koi, however a brown koi is not necessarily a Chagoi. Within that distinction, there are levels of quality and the discovery of valuable traits. If the basic Chagoi is a brown koi, what about the different shades of brown? Let’s discuss these and the other traits that make a “good” Chagoi.

Physical Characteristics

Chagoi KoiFirst, the fish should be big. Now, this doesn’t apply to the young fish, but you should be able to tell that the fish has been fat and robust all its life. As a young fish it should be an aggressive eater and it should be larger than all the other fish of the same age. As an adult, a Chagoi is prized most highly if it fulfills a destiny of great size – as much as 40 inches or more. That’s a big koi by any standard.

The fish should be blocky in its body shape. The base of the tail (knuckle) should be thick and fat. The head and shoulders should be broad, and no part of the fish should be slender or streamlined. The pectorals should be large and paddle shaped, and there should be no splits in the fins or the dorsal fin. And the eyes of a Chagoi should be active and bright, with the corneas being crystal clear.

A Fishnet Fish

Chagoi Koi in a groupLet’s also consider the color and pattern. There are two patterns of Chagoi – “with fukurin” and “without fukurin.” Fukurin (foo’-kure-in) is when each scale is highlighted with a black edging, giving the fish a “fishnet” pattern over the brown coloration. This may be missing in scaleless Chagois and in some of the Chagoi colors. Personal preference will dictate which style you desire.

With or without fukurin, the more “lined up” the scales are, the better the fish. For example, let’s say you have two Chagoi of exactly the same color and size. Both are chunky through the body and have large paddle-like pectoral fins. To determine the difference between the two, you would look at the alignment of the scales. If the rows were nice and straight like a corncob, then the fish with the straightest, most uniform rows would be awarded the point for scale pattern.

With Diamond Shimmer

Chagoi can also occur in a ginrin (jin’-rin or geen’-leen) scalation. This occurs when proteins inside the scale (under the epidermis) are thrown up in folds, refracting light and giving the scales a diamond shimmer. There’s nothing quite as nice as a Rootbeer Chagoi with ginrin in its scales. Ahhhh!

Varying Shades of Brown

The color of the Chagoi can vary and listed here are a few of the more popular options.
Rootbeer Chagoi – There’s probably a fancy name for this color but it’s more fun to call them Rootbeer Chagoi. These Chagoi are brown, but it’s an intense, reddish-brown. Rootbeer Chagoi are available with and without fukurin.

Green Chagoi – Green Chagoi tend to be the friendliest of all the Chagoi color varieties. This is probably because the green Chagoi always appear to be the hungriest. Secondly, even though the green Chagoi eventually turns brown, the green gives away (early) the fact that the fish is going to have truly masterful size. The best Chagoi when they are young, less than three to four years old, are tan-greenish. When the green Chagoi eventually turns brown, the final brown color it attains is an amber-blonde that is superior to the plain brown of the normal Chagoi. Green Chagoi also come with and without fukurin.

Brown Chagoi – If you have a brown Chagoi, it probably should have fukurin in it to define it from a common carp. The brown Chagoi is the most numerous of the Chagois and will make you very happy.

Chagoi-Utsuri or Cha-Utsuri (oot-surr’-ee) –This fish is brown with a black fukurin pattern, but the fish is bruised with black smudges. The deeper and more distinct the black, and the more organized the pattern is, the better the fish is. Chagoi Utsuri exist with a weak black pattern that is unevenly spread over the body, and there are those that are very artistic-looking, with deep black markings evenly distributed from left to right and front to back. Such a fish should be bought on sight. You will rarely ever see these and regret goes a long way when you realize how rare these are.

The Chagoi has relatives such as the Ochiba Shagure and the Sorogoi but, for now, as you consider getting a Chagoi, consider that while the fish has a humble color, it is in fact highly prized for redeeming traits such as size, scale alignment, and attitude. You will love your new Chagoi! And don’t forget, as with any new fish, please be sure to quarantine all new fish being added to your collection.

Decorative water features are a unique and beautiful way to give your landscape a fresh face. Fountains and Patio Ponds are quick and affordable landscape ideas to add a splash of water to your outdoor living spaces. We’ve gathered some of our favorite small space water features to inspire you to add the sound of water to your gardens.

Our newest fountain is the Stacked Slate Sphere that looks great in any setting! Enhance a walkway or patio with this water feature that’s available in three sizes. Group them together for a statement piece in your landscape.

Stacked Slate Sphere - the perfect small space water feature for any yard or landscape

 

The Stacked Slate Sphere is available in three sizes and you can light it up at night, too. Birds and butterflies will visit the fountain for refreshment and you’ll enjoy gazing upon its beauty both day and night. Fill an unused space in your yard with this stunning fountain.

Stacked Slate Sphere - the perfect small space water feature for any yard or landscape

 

 

Made with the same finish, a Stacked Slate Wall is impressive wherever you tuck it into your landscape. You can link these together to create a unique focal point. Of course, they look great as a single fountain too.

Stacked Slate Wall Fountain for Landscapes and Gardens

 

Decorative fountains are popping up in yards all over the country as more homeowners look for unique ways to improve the curb appeal of their house. An underground reservoir holds the pump and water that recirculates through the fountain. You’ll find a variety of fountain styles to suit your taste and budget.

Small Space Water Features Include Fountains, Urns, Spheres, Walls, and Container Water Gardens

 

A trio of stone fountains welcomes visitors to this suburban home, adding to the home’s value with its increased curb appeal. Rather than an expanse of grass or a large bush, the homeowners opted for beautiful fountain rocks which can be seen through their living room picture window.

Rock Fountain Trio

 

If you prefer something a little more elegant, you might enjoy a series of bowls spilling into each other. The best part of Aquascape Spillway Bowls is that you can link several together in a variety of patterns.

Aquascape Spillway Bowl Fountain

 

Birds and butterflies enjoy visiting outdoor fountains to enjoy a refreshing splash or nourishing drink. Every nature lover will enjoy the many benefits of decorative small space water features. And why stop with just one fountain?  Place them in nooks and crannies throughout your garden spaces.

Birds in Fountain

 

One of the fastest-growing trends in outdoor living features is the combination of fire and water. Our popular Fire Fountain creates a soft, pleasing sound of water as it flows over and around the pebbles. Fire adds a surprising element that looks great at night, too.

Aquascape Fire Fountain for Deck or Patio

 

Aquascape Fire Fountain for Deck or Patio

 

Miniature water gardens, also known as Patio Ponds, are becoming increasingly popular on patios and decks. These small-scaled ponds provide the opportunity to enjoy beautiful waterlilies in a variety of colors. You can even add small fish like Rosy Reds. Kids love watching the tiny fish swim and you can bring them indoors when winter rolls around.

Patio Pond or Mini Pond - grow aquatic plants and enjoy the hobby of fish keeping

 

 

Patio Pond or Mini Pond - grow aquatic plants and enjoy the hobby of fish keeping

 

Whatever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the beauty and refreshment that a small water feature adds to your outdoor living spaces!

Small Space Water Features

Enjoy more inspiration by visiting our backyard landscape ideas filled with water feature inspiration!

AquLocal news radio station, WBBM News Radio, visited Aquascape, Inc. to interview Founder and CEO, Greg Wittstock. Julie Mann asked Greg about his journey from pond hobbyist at the age of 12, to his successful company today. Listen to the podcast and watch the video below:

 

 

The beauty of a pond is something everyone can appreciate. A flash of golden fish swimming in clean, clear water beneath the pads of waterlilies is a sight to behold and enjoy. Add the sound of a running waterfall and you have a dream come true in your backyard.

Keeping pond water clean and clear is the basis for a healthy pond that requires little to no maintenance. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to create a proper pond environment that benefits your fish and plants. Follow our not-so-secret steps to ensure a naturally-balanced, low maintenance pond throughout the year!

Circulation: Make sure your pond pump is the correct size for your pond and waterfall. A pump provides valuable aeration to the water. Several variables need to be considered when choosing a pump, such as the size of your pond and the height of your waterfall. Aquascape makes it easy to select the right size pump with our brand new Pond Pump Selection Guide.

Aquascape Waterfall Powered by Pond Pump

Filtration: More often than not, when answering questions about pond water quality, we find that people don’t have proper filtration installed on their pond. If you had your pond built by a Certified Aquascape Contractor, you should have no worries. But for others, you want to make sure your pond has both a biological filter and a mechanical skimmer. The biological filter is the start of your waterfall and adds beneficial bacteria to your pond. The mechanical skimmer is similar to a pool skimmer, removing surface debris such as leaves and sticks. Ideally, you want to position the biological filter and skimmer at opposite ends of the pond. This ensures movement throughout the entire pond so you don’t end up with stagnant areas.

Rocks and Gravel: Ponds can be made various ways. Some are created with concrete, others with a simple pond liner. We believe in an ecosystem approach to the pondering lifestyle and use rocks and gravels in our ponds, after installing underlayment and liner. Gravel provides much-needed surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. Your fish will graze on these bacteria, as well. The gravel won’t be a breeding ground for muck and debris if you ensure that your low maintenance pond has the proper pump and filtration. The ecosystem works together so it’s important not to eliminate any of the elements.

Aquascape Ecosystem Koi Pond with Deck

Fish: While fish keeping is fun, your finned friends play an important part in the overall ecosystem of your pond. They eat algae and their waste becomes fertilizer for your pond plants. Too many fish, however, can pose a problem. A good rule of thumb is to limit your fish load to no more than 10” of fish per 100 gallons of water. So if you have a 20 fish at various lengths totaling 300” when combined, then you need a 3,000 gallon pond.

Plants: Plants play a critical role in the pond’s ecosystem due to their filtering capabilities. Plants absorb nutrients from fish waste and help starve algae of its food. During hot summer months, make sure to have at least 40% of your pond’s surface covered with plants. You can accomplish this with waterlilies and various marginals like mosaic plant, or floating plants like water lettuce and water hyacinth.

And now you know the secret to a truly low maintenance pond. Start with the basics and create a naturally balanced pond with a combination of proper circulation, filtration, fish, plants, and rock and gravel. You’ll be amazed at how easy pond-keeping can be!

For more information, download our e-book, How to Keep Pond Water Clean and Healthy.

When the temperature starts to plummet, pond owners ask themselves how they can keep their pond running properly during the winter months. Follow our winter tips to keep your pond running optimally throughout the season.

Keep a hole in the ice: Once the temperature starts to drop below freezing, you will notice the surface of your pond icing over. Your first instinct might be to rescue your fish before the pond freezes solid! No need to worry about your fish turning into ice cubes provided your pond is at least two feet deep. The fish will hibernate at the bottom of the pond where the water doesn’t freeze. You do however, need to make sure that you keep a hole in the ice for the exchange of gases so the pond doesn’t become toxic to your finned friends.

 

Winter Pond Keeping Tips: Keep a Hole in the Ice

 

Don’t poke unnecessary holes in the ice: This hole in the ice is different from the aforementioned hole that’s necessary to keep your fish safe. In the winter you might notice ice build-up (especially around the waterfalls) that prevents your water flow from reaching the surface. Your first instinct might be to break off some of this ice which can create new holes.

The ice formations on your pond act as a barrier between the cold air outside and the water running underneath it. Busting open the ice in multiple areas exposes the running water to freezing temperatures for a second time. Now all the newly exposed water begins to freeze and creates even more ice than before. Consequentially, your water source will be depleted from this build-up of ice and you’ll find yourself having to top off your pond more frequently than you’d like.

Breaking open other small holes in your pond is also ill-advised. When you create a small hole across your pond, the water underneath will start to flow on top of the surrounding ice. This prevents your water source from running underneath the ice to reach your pump down below, and now your pond is leaking. To correct this, you need to carefully open another hole near your pump so all the water running on top of the ice will flow back into this new hole.

 

Winter Pond Keeping Tips: Keep a Hole in the Ice

 

Watch for water running over ice buildup: Sometimes you might notice that an area of ice has water running over it and out of the pond. This can happen near the waterfalls where water tends to splash and ice builds up creating a dam. Water coming over the falls might be diverted outside of the pond when this happens. To correct this, you need to carefully open a hole where the damming occurs so water runs freely over the falls and into the pond. A good way to eliminate a buildup of ice is to pour warmer water over it to melt the ice dam.

It’s vital to keep a vigilant eye on an operational pond in freezing conditions. Although creating holes in the surface ice can cause problems, keep in mind you do need at least one good-sized hole for the exchange of gas and oxygen to keep your koi alive. You can use the AquaForce pump to accomplish this, or use the Pond De-Icer, or both. Creating this hole releases all the gases trapped under the ice, while also providing oxygen to your pond fish. Follow our winter pond-keeping tips and your fish will thank when spring rolls around!

 

Watch our video with more winter pond tips:

New pond owners often inquire about the health and safety of their fish during the winter months. As long as your pond does not freeze to the bottom and an air hole is provided on the pond’s surface, your fish will survive the winter. If your pond is at least two-feet deep, the proximity of the earth to the pond’s surface will keep the pond from freezing any deeper than eight inches.  That leaves 16” for the fish to lounge around and hibernate over the winter.

Use an Aquascape Pond De-Icer to maintain a hole in your pond’s ice and allow for the exchange of gasses (like oxygen).  Supplemental oxygen can also be supplied by running your waterfalls, adding a pond aerator, or using a pond pump like the AquaForce to churn the water near the surface.

Your pond fish will become dormant during the winter once water temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. This is also the point at which you should stop feeding them. The enzymes needed for the digestion of most koi food is lacking once the weather turns frosty. You don’t want your fish to eat and then languor in the cold water as their metabolism slogs the food through. In very cold water, fish simply don’t eat.

Take care of your koi and pond fish during the winter months to ensure a healthy life for them well into spring and beyond.

Winter Fish Care

Caring for your pond during the winter months can mean different things depending on where you live. If you’re fortunate enough to reside in a mild climate, simply removing your pond’s excess debris and adding Aquascape Activated Pond Carbon should set you up for the winter.

If you live in the north where the snow flies, you may already notice ice formations on your pond and waterfall as early as November.

Waterfall During the Winter

During these frosty months, you can either keep your pond running for the winter, or shut it down. To shut your pond down, first unplug the pump, pull it out of the pond, and store it in a frost-free location, submerged in a bucket of water to keep the seals from drying out.

Pond Shutdown for the Fish

If you have fish and live in a climate cold enough to cause your pond to freeze over, you need to be aware of two things. First, is oxygenating the water. To do this, place an aerator or small pump like the AquaForce® Pond Pump on the second shelf of your pond so it bubbles right at the surface of the water. This will replace the oxygenation that your waterfalls were taking care of during the pond season.

In all but extremely low temperatures, the bubbling of the pump will also keep a hole open in the ice to allow for gas exchange. This is the second thing that you need to do for your fish. A hole in the ice allows the escape of harmful gasses created by decay of organic matter that would otherwise build up under the ice.

Winter Pond Keeping - Maintain a Hole in the Ice

If your geographic area experiences long periods of exceptionally cold weather, the pump won’t be enough to keep a hole open in the ice, and you’ll want to consider adding a floating Aquascape 300-Watt Pond De-Icer. Controlled by a thermostat, the unit only runs when the water temperature is at or below freezing, heating only the surrounding water to just above freezing, and then shutting off again.

The best thing you can do if you live in extremely cold climates is to incorporate a combination of the pump and floating deicer. Be sure to position them so the two units are not near each other, otherwise the pond de-icer will run continuously in order to heat the that water that’s constantly being circulated by the pump.

Beautiful Ice Sculptures

Leaving your pond up and running is an option many people prefer. Not only does the waterfall and/or stream provide the beautiful sound of running water, but also the freezing water creates outstanding ice sculptures along the stream and waterfall area. The water movement created by running the pond during the winter also eliminates the need for additional oxygenation of the water.

There are many benefits to operating your pond and waterfall year-round, but there are also a couple things you need to watch out for. As the water in the falls or stream freezes, the possibility of water loss due to ice damming is increased. When the ice freezes, a dam that pushes the flowing water over the edge of the liner can be created. This isn’t always a problem, but it is something that you need to be aware of and watch out for.

You might be surprised to learn, that even during the winter, running water is still exposed to evaporation. Although water loss in your pond is considerably less than during warm months, you will still need to add water to make up for this loss. Simply keep an eye on your pond’s water level during the winter months and top off as needed.

Whether you choose to shut down your pond or leave it running during the winter months, a bit of minor maintenance is all that’s needed to ensure that your pond will perform optimally when warmer breezes begin to blow.

How to Maintain a Pond During the Winter Season

You’ve enjoyed watching and feeding your fish all summer, and now it’s time to help them prepare for their winter’s nap. You want to make sure your fish are strong and healthy as Old Man Winter makes his way to your pond. A well-balanced diet is critical to the health of your fish.

 

Feeding Fish in the Fall

 

When pond temperatures fall below 60-degrees, your fishes’ metabolism and digestive system begins to slow down. Investing in a pond thermometer will help you determine when to change the eating regimen of your beloved finned friends.

Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food has been scientifically formulated to provide quality nutrition to all pond fish, including goldfish and koi. The inclusion of spirulina and wheat germ helps make the food easier to digest at colder water temperatures. Feeding your fish the proper food will help ensure your fish survive their winter slumber.

When spring rolls around and you’re anxiously waiting to see your playful koi once again, you’ll be glad you took consideration in the fall to properly care for them. And remember, you can feed them Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food up until the pond water rises above 60-degrees!

 

Watch our video showcasing the features and benefits of Aquascape Fish Food:

A nip in the air, shorter days, and the shedding of multi-colored leaves from the trees signifies a changing of the seasonal guard. Gardeners across the country take precautions to protect their landscapes from the harsh reality of winter. Water features in the landscape require special consideration when putting your pond to bed for a long winter’s nap. Pond maintenance chores in the fall and winter vary depending on where you live, but there are some basic guidelines to help your aquatic plants and finned friends weather the chill of Mother Nature. Following is a handy check list to help ensure a healthy pond come spring time.

10 Tips for Fall Pond Care

 

  1. Decaying leaves and foliage produce toxic gases that can harm your fish so you want to remove this debris before winter rolls into town. You don’t need to remove every single last leaf, but try to remove the majority.
  2.  If you put Protective Pond Netting over your pond before the leaves started to fall, your job is easy. Carefully roll up the net and discard the leaves that were caught.
  3. If you didn’t use a net over the surface of your pond, you’ll need to remove the build-up of leaves from the bottom of the pond. Use a long handled pond net to scoop them out. Check your skimmer basket and remove any leaves that are still caught inside.
  4. Add Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria to the pond once the temperature drops below 50 degrees. Use twice weekly for two weeks, and then once per week until the water starts to freeze.
  5. Stop fertilizing your aquatic plants after the first frost.
  6. Trim back hardy marginal aquatic plants to 2″ above the water to keep the dead foliage from drooping over into the pond.
  7. Trim back waterlily leaves and stems to 2-3″ above the base of the plant. This keeps dead foliage from decomposing in the pond.
  8. If you left hardy waterlilies in their pot, drop them into the deepest part of the pond to over-winter. Do not bring them indoors as they need a period of dormancy.
  9. Bring tropical waterlilies indoors if you want to over-winter them. Keep the pot in 50-degree water or take them out of the pot and store in sand. Be advised, even trained horticulturists lose a lot of tropical waterlilies when storing them indoors, so you might simply want to treat them as annuals.
  10. Once temperatures drop to 50 degrees, stop feeding your fish. They need to get ready to hibernate and you’ll want to avoid any metabolic complications. You can feed them Cold Water Fish Food until the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

Depending on where you live, the seasonal change from summer to fall is apparent by the beautiful, multi-colored leaves and the dip toward cooler temperatures. How will that chill you feel in the air affect the aquatic plants in your pond paradise?

Caring for Aquatic Plants in the Fall - Aquascape

Hardy Marginals

Dropping temperatures signal your hardy aquatic plants to prepare for their winter dormancy. At this time, you should stop fertilizing them as you see leaves begin to yellow and brown. It’s okay to leave these plants where they are in your pond to weather the cold of winter, just be sure to trim the dying foliage of your marginal plants down to 2” above the water level.

Tropical Marginals

In warm climates, tropical marginals will keep growing and will require fertilizer as usual. Water gardeners who live in Zones colder than 8 or 9 will need to treat these plants as they would any garden annual by replacing them each season. A fun alternative to this is to treat them as tropical houseplants and bring them in for the winter. Most tropical marginals will do well potted in heavy garden soil in a sealed clay pot with no drainage holes. When kept wet, the plants do well in a sunny window or sunroom.

Waterlilies

Waterlilies will also begin to show their dislike for the cold with yellowing leaves and fewer flowers. When this happens, the leaf and flower stems of hardy water lilies should be cut back to about 2 to 3” above the base of the plant.

In warm climates, tropical waterlilies are happy in the pond year round, as long as the water temperature stays above 60°F. In areas where freezing is likely, plants should be overwintered indoors. This can be a difficult task; therefore many gardeners choose to simply buy a new plant each season.

Lotus Aquatic Plants

As with the marginals in your pond, the foliage of your lotus plants will need to be trimmed back after they have died back and turned brown. It’s important not to cut the leaves while they are still green because the freshly cut, hollow stems are susceptible to disease which can spread to the plant’s tuber, possibly killing the plant. Lotus tubers will not withstand freezing, so any plants that are growing in the shallow areas of your pond should be moved to the bottom, away from freezing water.

Caring for your aquatic plants in the fall will mean less work and healthier plants come spring.

Fish dart beneath lily pads while the melodious sound of a waterfall tickles your ears. The fragrance of clean water and nearby flowers intoxicates your senses. Enjoying a naturally-balanced pond in your own outdoor setting is an attainable luxury every homeowner can experience. Your personal vacation spot begins with clean and healthy pond water.

 

Healthy Ecosystem Pond with Fish, Koi, and Plants

 

In addition to plants, fish, aeration, and rocks and gravel, a low-maintenance ecosystem pond requires adequate filtration to keep the water clean and clear.  Three types of pond filters are available on the market and include biological, mechanical, and sterilizers.  Biological filters use bacteria to break down pond wastes, converting them into less harmful compounds that can be used as aquatic plant fertilizers.  Mechanical filters trap and remove debris and sediment.  Water sterilizers pass water through a tube that houses an ultraviolet bulb, killing living microscopic particles in the water.

A good biological filtration system, teamed with a proper mechanical filter to remove solids before the water enters the biological filtration unit, is the most effective way to filter water.  With adequate biological and mechanical filtration, the need for sterilizers is eliminated altogether, thereby ensuring a natural ecosystem pond.

 

Clean and Clear Garden Pond with Proper Pond Filtration

 

The Job of a Pond Skimmer

The main function of mechanical filtration, or pond skimmer, is to remove debris before it sinks to the bottom of the pond and decays. The skimmer also houses and hides the pump and plumbing from view, as opposed to being placed directly in the pond where they become an eyesore.

There are two main types of skimmers: box skimmers and floating skimmers.  Both types filter the water by removing floating debris and waste before it’s had a chance to fall to the bottom of the pond.  The box skimmer is the predominant type of skimmer on the market today because it’s easy to maintain.

Box-style skimmers come with either vertical or horizontal filter mats.  Horizontal mats prove to be the most effective, while providing the least amount of maintenance. In addition to frequent cleaning, vertical mats need to be constantly monitored to make sure there is enough water in the pump chamber for the pump to operate properly.  An advantage of horizontal filter mats is that they lay flat so there is no sagging and they don’t lose their shape.  They also never clog to the point of preventing water from passing through, so the pump chamber won’t run dry.

As water enters the skimmer, the large debris is caught in the skimmer basket and the water is then further filtered through the horizontal mat.  The pond water then travels through the plumbing buried underground, up to the biological filter where it’s further treated before re-entering the pond.

 

Biological Pond Filtration Goes to Work

The biological filter receives water that has already passed through the mechanical filter, or skimmer, typically placed on the opposite side of the pond.  The water enters the biological filter via flexible pipe located near the base of the unit.  The water then flows from the bottom to the top of the filter, traveling through filter media housed inside the unit.  The filter media helps with the removal of fine to medium-sized particles.  The larger debris was already removed by the skimmer.

As the biological filter fills, it will overflow and cascade over its waterfall lip, cascading down rocks that have been set to create a beautiful, natural-looking waterfall.  The waterfall creates aeration for the pond, assisting in the circulation and health of the water

Biological filters on the market today range in size and can filter ponds up to 10,000 gallons.  For larger ponds, multiple biological filters can be incorporated into the design.

 

Illustration Showing How a Healthy Pond Functions with Proper Pond Filtration

 

The Science Behind the Design

Mechanical and biological filtration are critical to processing the many types of nutrients found in a pond ecosystem, including fish waste, uneaten fish food, leaves, and runoff from lawns to name a few.  High levels of ammonia (a form of nitrogen) are highly toxic to fish and are a major contributor to prolific algae growth, and so they need to be carefully controlled.  In water gardening, the primary nutrient that biological filtration utilizes and renders usable is nitrogen.

In biological filtration, nitrifying bacteria, known as facultative bacteria, absorb ammonia, and turn nitrites into nitrates, which are less dangerous.  These bacteria require oxygen to live, so it’s important for the pond’s pump to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  If the pump isn’t running, the waterfalls aren’t flowing, and aeration is eliminated from the necessary equation to maintain an ecosystem pond.  Keep in mind that if the pump shuts down, the bacteria will quickly use up all of the oxygen and die.  This isn’t a good thing.

Nitrates are then removed from the pond by another biological filtration method known as de-nitrification.  This process occurs only in anaerobic (without oxygen) areas of the pond.  That’s why it’s not necessarily bad for some areas of the pond to experience minimal water flow (such as on the bottom of the pond, under an inch or so of gravel).  The bacteria that live in this area of the pond turn nitrates into nitrogen gas, which is released into the atmosphere.  Nitrates are also absorbed by aquatic plants and algae during their growth processes.  A pond without aquatic plants will prove to be a maintenance nightmare.

For any biological filtration to work, there literally needs to be billions of bacteria working to purify the water.  They prefer to anchor onto things, which is why surface area is so important.  More surface area means more bacteria, and more bacteria means better biological filtration.  Surface area is provided by filter media, rocks, and gravel.  A pond with gravel on the bottom will contain more surface area for bacteria, as opposed to a pond with exposed liner on the bottom.

 

Backyard Garden Pond with Fish, Koi, Plants, Rock, and Gravel 

 

The Role of Aquatic Plants

            Another important component to pond filtration is the use of plants. Many gardeners add a pond to their landscape for the variety of aquatic plants available, and while their beauty is certainly an aesthetic asset, a critical benefit is the work these plants do to help filter the water. Plants help purify pond water by reducing nutrients, filtering out sediments and absorbing toxic compounds through the process of phytoremediation.

If these excess nutrients are not removed, algae will feed on them, resulting in green water, string algae, or both. Algae control is not the only way plants help create a low-maintenance ecosystem pond. Submerged and marginal plants also provide food, shade, and protection for the fish and other wildlife that live in and around the pond.

Low-Maintenance Pond Experience

To keep pond water quality high, the simple process of repeatedly turning the water over through the mechanical and biological filters is needed in order to create a naturally balanced, low-maintenance ecosystem pond.  Add the remaining components of plants, fish, aeration, rock, and gravel, and you’ll find greater success in maintaining clean and clear pond water.

Your fish are happier and less stressed when their environment is healthy. Not to mention, it’s so much more enjoyable when you can actually see your fish swimming in clean water created by an efficient pond filtration system.

More About Pond Filtration:

Aquascape Pond Filtration Systems

7 Tips to Keep Pond Water Clean

The Secret to a Trouble-Free Pond

Inspired by our own construction crew, the Aquascape Spillway Bowl, Basin and Stand allows for an unlimited amount of installation possibilities. The Aquascape Spillway Bowl and Basin can be installed as a standalone disappearing water feature, or several spillway bowls can be linked together for an amazing display. Aquascape Spillway Bowls can also be used in combination with the Aquascape Large AquaBasin®.

The Aquascape Spillway Bowl creates a beautiful spilling water feature that can be added to any pond or pool creating an instant waterfall.

The Aquascape Spillway Bowl creates a beautiful spilling water feature that can be added to any pond or pool creating an instant waterfall. Spillway Bowls can also easily be linked together creating a unique modern standalone water feature.

Aquascape Spillway Bowls can also easily be linked together creating a unique modern standalone water feature.

Watch our video for more information about Aquascape Spillway Bowls:

Every water gardener has their favorite aquatic plants, but how well do you know the varieties available?  Test your aquatic plant knowledge by taking our short quiz!  See if you can identify these beauties by their photo and description. (Answers at the end.)

Know Your Aquatic Plants

 

1.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
The feathery fronds of this plant make an impressive statement when used along waterfalls. As it grows, it cascades over the rocks providing a lacy green touch of interest. Pinch it off during the growing season and you’ll have more plants to use along the edges or stream.

2.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
Part of a large family of what are commonly called waterlily-like plants, their leaves float at the surface of the water while the roots are anchored in soil below – much like the habit of a waterlily. This plant is constantly reproducing, spreading runners out along the surface of the pond.  Available in white, yellow, and orange blooms.

3.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
This little plant is great for concealing edges and works well in shallow areas of the pond or stream. It softens the look of the pond’s edge and is easy to manage. Delightful, small yellow flowers add pops of color to your water feature.

4.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
A beautiful plant consisting of red and green diamond-shaped leaves in 3-6″ wide rosettes. In the summer, this floating plant produces sunny yellow cup-shaped flowers. Easy to grow, the plant provides a place for your finned friends to hide underneath.

5.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
Truly stunning creatures in the water garden, these bloomers are often the reason why many gardeners add a pond to their landscape. These beauties are characterized by amazing flowers representing all colors in the light spectrum … red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (including the collective white), and a number of shades in between. Available in both hardy and tropical varieties.

6.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
Purple flowers bloom on this aromatic plant in late summer/early fall.  It’s attractive to butterflies and bees and is often selected for the water garden due to its pretty foliage. It grows 2-3’ high.

7.

 Aquascape Plant Quiz
Grown along the edges of a pond or stream, this striking plant gets its name from the appearance of its drooping flower stalks. Dark green, heart-shaped leaves grow about 5 inches long. This plant is a popular perennial that blooms from June to September.

8.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
Fuzzy green rosettes with dangling roots float on the surface of the pond, soaking up nutrients in the water which helps to prevent excessive growth of algae. A mass of them shades the water, helping to keep pond water cool during hot summer months while providing protection for your fish from predators.

9.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
This quirky plant lends a punch of personality to the pond and can be planted in shallow edges up to 4”. The twisted grass-type plant comes in many varieties such as “Blue Medusa” and “Unicorn.”

10.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
This charmer’s leaves float on the surface of the pond while trailing vines spread under the water. An easy grower, this plant is great for surface coverage and algae elimination.  It also provides protection for your fish from predators. Although pretty, it can be invasive.

11.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
This dainty flowering plant thrives along the edges of a pond and in the streambed. This perennial’s tiny blue flowers bloom all summer long. Tuck it between rocks to soften the edges of your pond.

12.

Aquascape Plant Quiz
Only two species of this plant exist … American and Asiatic. Grown and bred for centuries, these two species have resulted in numerous hybrids that range in size and color. The flowers are gorgeous in appearance and the leaves are also quite striking. Typically grown in pots, inside or outside of the pond.

Answers

  1. Parrots Feather 
  2. Water Snowflake
  3. Creeping Jenny
  4. Mosaic Plant
  5. Waterlilies
  6. Aquatic Mint
  7. Lizards Tail
  8. Water Lettuce
  9. Corkscrew Rush 
  10. Water Clover
  11. Forget Me Not
  12. Lotus

In certain circles, when you mention butterfly koi it’s like speaking out of turn in an audience with the president. You just don’t do this. Quite a few koi connoisseurs think of butterfly koi as “mutts,” and some say that butterfly koi aren’t even koi. Others, however, happen to think butterfly koi can be the finest koi in any collection, depending on several factors – size, pattern, and finnage.

Butterfly Koi in an Aquascape Pond

First, let’s consider where butterfly koi originated. In the early 80s, a population of common, brown and grey carp with long fins were found in a series of canals and ditches in Indonesia. A company in New York took an interest and brought the fish into the U.S. and sold some. They did not sell well because they were ugly. However, an enterprising and curious group of breeders at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery placed an order for a dozen of these fish to see what the heck they were. Ugly, with long fins, is what they discovered. Over the next several years they bred these large, long finned mutations with their finest regular-fin koi and made several discoveries.

The original breeder at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery who spearheaded the cultivation of long-fin koi was a man named Wyatt LeFever. His son Randy made his way to the tanks to see the fish. As he regarded the fish with interest, he observed, “Dad, they look like Butterflies!” The name stuck.

The Relation of Size and Value

As Butterfly koi grow, they become more and more impressive because the fins keep growing until the blood vessels can’t sustain the fins to be any longer. The older the fish, the longer and more impressive the finnage. So, a full-grown butterfly koi looks like a long, slinky dragon moving through the water. Their barbels (whiskers) even grow long and can fork into elaborate designs.

Butterfly koi seem to lack some of the body size of regular koi, but the overall fish can run as long as 36 to 40 inches in the right pond with plenty of food. They are graceful and pleasant to watch swim.

Butterfly Koi in an Aquascape Pond

What about Pattern?

Since pattern seems to mean a great deal to the value of a regular koi, it makes logical sense that a good, standard pattern with bright colors would increase the value of a butterfly koi too, but there are a few notable additions. While a butterfly koi is more valuable when it has a properly defined and positioned pattern in the color, beautiful fins can often make even a poorly patterned fish look beautiful.

In addition, lemon and platinum ogons (solid color) in the butterfly category are awesome as adults. When you grow a metallic yellow or platinum ogon butterfly to an impressive, large size, their body movement is more graceful and slow. The fins are long, but the uniform gold or neon-white color is brilliant in the water and such fish look like fireballs or comets moving through the water with their “fire” (fins) streaming behind them. Gorgeous!

Notable Butterfly Koi Types

Sorogoi are incredible as adults in the butterfly class, as well. A sorogoi is the overall grey fish with the “fukurin” or black fish net pattern over the body. So, taking that color and putting it on a large, impressive adult butterfly koi gives you what rather appears as a grey sea monster moving through the water. Its subdued colors don’t attract the eye at first, but then you see its graceful, lengthy body and fins moving around below you and you are taken aback by both the robustness of the fish (they grow huge) and its mysterious, grey color.

Even better than that are black butterflies – which are, by far the coolest fish. They are seldom found, so the effect is rare and special when it happens. The black butterfly may be with or without scales. The rarest and most valuable of this type is the doitsu, karasu butterfly. This fish is black, has no scales, and has long fins.

Black Beauties

Black butterflies grow up and become very large because their genes are not as strained as some of the brighter colored fish. And if they have no scales, the body is a glistening jet-black. The fins keep growing until the entire fish is broad, and streams long black robes behind it. They look like a jet-black dragon.

And when a visitor to your pond is feeding your fish at the side of the pond, suddenly, a large black shadow looms up from the depths. Larger it gets, until they realize that there is no color, the fish is just a shadow and when the fish takes the food, it turns and swirls down out of sight with a flourish of long, black fins. “What was that?” they usually stammer. “That is the shadow. He’s our black fish, which the Japanese have always regarded as a lucky fish,” you reply. The fully mature black butterfly koi is surely one of the most memorable fish a kid could ever encounter or feed. With such a fish, you own a living breathing shadow dragon.

Basic facts about butterfly koi

Oh Those Fins!

In a discussion of butterfly koi, we should talk a tiny bit more about the fins. The butterfly koi fins are long because of a genetic aberration resulting in the length growth gene failing to turn off. In fish, the fins are supposed to grow to a genetically specified length, and then stop growing. But in the high fin mutation the fins don’t get the “stop growth” message and they keep growing. This happens in individual fish of many species from time to time. Some notable examples are Siamese fighting fish, Simpson’s hi fin swordtails, long fin oscars, and long fin black tetras. Any time the mutation is encountered and identified, it is bred into a species to see if it would make that species more economically important commercially.

Like any other koi, the fins of the butterfly koi are made up of dozens of rays of cartilage that radiate outward and support the fin. These rays generally grow very straight, but past the point of normal length they can grow wavy. The fish that grow straight rays even into the lengthier parts of the tail are more impressive looking and would be more valuable.

One problem with butterfly koi is that they are often handled the same way as regular koi. Broken fins and tails are par for the course by the time the fish is an adult. So, it’s normal to see bends and waves in the fins and tail of butterfly koi partly because of growing that way, but also because of netting-damage as a juvenile. As an adult, a split tail or fin often does not heal well and remains split. All of the above is irrelevant to the casual observer, the impact of the fish is exactly the same, but you might notice variations in fin quality and you may care enough to choose one fish over the other based on that.

 

Are They the Real McKoi?

The butterfly koi is a true koi. Despite this fact, the Japanese have shared some American purist’s distaste for these long fin beauties. Truth be told, the Japanese have usually reacted to any new color, at first, as an abomination. Eventually, they get used to it and accept it, and eventually love the diversity.

And it has been that way with the butterfly koi. At first, Mr. Suda was the only breeder in Japan producing butterfly koi. His fish have been gorgeous, and he even bred them for prodigious size. But the rest of the Japanese breeders declined.

Mr. Suda’s fish became so popular in the U.S. that they became scarce; making Mr. Suda realize his decision to breed them was a good one. Over time, as other breeders watched Mr. Suda sell everything he had very fast, they eventually overcame their resistance to butterfly koi and started producing them, too. Today, there are domestic breeders who compete in the butterfly koi market. They are very popular fish – and for good reason.

Butterfly Koi - Basic Facts to Know

When you want to enjoy your water feature as the sun begins to set, be sure to add outdoor lighting. Most people think to add landscape lighting around a deck or patio, but don’t neglect your water feature for optimal nighttime viewing! Here you’ll find pretty backyard lighting ideas for your pond, waterfall, or fountain.

Add underwater lighting to a pond and you’ll enjoy seeing your fish swim at night. It’s almost magical watching them dart in and out of the lights.

Koi Pond with Underwater Lighting

 

Waterfall and pond lights add an ethereal glow to your water garden, creating a memorable moment during the evening hours.

Pond and Waterfall with Night Lighting

 

For water feature owners, backyard lighting ideas include both pond and landscape lights. Underwater lights allow you to see fish in the evening, while garden path lights accentuate the architectural elements of terrestrial plants.

Backyard Pond Lighting

 

Underwater pond lights are a must for those with recreation ponds.

Aquascape Recreation Pond at Night

 

For a truly pretty effect add a waterfall light. You’ll find your water feature takes on a whole new look at night.

Waterfall Lights by Aquascape

 

This waterfall on a large farm pond is used as a backdrop for wedding photographs. Spotlights are located at several points to show the depth and beauty of the falls.

Aquascape Pond and Waterfall at McCannon Farm

 

Water takes on a glowing effect when spilling over rocks. It’s easy to be mesmerized by this peaceful scene.

Backyard Waterfall with Lighting at Night

 

Place path lights at the top of the falls, and waterfall lights behind each drop of your waterfall.

Backyard Waterfall with Lighting at Night

 

Remember to add small lights to a Patio Pond or container water garden. It looks equally pretty during the evening hours as it does during the day.

Patio Pond with Aquascape LED Light

 

A small spotlight showcases a fountain in a front or backyard.

Scalloped Fountain Urn with Night Lighting

 

Another great backyard lighting idea for a fountain is to incorporate a small flame using the Aquascape Fire Fountain Add-On Kit. Everyone will ask how a fountain manages to maintain a pretty flame while the water is flowing.

Stacked Slate Urn Combines Water and Fire

 

No matter what type of water feature you have, you can enhance its beauty well into the evening hours with the addition of pond and garden lighting.

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The beauty and joy of a pond makes summer more memorable and relaxing! To fully enjoy the “Aquascape Lifestyle,” you want to make sure your water feature is healthy and functioning optimally throughout the warmer months. When water temperature rises above 80 degrees this summer, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

Aquascape Summer Pond

Health of Your Pond Fish

Keep an eye on your fish. Do your finned friends appear stressed out, gasping for air close to the water’s surface or especially close to a fountain or waterfall? Warm water has a low capacity for holding oxygen, while cooler water can hold very large amounts of oxygen.

Warm pond water and increased activity go hand and hand, and that increased activity also means your fish require more oxygen when less oxygen is available, thus creating a vicious cycle. Stressed fish often begin to develop diseases, and soon enough you’ll have a domino effect.

Add oxygen to your pond by placing an aerator or AquaForce® pump in your pond. You can also install a fountain with a pump if your pond doesn’t have a waterfall or stream. Make sure all areas of the pond are skimmed and the water circulated. And keep in mind that waterfalls, streams, and even fountains play a huge part in the oxygenation of the water in your pond.

Beat the Heat

There are some preventative measures you can take in order to keep your pond from becoming a warm, unhealthy mess. It all starts with a well-designed water feature. Depth, plant coverage, shade, and circulation should all be considered when designing and building a pond. A minimum depth of two feet is suggested; the bottom of the pond will remain cooler.

You’ll also want to stock your pond with a lot of plants to provide shade for the fish. A good rule of thumb is to provide plant coverage of approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the pond’s surface area.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of pond design is circulation. If possible, you’ll want to place your biological filter and mechanical filter across the pond from each other, so that your pond receives optimal circulation.

Additional Summer Pond Tips

During the hot summer months, you can use some of these tips to help keep your pond performing optimally:

The bottom line is that you need to keep an eye on your pond and let your fish and plants do the talking. If you have a balanced ecosystem, you’ll find it much easier to maintain the health of your pond, fish, and plants.

Healthy Summertime Pond

See our list of favorite lotus for your pond or container water garden.Known in the East as the Sacred Lotus, this flower is considered one of the most impressive aquatic plants available today. It’s a true aquatic perennial plant that belongs to the genus Nelumbo and consists of only two species: the yellow-flowered American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) found in the Americas, and the pink Asiatic lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) found in Asia, Australia, and Eastern Europe.

These two species have been grown and bred for centuries, resulting in hundreds of hybrids that range in many size and color options. There are numerous lotus cultivars readily available today, and we’ve picked a few of our favorites to share with you.

‘Momo Botan’ is an alleged dwarf variety that finds itself to be the most popular lotus for several reasons. It has brand name recognition, it’s an amazing bloomer, is easily obtainable, easy to grow, and produces beautiful, showy flowers. You’re sure to enjoy having it in your own pond.

‘Rosa Plena’ is a good cultivar with deep rose-pink flowers that can grow to 10-13 inches across. The plant may get as tall as six feet and makes a stunning statement in any pond.

‘Charles Thomas’ is a notable lotus that appears pink the first day of bloom, changing to lavender-pink by the second day. Growing two to three feet tall, this flower is ideal for small to medium ponds.

‘Maggie Bell Slocum’ features a huge lavender-pink flower, growing up to 12 inches across. The flower has a unique anise scent.

‘Chawan Basu’ is a dwarf variety that’s an excellent choice for container water gardening. Its delicate petals are ivory-white with deep pink margins and veins.

‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’ is a highly popular, semi-double-flowered, changeable variety. A full-size lotus which starts out pink flushed with yellow, changes to a pink-yellow, and finishes its color changes with cream flushed with pink. It’s an excellent bloomer and a great choice for your water garden.

‘Empress,’ also known as ‘Alba Striata,’ is a stunning, full-size plant with white petals streaked with deep pink. Although it’s not the best available bloomer, it’s worth growing for its unusual and striking flowers.

You’ll find many more varieties of lotus available to you, but be forewarned, they can become intoxicatingly addictive!

Learn More about the Lotus

Everyone loves the pop of a pink lotus or bright yellow waterlily, but have you ever considered adding whimsical white to your water garden? White is the magical reflection of all colors and all wavelengths. If one of the colors is subtracted from white light, you see the complementary color. For example, if yellow is subtracted from white light, you see blue. Nature is so amazing … and the following white aquatic plants certainly prove that point!

Some of our favorite white aquatic plants include a range of waterlilies, like this pair of flower resting atop a cool pond, one fully open and the other just awakening. Nymphaea odorata – or American White waterlily – is a popular choice for its sweet fragrance. Other favored white waterlilies include Hermine and Virginalis.

White waterlilies in water garden

 

Zoom in to reveal the intricate details of the waterlily's sunny center, glowing proudly within the inner circle of petals.

 

This breathtaking, night-blooming tropical Trudy Slocum waterlily will delight you as the sun sets on the horizon. Its crisp white petals play off the cool blue of the pond and deep green of the lily pads.

This breathtaking, night-blooming tropical waterlily will delight you as the sun sets on the horizon.

 

The aquatic crinum lily is dainty and elegant all at once. Add these to your water garden or a boggy area for an architectural statement.

This aquatic crinum lily is dainty and elegant all at once.

 

And be sure to enjoy their gentle beauty up close.

Enjoy the gentle beauty of this aquatic crinum lily up close.

 

Hymenocallis, or Spider Lily, is an easy-to-grow, reliable moisture-lover. If you love green and white combinations, you’ll love this compelling flower. Although it grows primarily along the edges of a pond, you can plant it in soil, too (just remember to keep its feet wet).

Hymenocallis, or Spider Lily, is an easy-to-grow, reliable moisture-lover, perfect for a water feature!

 

Refresh yourself on hot summer days with this cute little Water Snowflake. Although tiny, this bloom is loaded with intricate detail.

Refresh yourself on hot summer days with this cute little Water Snowflake.

 

Got shade? Then you’ll want to add White Butterfly Ginger to your water garden. Its intoxicating scent is as fragrant as a Gardenia. It’s considered invasive in some areas like Hawaii, so keep your eye on it and divide it, if needed. You can always share it with a friend!

Got shade? Then you'll want to get White Butterfly Ginger, which is just as fragrant as a Gardenia.

 

Do you have any of these pale beauties in and around your pond? They’d make a great addition to any water garden!

 

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Pond season is finally here for most of the country! Watching your fish swim happily about is a sight for sore eyes after a long winter. But do you have a pond that promotes the health of your fish? Several factors influence whether a pond is habitable by fish, so before your stock your new pond or choose a few new finned friends at your water gardening store, take a few minutes to assess your fish’s dwelling space as it relates to pond fish health.

Healthy Fish and Koi in Aquascape Ecosystem Pond

Size Matters

It all starts with the size of your pond. You need to make sure that it is large enough to support fish and their growth. Pond fish generally need 10 gallons of water for every inch of their length, and you have to be ready for them to grow larger, so be careful not to overstock, no matter how tempting this may be! Some pond experts go so far as to recommend only ½ inch of fish per 10 gallons of water as a maximum stocking density.

On occasion, you may encounter ponds crowded with two or even three inches of fish per 10 gallons of water and the fish seem to be fine. However, the density and ecological strain of this loading turn these ponds into fragile systems. The pH tends to sag, the fish tend to grow more slowly, and disease can become a common occurrence.

You won’t be able to salvage sick fish in a pond that’s overcrowded. Eventually, Mother Nature will pick off your favorite fish to achieve her ideal stocking density based on the system the fish are in, and then the remainder will recover as if by magical intervention. So reduce the number of fish if your pond is over-stocked before Mother Nature handles this crucial step for you.

Good Morning, Sunshine

Ponds that have some sunlight are also beneficial to fish due to the valuable vitamins that are produced. Sunlight also helps the plants in your pond grow, thereby reducing nitrates in the water. Unfortunately, you can’t just up and move your pond so if you have a shaded pond, simply add shade-loving plants to help balance the water. Aquatic plants play a critical role when it comes to enhancing pond fish health.

Pond plants that tolerate shade include Taro, Papyrus, Horsetail, Cardinal Flower, Lizard’s Tail, and Water Forget-Me-Not.

Two Feet

When it comes to pond depth, koi aren’t very picky. Just be sure that the pond is deep enough (generally about 2 to 2 ½ feet) to give the fish a chance to get out of the way of predators. This depth also provides ample space for over-wintering fish in northern climes.

A Balancing Act

The quality of your water is critical to pond fish health and you want to make sure your water garden is balanced. The proper mix of fish, plants, filtration, circulation, and rocks and gravel all provide an important role in your pond’s ecosystem. Work with Mother Nature, not against her, and you’ll find you spend more time enjoying your pond and less time maintaining it. Consider adding the Aquascape Automatic Dosing System to keep your pond water balanced and your fish healthy throughout the season.

What You Need to Know about Pond Fish Health

From colorful water lilies that dance on the pond’s surface to aquatic Forget-Me-Nots that hug the edges of your water garden, it’s the amazing pond plants that put the “garden” in “water garden.”  You can apply many of the same tips and guidelines you use to create your terrestrial flower beds.  Things like color, height, and planting conditions are things you’ll want to consider when it comes to naturalizing your pond with plants.

One: Create Interest with Variety. Random placement of plants with varying textures and colors will create more interest than using plants that have all the same growth habit or leaf shape.

 

7 Tips for Planting Your Pond

 

Two: Play with Colors. Choose colors you like best and consider the type of lighting your pond receives. Yellow, orange, and white help brighten shady areas, while cool blue and violet tone down the intensity of the sun’s rays.

Three: Go Green. A soft, calming space is created by using different textures and shades of green foliage. The combination is effective on its own, but also looks great when accented only by white flowers.  You can also play with color based on leaf selection alone, since you’ll find aquatic foliage in a range of colors such as red, purple, yellow, and several variegated combinations.

 

Green Plants in Pond

 

Four: Know Your Plant Size. One of the biggest mistakes novice water gardeners make is failing to realize how big their pond plants might grow. Be sure to take height and width of the mature plant into consideration and allow enough space for future growth.

Five: Short in Front, Tall in Back. This might seem like a no-brainer, but always put shorter plants in front of taller ones.  Most likely, you’ll spend most of your time viewing your water garden from a deck or patio, so keep that sight line in mind when planting your pond.

 

Variety of Aquatic Plants

 

Six: Group Plants Together. Interior decorators tell you to group like objects together when decorating your home, to create visual impact. Use this same principle when planting your pond. Plant a row of marsh marigolds along a stretch of the ponds edge, as opposed to dotting them all around the pond in single locations.

Seven: Consider Each Plant’s Needs. Be mindful of how much sun your aquatic plants require, along with their planting depth. If a plant requires full sun, that’s a minimum of 6 hours of unobstructed (ie not dappled shade) sun per day.  If you’re not sure what your plant needs, ask the pro at your local garden center or search online for information.

 

Aquatic Plants in Water Garden

 

You’ll want to ensure an interesting mix of aquatic plant types for your water garden. Plant a few marginal at the pond’s edge, include colorful water lilies or even a lotus, add floating plants like water lettuce, and include submerged plants to help add oxygen to your pond. Variety is the spice of gardening life, so don’t be afraid to experiment … or follow our handy planting guides below!

 
 

Small Pond: Plant Placement Ideas

How to Plant a Small Pond

 
 

Medium Pond: Plant Placement Ideas

How to Plant a Medium Pond

 
 

Large Pond: Plant Placement Ideas

How to Plant a Large Pond

 
 

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Tips for Planting Your Backyard Pond
 

Now that spring is officially here, it’s time to start thinking about what you might want to do to change and improve your pond. And if you’re still dreaming of your first pond or water feature, it’s a great time to begin planning!

 

Small Pond with Waterfall and Hostas

 

Many people view ponds simply as an addition to your house – when you build it you are done. While that is true that a pond is indeed another room to your house, you’re never really done with this addition! In reality, it’s actually more like a living thing that is always evolving, so don’t be afraid to add on and change it as often as you want! Whether you simply move a couple rocks, forcing the water to fall in a completely different direction, or maybe you’ll go all out and add a 50-foot stream, a bog filter, or a Pondless® Waterfall in another part of your yard, the possibilities for growing your water feature are almost infinite.

 

Backyard Aquascape Pond with Plantings

 

Right now – when your thoughts, ideas, and mental plans for your dream garden and pond are still fresh in your mind – is the time to get them on paper. Dreaming is always the first step to planning. In your mind, what would be the perfect backyard paradise? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you search for your perfect pond makeover.

 

 

Aquascape Pond and Waterfall

 

Hopefully you’re well on your way to dreaming about creating or enhancing your own personal paradise.  As you gaze out upon the wintry landscape, imagine what it can look like in the spring and go from there!  The possibilities are limitless and you can always grow and expand with each addition you make.

 

Adding fish to your pond provides a whole new element to the overall experience of owning a water feature. In fact, many pond owners decided to install a pond for the sole purpose of fish-keeping. Will you add some colorful koi, or opt for another type of pond fish like shubunkins or sarassas? When purchasing new fish, there are certain things that you should look for and ask about to make sure that you are receiving healthy fish.  

Tips for Buying Healthy Fish

  1. Cleanliness – Look at the cleanliness of the store. If the store is not clean and well cared for, more than likely, the retailer does not care about their fish either.
  2. Dead Fish – If you see any dead fish floating in the tanks – even just one – stay away. This can be an indication of a poorly maintained, diseased tank.
  3. Quarantine – Does the retailer quarantine their fish and for how long? It is very important that all fish are quarantined for at least 14 to 21 days for salt treatments to ensure the fish are not carriers of disease or parasites.
  4. Water Testing and Changes– Find out how often the water is tested and changed. Testing the water monitors ammonia and pH levels, as well as nitrites and nitrates indicating when the water should be changed.
  5. Sick Fish – Look to see if any of the fish are hanging out alone, with clamped fins. This is a good sign that the fish is sick.
  6. Parasites – Ask if new fish are tested for the presence of parasites with a microscope. Doing so indicates whether the fish are carriers of parasites and can be treated accordingly before they are sold.
  7. Net Sharing – Make sure the clerk uses a different net for each tank. Using the same net for all tanks can spread disease from one tank to another.
  8. Clear Skin – Look for fish with no marks, missing scales, sores, or broken or missing fins. Any of these are signs of a bacterial infection or parasite.
  9. Sizes – You need to take the size of the fish into consideration so you don’t overstock your pond. Remember, 1” for every square foot of surface water or five gallons.
  10. Knowledgeable Staff – You want to purchase fish from a knowledgeable and honest merchant that can help educate you about your pond pets.

 

Whatever type fish you choose to add to your pond, first and foremost you want to make sure they’re healthy. Don’t be shy about asking a few questions. In the end, you’ll be glad you took the time to purchase the right fish for your pond.

For more information on fish in your water feature, visit http://www.aquascapeinc.com/blogs/water-gardening/category/Fish

 

Spring is just weeks away and you’re probably already dreaming of sprucing up the yard. Maybe you’ll add a new flower bed, or perhaps a vegetable garden is in your future. Or better yet, you might envision a glorious water feature so you can enjoy the soothing sights and sounds of running water. To help spur your creativity, we’re sharing a collection of beautiful backyard transformations!

Backyard Transformation with Aquascape Pond

 

We might be a little biased, but we think any yard looks better with a water feature! Imagine having to mow all this grass, and then think about how much better it could be relaxing on the bench admiring an ecosystem pond and waterfall instead!

 Backyard Transformation with Aquascape Pond

 

An unused corner of the yard near the backyard patio is simply wasted space. What’s more, there’s an endless battle of weed-pulling each summer. A new pond adds beauty and eliminates the problem of getting dirty fingernails from pulling weeds that crop up.

Small Pond Adds Beauty to Unused Space

 

When transforming your backyard with a pond or waterfall, it’s best to locate it near a patio or deck so you can enjoy it up-close. You’ll also be able to hear the running water from inside the house when you leave the windows open. In the photo below, a small tree had to be transplanted – but the end result was worth it.

Backyard Transformation with Aquascape Pond

 

If you’re not interested in having pet fish, a Pondless® waterfall can also be used to transform space in a backyard. A berm lends itself perfectly to creating cascades of water.

Backyard Transformation with Small Waterfall

 

Even if you don’t have a berm, you can build one with the soil that’s excavated to carve out the waterfall. Waterfalls are great for blocking out unwanted sounds like nearby traffic, barking dogs, or noisy children.

Backyard Transformation with Large Waterfall

To be sure, a new flowerbed or vegetable garden is a wonderful addition to the yard. But neither of those create the soothing sound of water in the garden. Consider adding a water feature this year. Whether you choose a fountain, waterfall, or ecosystem pond – you’ll be glad you got your feet wet!

 

More Good Reads:

Small Ponds Pack a Punch

Beautiful Backyards: Be Inspired!

Tips for Building an Amazing Waterfall

 

Watch the Before-After Video:

 

Plants in a water garden not only provide beauty and naturalization, but they also help balance the pond ecosystem. Even a small pond will benefit from the beauty of aquatic plants. We’ve selected our top favorites that do well in smaller aquatic foot prints.

Variegated Sweet Flag

Variegated Sweet Flag Pond Plants
Also known as golden Japanese sweet flag, the beautiful foliage is light green and highlighted with bright yellow stripes, remaining beautiful all season. Since it tolerates some shade, you can use Dwarf Variegated Sweetflag to brighten shady areas of your water garden, while adding texture and color to the borders and edges of your pond. Does well in Zones 6 to 11, tolerates some shade, and grows 8 to 12 inches tall. An all-around great plant that adds a bright, cheerful spot to any water feature!

Water Lettuce

Water Lettuce Pond Plants
Along with other floating plants, water lettuce is an easy care aquatic plant that doesn’t need potting or really much attention at all. It just floats along in your pond, quietly soaking up nutrients helping to prevent the excessive growth of algae. It also shades the water, helping keep it cool while providing a cozy hiding place for the fish that live in the pond. It does best in some shade and is hardy in Zones 9-11.

Helvola Waterlily

Helvola Waterlily Pond Plants
A tiny yellow waterlily with flowers 2-3″ in diameter, the Helvola waterlily is perfect for smaller ponds. It blooms from spring until frost, loves full sun, and is hardy in Zones 3 through 12.

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny Pond Plants
Rounded, light green leaves form a mat along the edge of the pond in shallow water and beautifully drape over rocks in a stream. Creeping Jenny grows about 1 to 3″ in height and is a favorite among water gardeners for its low-maintenance characteristic. You’ll love its bright color against the cool waters of the pond. Hardy in Zones 4-10.

Anacharis

Anachris Pond Plants
The most popular of the submerged plants, the anacharis grows rooted in the pond substrate or potted in sand. It has tiny white flowers that develop on the surface of the water in the summer. Each stem has short, thin leaves whorled around it, like a bottle brush. Anacharis is hardy in Zones 5-11.

Yellow Water Snowflake

Yellow Water Snowflake Pond Plants
Yellow Water Snowflake has very frilly, star-shaped yellow flowers, green leaves, and is hardy in Zones 5-11. This free flowering plant has a fast-growing, running spreading habit so you may need to trim it back from time to time. Ideally it grows in 4 to 24 inches of water.

Aquatic Forget Me Not

Aquatic Forget Me Not Pond Plants
Pretty blue flowers about ¼” in diameter sit atop velvety leaves and thrive in full to part sun. Plant these charmers near the edge of the pond and they’ll bloom all summer.

Impatiens

Impatiens in Waterfall
You may think of impatiens as a terrestrial plant, but these dainty flowers do quite well planted as an aquatic marginal. These cheery shade lovers can be planted in between rocks or at the edges of a stream. They’ll mound as they grow and create a striking focal point in any pond.

Small Plants for Small Ponds

If you’re under the impression that a pond simply won’t fit in your yard … think again! Ponds come in a variety of shapes and sizes and their versatility is what makes them such a great addition to your landscape … in addition to the music of the waterfalls and the birds and butterflies they attract. Small ponds are an attractive option for a number of reasons!

You might not think to use big rocks for a smaller pond, but a few boulders create focal points, softened by aquatic plants. The flat rock on the left is a perfect spot to sit and dangle tired tootsies in the water.

Boulders create focal points in small ponds, softened by aquatic plants.

 

The waterfall is in proportion to this smaller pond, nestled snug against the corner of a patio. This used to be a boring patch of grass, but now the homeowner loves sitting outside to drink in this view.

The waterfall is in proportion to this smaller pond, nestled snug against the corner of a patio.

 

An unexpected surprise awaits visitors to this deck. A magical water garden is tucked smack dab into the middle of the deck, carved out specifically for this tiny pond. A stately tree and beautiful mural create an enchanting backdrop.

A magical water garden is tucked smack dab into the middle of the deck, carved out specifically for this tiny pond.

 

Would you rather mow grass, or spend time relishing the serenity of this backyard oasis? Small ponds (and large) require less maintenance than the same expanse of grass … and it’s much easier on the eyes, too!

A water garden requires less maintenance than the same expanse of grass.

 

This newer pond looks like it’s been there for years. Strategic use of the surrounding landscape was considered when designing this pond and waterfall.

Strategic use of the surrounding landscape was considered when designing this pond and waterfall.

 

A waterfall and winding stream spill gently into this small pond. A mix of aquatic and terrestrial plants mingle with the rocks and water.

A waterfall and winding stream spill gently into this small pond.

 

A variety of grasses creates a soft backdrop for this 6’x8′ pond while creating privacy at the same time.

Small 6x8 Aquascape Pond

 

Not sure what to do with that empty space beneath an outdoor staircase? Add a waterfall and pond! This one tucks nicely into this once unused area next to a lower level patio.

his pond tucks nicely into this once unused area next to a lower level patio.

 

Japanese gardens are typically void of color and emphasize the texture and and shape of green foliage. A simple bench beckons you to sit and meditate on the water garden’s simple beauty.

A simple bench beckons you to sit and meditate on the water garden's simple beauty.

 

 Whether you choose a small 4’x6′ pond or something much larger, you won’t regret sprinkling your landscape with a little water.

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Small Ponds - Inspirational Ideas

More Great Reads:

How to Build a Backyard Pond

7 Tips for Planting Your Pond

How to Create a Mini Pond

Sometimes people look at a large sloping lot in the backyard and consider it a challenge. It’s hard to set up a croquet set, or play a game of bags on it. Unless of course, you live in northern climes and can turn that slope into a decent sledding hill. Even better though, is to transform a sloping yard into the ultimate backyard waterfall!

Ultimate Backyard Waterfall

 

A family in Illinois recently planned a daughter’s wedding and decided to host it outdoors in their backyard. They called Aquascape Construction to create a truly unique water feature that would provide an amazing backdrop for this memorable event.

Ultimate Backyard Waterfall by Aquascape

 

An Aquascape Stacked Slate Urn is positioned at the top of the waterfalls near the windows where it can be enjoyed up close from inside the home.

Aquascape Stacked Slate Urn Fountain

 

A double-deck porch provides ideal viewing of this amazing backyard waterfall that twists and turns through the yard.

Aquascape Backyard Waterfall

 

A wooden bridge located at the back of the property provides another unique viewing vantage point.

Aquascape Backyard Waterfall

 

When a pond or backyard waterfall is built correctly, the water should be clean and clear. When water isn’t balanced, it can become brown or even green with excessive algae. Clear water lets you see the pretty pebbles at the bottom of the waterfall.

Aquascape Water Feature

 

The homeowners enjoy a fire pit near the middle of the waterfall’s journey through the yard. Toward the back, you can see an outdoor fireplace with a screened-in gazebo nearby. There are plenty of places to sit and relax to the tumbling sound of the waterfalls.

Aquascape Water Feature

 

A large picture window provides a place to pull up a chair and enjoy the scenery from inside. A stone stairway to the left of the waterfalls creates opportunity to explore the water feature up close.

Aquascape Backyard Waterfall

 

A close-up view shows the intricate details of rocks and their placement. You’d never guess this water feature is fairly new. It looks like it’s existed here for many, many years.

Aquascape Backyard Waterfall

 

If you’ve always wanted to live on waterfront property, what’s stopping you?

Aquascape Backyard Waterfall

Add a pond, waterfall, or even a fountain to your landscape and you can have that prized property you’ve always dreamed of!

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Other Good Reads:

Beautiful Backyards: Be Inspired!

The Ultimate Backyard Oasis

The Sound of Waterfalls

 

Chances are … if you have a pond, you have fish. In fact, your pond fish might be the primary reason why you even wanted a water garden in your yard.  Fish are fun to watch and most pond owners name each and every one of their finned friends.  While fish create a memorable experience, they can also bring headaches to water quality if you go overboard when stocking fish. Too many fish in the pond creates an imbalance in water, so you’ll want to make sure you’re smart about the number and size of fish that you place in the water garden.

Pond fish typically need 10 gallons of water for every inch of their length, but keep in mind they will grow larger over the years. So no matter how tempting it might be to add just a few more fish, be careful not to overstock! Some pond experts even go so far as to recommend only ½ inch of fish per 10 gallons of water as a maximum stocking density.

If you’re a fish fanatic, you may find yourself with a pond containing 2 or even 3 inches of fish per 10 gallons of water and the fish seem to be fine. However, the density and ecological strain of this loading can turn your pond into a fragile system. The pH tends to sag, the fish tend to grow more slowly, and disease can become a common occurrence.

It’s very difficult to salvage sick fish in a pond that’s overcrowded. Most likely, Mother Nature will sadly pick off your favorite fish to achieve her ideal stocking density based on the system the fish are in, and then the remainder may recover.

So before adding another fish to your koi collection, make sure you have ample space so that all your fish are ensured a happy, healthy home!

How Many Fish Can You Add to Your Pond?

Silvery ice formations and velvety white drifts of snow create a dreamy landscape with a winter water feature as the focal point. If you’re like most people, you shut down your water feature for the winter season. While this is a perfectly viable option for most people, some of you opt to keep your water feature running. To ensure that your pond and waterfall provide all the pleasures of a winter wonderland, be sure to follow our handy winter pond keeping tips. Pond and Waterfalls in Snow

Check for Ice Dams

Keeping your pond running during the frozen months of winter will allow you to enjoy the beautiful ice sculptures that form in the stream and waterfall. Although beautiful, it’s possible that the ice buildup can form dams that could divert your pond water out of the pond. Check on the waterfall and stream and monitor the water level periodically throughout the winter. If you see an ice dam forming or the water level dropping at a high rate, your pond might be losing water because of the frozen sculpture and it might be time to turn off the pump for the winter. If you decide to leave the pond running until warmer weather however, your main concern is to ensure there is enough water for the pump(s) to operate properly.

Winter Water Feature with Ice Formations

Add Water to Your Pond

During the winter months, the usual water supply options are not available.  Outdoor water spigots and automatic water fill valves should be turned off to prevent pipes from freezing and cracking.  Therefore, pond owners who run their systems during the winter will have to find an alternate water source to replenish their pond.  Water can be supplied via a hose run from inside the house or by making multiple trips with a five-gallon bucket.  Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon to have to go out a few times a month during the winter to “top off” the pond.
Winter Pond and Waterfall

Check the Circulation of Water

Pump size is important when determining a waterfall’s ability to operate during the winter.  A pump that provides at least 2,000 gph can be operated throughout the winter without a problem, as long as it runs continuously. Moving water will usually keep a hole open in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the circulation system. However, repeated days in sub-zero temperatures may lead to excessive ice build-up and can cause the system to operate improperly. If the flow of water into the circulation system is unable to keep up with the pump because of ice build-up, it may be necessary to shut the system down. The system can be run again once the ice is melted and normal water flow is restored.
Winter Pond Keeping

Be Assured of Filters and Pipes

Most good filters are constructed out of rotational-molded polyethylene, and are designed to bow and bend with the freezing and thawing effects of winter. The PVC flex pipe is reinforced and will also not crack unless water is left in the pipe over the winter and allowed to freeze. If you decide to keep the pump running all winter long, there will still be a constant flow of water traveling through the pipe, and the moving water will not freeze.
Snowy Waterfall by Aquascape

The Bottom Line for Winter Pond Keeping

The bottom line for winter pond keeping is maintenance. Roughly 70 percent of pond owners in the colder climates decide to shut down their system because they don’t enjoy tending to their water garden during the bitter months of the winter. The aesthetic rewards of the winter pond are absolutely worthwhile, so by all means; don’t be afraid to keep the system running as long as possible. Shutting down a pond during winter is also an option. Just be sure you take precautionary measures to preserve fish, plant, and pump life.

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Tips for Winter Pond Keeping

 

See More Winter Pond Articles:

Have you ever noticed that your pond water is clearer in the fall?  This is typically due to cooler temperatures and full, lush plants. To keep your pond looking its best throughout the fall and winter season, follow our helpful, easy-to-follow fall and winter pond maintenance tips.

The most important thing is to have fun with your water feature all year long. Keep some of these key maintenance issues in mind, and it will be smooth sailing.

Water features are stunning during the day, but when pond and garden lighting is used to enhance evening views, you’ll find the landscape takes on a whole new dimension!  Tuck a spotlight behind a waterfall and the feature takes on a magical feel. Used in the main portion of a pond, you’ll enjoy watching fish dart in and out of the lights.

Pond Lighting at Night

 

As the sun begins to set, pond and garden lighting create a magical mood in the landscape. Think of that vacation you experienced at the beach and the serene feeling you enjoyed watching the moon cast a glowing trail over the ocean’s surface.

Garden Lighting at Night

 

When you add a waterfall or underwater lighting to your water feature, you extend your viewing pleasure well into the evening. You can add lights during the installation of your water feature, or add later if you see dark spots you’d like to highlight.

Waterfall Lights & Pond Lighting

 

Although moonlight casts its own soft glow in your water feature, waterfall and garden lighting shows the details of the rock and water.

Waterfall at Night with LED Lighting

 

It’s always a joy to watch fish swim in and out of lights. Be sure to incorporate LED lights which use approximately 80-90% less electricity and last 10 times longer than their halogen counterparts.

Garden Pond Lighting

 

To make lightscaping easier, lighting kits are preassembled and pre-wired, making installation a snap. Simply plug in the transformer, and your lights are ready to go. You can also incorporate a photocell to put the lights on a timer. If you come home after dark, your water feature will be all lit up for you!

Waterfall Lighting at Night

 

Place a single bullet light in a container water garden or fountain bowl for a dramatic and interesting effect.

Decorative Water Feature with Lights

 

Be creative with your garden lighting options and you’ll find you enjoy your water feature during the evening hours just as much as you appreciate it during the daytime.

 

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Watch a short video about Aquascape’s Garden & Pond Lighting System:

Putting your pond to bed for winter doesn’t need to be an arduous process. Sure, it’s sad to say goodbye to your finned friends for a few months, but following our simple fall pond care tips will ensure that your fish joyfully greet you again in the spring.

 

Simple fall pond care tipsRemove leaves and debris

Putting a pond net over your water feature before leaves start falling from trees is the easiest way to contain and manage leaf control. Once all the leaves have fallen, simply roll up the net, discard the leaves, and put the net away until the next time it’s needed.

If you didn’t install netting, you’ll probably have a build up of leaves and debris that need to be removed. A long-handled pond net makes an easy job of scooping the debris from the bottom of the pond. If you leave the debris on the bottom of the pond, you’ll be creating a bigger mess to face in the spring.

 

Trim dead or dying foliage

Trimming dead foliage helps remove excessive organic debris that would otherwise decompose in the water. Cut back hardy waterlilies just above the base of the plant and cut back marginal plants that could droop over into the water.

 

Add cold water bacteria

 Add cold water bacteria, such as Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria to help keep pond water clean and clear. Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria contains concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria designed to work in temperatures lower than 50 degrees. Regular use of Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria will help maintain water quality and clarity, as well as dramatically reduce spring maintenance by digesting debris that may accumulate over the winter months.

 

If you leave your pond running

Operating your pond and waterfalls during the winter will provide beautiful ice formations for you to enjoy throughout the frosty season. Keep in mind, there will be a bit of maintenance required this time of year, such as topping off the pond due to evaporation. Also, you’ll need to make sure ice formations don’t create dams that can cause unnecessary water loss over the edge of the stream.

 

If you shut down the pond

Many homeowners in northern climes choose to shut down the pond for the winter months. If you choose this option, remember to:

  • Remove the pump from your pond and store it in a warm place like the garage or the basement. Protection from the cold lengthens the life of your pump.
  • Drain the water out of the plumbing. This prevents standing water from freezing and expanding, potentially cracking the pipes that connect your filtration system.
  • Remove and clean the filter media and spray them thoroughly with a garden hose. Store them in the garage or the basement along with the pump.
  • Oxygenate the water by placing a small re-circulating pump, such as the AquaForce Pond Pump® on the top shelf of your pond. Oxygenating the water is not only for the sake of your fish, but it also helps keep a hole open in the ice when the surface of your pond starts freezing. This hole allows harmful gasses to escape, and oxygen to get in.
  • If it gets really cold where you live, you may consider adding the Aquascape De-Icer. At extremely low temperatures, the oxygenation of the water may not be sufficient to keep a hole open in the ice.
  • That’s where the De-icer saves the day. It compliments the AquaForce and, together, they’ll keep most any pond open.

 

Ensure healthy fish before winter

A well-balanced diet creates healthy, happy fish. You want to make sure your fish are in good condition before they go into hibernation. When the water temperature falls below 60 degrees, the metabolism and digestion of your fish begins to slow down. Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food is scientifically formulated to properly nourish your fish during these lower temperatures. Be sure to stop feeding your fish when water temperature falls below 50 degrees.

Taking a little time and effort to prepare your pond for winter not only helps your fish survive their winter slumber, but makes your spring maintenance much easier. Be sure to follow these winter guidelines so you can experience the greatest joy from your pond when spring rolls around once again.

Simple Tips for Fall Pond Care

 

 

Watch this short video on how to winterize your pond:

Umbrella palm (Cyperus alternifolius) is a tropical plant that is hardy to Zone 7 that can grow to almost six feet in height. In colder climates, umbrella palm will over-winter if brought indoors and positioned near a sunny window. Dwarf (Cyp. Alt. ‘Gtracilis’) and medium (Cyperus spp.) varieties are available and prove an excellent choice for smaller ponds and container water gardens. The height of an umbrella palm creates a soft backdrop for shorter aquatic plants, such as water lilies.

Umbrella Palm Pond Plant

Larger palms can be invasive without some precautions. Even a small single stalk with roots will grow as a marginal and can be difficult to remove if left alone too long, especially in a graveled pond where the roots will grow deeply into the gravel. This situation can be avoided by planting the large variety of umbrella plant in a plastic tub. The palm will still grow into the tub and its roots will need trimming from time to time, but now the plant can be easily removed for maintenance.

When ready for trimming, don’t worry about destroying the plant by cutting the roots into a smaller size. The plant will regrow again to fill the container. By trimming the root ball and cutting the plant in two, you’ll cut down on the size of the plant so there’s less “wind-sail” to blow it over. You can use a small handsaw to cut through the root ball to lower its height and also to cut the plant in half before repotting. Add the second plant to your pond or give it to a friend.

Cutting root ball of umbrella plant for pond

After the umbrella palm’s root ball is cut to a smaller size, rocks ranging in size from tennis balls to grapefruits are added around the root ball to anchor both the pot and the root ball so it’s not so prone to blowing over in the wind before the roots have a chance to reestablish.

You do not need to add any dirt to the pot or fertilize the umbrella palm. They derive their nutrients directly from the pond water which helps filter the water and keep it safe for all your fish!

Umbrella plant is a great choice for a pond or water garden

Now that spring is here, you’re probably noticing some changes in your pond – your fish are coming back to life and you may even be able to see some plant growth. Understanding the transition that your pond makes from winter into spring and summer is essential in maintaining a healthy pond ecosystem.

Aquascape Ecosystem Pond

You may have just spent your weekend cleaning your pond – or having your pond contractor do it for you.  Don’t be concerned if you experience new algae growth after your pond is cleaned. It’s normal this time of year as your pond is balancing itself.

You can, however, perform some simple, important steps that can make the difference between a balanced pond with minimal maintenance and a pond that requires unnecessary maintenance. Although bacteria and plants don’t start growing properly until water temperature reaches 55°F, there are still some simple steps you can take to maintain a trouble-free pond.

We recommend using SAB™ Stream and Pond Cleaner and EcoBlast™ granular algaecides early in the season.  SAB contains a powerful phosphate binder to help maintain clear water and EcoBlast is an extremely effective algaecide.  Both of these products can be used throughout the season, but they are especially effective helping maintain optimum water conditions until water warms up and the beneficial bacteria and aquatic plants have the opportunity to kick in.

Fertilizing pond plants is also an important step toward balancing your pond. Strong healthy plants quickly utilize excess nutrients. Aquascape has two fertilizers, one short-term and one long-term. For optimal results use both fertilizers. The short-term fertilizer will jump-start your plants in the spring and the long-term fertilizer will continue to feed your plants for one full year. You’ll have beautiful, vibrant plants that help balance your pond’s ecosystem.

Algae don’t mind cool water, but for the rest of your pond’s ecosystem, 55° F is kind of the magic number. The plants and bacteria don’t jump into action, in the battle of the green monster, until the water temperature reaches, and consistently stays, around 50° to 55° F.  At this time they start growing and are then able to use up the excess nutrients that the algae would otherwise be feasting on. This is the reason for new spring algae blooms.

The Plants

While growing, aquatic plants absorb a lot of the nutrients in the water, and this helps combat algae growth.  Until they are actively growing, they have no use for the natural fertilizer lurking in the pond.  But as they begin growing, they will start to out-compete the algae for nutrients, the algae will be starved, and the pond water becomes clearer.  Another benefit that plants provide, particularly water lilies, is that they shade the surface of the water helping to keep the water cool, all while cutting down on the growth of string algae as well as green water.

The Bacteria

Bacteria also need warmer water to begin growing and colonizing, helping to provide clear water quality as well as reducing maintenance.  You can help jump-start the pond in the spring by adding supplemental bacteria such as Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, and providing it with a place to colonize.  Since bacteria like lots of nooks and crannies, having rocks and gravel in the bottom of your pond helps provide surface area for bacteria to grow.  A biological filter containing a filtration media like Aquascape BioBalls, with lots of surface area, provides optimum conditions for biological filtration in the smallest space possible. The more surface area available for bacteria to grow, the more efficient your biological filter.

Fish

Fish are also sensitive to water temperature, and as pond water warms up, you will see more activity, and be tempted to feed your fish.  You’ve missed your fish all winter, but until the water temperature is consistently at 55° F, don’t feed them.  Their metabolism is still in slow motion and they are unable to digest the food properly. If you do feed them and food cannot be digested, this can result in food starting to decay in the body of the fish, causing fish to become sick.  When you do start feeding your fish, begin with small amounts of a quality fish food formulated for colder water temperature, such as Aquascape Premium Coldwater Fish Food Pellets for all pond fish.

Patience Please…

You gotta have patience.  If you’ve stocked your pond with a sufficient number of plants, the temperature’s just right, and you’ve started supplementing with Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, your pond will quickly balance. Beneficial bacteria need to be added to a consistent maintenance routine to obtain optimal results.

Need more information on maintaining a healthy ecosystem pond? Check out our helpful FAQ section!

Beautiful backyards create additional living space on your property. Perhaps you’ve added a deck or patio to your backyard for outdoor dining and entertaining. Why not take your outdoor living space to the next level by adding the soothing sights and sounds of water to your landscape?

Beautiful Backyard with Pond

 

Up Close and Personal

When adding a backyard water feature, you want to make sure you place it in a location where you can most enjoy it. Close to a patio or deck is ideal. You can open up the windows and listen to the waterfall from inside your home.

Deck and Pond in Shade

 

Locating a pond near your patio also provides a convenient place to feed your finned friends!

Backyard Koi Pond

 

Explore More with a Bridge

When designing a backyard pond, waterfall, or stream, consider adding a stone bridge or stepping stones to reach yet another viewing area of the pond. You’ll enjoy seeing your water feature from all angles.

Beautiful Backyards often include a pond or water garden with a seating area.

 

Backyard Fish Pond with Stepping Stones

 

Simple Viewing Area

Sometimes all you need is a simple bench or chair to enjoy the view of your water feature. Be sure to include landscape plants that soften the edges of a pond or waterfall and help to transition the feature into the rest of the yard.

Serene Koi Pond

 

Backyard Pond Viewing Area

 

Earthy Elements

Fire and water are a popular landscape combination. Consider locating your fire pit near your water feature for maximum benefits of both elements.

Backyard Pond with Bridge to Fire Pit

 

Dining and Entertaining

A favorite past-time of pond and waterfall owners is dining and entertaining near the water. When you enjoy a meal with loved ones next to a gorgeous water feature – it’s like treating your friends and family to a day on vacation!

Dining Area with Backyard Pond

 

Dining Area with Backyard Waterfall

Ponds and waterfalls truly add a special element to beautiful backyards. No other form of landscape creates such amazing vistas and soothing sounds. Make this summer the year that you add the element of water to your outdoor living space.  You’ll wonder why you waited so long!

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Enjoy our video showcasing beautiful backyards!

Pond owners love their koi, often giving them names and training their fish to eat right from their hand. At Aquascape, we treasure the benefits that koi and other pond fish provide to an ecosystem pond. And so, it is with a heavy heart that we need to make you aware that the U.S. koi industry is at risk. But there is good news – you can help!

Koi in a Backyard Pond

Injurious Species List
The Center for Invasive Species Prevention (CISP) has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to add 43 species of fish to the Injurious Species list. Included on the list is common carp, or koi.

If these fish are added to the Injurious Species list, it will be illegal to transport them across state lines. Importation and production of koi will no longer be economically feasible. Koi retailers will likely lose their businesses and pond owners will no longer have access to the variety of koi they currently enjoy.

In response, the National Aquaculture Association is formulating a plan to fight and oppose this regulation. Likewise, Aquascape is committed to raising awareness of this issue

Your Help is Needed
We hope you’ll join our efforts by following the simple steps below.

Instructions for Petitioning U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Craig Martin, Chief
Branch of Aquatic Invasive Species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041

and

National Aquaculture Association
PO Box 12759
Tallahassee, FL 32317-2759

Thank you for any support you can provide on this matter. We’re confident that the koi industry and koi enthusiasts like you can successfully push back against this proposed regulation.

 

Pond fish such as the beloved koi fish play an important role in the nitrogen cycle of an ecosystem pond. Not only do koi dine on algae, but they provide a beautiful flash of color as they glide in and out of waterlilies. Koi and other pond fish make great outdoor pets … even learning to eat right out of your hand, if you’re patient! When you have a water garden of your very own, you’ll grow to love your fish as much as you love your cat or dog!

An Eskimo Kiss is shared over a trickle of koi fish food pellets.
An Eskimo Kiss is shared over a trickle of koi food pellets. Fido might look like he’s snarling, but he actually adores the koi fish and watches over them every chance he gets. Learn more about feeding koi.

This beautiful butterfly koi pond fish is a prized possession named Marathon.
This beautiful butterfly koi is a prized possession named Marathon. Special thanks to its owner for the photo!

This ethereal, white koi fish is truly stunning against the cool, dark, watery backdrop.
This ethereal, white koi fish is truly stunning against the cool, dark, watery backdrop.

Festive colored koi fish
This festive koi shows off his feathery fins, dancing about in the cool waters, swishing his tail first one way, and then the other.

Golden koi pond fish proudly flaunts the latest shade of lipstick.
And this golden koi fish gal proudly flaunts the latest shade of lipstick.

Dark colored koi pond fish
Sometimes hard to spot in the water, Mr. Dark and Mysterious koi reveals intricate designs in his shimmering scales.

A window frames the perfect view of these koi pond fish friends.
A window frames the perfect view of our finned koi friends. This is a perfect indoor spot for a morning cup of coffee, delighting in the views of the backyard oasis.

Close up koi pond fish in backyard pond.
You simply can’t ignore this koi fish face! He may look like a Grumpus-Ala-Bumpus, but this Japanese koi is actually quite pleased with his pond.

Black beauty koi pond fish skims the surface of the pond.
Another koi fish beauty skims the surface of the pond. They say not to name your fish, fearing you’ll become too attached. But when you see their personality reflected in the water garden, how could you resist naming your finned friends?

How many koi fish do you have in your water garden, and have you named them?

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Spring is almost here and it’s time to get a little maintenance done on your pond. These maintenance tasks can help prevent future problems from arising throughout the pond season. Some pond enthusiasts enjoy performing their own maintenance, but you can always hire a professional to take care of it for you. Certified Aquascape Contractors are trained to properly care for ponds and water features. You can find a CAC in your area by clicking here.

pond maintenance tips for spring

1. Clean out your pond, whether that means a full cleanout or just picking up a bit and rinsing things off. Enjoy our easy-to-follow spring cleanout instructions.

2. Check pond pumps to make sure that it’s clean and functioning correctly. Your pump is the heart of your water feature and needs to be in tip-top shape at all times. Learn more about water feature pond pump maintenance.

3. Fix any leaks in your water feature. Constantly adding tap water to make up for a loss of pond water means the constant addition of nutrients which will eventually promote algae growth.

Remove algae pond maintenance

4. Remove algae, leaves and other debris left over from the season before. This is crucial because an excess of decaying debris will add to the nutrient levels and the algae in the pond.

5. Start adding beneficial bacteria treatments and continue to do so regularly throughout the season. It competes with the algae for available nutrients, starving the algae of its food source.  Use Aquascape’s Automatic Dosing System to avoid the hassle of consistently adding and choosing the correct water treatments for your water feature.

6. Add plants to control algae. Since plants directly compete with algae for nutrients, they are the most important addition to the pond. Using a wide variety of plants will not only add to the natural look of the pond, but will reduce algae growth as well.

7. DO NOT overfeed your fish. Fish food that is not eaten will add more nutrients to the pond, helping feed the algae. See our 5 Tips for Feeding Fish article for more information.

8. Last but not least, have fun with your water feature! Spruce it up with new landscaping, add a fountain within your feature, add lighting or just change up some of the rock work! Get creative because after all, your water feature is your masterpiece to enjoy and show off to others.

Need more information on getting your water feature ready for the season? Check out this short video below:

 

Who doesn’t love koi in their pond? They’re beautiful and friendly, providing glimmers of color as they weave their way beneath the lily pads. Certainly they deserve their rightful place in a tranquil water garden. But what about other options? An array of pond fish is just waiting to call your pond their home.

Goldfish

 Fantail GoldfishGoldfish are perfect for your pond … resilient and able to handle all different kinds of water. For the newbie pond owner, goldfish are a great choice for getting started with fish-keeping. Several varieties of goldfish are available, from comets (plain orange and white) to the exotics like ranchus and bubble-eyes.

Exotic Goldfish

Included in this showy category are lionheads, telescopes, black moors, orandas, ranchus, and ryukins. The single most distinguishing characteristic of this group as a whole, are their round, bulbous abdomens.

OrandaWith this exotic group, extra caution should be taken if they are going to be placed outdoors, especially over the winter. Because they’re not as hardy as some of the other goldfish, they may become ill if left outdoors in the winter. This is especially true of the adults of these varieties.

The reason for this overwintering weakness is thought to be related to the compacted, contorted abdomen of these fish. Their abdomens serve as a delicate balancing act of downward ballast, intestine, and fat versus the buoyant structure of the airbladder. The hardship of winter almost always degrades this equilibrium, resulting in the fish flipping over and eventually dying. This is easy to overcome by bringing these finned friends indoors to join you just in time for the holidays!

Shubunkins

ShubunkinThe shubunkins is a type of single-tailed, long-bodied goldfish that originated in China. There are two different types of shubunkins. One has a long tail fin, with broad tail fin lobes that are rounded on the end. The other one looks more like a common goldfish, with a short tail fin. Bred mainly for their coloring, shubunkins often have a red, black, and sky blue coloring … sort of like a calico.

The most valuable of the shubunkins are mostly blue with strong accents of white and red, and the overall pattern sparingly flecked with black. In fact, when blessed with a white, black, and orange pattern, some may resemble baby koi but are far from it. They are different in size and markings. Most notably, they lack barbells (whiskers of sorts) that are found on koi. Shubunkins are hardy fish that can survive sweltering summers and severe winters, and can grow up to 14 inches in a minimum 180-gallon pond.

Sarassas

SarassaSarassas are very similar to shubunkins in that they both have a similar body shape, however, they do not quite reach the same size as their larger shubunkins counterparts. The sarassa features a white base color and brilliant red highlights. It is believed that they came from a cross between the red cap oranda and the comet goldfish, and are sometimes referred to as the poor man’s koi.

Amazingly, the brilliant red of the true sarassa is a lifelong proposition and the fish are very enjoyable. Uncontrolled breeding of the sarassa will yield more and more brown fish until the pond population has returned to unselected comet and brown goldfish ancestry.

Orfes

Golden OrfeThere are also some fish, which you may have never heard of, that would make great pond fish. Orfes, for example, call many a backyard pond home. In its native habitat, the Danube River, the golden orfe is a dark silvery color, but received its golden color when bred in Europe. The bright orange color is very attractive, especially since they characteristically swim near the surface of most ponds with the rest of their group. This is helpful because their presence near the top of the pond can also encourage koi and other goldfish to visit the surface of the water as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that golden orfe grow extremely fast. A 2 to 3-inch golden orfe can quickly reach sizes of 2 to 2 ½ feet! While golden orfe feed mostly on insect larvae, worms, and fallen insects, they are derived from the predatory side (in its original silver color) and could pose a risk to the rest of the aquatic life, although it is unlikely. Orfe are highly sensitive to fish medications of most kinds, and extreme care must be taken.

Catfish

Catfish are another popular fish seen in the water garden. They are commonly sold as scavengers to help clean up the pond, but they really don’t do that much of it. Caution should be taken with these fish because they can become quite large in a short period of time. When they become large, they can cause trouble because they may start eating whatever they can fit in their mouth … including other fish!

Learning about Fish

Getting to know the background of the pond fish you plan to keep as pets is vital to their survival and your sanity. By knowing their defining characteristics, you will have a thorough understanding of how the fish will interact in your pond with other fish, plants, and aquatic life.

Other Fish to Consider:

 

For Your Water Garden - Other Pond Fish to Enjoy Besides Koi

Not only do waterfalls provide melodious tunes for the garden, but they provide necessary aeration to keep your ecosystem pond functioning and looking its best. With the use of easy-to-install kits, you have the option of creating a pond and waterfall, or a standalone waterfall (no pond). Regardless of which option you choose, waterfalls add beautiful sound in your outdoor living space.

To create a natural-looking waterfall, we’re sharing our favorite tips to help you achieve the waterfall (and yard) of your dreams!

DIY Backyard Waterfall

Make your waterfall fit in with the surrounding area

If the terrain of your backyard is flat, keep your new waterfall in scale with the surrounding landscape and terrain by building a berm around the waterfall area.  Several smaller drops of 4 to 9 inches or one drop – no more than 18 inches – will help blend your pond and waterfall seamlessly into your landscape.

The size of the stone should be proportional to the drop of the waterfall

The drop of the waterfall is the distance from where the water exits the Waterfall Spillway to where it hits the pond. Some of the main rocks should be several inches larger than the drop of the waterfall. For example, a drop of 12 inches should use rocks that are 16 inches in diameter in order for them to be in scale with the project.

The larger rocks should “frame” the waterfalls

Your waterfall will look more natural if you “frame” it with the largest of the rocks that you have chosen. Then, locate a rock with a flat surface and place it between the frame rocks. As the water falls, it will hit the larger stones and find its path through the spaces between them – just like in nature. Small rocks and gravel can then be used to fill in gaps. Remaining rocks can be set along the edge of the basin and gaps can be filled using smaller rocks or gravel. The waterfall will be the focal point of the water feature, so take your time and be creative.

The fewer, the better

Fewer rocks are better when building a waterfall. Three large stones are better than 12 small stones stacked up. Nature will provide you with some tips for designing and building your waterfall. You usually will see one very large stone, surrounded by few smaller ones, with the water running between them.

Twists and turns

If you’re creating a longer waterfall, be sure to twist and turn the waterfall and stream so that there are new views and facets with every turn, which looks better visually. Take your time on this part – designing twists and turns can be the best part of building the waterfall.

Provide a room with a view

For maximum enjoyment throughout the day, make sure your waterfall is visible from a regularly used window or patio door – wherever your family gathers most – in order to provide you views of cascading water from both inside and outside of your home.

Softening the edges

The more plant material you can line the falls and stream with, the better. It will soften the hard edges of all the stone. Also, if you create a good, planted backdrop to your berm it will look as though it’s always been there. Make sure it flows into the rest of your yard.

Above all else, study nature

Be sure to study natural streams and waterfalls to find ideas and inspiration. That is where the greatest waterfall builders in the world gain their inspiration!

Find a Water Feature Retailer

Watch our video with step-by-step instructions: 

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Tips for Building a Backyard Waterfall

Some people are just avid gardeners and have a green thumb. And then there are those who love water in the landscape and wear a blue thumb! Such is the case for this suburban Chicago homeowner who filled his landscape with waterfalls, fountains, and a pond.

An ecosystem pond can be low-maintenance if you include fish and aquatic plants to help balance the water quality.
An ecosystem pond can be low-maintenance if you include fish and aquatic plants to help balance the water quality.

A beautiful waterfall helps to aerate the pond and drown out nearby traffic noise.
A beautiful waterfall helps to aerate the pond and drown out nearby traffic noise.

A wooden bridge invites you to explore a backyard water feature further.
A wooden bridge invites you to explore further.

A stacked slate fountain urn becomes architecture in the garden.
A stacked slate fountain urn becomes architecture in the garden.

A group of basalt columns take center stage in this lush garden.
A group of basalt columns take center stage in this lush garden.

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Canna australis

Red Leaved Canna, Canna australisThe leaves of any colored-foliage Canna can’t be beat, but Red Leaved Canna (Canna australis) beats them all, and yes, it loves water! Dark, deep-chocolate, reddish leaves seem to radiate in the sun and are so thin they allow the light to shine through.

The plant produces an abundance of red flowers and, at three to five feet in height, not only does it make a great backdrop plant, it makes a big statement when used in a container water garden, too!

They enjoy full sun and grow at a medium rate. Butterflies and hummingbirds love this plant, which you can place in the water garden or bog, or even use in flower beds provided you keep their feet wet.

If you use tender Cannas in your pond or container water garden, you’ll need to find an indoor spot to protect them from the winter in Zones colder than 6 or 7.

In winter, water can be hard for birds to find, especially during long spells without snow. When forced to eat snow for their moisture, their body must work to warm it up. And when the sun is out, you will see birds hopping from rock to rock in search of melting ice near the water’s edge. All of this takes valuable energy.

Cardinal

You can make life easier in the winter by leaving open water in your pond in a place that is easily accessible to the birds. You can do this with a pump that moves the water, preventing it from freezing, or with a pond aerator.

Hole in Pond Ice

Don’t forget to feed the birds who come to visit your pond. As with water, it is sometimes hard for them to find enough food during the winter. In addition to store-bought bird feed and suet, include native trees and shrubs in your landscape that offer edible fruit for the birds.

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Did you know that 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% of them actually keep their resolutions? Losing weight was the most popular resolution in 2014, with “getting organized” coming in at a close second.

But why stop at making resolutions for your personal well-being? Why not make a few resolutions in 2015 geared toward your pond? Here are 5 resolutions for you to consider making this year that are sure to improve your pondering experience!

  1. Learn about your pond’s ecosystem. When you understand how all the components of your water feature work together, you’ll be better equipped to make knowledgeable choices and maintain a healthy pond. You can learn about the pond ecosystem at www.aquascapeacademy.com. The online academy is free … and you can study at your own pace!
  2. Start your pond off right in the spring. Take a critical look at your pond once the ice begins thawing and determine if you need a full clean out. If you didn’t remove leaves and debris in the Fall, then you’ll most likely need to clean it out. You can choose to do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. If your pond doesn’t need a full or partial clean out, make sure you understand which water treatments to add once the weather starts warming up.
  3. Add new plantings around the pond. So often pond owners get excited about their pond that they forget about transitioning the water feature into the rest of the landscape. Consider adding a few marginal plants to soften the edges of your pond, and then take it one step further and consider adding a few plants just outside of the pond to naturalize it. Visit our Ponds and Water Gardens board on Pinterest for pond planting ideas.
  4. Get to know your fish. You might think you know your fish pretty well, especially if you’ve named them and visit them daily. But do you know the basics of fish health care? Consider things like thinning out your stock if the fish have babies. Cramped living conditions aren’t good for your fish … or your pond for that matter.
  5. Add something new to your pond. It’s always fun to add new elements to your outdoor living space, whether it’s a new deck or patio set. But have you ever thought of adding something to your pond? The new addition could be as simple as a waterlily or fish … or it could be a bit bigger like a new spitter, or a bridge to traverse your stream. Some pond enthusiasts like to tweak their waterfalls from time to time, which can change the sound of the water in the garden. Whatever you decide, add something new to your pond for a fresh twist.

 

Add a dose of Mother Nature to your yard with water features. They attract birds, butterflies, frogs, and more.

Ecosystem Pond Philosophy to Naturally-Balanced PondEcosystem ponds can be easy to understand if you have a good grasp of what components go into a basic, functioning ecosystem. An ecosystem pond works with Mother Nature to provide food, shelter, and safety to the wildlife around it. It also provides you with an all-natural, low-maintenance piece of paradise.

It’s important to remember, however, that every piece of the ecosystem puzzle must be present in order for a true ecosystem to be in place. Eliminate one of these elements and you’ve got an unbalanced ecosystem that won’t be so low-maintenance anymore. Check out the things you’ll need to get your ecosystem pond fired up:

Circulation System is really just a fancy way of saying “pumps and plumbing.” The proper size pump and pipe diameter are extremely important for the aesthetics of a water feature. More importantly, an efficient circulation system keeps the water moving and provides the necessary oxygen levels for healthy fish and plants.

Proper Filtration System includes the use of both a biological and a mechanical filter. A biological filter provides surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize and remove excess nutrients from the water. A mechanical filter will not only pre-filter the water and house the pump; it will also skim debris from the water’s surface to prevent the accumulation of organic materials on the pond floor.

Fish are an integral part of any ecosystem. Unfortunately, fish are often seen as creating a maintenance nightmare. Contrary to popular belief, fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor.

Aquatic Plants are Mother Nature’s true filters. Plants are great for adding character to a pond by providing color and texture, but from a filtration perspective, they’re second to none. Thriving from the excess nutrients in a pond and depriving algae of its food source, the aquatic plants in a water garden, given proper coverage, are critical for the overall health of the ecosystem.

Rocks, Gravel, and Bacteria have been a controversial element in the hobby for many years. Many enthusiasts have steered away from rocks and gravel out of fear that their system will become a maintenance nightmare. On the contrary, rocks and gravel will not only make your pond look more natural, they will also protect pond liners from UV light degradation and they provide tremendous surface area for beneficial bacteria to break down excess nutrients in the water and dissolved organic debris on the pond floor.

Having all these things in place makes all the difference in the health and success of your water garden. Use them and work with Mother Nature, not against her, for a chemical-free wonderland of water! The truth is that most people opt for the ecosystem way of water gardening because it’s easier and it just makes sense. A low-maintenance ecosystem pond provides you with more free time to enjoy friends and family … while gathered around your pond, of course!

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can find Aquascape pond kits at your local garden center.  Our kits come complete with easy-to-understand installation instructions … just 20 steps to follow before you’ll be enjoying your backyard paradise.  Aquascape pond kits also include a Pond Owner’s Manual to help you enjoy your watery wonderland for many years to come.

 

Colorful leaves still cling to November’s trees, creating a vibrant backdrop for ponds and waterfalls. Although spring and summer are typically a pond owner’s favorite seasons, fall is not to be out-done. Riotous color marches across landscapes leaving a streak of breathtaking views. Lucky is the person who enjoys a water feature framed with a lace of autumn colors.

Pond and Waterfall in the Fall Season

A beautiful burning bush (also known as Euonymus alatus) frames the top of a backyard waterfall. Even the fallen leaves look pretty cascading over the waterfall drops.

Pond and Waterfall with Burning Bush

It’s hard to say goodbye to summer when you have a pond or waterfall in your backyard, but Mother Nature is kind by giving us one last show of color before the snow and ice appear, forcing pond fish and other water-loving critters into hibernation.

Pond and Waterfall in Autumn
Golden leaves nestle next to water lettuce at the bottom of this Pondless Waterfall. Evergreens hug the waterfall stones helping to soften the rocky edges. The greenery will provide a nice contrast to the white snow in winter, too.

Pond and Waterfall in the Fall Season

Be sure to pull up a chair and enjoy the views during daylight hours while you still can. Ponds and waterfalls seem even more peaceful as the pace winds down outside.

Waterfall in the Autumn Season

And of course, be sure to add pond and waterfall lighting to your water feature so you can enjoy your outdoor living space in the evening hours as the days grow shorter.

Pond and Waterfall with Landscape Lighting

If you don’t yet have a water feature but would like to enjoy one, consider adding a Fire Fountain to your deck or patio. This fountain embraces the earthy elements of fire and water and is perfect for the fall season.

Fire Fountain for the Deck or Patio

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 Bursts of red, gold and orange in the trees signify an important event for pond owners … it’s time to do a little fall maintenance in your water garden. Preparing your pond for the winter greatly reduces the amount of work you need to do in the spring to get your pond in tip-top shape.

While the colorful spectrum of leaves are still clinging to the tree’s branches, now’s a good time to determine your strategy for keeping that beautiful foliage out of your pond. Sure, the lacy, colorful leaves look pretty floating on your pond’s surface, but eventually they’ll sink to the bottom where they’ll decay and wreak havoc with your water quality. As leaf matter decomposes, the balance of your water changes and can become toxic for your fish.

Aquascape Pond NettingNetting your pond is an easy, obvious choice for addressing leaf control. It doesn’t take much time to set the net up over your water garden, and the hours of future work it saves you is priceless. You can purchase Aquascape pond netting online or from your local pond store.

If you choose not to net your pond, you’ll need to make sure that you’re checking the pond’s skimmer basket every couple of days to remove the pile-up of leaves. Luckily, this is an easy task and doesn’t take much time. Once you pull the leaves out of the basket, be sure to toss them in your compost pile.

Finally, if you failed to net your pond and all those colorful, floating leaves have found their way to the pond’s bottom, you’ll want to remove them before they decay into ugly sludge that has to be cleaned out in the spring. Grab a long-handled pond net and scoop the debris from the floor of your water garden. Or if you don’t mind getting your feet wet, wade on into the pond and fish them out by hand.

Whatever your strategy to combat the onslaught of beautiful fall foliage that floats into your pond, you can rest assured that your efforts to control it now, will be well rewarded come springtime.

For more information on fall and winter pond maintenance, watch our short video:

Your pond pump is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your pond, so why not learn how to take care of it properly? Oftentimes, pumps burn out or die prematurely due to improper care and installation. By knowing how to take care of your pump, you can ensure it will last several years.

Aquascape Pump Diagram

Issue: Pump Hums but Pushes Very Little Water

Possible Cause: Impeller may be seized by debris

Troubleshooting: Unplug and remove the pump from the pond and inspect the pump intake to ensure there is no debris restricting the impeller. Remove any debris, like rocks or sticks, which may have become lodged around and above impeller.

While the pump is still out of the pond, lay it on its side and plug in the pump to see if the impeller spins. If the impeller does not spin, use a screwdriver or similar tool to kick start the impeller.

Possible Cause: Pump may be air-locked.

Troubleshooting: Air has gotten into the impeller chamber. Tilt the pump while it’s in the pond to allow air to be released from the chamber or remove the pump from the pond and re-install, ensuring that the impeller chamber is flooded with water.

Issue: Pump Pushes Very Little Water

Possible Cause: Plumbing clogged with debris.

Troubleshooting: Disconnect the pump from the pipe. This will allow the plumbing to drain. Clogged debris may back-flush out of the plumbing and into the pond during this procedure. Inspect the plumbing to make sure no debris is lodged inside.

Issue: Pump Is Not Running

Possible Cause: Poor electrical connection, tripped breaker, blown fuse, or other interruption in power supply.

Troubleshooting: Check to make sure all electrical connections are working and that a qualified electrician installed and tested it. Note – Long extension cords may cause voltage drop at the pump and the amps to rise above maximum level. This can cause the pump to heat up and burn out the motor.

Issue: Pump Operates Intermittently

Possible Cause: Not enough water in the pond.

Troubleshooting: Most pumps must be submersed in water to operate properly. Low water levels may cause the pump’s internal thermal shut-off to activate. The thermal shut-off will deactivate once the pump is cooled down. The proper water level must be established in the pond for the pump to work properly.

Possible Cause: The pond is too small to support the volume of water needed for the stream.

Troubleshooting: The pond must be designed to provide enough water to the stream and waterfalls for proper circulation. When the pump is first started, it may be necessary to add a few inches of water to the pond in order to account for the water used to feed the stream and waterfalls. Upper pools and “check” dams in the streams are also very effective at holding water upstream when the pump(s) are not operating. Ponds that are too small may not be able to supply enough water to start the streams and waterfalls. This will cause the water in the pond to drop below the opening of the skimmer upon initial start-up and starve the pump of water.

Just Enjoy!

Remember, your pond should not be an endless source of frustration and confusion to you. If you continue to have problems with your pond, regardless of the troubleshooting steps you performed, it may be time to call in the help of a professional.

But please, don’t consider routine, general maintenance to be a burden on you. After all, how many tasks do you get to perform in the warm sun, with the sounds of frogs and birds all around you, and your friendly koi nibbling at your fingers? And how often are you tempted to take your shoes off and dip your toes in the bathtub when you’ve been cooped up in the house washing windows? Not often. That’s why you installed your pond. Enjoy it!

Watch our Pump Troubleshooting video for more tips on maintaining your water feature pump.

In the splash zone around cascading waterfalls, a fine mist dances through the air … perfect for nourishing a verdant carpet of moss. Moss lends an earthy element to a new water feature, making it look as though the pond and waterfalls have been there for eons.

Waterfalls are the perfect environment for growing moss

Climatis winds its way around the waterfall rocks
Clematis winds its way around the rocks, its lavender flowers providing a perfect foil to the bright green moss clinging to the cool rocks.

Tiny bits of moss start to creep up and over the rocks lining this babbling brook.
Tiny bits of moss start to creep up and over the rocks lining this babbling brook.

Patches of moss peek through the crevass of waterfall rocks
Patches of moss peek through the crevasse of rocks as a stoic alligator keeps careful watch.

Moss from the waterfalls can be transplanted to grow in between the cracks of a flagstone patio.
Moss from the waterfalls can be transplanted to grow in between the cracks of a flagstone patio.

Moss will thrive on the cool surface of rocks surrounding a gentle waterfall such as this one.
Moss will thrive on the cool surface of rocks surrounding a gentle waterfall such as this one.

Rocks with moss already intact were specifically chosen to lend an aged appearance to this relatively new water feature.
Rocks with moss already intact were specifically chosen to lend an aged appearance to this relatively new water feature.

The greens of moss, ferns and architectural grasses reflect light stealing through the leafy canopy above in this water feature.
The greens of moss, ferns and architectural grasses reflect light stealing through the leafy canopy above.

Feathery moss encapsulates the stones near the waterfall's edge.
Feathery moss encapsulates the stones near the waterfall’s edge.

Serene and tranquil, nature's pallette provides soothing comfort with the softness of water and moss.
Serene and tranquil, nature’s palette provides soothing comfort with the softness of water and moss.

As we approach the dog days of summer there are things that you need to remember about your water feature in order to keep a balanced ecosystem pond along with happy fish! Take a moment to refresh your memory with these 5 critically important tips.


  1. Add oxygen to your pond by placing an aerator or AquaForce® pump in your pond. You can also install a fountain with a pump if your pond doesn’t have a waterfall or stream built in.

     

  2. If you feed your fish, feed them in the morning and be careful not to overfeed. Uneaten food decays faster in warmer water and can pollute the pond.

     

  3. Be sure to remove dying leaves and flowers before they have a chance to decay in the warmer water.

     

  4. Aquatic plants such as waterlilies help provide fish with shade from the heat of summer sun, cooling the water and making algae control easier too.

     

  5. Is there really a leak?

Often, people do not realize how much water can evaporate from a pond during the dog days of summer.

The Midwestern states typically lose 1 to 1.5″ of water each week.

Pond owners in the hot, arid Southwest have reported evaporation levels in excess of 3″ a week.

Remember, these are averages. Some ponds may not experience evaporation levels this high. Other ponds with large pumps pushing high volumes of water, or ponds designed with multiple waterfalls and a lot of cascades and splashing may have evaporation rates much greater than these.

 



Marginal plants are simply the aquatic plants found growing around the edges, or margins, of your water garden. To create a natural-looking pond, a good selection of marginal plants is very important. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from and they come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and flower colors.

Creeping Jenny

Attractive and Beneficial

Other than just adding beauty and naturalization, marginal plants also serve many other purposes in the water garden. They add valuable filtration to the pond and they remove elements that would otherwise feed algae. They attract and provide cover for wildlife, and you can also select from among many different hardy or tropical varieties.

In an ecosystem pond, marginal plants are generally placed directly into the gravel. This lets them thrive naturally and filter the water more effectively. Certain plants like thalia, bulrush, and reeds can be problematic and may even damage the pond liner. You should either avoid planting them altogether, or plant them in an aquatic pot, surrounding the pots with rocks and gravel to maintain the natural look of the pond.

Streams are another great place for marginal plants. Again, they provide valuable filtration as the water flows past their roots. They also soak up additional nutrients, minimizing algae problems. Just picture the last time you saw a stream in nature and all the wonderful plants growing in the water along its edges. That’s the look you want to create.

Planting Considerations

Start by selecting the proper plant for the water depth, sun exposure, and location. Water depth is an important consideration when it comes to choosing aquatic plants. More specifically, the concern is with how much water a plant will tolerate above its crown. For this reason, most marginals are planted on the first shelf of the pond. Select plants of different heights, foliage types, and flower colors to create a pleasing mix.

After selecting the plants, it’s time to place them in the pond. Start off by washing away most of the soil from around the root system. You don’t want to disturb the root system of the plant, so be careful and avoid removing too much. Once the soil has been removed from the plant, push the gravel back and place it in the pond, filling the gravel back in around the root system.

The same process can be used for planting in a stream – carefully selecting aquatic plants that like or tolerate the stream’s moving water. Not all marginal plants can thrive in moving water.

Special Care for Aggressive Plants

If the plant you decide to use is overly aggressive, you should consider leaving it in a pot to help contain the spread of the roots. Remember, most aquatic plants prefer width over depth in their respective growing areas so give them plenty of room to spread out. Many marginals are shallow-rooted, therefore depth is less of a factor than surface area.

To plant, fill the hole-less aquatic pot with 2-3” of heavy topsoil, placing the fertilizer in the bottom of the pot. Unlike the marginals you planted in the gravel, you will need to fertilize these plants as they are not as effective at drawing nutrients from the pond because their roots are contained by the pot.

Finish filling in around the plant’s roots with heavy topsoil. Then fill the pot to within one inch of the top, firmly pack the soil, and cover it with a ½ to one-inch layer of gravel. Remember, when you’re done, the gravel level should be about even with the previous soil level.

Maintenance

Taking care of marginal plants in an ecosystem pond is fairly simple. Remove any dead, discolored, or excess plant material as needed. Marginal plants (unless they are in pots) do not need to be fertilized, as they will flourish from the nutrients in the pond.

For winter care, simply cut the plants back to two or three inches above the water level of the pond. In the spring, remove all dead plant material. And remember, the growth of plants that are directly in the gravel is not restricted – they will need to be thinned so they don’t engulf more of the pond than originally planned.

On A Final Note

The flowering waterlily may be the apple of your water gardening eye, but marginal plants play a crucial role in the function, maintainability, and beauty of a properly-conceived water garden. Without marginal plants, the water garden will look out of place and unnatural. They provide many textures, colors, and blooms that soften the edges and help blend the pond into the surrounding landscape. So when you’re in the planning stages of a water garden project, don’t forget the marginals because they’re simply part of Mother Nature’s recipe … and we all know better than to argue with her.

Most water gardeners are aware of the importance that good quality water plays in a pond habitat.  Not knowing how to get or keep water quality can prove challenging to some pond owners.  Your water may be clear, but your fish may not be acting like you’re used to seeing, which can signify that something might be a little off in your pond’s water. Follow our 7 tips below to help keep your pond water clean!

1. Maintain a healthy fish population

If you have more than 10” of fish for every 100 gallons of water, your pond is likely over-populated. Excessive fish waste can cause an imbalance in pond water. Consider finding some of them a new home. Many pond retailers and contractors will accept your fish.

2. Don’t over-feed your fish

When you feed fish more than they can eat, the uneaten food is left to decay in the pond. Be careful not to feed your fish more than once per day, and no more than they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes. Remove all excess, leftover food.

3. Create a proper balance of plants

At season’s peak, you should have no more than 40% to 60% of the surface area of your pond either covered or shaded by plants. Too many plants can cause oxygen deficiencies at night due to the photosynthetic process, when the plants take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide.

4. Choose the right size pump for your pond

You should be circulating the entire pond’s water volume a minimum of once every hour. Make sure your pump’s flow isn’t restricted by debris and be careful not to pump water higher than it was intended. Every pump has its flow limitations. Refer to the chart on the outside of the pump’s box to make sure you’re making the right choice for your pond.

5. Clean debris from pond before it has a chance to decay

Decaying debris, combined with fish waste and leftover fish food, can cause ammonia levels to spike in your pond. Clean out your pond and add beneficial microbes such as Aquascape’s Beneficial Bacteria to help keep it healthy and clean.

6. Choose proper filtration for your pond

Your filter should match the size of your pond. Remember, most manufacturers rate their filters based on ideal circumstances, and if you exceed those, your filter becomes less effective. Always up-size your filter so that it can handle more than the capacity of your pond. Also remember to clean your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Keep your pond cool during the dog days of summer

When pond water exceeds 75º Fahrenheit, it has a more difficult time retaining acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen. This is why it’s important to have your pond shaded by aquatic plants (see tip #3). Fish need oxygen to survive. If you see them at the pond’s surface gasping for air, add an aerator to help them during times of extreme heat.

How to Install an Aquascape FountainCall to mind your favorite vacation spot or shopping center. Chances are they possess some type of water feature to attract and captivate you. Statistics show that most Americans choose a lake, ocean, or impressive waterfalls as their primary vacation destination.  And any large shopping center likely boasts an impressive fountain or pool of water to lure shoppers to their stores.

Why not enjoy this same sensory experience at home by freshening up your outdoor space with a fountain of your own? Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a water feature in your own yard, but you’re not quite ready for a pond with fish and plants. You’ll be happy to know that anyone can enjoy a fountain in their outdoor living space. Whether you reside in an apartment with a small balcony or patio, or live in a larger suburban home with green grass, you’ll find a cozy spot for a new fountain.

Quick and Easy to Install

Fountains are easily installed in a couple of hours and come in a range of styles and sizes. The fountain sits atop a reservoir basin and simply recirculates the stored water with a water pump. If you live in an apartment, you can place the fountain on a decorative patio basin. If you have yard space, you’ll want to bury a basin into the ground and cover it with decorative rock.

Some homeowners have opted to connect their fountain to a rainwater harvesting system, so that water captured from the roof during a storm is stored and filtered through the fountain. In this type of system, the reservoir is typically larger to hold ample rainwater for irrigating your surrounding gardens.

Why Stop at One?

Consider adding a fountain near your front door to greet guests and visitors. Tuck another in your flower garden to attract butterflies and bees to help pollinate your plants. You can even place one under a bedroom window; leave the window open at night and enjoy being lulled to sleep by the melody of the fountain.

Enjoy a fountain or two in your landscape and you’ll be on your way to living the water feature lifestyle. Who knows? You may end up graduating to a waterfall or pond in your yard someday. When it comes to landscaping options, you can’t go wrong with the sights and sounds of soothing water in your garden.

Patio Pond Set-Up InfographicNow anyone anywhere can have a beautiful water garden in just a matter of minutes! The new Aquascape Patio Pond makes it simple to have a complete water garden in almost any setting. Creating a beautifully planted water bowl or container water garden has never been easier.

The Aquascape Patio Pond has all the natural beauty of real rock with the added durability and light weight of fiberglass. This small water garden looks great on a front porch or nestled on a backyard patio or deck.

Six easy steps are all it takes to create a beautiful, miniature ecosystem water garden!

Step One: Unpack the Aquatic Patio Pond from the box.
Step Two: Rinse the Aquatic Patio Pond with a garden hose.
Step Three: Place and fill the Aquatic Patio Pond with water. If using the garden hose, it’s best to run the hose for a few minutes to flush the hose of any stagnant water.
Step Four: Let the water sit overnight or use a water conditioner like Aquascape’s Pond Detoxifier before adding plants or fish.
Step Five: Place plants on the integrated shelf. The round portion in the middle of the bowl is ideal for a water lily.
Step Six: Add a few small fish for color and movement. Two or three small goldfish or Rosy Reds are a good choice.

Then sit back, relax and enjoy!


Available
in three sizes of 24”, 32” and 40” and three colors of green slate, desert granite and terra cotta. To view our catalog with this and other pond products, please visit http://www.aquascapeinc.com/product-catalogs.

 

Enjoying a Summer PondRecord high temperatures across the nation create a number of challenges for people, pets, plants, and yes, even your water garden. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your pond, especially when the water temperature reaches 80 degrees or higher.

Warm water has a low capacity for holding oxygen, so you may start to see your fish gasping for air close to the water’s surface, or especially close to a fountain or waterfall. In addition, warm pond water leads to increased activity and that means your fish require more oxygen at a time when it’s least available.

As your fish struggle for oxygen, they’ll become increasingly stressed. And stressed fish are more likely to develop diseases … a scenario you want to avoid.

To optimize fish health during extreme heat, you’ll want to ensure your fish have the best pond environment possible. It all starts with a well-designed water feature. Depth, plant coverage, shade, and circulation should all be considered when building a pond. A minimum depth of two feet is suggested so the bottom can remain cooler.

You’ll also want to stock your pond with a lot of plants to provide shade for the fish. A good rule of thumb is to provide plant coverage of approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the pond’s surface area. Waterlily pads provide great coverage, but if your pond lacks the proper amount, you can easily add floating plants such as water lettuce until the waterlilies fill in.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of pond design is circulation. If possible, you’ll want to place your biological filter and mechanical filter across the pond from each other, so that all areas of the pond are skimmed and the water circulated. And keep in mind that waterfalls, streams, and even fountains play a huge part in the oxygenation of the water in your pond. If you don’t already have a waterfall cascading into your pond, you might want to invest in a fountain that can be added without any construction to the pond.

During these hot, dog days of summer, try some of these tips to keep your pond performing optimally:

The bottom line is that you need to keep an eye on your pond and let your fish and plants do the talking. If you have a balanced ecosystem, you don’t need to be checking your pond out everyday, but you do need to check it out every once in a while to make sure your aquatic plants and fish are healthy.

When it comes to designing a water feature for your yard, it’s important to naturalize its appearance so it looks like it’s been carved into the landscape for years. An easy way to make your pond blend in with the surroundings is to pay careful consideration to areas where the water meets the land. You’re sure to find inspiration from our collection of landscape edging ideas for your water feature, whether you have a pond, waterfall, or stream.

Aquascape Ecosystem Pond

When placing your pond near a patio, transition the edge with small boulders and creeping ground cover, like this backyard pond installed by The Pond Gnome of Peoria, AZ. The sedum softens and blurs the hard edges of the brick patio and creates a pretty landscape edging.

Plants Create Soft Edges

Plants are always a good choice when considering how to edge your pond. Coneflowers are planted in the dirt just outside of the pond, while aquatic Purple Pickerel is planted along the margins inside the pond. The pairing makes it difficult to find the true edge of the pond, thereby creating a natural look.

Naturalize a Stream or Waterfall with Plants

Bring annuals up close to the edges of a stream or waterfall to help soften the rocks and edges of the water feature. Impatiens are a great choice because they mound and cascade. Plus, they like to get their feet wet and are a perfect choice for planting near a water feature.

Edging - Outcroppings in a Stream

Outcroppings are one of the most popular ways to enhance the landscape edging of a water feature. Flat rocks appear to be floating just over the water and create interactive spots. Children can play in the water while sitting on one of the large flat stones.

Landscape Edging. Create a Rocky Shoreline.

Create a rocky shoreline with a mix of small and medium-sized rocks. Extend the pebbles into the bottom of the stream for a truly natural waterfall appearance.

Create a Pebble Beach

The family dog enjoys the pebble beach of this Florida pond and waterfall. The soft, flat pebbles allow an easy entry point into the pond where the family can explore nature. The pebble beach looks like it’s always been part of the landscape even though the water feature is just a few years old.

Pond with Cantilever Deck

Rocks and plants naturalize the landscape edging of the northwest side of this pretty backyard pond. A cantilevered deck hugs the southwest side and provides a place for the owners to dangle their feet and enjoy viewing the fish.

Landscape Edging with Mulch and Evergreens

Soften edges of a water feature with mulch and mounding miniature evergreens. A larger evergreen creates an architectural background for this backyard pond and waterfall.

You’ll find a variety of ways to improve the landscape edging of your water feature. Many can be achieved even after your pond or waterfall has been installed.

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Tropical water lilies are referred to as “tropicals” because of their dislike for cold weather. Like annual plants in your garden beds, tropical water lilies die off in the winter and need to be replaced the following pond season. Even so, there are many benefits to choosing tropical water lilies for your pond.

Tropical Water Lilies in Aquascape Pond

 

Other than the obvious downside of annual mortality and the additional expense associated with yearly replacement, there is little reason not to enjoy a tropical water lily in your pond. The cost is probably less than what you spend on flats of marigolds and petunias!

Tropical Water Lilies Collage

You’ve probably seen breathtaking photos of backyard ponds bobbing with colorful water lilies, and maybe you’ve been lucky enough to see one in person or even have one of your own. But why limit beautiful water features to the backyard?  It’s just as easy to enjoy front yard water features and boost your curb appeal at the same time!

Front Yard Water Features

An ecosystem pond takes center stage at the entrance to this suburban Colonial home. Adirondack chairs provide comfy seating for watching the fish and enjoying nature.

 

Waterfall by Front Door Creates Curb Appeal

On the other side of the door, the water feature continues along the sidewalk with a gentle waterfall. The perfect landscape enhancement for greeting visitors to your home.

 

Front Yard Water Features

Look carefully and you’ll notice the stream that begins near the front door, winding its way along the pathway before emptying into a pretty koi pond.

 

Fountain rocks add curb appeal at front entrance to home

Maybe a fountain is more up your alley due to its smaller size. This little foursome of fountain rocks is nestled in a bed of impatiens by the front door. Birds enjoy getting a drink here while resting their wings from flight.

 

Front Yard Fountains

Flowers can be challenging to grow in shady areas, but a fountain is the perfect spot for such a location! This home already has a stunning backyard pond, but the owner wanted a splash of water out front, too.

 

Garden Water Features

You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood with a waterfall and pond that requires a stone bridge to traverse it to reach the front door. Waterlilies play on the surface of the water when the breezes blow.

 

Waterfall by Front Door Creates Curb Appeal

A small waterfall nestles in the ivy and hostas next to the front steps of this Chicago suburban home.

 

Front Yard Koi Pond

A koi lover wanted their pond at the front of the house to match their indoor koi pond in the meditation room.

 

Front Yard Garden Water Features

A frog statuette guards this home’s recirculating waterfall and hints at the critters that live to visit and enjoy the oasis.

 

Spillway bowls at front entrance of home

To really amp up your curb appeal, consider bowls spilling one into another. You could even make a chain of bowls that extend the length of your sidewalk.

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See more inspiring fountains in our short video:

Aquascape Baby KoiIf you have fish in your pond, sooner or later they are going to have babies. Late spring to early summer usually marks the time of year when koi and goldfish start to spawn. When koi and goldfish spawn, they produce thousands of eggs but very few actually survive and grow up into baby fish. Koi are egg “scatterers,” meaning they generally deposit their eggs on the bottom of the pond or in plants.

The eggs hatch a few days after although you probably won’t be able to see them for several weeks because they are too small. At this stage in development, the babies will feed off of all sorts of microorganisms in your pond. After a couple months the babies are about an inch long and may start eating commercial food. In order to “bulk” them up, look for a food that has high protein content. Depending on the pellet size, it may be necessary to crush them in order for the babies to eat the food.

By the end of summer you’ll have to decide whether to bring the babies inside or let them over-winter in the pond. If you decide to let them over-winter outside, they may or may not survive because they don’t have enough fat reserve to tide them over. If you decide to bring them in, make sure you have a large enough tank with adequate filtration because they will continue to grow inside.

Another thing to remember is that if your pond babies continue to survive year after year, sooner or later they are going to get big and could overcrowd your pond. If you plan on keeping some of the babies, understand that eventually you may have to get rid of (cull) some of them. Watching the baby fish grow up is fun and the whole process is a great learning experience for kids and adults, alike.

White Water Snowflake, nymphoidesThe snow blanketing ponds across the country brings a great time to talk about the dainty Water Snowflake you may have floating in your pond during the warmer seasons. Water snowflake (Nymphoides spp.) is part of a large family of what are commonly called waterlily-like plants because their leaves float at the surface of the water while the roots are anchored in soil below – much like the habit of a waterlily.

The plant is constantly reproducing, spreading runners out along the surface of the pond. Like water lettuce, you can pinch off the new plantlets to share with friends and help control growth. Because it’s a hardy grower, the Water Snowflake is great for ponds that suffer from constant algae blooms. The leaves will quickly spread across the water, providing shade and minimizing algae growth.

Popular snowflakes for the water garden include:

 

Yellow Water Snowflake nymphoidesWhite Water Snowflake, Nymphoides indica

 White Water Snowflake has round, floating, 2-inch leaves that are green with maroon variegation. Because they exchange oxygen on the surface, they need to remain dry and away from the spray of waterfalls and fountainheads. Hardy in Zones 8-11.

Yellow Water Snowflake, Nymphoides geminata

 Yellow Water Snowflake has very frilly, star-shaped yellow flowers, green leaves, and is hardy in Zones 5-11. This free flowering plant has a fast-growing, running spreading habit. Ideally it grows in 4 to 24 inches of water.

Orange Water Snowflake nymphoidesOrange Water Snowflake, Nymphoides hydrocharioides

 Native to Australia, this plant has orange, star-shaped flowers and bright green leaves with dark red or brown variegation, and is hardy in Zones 7-11.

Note: Some states include Water Snowflake on its list of invasive species. Check with your local government for its invasive species list.

If you’re like most Americans, you probably have a deck, patio, or balcony where you can enjoy the great outdoors from the privacy of your own home. You kick your feet up in your Adirondack chair and enjoy the summer breeze blowing through your hair, but something’s missing. All you see from your deck is an expanse of grass and a few trees, and what you hear are the neighbor’s kids crying and their dog yapping. Your deck needs a view. And better yet, that view needs to replace irritating noises with melodic sounds. What I’m trying to say is … your deck needs a pond!

The owners of this deck enjoy a view of a meandering stream that spills into a pond by their lower level patio.
The owners of this deck enjoy a view of a meandering stream that spills into a pond by their lower level patio. A wooden bridge invites you to sit a spell and dangle your toes in the water.

Is this someone's backyard or a vacation resort? Yep, it's a backyard alright!
Is this someone’s backyard or a vacation resort? Yep, it’s a backyard alright!

This deck wraps around the house and leads to a stone path that follows the stream along the back of the house.
This deck wraps around the house and leads to a stone path that follows the stream along the back of the house. And the best part? There’s no lawn to mow!

Isn't this the perfect spot for a morning cup o' coffee or a fruity glass of wine in the evening? The waterfall creates the added dimension of soothing sounds.
Isn’t this the perfect spot for a morning cup o’ coffee or a fruity glass of wine in the evening? The waterfall creates the added dimension of soothing sounds.

Here's a switch. This deck is at the front of the house with a beautiful, reflective pond to welcome visitors.
Here’s a switch. This deck is at the front of the house with a beautiful, reflective pond to welcome visitors.

A gentle stream flows alongside the shady deck while a brass boy spitter provides an element of whimsy for those who linger and admire the scenery.
A gentle stream flows alongside the shady deck while a brass boy spitter provides an element of whimsy for those who linger and admire the scenery.

Who wouldn't love this floating deck overlooking a waterfall that cascades into a pebble beach?
Who wouldn’t love this floating deck overlooking a waterfall that cascades into a pebble beach? The children love hauling their pails and shovels to play in the water and gravel.

A balcony and lower deck provide great views of this water garden.
A balcony and lower deck provide great views of this water garden. Relax on the patio furniture or take a trip across the stepping stones to see the fish up close.

Decks provide great feeding spots for fish. Koi will learn to eat food right from your hand.
Decks provide great feeding spots for fish. Koi will learn to eat food right from your hand.

A brick patio extends from the deck to a wooden bridge that takes you further back into the yard for more water garden delights.
A deck by the house wasn’t enough for these lucky pond owners. A brick patio extends from the deck to a wooden bridge that takes you further back into the yard for more water garden delights.

A shady spot on the deck provides cool relief on hot summer days, while the pond helps to lower the temperature.
A shady spot on the deck provides cool relief on hot summer days, while the pond helps to lower the temperature.

This unique deck dissects the pond, providing multiple viewing areas to enjoy the abundant aquatic plants and surrounding landscape.
This unique deck dissects the pond, providing multiple viewing areas to enjoy the abundant aquatic plants and surrounding landscape.

So if you’ve got a deck that overlooks your lawn and all you see is grass and a few flowers … why not turn it into waterfront property by installing a water garden or waterfall of your very own? You won’t regret it!

Lotus is considered one of the most impressive aquatic plants available on the market today. It’s a true
aquatic perennial plant that belongs to the genus Nelumbo, and consists of only two species – the yellow-
flowered American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) found in the Americas, and the pink Asiatic lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
found in Asia, Australia, and Eastern Europe.

Fun Facts about the Lotus

These two species have been grown and bred for centuries, resulting in hundreds of hybrids that range in many
size and color options. There are many intriguing facts about the lotus that we think you’ll enjoy:

 

 

Learn more about the lovely lotus.

Pond lovers have spoken in our latest water gardening survey and the aspect of pondering you find most appealing is … the sound!  The playful rippling of water cascading over rocks is soothing and helps you relax at the end of a hectic day. Not only that, but waterfalls can drown out the sound of nearby traffic or noisy neighbors.

7 Backyard Waterfall Ideas

We’ve put together a collection of beautiful backyard waterfalls to enjoy; some are installed by our Certified Aquascape Contractors.  If you’re on Pinterest, these would make great additions to your outdoor pin boards!

Backyard Disappearing Waterfall
A small boring berm in this homeowner’s yard was transformed with a disappearing waterfall. A waterfall doesn’t have to be big to make a great first impression.

Backyard Waterfall by Arbor Ridge
Plants soften the rocks of this peaceful waterfall created by Arbor Ridge Services in Kingsville, MD. Colorful flowers add additional interest to this cozy garden space.

Waterfall by Forever Green Landscaping
Forever Green Landscaping in Leominster, MA added the soothing sound of running water with this refreshing backyard waterfall. The addition of waterfall lights provide beautiful night-time viewing!

Deck and Patio Poolside Waterfall
How about a poolside waterfall for your backyard?  This waterfall was created by The Deck and Patio Company located in Huntington Station, NY.

Backyard Waterfall by H2O Designs
A stunning, twisting, turning waterfall is carved into the backyard by H2O Designs in Lexington, KY. A variety of plants and a blue gazing globe create additional visual interest.

Disappearing Backyard Waterfall
A pond empties into a subsurface reservoir creating the look of a disappearing waterfall. The pebble beach creates a much-used play area for the children during warmer months.

Backyard Waterfall with Evergreens
Evergreens provide privacy screening at the top of a gorgeous waterfall. The cascading water drowns out sounds from neighbors in a close-knit community.

Backyard waterfalls can accomplish a variety of landscaping needs. With a little imagination and creativity, you can create the backyard oasis of your dreams!

 

If you shut your pond down during the winter season we recommend removing the pump from the filter and storing in a bucket of water in a frost free location. The water will help maintain the life of the seals on the pump while in storage. Please note that the pump, depending on how long it has been out of operation over the winter may need to be “kick-started”.

To test, plug the pump into the electrical outlet prior to installing the pump back in the skimmer and visually inspect if the pumps impeller is spinning. If the pumps impeller does not start spinning on its own use a screw driver or similar device to assist the impeller. Once the impeller begins spinning the lubrication will be reintroduced between the seals and the pump should start on its own. The pump can now be installed back into the water feature.

Winter Pump Care

Adding plants to your water garden has many benefits such as naturalizing the landscape, creating smooth transitions for edges and improving the water quality and ecosystem as a whole. But did you know that many common pond plants can be invasive and in some areas illegal to obtain? Even though a plant may be aggressive, that does not mean you shouldn’t consider adding them to your pond.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know

If the plant you have chosen is especially aggressive, it should be kept in a pot to keep it contained. Some may put an aggressive floating plant in their Biofalls® to help naturalize this part of their pond and contain them.  Less invasive aquatic marginal plants can either be left in the pot or set free to roam a bit.

For a more detailed list of regulated and prohibited invasive aquatic plants, be sure to visit http://iwgs.org/invasive-species/. Take a look below at the 10 common invasive pond plants that you should be aware of.

 

Canna (Canna flaccida)

Canna is a tall-growing plant with variegated or green leaves and brightly colored flower spikes.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know - Canna

 

 Aquatic Crinum, Swamp or Bog Lily (Crinum americanum)

The Aquatic Crinum lily is dainty and elegant all at once with its long petalled, white flowers and green strap-like leaves. Aquatic Crinum grows anywhere from 18” to 36” tall in full to partial sun.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know - Aquatic Crinum

 

Water Snowflake (Nymphoides indica)

Water Snowflake has round, floating, 2-inch leaves that are green with maroon variegation. Because they exchange oxygen on the surface, they need to remain dry and away from the spray of waterfalls and fountainheads.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know - Water Snowflake

 

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

Water lettuce produces fuzzy, lime-green rosettes of leaves that results in what looks like little floating heads of lettuce. It does best in some shade.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know - Water Lettuce

 

Cattail (Typha spp.)

The common Cattail is often seen growing in ditches and along the edge of wetlands. They are valued for their water filtration abilities and do best in full sun to partially shaded areas. Blooms appear in late spring and turn brown in summer.  Cattail grow anywhere from 4’ to 5’ tall.

Variegated Cattail

 

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)

Also called Moneywort, this plant grows in mats around 3” tall, with round green leaves and vibrant yellow cup-shaped flowers. Creeping Jenny requires full sun to partial shade for best growth.

Creeping Jenny - also known as Moneywort

 

Parrots Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)

This is a fast growing plant lush with lacy lime-green foliage. Parrots Feather makes for a good oxygenator and fish spawning shelter and thrives in sun or shade.

Parrots Feather

 

Taro (Colocasia esulenta)

Taro is known for its heart-shaped leaves that can reach 3” to 10” across and up to 3’ in length.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know - Taro

 

Water Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scorpiodes)

Forget-Me-Not is a fragrant plant with dense clusters of small, bright blue flowers with yellow eyes that appear in early spring. This plant grows from 8” to 10” above the water in both sun and shade.

Water Forget Me Not

 

Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata)

Pickerel Weed has violet blue spike-like flowers that exhibit from spring through early fall. This plant thrives in dense colonies along pond edge and in bogs and grows anywhere from 2’ to 3’ tall.

10 Invasive Pond Plants You Need to Know - Pickerel Weed

 

These plants are all beautiful and can still be enjoyed, just keep in mind that you will need to cut them back from time to time or keep them contained in something such as a pot or aquatic planter to avoid them from taking over your pond.

The Wonders of Backyard Water Features

Maybe you’re entertaining the idea of melding the wonders of water right into the landscape that surrounds your home? Home is the place you go to relax and to let yourself go. You’re wondering what’s possible to make your home more of an escape from reality. Well, try adding water! Here are a few ideas of the possibilities that can be done to the average home’s landscape.

A pond does not have to take up your entire yard to become a piece of your very own home getaway.
A pond does not have to take up your entire yard to become a piece of your very own home getaway.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of splashing water as your mind drifts away from the daily stresses in your life.
Don’t have much of a yard to deal with? How about incorporating a fountain? Enjoy the sights and sounds of splashing water as your mind drifts away from the daily stresses in your life.

A contained water garden is great for a patiol, balcony or rooftop!
Live in the city or only have access to a balcony or rooftop? Take advantage of a smaller contained water feature. Aquascape’s Fire Fountain would make a great option to introduce the benefits of soothing water into the hustle and bustle of the city life.

There is always the option to fully submerge yourself in the water garden lifestyle and transform your entire backyard into a beautiful aquatic getaway.
There is always the option to fully submerge yourself in the water garden lifestyle and transform your entire backyard into a beautiful aquatic getaway.

 

Maybe you prefer relaxing in your front yard? A Pondless® Waterfall could be a great option that is sure to turn heads as people stroll by.

Think about it, when you start to drift off while relaxing on that wooden swing of yours, do you imagine an unadorned landscape or do you dream of being alongside a gentle stream, a calming pond or the beautiful colors of the ocean hitting your toes as you sway back and forth? Bring part of that dream to life and take advantage of the many benefits water has on relieving the tensions of life that come upon you.

 


Imagine sinking into your favorite Adirondack chair and propping your feet up by the pond as the sun slowly disappears below the horizon. Without having to peel yourself from the chair to flip a switch, your pond takes on a new life as the twinkle of lights behind the waterfall pop on. You catch a glimmer of koi dancing around light beams under the pond’s surface.

Aquascape Garden & Pond Lighting

With today’s busy lifestyle, it can be difficult to enjoy your pond during the day. Underwater lights create a whole new experience by your pond after the sun goes down. And if you opt for LED lights, you’ll save on energy costs while lengthening your hours of pond enjoyment.

Aquascape LED lights use approximately 80-90% less electricity and last 10 times longer than their halogen counterparts. This is especially advantageous in a water garden setting where a submerged light can be difficult to access. The new Pond & Landscape LED Light Kit is a great choice for those looking for convenience in lighting options.

The Aquascape LED Garden and Pond Lighting Kit is preassembled and pre-wired making installation a snap. Simply plug in the transformer, and your lights are ready to go. The kit includes 3 single-watt LED light fixtures. Each fixture includes a high-output LED light combined with an optical lens, which provides an extremely powerful light output for such a small fixture.

The waterproof design of the LED light fixture makes the unit extremely versatile, allowing it to be submerged underwater, as well as used alongside the water to highlight waterfall cascades, fountains, or even plants and trees surrounding the water feature.

What’s more, the Pond & Landscape LED Light Kit includes a built-in photocell that automatically controls the lights, turning the fixtures on at dusk, and off at dawn. The ability to use these lights above or below the water provides you with many creative ways to design them into any water feature setting.

Watch a short video about Aquascape’s Garden & Pond Lighting System:

Waterfalls add delightful sound to the garden and can be customized for your listening pleasure. If you live near busy traffic, you might want a grand waterfall to drown out the noise of cars rushing by. But if you live in the country, a small idyllic stream or waterfall can create just the right melody for harmonizing with crickets and birds.

Sights and Sounds of Waterfalls
Whatever your fancy, the perfect waterfall can be created just for you … so sit a spell and enjoy!

Fallen logs are strategically placed to make this stream appear as though it's been part of the landscape for tens of years.
Fallen logs are strategically placed to make this stream appear as though it’s been part of the landscape for tens of years.

Flowers and plants soften the edges of large stone and help to naturalize the waterfall.
Flowers and plants soften the edges of large stone and help to naturalize the waterfall.

A gentle stream calms and soothes the soul after a stressful day at work.
A gentle stream calms and soothes the soul after a stressful day at work. Who wouldn’t want to grab a cold glass of iced tea or lemonade and unwind while gazing at this scenery?

This homeowner wanted to recreate a favorite vacation spot ... Ironstone Mountain. He enjoys fond vacation memories every time he gazes at his backyard waterfall.
This homeowner wanted to recreate a favorite vacation spot … Ironstone Mountain. He enjoys fond vacation memories every time he gazes at his backyard waterfall.

This newly created waterfall and stream was graced with a few mature plantings to tie it into its lush surroundings.
This newly created waterfall and stream was graced with a few mature plantings to tie it into its lush surroundings. Note a few strategic spots were created for sitting and dangling feet into the cool waters.

If rustic waterfall is more your style, jagged rocks will create what you need.
If rustic is more your style, jagged rocks will create what you need.

Some landscapes cry out for a dramatic, thunderous waterfall, such as this one located in North Carolina.
Some landscapes cry out for a dramatic, thunderous waterfall, such as this one located in North Carolina.

A bit of whimsy lends itself to this smaller waterfall. Imagine a child's delight upon discovering the tiny fairy.
A bit of whimsy lends itself to this smaller waterfall. Imagine a child’s delight upon discovering the tiny fairy.

Do you have a wooded backyard? Don't sweat fitting a waterfall into the landscape. Let the stream wind around the trees before emptying into a crystal clear pond.
Do you have a wooded backyard? Don’t sweat fitting a waterfall into the landscape. Let the stream wind around the trees before emptying into a crystal clear pond.

No matter what your landscaping challenge might be, there’s a water feature just for you! Anyone can enjoy the beautiful sound of water in the landscape.

If you plan on keeping fish, you should be prepared to care for them when they get sick. Just like other pets, it’s wise to be informed about the basics when it comes to fish health. The best line of defense is to know, in advance, how to properly treat them.
Treating Common Fish Illness

Most fish issues can be avoided by following a few simple, preventative measures:

Understand Your Water Quality

The majority of issues are caused by poor water quality. Make sure that the fish population is under control and don’t be afraid to do partial water changes often and consistently. Make sure when adding water, or when doing a partial water change, that you treat the water with Pond Detoxifier to eliminate chlorine/chloramines and chelate heavy metals. Aerating pond water is also something that can potentially increase water quality dramatically.

Buy Your Fish From a Responsible Retailer

Never buy sick fish and, if possible, quarantine fish for a few days before adding them to your pond. Always ask how long the retailer has had the fish. If they have just received them in, ask the retailer to hold the fish for a few days to make sure the fish recovers from stress related to transport and new water chemistry.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Fish

If any signs of disease are seen, start using Pond Salt immediately and start feeding with medicated fish food. If things look like they are getting worse, immediately treat the pond with the appropriate treatment. The longer you wait to treat the problem, the less chance you have of saving your fish.

Test Your Water

Test it yourself or have your local retailer test it for any signs of a problem. It is also important to test the water coming directly from your tap as it is increasingly common to have issues including ammonia coming directly from your source water.

Feed Your Fish a High-Quality Food

Feeding a high-quality food will not affect water quality and will ensure that your fish are getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need to maintain proper health. Be sure to feed often and consistently.

Before treating any potential problem with your fish, it is important to make sure that you are using the correct treatment, dosage or treatment rate to prevent any re-occurrence.

Remember, prevention is the best cure. The easiest way to avoid disease problems is to maintain optimum water conditions. Feeding a quality diet and adding beneficial bacteria on a regular basis will help maintain a balanced Ecosystem. Disease problems must be addressed in the early stages to be successful.

Use the table below to assist you with treating common problems that may arise with fish in a water garden.

 Fish Symptom  Possible Problems  Treatment
Erratic movement, flashing or rubbing on rocks and
surfaces throughout the pond
– Parasite Problem • Aquascape Parasite & Ich Treatment
• Aquascape Praziquantel Treatment
• Aquascape Pond Salt
Growths that look like “cotton balls” – Fungal Infection • Aquascape Fungus Treatment
Open wounds or ulcers – Bacterial Infection • Aquascape Ulcer & Bacterial Infection Treatment
• Aquascape Medicated Fish Food
Fins appear to be rotting away – Fin Rot
– Bacterial Infection
• Aquascape Ulcer & Bacterial Infection Treatment
• Aquascape Medicated Fish Food
• Aquascape Pond Salt
Red streaks in the fins – Bacterial Infection
– Parasite Problem
– Ammonia    Poisoning
• Aquascape Parasite & Ich Treatment
• Aquascape Praziquantel Treatment
• Aquascape Medicated Fish Food
• Aquascape Pond Salt and water change using  Aquascape Pond Detoxifier
• Aquascape Ammonia Neutralizer
Small, white spots that look like salt stuck to the
body of the fish
– Ich
– Parasite problem
• Aquascape Parasite & Ich Treatment
• Aquascape Pond Salt
Gasping at the surface of the water – Oxygen Depletion • Aerate the pond and agitate the pond surface
• Reduce fish load
Bulging eyes – Bacterial Infection • Aquascape Ulcer & Bacterial Infection Treatment
• Aquascape Medicated Fish Food
Scales protruding from a swollen body like a pine cone – Dropsy
– Bacterial Infection
• Difficult to treat; treat the pond as a preventative  measure
• Aquascape Ulcer & Bacterial Infection Treatment
Difficulty swimming underwater floating at the
surface upright
– Swim Bladder          Disease • If the fish is still feeding, feed fish with canned peas or a  Spirulina-based fish food
Red or swollen gills – Parasite Problem • Aquascape Parasite & Ich Treatment
• Aquascape Praziquantel Treatment
• Aquascape Pond Salt

Baby, it’s hot outside! If you’re one of the lucky souls who has their own water garden, you can easily take advantage of its cooling magic during the dog days of summer. You can swim in a large pond (don’t worry, the fish won’t bite). And with a smaller pond, you can dangle your feet into its refreshing waters. A pond cools the air around it so if you’re like me and hate being cooped up on a summer day … no matter how hot … be sure to sit by your pond where the air is cooler. A patch of shade and a gentle breeze will simply add to the refreshment you’ll enjoy.

Water gardens pull kids outside, away from the TV and video games.
Water gardens pull kids outside, away from the TV and video games. Mom and Dad get to spend relaxing time watching their children and catching up on the day’s events. This is so much better than reality TV!

Even the family dog enjoys getting in on a little snorkeling action in the backyard pond.
Even the family dog enjoys getting in on a little snorkeling action in the backyard pond.

Sure, the kids could enjoy a pool ... but they won't be able to watch the koi swim underwater or search for tadpoles and watch them grow into frogs.
Sure, the kids could enjoy a pool … but they won’t be able to watch the koi swim underwater or search for tadpoles and watch them grow into frogs.

The whole family can snorkel in the backyard pond!
Of course … snorkeling isn’t just for kids. Even dads like to get in on the action. What better way to spend a hot summer day with your kids? It’s like a vacation … in your own backyard!

Children can snokel down the stream in a backyard water feature
More snorkeling! Imagine all the great things he’s seeing at the bottom of this gravel-bottom stream. Mother Nature has lots of lessons just waiting to be learned.

Floating around in a backyard water feature.
If snorkeling’s not your thing, maybe a lazy summer afternoon floating on a raft will suit your fancy. This photo was supplied by The Deck and Patio Company located in Huntington Station, NY (they installed the pond, too!).

A waterfall without a pond (aka the Pondless Waterfall) creates a great spot for small children to get their feet wet.
A waterfall without a pond (aka the Pondless Waterfall) creates a great spot for small children to get their feet wet.

This Pondless Waterfall features a pebble beach with rounded stones for tender feet.
This Pondless Waterfall features a pebble beach with rounded stones for tender feet. It might be hard to coax her into the house for nap time though.

Beautiful plants and clean water transform you to another world in this backyard pond.
Yes, this is a backyard pond. Beautiful plants and clean water transform you to another world … you’d never know you were actually in the suburbs of Chicago.


Checking out the waterlilies with dad … this is about as close to heaven on earth as you can get.

Imagine swimming in clear water in your own backyard, surrounded by all types of beautiful koi.
Imagine swimming in clear water, surrounded by all types of beautiful koi. It just doesn’t get any better than this for exploring nature, up close and personal.

Water gardens are truly a unique way to unite the family and enjoy the splendor of our wonderful planet.
A backyard water feature ensures that giggles of delight will replace complaints of summer heat and boredom. Water gardens are truly a unique way to unite the family and enjoy the splendor of our wonderful planet.

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Everyone Has Enemies

There are many predators that love to hunt fish. And when we give them shiny gold targets to go for, it makes their jobs even easier. Two of the usual suspects in the missing fish line-up are the raccoon and the heron. There are others, but these are the two most prevalent in the hobby.

For the raccoon, you have to first remember he doesn’t mind getting his hands wet, but will probably not purposely go for a swim to catch a fish. He can be held at bay by the way the pond is designed. A plant shelf that is too shallow will help him snag a fish every time.
 

Keeping Them Safe

For the heron, things get a little more challenging. They are very crafty and smart birds and you should not underestimate them. There are many methods available to keep them or scare them away from your pond – from plastic heron statue replicas to floating alligator decoys and motion-activated sprinkler. These options to ward him off all offer varying levels of success for every water garden hobbyist.

Predator Tip

In early spring, these birds return to your area and look for feeding grounds. As they fly overhead to see where the fish are, your colorful fish stand out like a fast food restaurant. Your first defense is to use a decoy of some sort, whether it is heron or alligator decoy. They work better if you keep moving them around the pond to fool the heron into thinking they are real. Herons would rather not feed in the same water as an alligator, and if they see that another bird has staked out your backyard already, they are more likely to move on to the next available spot.

Alligator Decoy

As we move into summer, just like us, they develop a routine and may even forget about your pond. So the trick is to move the decoy about every three days in the spring and every couple of weeks in the summer.

Another decoy on the market is a motion-activated sprinkler called a Scarecrow. When the predator gets close enough the motion sensor will activate, and the visitor will get a quick blast of water.
 

Life Without Fish? Never!

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to have fun with your fish, and to remember that all of these occurrences are case specific. You may never see a heron or raccoon in your backyard, your fish may be disinterested in your plants, and there may be no bullying in the pond.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky and avoid all three. After a season or two, you will remember what your life was like before fish. You’ll undoubtedly realize that the pleasure of pond fish far outweighs a life without finned friends.

Close your eyes for a moment and envision your idea of the perfect backyard. What would it include? You’d probably want a patio or deck with ample seating for entertaining. If money is no object, you might even toss in an outdoor kitchen and fireplace too. And if you’re all about rest and relaxation after a hard day’s work, you’d probably see a waterfall and pond in your vision.  Now open your eyes because we’ve just described this ultimate backyard oasis which has everything we just mentioned, and more!

Ultimate Backyard Oasis
With a pond to the left and a fireplace to the right, the outdoor dining area is perfectly situated. Splashes of color are added throughout the backyard living space with potted annuals.

Ultimate Backyard Oasis in Arlington Hts, Illinois
A stone bridge dissects the pond, encouraging you to explore more of all this water feature and landscape have to offer.

Ultimate Backyard Oasis with Pond and Waterfall
Waterfalls cascade over large stone into the pond, helping aerate and filtrate the water. The rugged rocks make the feature appear as though it was carved into the landscape long ago.

Rugged Waterfalls Add Soothing Sounds to Suburban Backyard
Lush plantings help to soften the edges of the cool, hard rocks. The waterfalls also add the soothing sound of running water throughout the day and night.

Pergola with Water Feature
A pergola on the other side of the pond houses an outdoor grill/kitchen area.

The Ultimate Backyard Oasis
The lush plantings truly provide a mature look and feel to this ultimate backyard oasis. Birds and butterflies flock here to refresh themselves on warm summer days.

Cabana Area Provides Retreat from Sun on Hot Summer Days
A cabana area next to the home provides a welcome retreat from the sun on hot summer days. Truly this suburban backyard has it all!  You can dangle your feet in the water to cool off while watching the fish swim.

Ultimate Backyard Oasis
The upper patio descends to a lower patio with bar on the opposite side of the pond, making this multi-level landscape a true paradise. There’s so much to explore and enjoy!

Summer has officially began! Your aquatic plants are looking healthy and beautiful. You may be considering adding more plants this summer but need help deciding on which ones would fit your water garden best. Here are a few favorites that may help you decide.

Nothing boasts summer like a bright, Yellow Snowflake.
Nothing boasts summer like a bright, Yellow Snowflake. The petals’ frayed edges add to the playful character of this show-stopper.

The calming cool green of Arrowhead leaves display an intricate railroad pattern
The calming cool green of Arrowhead leaves display an intricate railroad pattern. This easy-to-grow plant is a crowd pleaser in the pond world.

Who doesn't love the Lotus?
Who doesn’t love the Lotus? This flower needs no descriptive sentence … the picture paints 1000 words.

Water Lettuce
Ah, Water Lettuce! I’ve had a love affair with this floating plant for years. The lush green leaves, velvety to the touch, are a pleasure to behold. This plant multiplies readily and is great for sharing with friends.

Isn't this an amazing photo of Powdery Thalia?
Isn’t this an amazing photo of Powdery Thalia? (We didn’t take this photo, or any others on today’s post … but water gardeners love to share!) Such a delicate looking flower for a robust plant.

Cattail!
And Cattail! I do love the variegated leaves and spongy flowers of this stately plant.

The regal Victoria Waterlily
The regal Victoria Waterlily, with buoyant leaves that can hold a human being. For more information on this amazing waterlily, visit http://www.victoria-adventure.org/.

A close-up of this South American beauty, named after Queen Victoria.
A close-up of this South American beauty, named after Queen Victoria.

The Giant Mediterranean Reed provides dramatic architectural interest to the water garden
The Giant Mediterranean Reed provides dramatic architectural interest to the water garden. Look closely and you’ll see a little green friend resting on a leaf.

Terrestial gardeners will find a new world of plants to grow and love when they turn an eye to aquatic beauties such as these
And when you mix some of these plants together, you’ll see why water gardening has become so popular. Terrestrial gardeners will find a new world of plants to grow and love when they turn an eye to aquatic beauties such as these.

Aquatic Plants

With the financial stress of today’s economy, we could all use a little “peace” of paradise to calm our nerves and lift our spirits. Investing in a small (or large) water feature is truly an investment in your health. Listening to the melodic waterfall while sitting by the pond’s edge is sure to lower your blood pressure and improve your outlook on life.

Placing your water garden near your house allows you to hear your waterfall through open doors and windows
Placing your water garden near your house allows you to hear your waterfall through open doors and windows. When time allows, pull up a chair and sit a spell outside.

he pond view from the house and patio
The view from the house and patio. Evergreens and ornamental shrubs soften the edges of the rock.

A smaller waterfall flows away from the patio
A smaller waterfall flows away from the patio …

This water feature streams its way toward a fire pit with seating
… and streams its way toward a fire pit with seating. Perfect for magical evenings making s’mores and enjoying the sound of bullfrogs singing.

To the left of the larger waterfall is a stepping stone staircase for easy exploration
To the left of the larger waterfall is a stepping stone staircase for easy exploration.

Entertain guests for dinner on the patio, or cozy up next to someone special in the lounge chairs by this water feature
Entertain guests for dinner on the patio, or cozy up next to someone special in the lounge chairs. So much to enjoy in this “peace” of paradise!

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“It’s all in the details.” How many times have you heard that quote, and who was the first to say it, anyway? Whether you’re planning a wedding, decorating your house, or writing a book … the details put the finishing touch to everything. It’s no different with water gardening. Attention to pond design details will make a water garden truly fabulous. As Summer approaches, now is a great time to turn a critical eye to your backyard and start planning its makeover. You can find gardening items and pond products on sale this time of year … design and install your pond today and you can look forward to hours of enjoyment this pond season. Here’s a stunning landscape complete with ecosystem pond that’s chock full of thoughtful details that delight the eye at every bend and turn of the water.

Spilling waterfalls with colorful flowers and swimming koi fish

At first glance, the extensive landscaping is evident, and then you notice details such as the spill of the waterfalls, the pops of color from flowers on the shore, and the orange and white dots of the fish in the cool, dark water.

An overhead view of the main pond reveals the walking path, stone bench, hostas, perennials, and more.

An overhead view of the main pond reveals the walking path, stone bench, hostas, perennials, and more. Note how the pond isn’t just a round circle of water, but creates interest with the height of the waterfall and the curves of the rocks and plantings.

Forget-Me-Nots and a patio surround this pond

Dainty Forget-Me-Nots fringe one side of the pond, while a patio acts as the shoreline on the far side. Bringing the pond close to the house instead of tucking it in a far corner provides better opportunity for interaction and enjoyment.

Whiskey Barrel Waterfall

Another level of this pond provides an element of whimsy with a whiskey barrel serving as a waterfall. The many textures and shades of green plants create a serene oasis.

Whiskey Barrel Waterfall

A small piece of driftwood hides the edge of a pond skimmer.

A small piece of driftwood hides the edge of a skimmer. This looks more natural than black plastic sticking out and creating an eyesore in such a beautiful setting.

Beautiful coneflower lends a hint of pink and orange on the shore while koi provide a flash of color just below the pond's surface.

Beautiful coneflower lends a hint of pink and orange on the shore while koi provide a flash of color just below the pond’s surface.

A waterfall in the background peeks out from a bed of hostas.

A waterfall in the background peeks out from a bed of hostas. Taro, waterlilies, pickerel, and scores of greenery interlace with the smooth, cool rocks, strategically placed to make the water garden look like it’s been there for years.

A gentle stream winds through the landscape and intermingles with its lush surroundings.

A gentle stream winds through the landscape and intermingles with its lush surroundings. A few waterfall drops add to the details of this amazing backyard, located in the hub of suburbia.

If I moved into a new house and were granted 2 wishes for the landscape, I would choose a water garden and a gazebo. Both remind me of a fairy tale garden … or the type of garden you’ll see in Heaven. My grandmother in Williams Bay, Wisconsin had an adorable “summer house” in her yard that I loved playing in for hours. She also had a crystal clear stream running through her backyard where we’d catch minnows, search for pretty rocks, and pretend we were in another world altogether. What’s not to love about Gazebos and Water Gardens?

A garden bench tucked inside a pondside cottage gazebo
A garden bench tucked inside a pondside cottage gazebo makes for the perfect reading spot to refresh your mind and soul.

The gazebo provides the best view of the pond
A cool, shady spot in the garden. The gazebo provides the best view of the pond, while the house is just steps away for convenient refills of iced tea or lemonade.

Fragrant flowers fill the air and provide pops of color around the waterscape
There’s no need to go on vacation when you have a getaway like this so close to home! Fragrant flowers fill the air and provide pops of color around the waterscape.

This gazebo shows the expanse of this stunning water garden
Another view of this same gazebo shows the expanse of this stunning water garden. Can you hear it calling your name to jump on in for a swim?

tikki-type gazebo provides great view of this pond and waterfall
If a tropical theme is more your thing, this tikki-type gazebo certainly fills the bill, surrounded by lush, tropical landscaping.

A million-dollar view of a grand waterfall from this gazebo
A million-dollar view of a grand waterfall, coupled with comfy garden seating makes for the perfect afternoon, don’t you think?

Enjoy sitting in the lovely patio chairs to view the waterfall, fish, and butterflies
Enjoy sitting in the lovely patio chairs to view the waterfall, fish, and butterflies … or wind your way down the garden path to explore the gazebo and a babbling brook.

Beautiful landscaping of waterlilies, lotus, and terrestial plants create the perfect garden scene for both relaxing and entertaining in the gazebo.
Beautiful landscaping of waterlilies, lotus, and terrestial plants create the perfect garden scene for both relaxing and entertaining in the gazebo.

What are your favorite garden elements?

A bridge signifies a journey … over something … to another place. In the landscape, a bridge is an open invitation to come and explore. When that bridge transcends water, the explorer lingers to enjoy the view of the rippling stream, cascading waterfalls, playful fish, and all the plants that find nourishment in and around the water garden.

Bridge over backyard pond with koi
Shimmers of golden koi catch the eye while crossing this graceful garden bridge.

 

A well-worn bridge hints of many footfalls that traversed the peaceful stream over the years.

A well-worn bridge hints of many footfalls that traversed the peaceful stream over the years.

 

Who could resist the call of this bridge to relish a close-up view of the stream and waterfalls ... a perfect spot for feeding fish.

The brick patio is peaceful, but who could resist the call of this bridge to relish a close-up view of the stream and waterfalls … a perfect spot for feeding fish.

 

Fallen leaves over this backyard stream have yet to be kicked up by curious feet.

Fallen leaves have yet to be kicked up by curious feet.

 

A rustic bridge leads straight from the back porch door, over the water garden, and out to the patio for pondside dining and entertainment.
A rustic bridge leads straight from the back porch door, over the water garden, and out to the patio for pondside dining and entertainment.

 

An arching bridge peeks out from the foliage of this water feature to provide safe crossing and a vantage point for our koi friends.
An arching bridge peeks out from the foliage to provide safe crossing and a vantage point for feeding finned friends.

 

Patios, walkways, and a bridge carve a unique garden path around and over the stream and water garden.

Patios, walkways, and a bridge carve a unique garden path around and over the stream and water garden. Hours of exploring and enjoying nature are sure to follow this winding path.

Who can resist a bridge in the landscape? Its intrigue draws young and old alike to explore beyond the expanse of its graceful arch.

What is the value of a water feature? This might be a question you ask yourself before contacting your local pond builder to install a beautiful pond or waterfall in your yard. The true value can be very difficult to quantify as it’s similar to other forms of art. The value is not the sum of the individual components (cost of the canvas and paint; it’s in how you use the materials to create an emotional experience to connect with viewers.

But not everyone feels this way and they want to see numbers, data or reports on how their investment will appreciate over time. I found some statistics and articles written by third parties, which is important because they do not have a financial tie to water feature design, installation or maintenance.

Will a water feature add to the value of your home? Possibly not, says John Bredemeyer, spokesman for The Appraisal Institute, an organization of industry professionals. In higher-end neighborhoods where expensive landscaping is the norm, it could boost your home’s value to the top of the price range, he says. But at the lower end of the market, cash-strapped buyers could see a water feature as extra work for them or an added expense in the way of a maintenance service. They may prefer using the outdoor space on features their children would enjoy, such as a play set or a big lawn.

This totally makes sense; I’ve seen this firsthand for years but I see this as an opportunity because there’s nothing better for children than a water feature! I speak from experience with this because our backyard was a magnet for all of the kids in the neighborhood.

Our boys learned how to snorkel with our koi, giving them an appreciation and understanding of nature and the environment. I couldn’t think of a better investment for our family. In my opinion a water feature is a much better investment than a swimming pool, especially in Illinois and other northern states that have limited swimming days.

The whole family can enjoy a water feature

Speaking of swimming pools; here’s some information on the value of pools. Swimming pools are one of those features that can be both functional and aesthetic and can add value — or detract — depending on the type of pool and type of home buyer or owner.

A 2004 National Association of Realtors’ study of home sales in the Philadelphia area from 1996 to 2003 found in-ground pools added 8% to the sales price of home. However, all of the landscape designers we talked to said for a pool to add value to a property, it has to be custom-made and not a prefabricated pool that can be found in any backyard.

A basic customized concrete pool can cost $60,000 to $80,000. Throw in a hot tub and water feature, such as a waterfall, and you could spend well into the six digits. The problem is that landscape designers say some home buyers want nothing to do with a pool and will steer clear of houses with one — regardless of whether it is custom-made or prefabricated. So a pool actually could lower the value of your property in some people’s eyes.

What’s interesting is that pool sales are still strong. They’ve seen a dip like everything else in recent years but overall pools are still being installed despite the information that they can detract potential buyers. Why?!

Because the customers value them and the price of the pool is irrelevant compared to the experience and the years of enjoyment and memories that the family will have from their own backyard resort.

(HIT) – As the housing market slump continues, homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes stand out and increase resale value without spending their life savings. According to a survey of 5,000 U.S. home owners by Remodelestimates.com, the interest in remodeling remains high for homeowners though they are more conservative about costs in light of declining home prices.

With so many options available for the do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowner, it can be confusing to know where to start. Homeowners should consider the following questions: What remodeling project will give you the most value impact for prospective buyers? What is the price range for remodeling and addition projects?

According to Remodeling Magazine’s “Cost vs. Value Report 2007,” the national mid-range average for a deck addition was more than $10,300; a mid-range kitchen remodel (major) was more than $55,500; and a sun room addition was nearly $70,000.

A much less expensive alternative is to add a water feature to enhance your backyard landscape. Water features not only add aesthetics to a yard and home but also provide a calming, serene and eco-friendly environment that everyone can enjoy.

Family enjoying backyard water feature

 “Landscaping and the appearance of your yard is a critical point to making your home stand out in today’s market,” said Mark Munley, vice president of sales and marketing for Firestone Specialty Products. “You don’t have to be discouraged by today’s high remodeling costs because something simple, such as installing a backyard water feature, is easy, cost efficient, and can provide you with a higher resale value.”

This is great information! The installation of a small water feature will help your home stand out in front of the competition! This is exactly what everyone needs to hear.

Backyard water features, like ponds and waterfalls, go a long way toward adding monetary value to your home. But there’s an added benefit: homeowners who spend time enjoying these man-made pieces of nature can boost their mental health, too.

Imagine returning to your suburban home from a long commute to the city and relaxing in your nature-inspired backyard, complete with a rippling stream that flows into a pond. Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? Well, it can add more than value and aesthetics to your yard.

According to a recent study on “green exercise,” spending as little as five minutes in the presence of nature, can improve self-esteem and mood. Destinations with water offer even greater benefits. The study by Jo Barton and Jules Pretty analyzed data on 1,252 people from 10 prior British studies.

Green exercise is the combination of physical activity and nature. Taking a walk, practicing yoga, or gardening near a fish or wildlife pond are among the activities that can influence feelings of happiness, appreciating the moment and coping with stressful situations, researchers noted.

Forget about the return on your investment. We all need a break from the day to day grind; this is priceless.

So if you want to increase the value of your home, or create a serene environment that will increase the quality of your life, a water feature is the answer.

By Bill Renter, Outdoor Living Expert
The Deck and Patio Company

Growing up, I was what they call today a ‘free-range’ kid. Like most children back then, I was free to explore the outdoors on my own and interact with nature.

Things are different today. Parents and child caretakers are far more cautious about letting children wander on their own. This is one reason, I believe, why koi ponds have skyrocketed in appeal. Through them, Mother Nature’s best experiences are brought right to our own backyards.

Backyard Koi Pond
 Photo courtesy of The Deck and Patio Company

For sure, kids love watching and feeding colorful pond fish. Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand. And since it’s better to feed them in small amounts throughout the day, pretty much any time the kids are free, it’s a good time for the koi, too.

Backyard ponds attract other wildlife that children love: frogs, salamanders — basically any amphibian that lay their eggs in or near water. Plus birds will flock there, including song birds.

However, predatory birds like heron may be attracted to the koi. There are steps you can take to dissuade them, like netting, decoys, and electronic scarecrows with sensors that spray water when they catch movement. Also, thoughtful landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water. And from the outset, having the right depth of water in the pond (no less than 24″) is key to keeping heron at bay.

Deck and Patio Dog Enjoying Koi Pond
Photo courtesy of The Deck and Patio Company

My favorite koi ponds are the larger ‘swimming ponds.’ Children can snorkel in these and get up face to face with the fish. For swimming, you want clean water, so I’d recommend not overstocking your pond. You don’t want more fish waste than can be reasonably absorbed by aquatic plants and the pond’s bog filtration system.

Now while there are a few things to consider, with a little care, koi ponds are ideal to bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, I can’t resist a swim.

So I say … go ahead … be a ‘helicopter’ parent or grandparent, and hover over the kids. With a backyard koi pond, kids aren’t missing out on much at all.

 

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Did you know there’s a scientific reason why a shower feels so refreshing? It’s the same reason why people flock to lakes, oceans, and waterfalls for vacations. Falling water from fountains, waterfalls, and even your morning shower, releases negative ions into the surrounding atmosphere. And these ions have a profound effect on our physical well-being.

When you’re in an environment where the concentration of negative ions is greater than positive ions it will have an effect on your body and mind. There’s an increase in blood flow and oxygen content to your cells; it lowers blood pressure and stabilizes respiration creating a calming effect. Increased oxygen content in your blood is critical for all metabolic functions which in turn effects your mood.

Falling Water has restorative and therapeutic health benefits

It’s no secret that water features provide soothing sights and sounds that help you relax and de-stress in today’s busy world. The therapeutic effects of water in the landscape help to lower blood pressure and improve physical and mental health.

Whether you’re dealing with stress or wish to improve your overall health, consider adding a pond, waterfall, or fountain to your outdoor living space. Experts agree it can be extremely therapeutic!

“Hospital patients who have a view of natural landscapes recover faster from surgery and require less pain medication. In addition, heart rate, blood pressure, and other measures return to normal levels more quickly when people view natural rather than urban landscapes after a stressful experience.”
The Sustainable Sites Initiative. Standards and Guidelines: Preliminary Report. November 1, 2007

“Our patients and their families find peace and tranquility when visiting our beautiful water features. We receive a great deal of positive feedback on the addition of the water gardens to our facility. Even the staff and board members have found the water features to be beneficial for relieving stress and improving their daily outlook.”
Nancy Vance, Executive Director, Living Well Cancer Resource Center

“As landscape architects and experts in healing garden design, we specify water features in most of our projects. We’ve had great success with using the Aquascape product line. Their natural pond systems fit perfectly into our design solutions and offer our clients a sustainable solution that adds a positive distraction to the healthcare environment. We also design water features in unusual locations like roof decks. Aquascape’s sculptural water displays add a nice balance to the healing garden aesthetic.”
Geoff Roehll, Senior Vice President, Hitchcock Designs

Falling Water has restorative and therapeutic health benefits

Everyone wants a room with a view, right? If your landscape is lacking when you look out your window, you can always spruce up your yard. Or better yet … you can add a room with large windows and design a water feature to flow right up to the glass like this homeowner did!

Rather than put the patio next to the sliding door, the water garden was brought up close, with a charming walkway stretching across the pond.
Rather than put the patio next to the sliding door, the water garden was brought up close, with a charming walkway stretching across the pond.

View before a water feature
This is what the view originally looked like – nothing for the eye to focus on but a distant shed.

Patio walkway over a water feature provides a great spot to dangle feet and sip a steaming cup of your favorite morning brew.
The walkway provides a great spot to dangle feet and sip a steaming cup of your favorite morning brew.

Enjoy lunch or dinner on the patio while dining pondside.
Enjoy lunch or dinner on the patio while dining pondside. Feed the fish, or watch the birds and butterflies that visit this oasis.

Another view reveals attractive plantings that transition the water garden to the expanse of grass beyond.
Another view reveals attractive plantings that transition the water garden to the expanse of grass beyond.

 A close-up of the smaller foot bridge displays the intricate rock work that creates a babbling brook.v
A close-up of the smaller foot bridge displays the intricate rock work that creates a babbling brook.

Beautiful water feature right outside back door can be viewed in any weather outside these windows
Such a lovely backyard! The wall of glass on this home’s addition provides a great viewing vantage no matter what the weather.

Is there any other aquatic plant as beautiful or graceful as the lovely lotus? It belongs to the genus Nelumbo and consists of only two species … the yellow-flowered American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) and the pink Asiatic lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). These two species have been grown and bred for centuries, resulting in hundreds of hybrids that range in size and color.

Nelumbo Assorted Lotus

A sea of lotus are quite impressive in any pond or bog. These prolific plants will spread over the years so if you want to keep them contained in a specific area, it’s best to plant them in pots.

Double Rose Lotus

If you plan to add a lotus to your pond or a container water garden, keep in mind that this beauty needs at least 5 hours of midday sun to bloom. Also keep in mind that fertilizers too high in nitrogen will hinder flower growth. Be sure to use a 10-14-8 Pond Plant Fertilizer formula, or similar.

Chinese Double Rose Lotus

The Chinese Double Rose Lotus makes an impressive appearance in the pond, with its multiple petals and sunny yellow center. The flower is 10-12″ across and grows 2-3′ tall. The leaves grow up to 20 inches across.

Lotus with Dragonfly

A beautiful pink lotus attracts a shimmering dragonfly for an afternoon rest.

Shiroman Lotus

Even when not fully opened, the lovely Shiroman lotus displays an ethereal elegance. This double white flower contains over 100 petals!

Pink Lotus in Sea of Waterlilies

A stunning pink lotus towers over a sea of beautiful Pink Grapefruit waterlilies. Aquatic plants are a great way to expand your gardening repertoire. Every avid gardener should have both terrestial and aquatic plants in their landscaping.

Lotus and Lotus Bud

A half opened lotus resides next to a bud while the lotus leaves capture the remaining sunlight of the day.

Lotus Seed Pod

Even the lotus seed pod has a beauty all its own. Once dried, they make beautiful additions to floral arrangements.

You’ll find a variety of lotus species to add to your pond or container water garden. Check with your local water gardening store for options.

Watch this time-lapsed video to enjoy a lotus opening its petals from bud to flower!

Dining outdoors is a refreshing experience, especially when you have friends, family, a beloved pet, and a beautiful view of a pond filled with koi and waterlilies!

Outdoor Dining by the Pond

Patio Table and In-Deck Pond
A wall of stone becomes a thing of beauty when painted to blend with the deck’s tropical pond. Blue dining chairs complement the mural colors.

Summer days don't seem so hot when there's a pond and waterfall nearby.
Summer days don’t seem so hot when there’s a pond and waterfall nearby.

A multi-layered deck provides ample seating for festive gatherings by the waterfall and stream.
A multi-layered deck provides ample seating for festive gatherings by the waterfall and stream.

A cozy table for two provides intimate seating for romantic dinners by the pond.
A cozy table for two provides intimate seating for romantic dinners by the pond.

What a great way to unwind while watching the kids play in the pond.
A fresh-squeezed glass of lemonade provides much-needed relief after a busy day at work. What a great way to unwind while watching the kids play in the pond.

A covered deck shelters meal time should the weather turn sour. No need to rush indoors if rain drops fall!
A covered deck shelters meal time should the weather turn sour. No need to rush indoors if rain drops fall!

Enjoying a meal on this patio beside the pond is like being on vacation, dining in the tropics.
Enjoying a meal on this patio is like being on vacation, dining in the tropics.

What a pleasure to have a vacation-like dining spot and pond in your own backyard.
What a pleasure to have a vacation-like dining spot in your own backyard.

Even a casual picnic gets elevated to a divine experience when fine wine and fresh-baked bread are savored alongside the waterfalls.
Even a casual picnic gets elevated to a divine experience when fine wine and fresh-baked bread are savored alongside the waterfalls.

Where’s your favorite place to dine outdoors?

A charming bench awaits your company. It’s calling your name, beckoning you to make time for yourself and drink in the view of the peaceful water garden. You answer the call and set a spell while the stress of the world slides from your shoulders.

Lush greenery and a soothing water garden help cool the climate
Lush greenery and a soothing water garden help cool the climate.

A teak bench provides front row seating for this beautiful display of water, rocks, flora ... and maybe even some fauna.
A teak bench provides front row seating for this beautiful display of water, rocks, flora … and maybe even some fauna.

Adirondack chairs are a popular choice among pond owners. This couple placed the pond front and center, as opposed to tucking it away in the backyard.
Adirondack chairs are a popular choice among pond owners. This couple placed the pond front and center, as opposed to tucking it away in the backyard.

A wrought iron table and chair lends an elegant touch to a brick patio lined with frothy ferns. Sunlight dapples on the pond's surface just beyond.
A wrought iron table and chair lends an elegant touch to a brick patio lined with frothy ferns. Sunlight dapples on the pond’s surface just beyond.

Kids always seem to have the right idea ... relaxing around the water feature from their day of play.
Kids always seem to have the right idea … relaxing from their day of play.

Who can resist the tempatation of a rustic swing overlooking a water feature?
Who can resist the tempatation of a rustic swing in the landscape?

Ample seating lets you enjoy the water feature with family and friends.
Ample seating lets you enjoy the scenery with family and friends.

So come, set a spell and let the worries and hurries of life take a back seat as you overlook your water feature.
So come, set a spell and let the worries and hurries of life take a back seat.

Some might view a wooded, sloping lot as a landscaper’s design challenge. But when you incorporate water, the solution is quite simple. Work with the natural slope of the yard to create stunning waterfalls, and create twists and turns around trees to provide visual interest. This yard has it all! From a soothing water feature to gazebo to outdoor kitchen, and more!

 Just outside the patio door is a stunning fireplace and flagstone patio that cozies up to a small waterfall and pond. Comfortable seating provides a great place for relaxing well into the evening.
Just outside the patio door is a stunning fireplace and flagstone patio that cozies up to a small waterfall and pond. Comfortable seating provides a great place for relaxing well into the evening.

Take care of dinner on the outside grill along a beautiful water feature.
And if dinner is on your mind, these lucky homeowners can take care of that order on the outside grill.

The upper falls and pond in this backyard cascade into another waterfall, taking advantage of the natural slope.
The upper falls and pond cascade into another waterfall, taking advantage of the natural slope.

 A lower patio provides yet another vantage point for relaxing and viewing the water feature.
A lower patio provides yet another vantage point for relaxing and viewing the water feature.

A rustic footbridge provides access from the lower patio over a stream.Here you can dangle your feet and cool your tootsies.
A rustic footbridge provides access from the lower patio over a stream. Here you can dangle your feet and cool your tootsies.

Water falls over a series of cascading rocks and gravel. Shade loving plants add softness to the cool stone of this water feature.
The water continues its course falling over yet another series of cascading rocks and gravel.Shade loving plants add softness to the cool stone.

The rustic footbridge leads to a wooden stairway, inviting you to explore more of this beautiful yard. Stunning waterlilies and colorful koi provide pops of color.
The rustic footbridge leads to a wooden stairway, inviting you to explore more of this beautiful yard.

Stunning waterlilies and colorful koi provide pops of color.
Stunning waterlilies and colorful koi provide pops of color.

Frog friends hide under a water lily.
Look closely and you might even find a new friend or two.

With a yard like this, you can enjoy a vacation every day of the year!
With a yard like this, you can enjoy a vacation every day of the year!

 

You add new plants to your gardens, and you might even add a new patio or deck in your yard. Why stop there? Consider adding a new item or two to your pond this year to change things up. We’ve drafted a list of our top 10 favorite features to add to your existing pond in 2015!

1. Fountain

Fountain in Pond - Aquascape
Fountains not only add beauty to your pond, but they provide valuable aeration as well. If you think your existing waterfall isn’t adding quite enough oxygen to your pond, consider adding a fountain. You can place it in the center, or near the edge of a pond for drama.

2. Water Lily

Lily in Pond - Aquascape
Go ahead and splurge on a beautiful water lily. Not only will it add gorgeous color to your pond, but the lily pads help shade the pond and give your fish a place to hide from predators. Available in hardy and tropical varieties, you’ll find an endless assortment of water lilies, which you can purchase online or at your local pond store.

3. Lighting

Lit up Pond - Aquascape
The addition of garden and pond lighting extends your viewing pleasure well into the evening hours. Lights placed behind waterfalls create excitement and drama during the nighttime hours. Underwater lights at the edges of the pond reflect off the fish as they swim by. Set your lights on a timer so you never have to worry about turning them off and on.

4. Fish

Pond Fish - Aquascape
Adding fish to your pond is a great way to enhance the water feature lifestyle. You’ll enjoy feeding them at the pond’s edge and will feel the stress melt away as you watch them swim about. Why do you think so many doctors’ offices have aquariums? To help you relax! If you already have fish, consider adding a pond fish that’s currently not a part of your pond habitat.

5. Adjustable Flow Pump

Aquasurge PRO - Aquascape Aquasurge PRO - Aquascape
An adjustable flow pump with a remote control lets you turn the volume of your waterfalls up or down! Want a quiet dinner by the pond? Keep the volume low. Having a large party? Turn up the flow to create your “party waterfalls!” You don’t even have to get up out of your Adirondack chair to change the mood!

6. Spitter

Crazy Legs Frog Spitter - Aquascape
Spitters create whimsical focal points in the pond and can be added just about anywhere. Don’t feel you need to keep the spitter in the middle of the pond. You can add one at the edge of a stream or tuck it in an unexpected location.

7. IonGen™ System

iongen-family - Aquascape
Everyone wants an algae-free pond and the IonGen® electronic algae controller effectively kills algae without the use of traditional liquid chemicals. You can purchase the IonGen™ and install it yourself, or hire a local Certified Aquascape Contractor to do it for you!

8. Floating Plant Island

Floating Plant Island - Aquascape
Use a floating plant island to display plants in deeper areas of your pond where there aren’t any plant shelves. The floating planter keeps the soil intact and lets water in while protecting the plants from your fish.

9. Automatic Dosing System

Aquascape Automatic Dosing System
The Automatic Dosing System is a brand new product for ponds and we had to add it to our list of must-haves! The system accurately and consistently applies your choice of water treatment throughout the pond season. You’ll no longer need to hassle with the guesswork or routine of adding water treatments to your pond or fountain. We think you’re gonna love it!

10. Waterfall

Aquascape Waterfall
It might not seem possible, but not everyone includes a waterfall when they build a pond, but there’s no reason it can’t be added later on. Waterfalls provide valuable aeration to your water feature while creating the soothing sound of running water. If you already have a waterfall, consider adding a second, smaller one for added interest. If you like to build with rock, you can also tweak your existing waterfall, creating new sounds for the summer.

Now that the weather’s warming up, it’s time to turn a critical eye to your outdoor living space. Flowers, fences, gazebos and benches are all pretty … but what really makes your landscape a peaceful paradise is the sound of running water in the landscape. Combine a variety of elements in your landscape to create a beautiful outdoor living space you can enjoy for hours on end.

A cottage-style gazebo provides the optimal viewing vantage of this lovely pond and waterfall.
A cottage-style gazebo provides the optimal viewing vantage of this lovely pond and waterfall.

A simple patio with a bistro table creates a cozy, intimate spot for dining by the waterfalls.
A simple patio with a bistro table creates a cozy, intimate spot for dining by the waterfalls.

Outdoor kitchen to the left, beautiful paver patio for enjoying waterfront views, and a floating deck and gazebo for personal interaction with this amazing pond and waterfall.
Outdoor kitchen to the left, beautiful paver patio for enjoying waterfront views, and a floating deck and gazebo for personal interaction with this amazing pond and waterfall.

Lots of shade and the cool waters of a water feature provide sweet relief from summer's heat.
Lots of shade and cool waters provide sweet relief from summer’s heat.

French-style patio furniture fits snugly under a pergola for pondside enjoyment.
French-style patio furniture fits snugly under a pergola for pondside enjoyment.

 Flagstones create a natural-looking patio to complete this ecosystem pond. Note the large windows for indoor viewing!
Flagstones create a natural-looking patio to complete this ecosystem pond.
Note the large windows for indoor viewing!

The charming gazebo provides an idyllic backdrop for a pond dotted with lily pads.
The charming gazebo provides an idyllic backdrop for a pond dotted with lily pads.

A grand home deserves a grand, waterfront view.
A grand home deserves a grand, waterfront view.

 Settle into a comfy rocker and enjoy the view of your water feature from your deck!
Settle into a comfy rocker and enjoy the view from your deck!

 

More and more people are sprucing up their backyards to create outdoor living environments where they can relax, de-stress, and entertain friends and family. We took a virtual trip across the country, compliments of Houzz, looking for gorgeous ponds and waterfalls to share with you.

A beautiful pond with twin waterfalls transforms a front yard.
Traditional Landscape design by Philadelphia Landscape Architect Signature Pond and Patio

Beautiful nighttime waterfall setting! An eclectic Baltimore, MD Landscape design by Premier Ponds
Beautiful nighttime waterfall setting! An eclectic Baltimore, MD Landscape design by Premier Ponds

Unique vegetation creates contemporary landscape design by Phoenix Landscape Contractor, The Pond Gnome
Unique vegetation creates contemporary landscape design by Phoenix Landscape Contractor, The Pond Gnome

 Traditional Landscape design by New York Pool And Spa Contractors, Deck and Patio Company. This is truly the ultimate outdoor living space!
Traditional Landscape design by New York Pool And Spa Contractors, Deck and Patio Company. This is truly the ultimate outdoor living space!

 Lovely waterfall design by New York Landscape Architect Acorn Landscaping
Lovely waterfall design by New York Landscape Architect Acorn Landscaping

Unique use of rock, log, and statues in a backyard pond and waterfall by New Jersey Pond Contractor BJL Aquascapes
Unique use of rock, log, and statues by New Jersey Pond Contractor BJL Aquascapes

 Unique waterfall design by San Francisco, California Landscape Architect French's Waterscapes LLC
Unique waterfall design by San Francisco, California Landscape Architect French’s Waterscapes LLC

You can see the wide variety available for your very own landscape! Water features come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Whether you choose a small fountain or an expansive pond and waterfall, the options are limitless and each one is unique.

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Cross section of Aquascape water garden pumpWhen you had your water feature installed, you trusted your contractor to know enough about water flow and pond building to make sure that your backyard paradise would run smoothly, and he did an amazing job. Not once did it ever occur to you to ask him what kind of pump or plumbing he used while finishing the job. Why not? The retailer that sold you the pond kit told you that you had the perfect size pump for the job, but how do you know?

Not many people want to get involved in the “mechanics” of a pump because it can be too difficult to understand. With terms like TDH, GPH, and flow rate, who can blame you for wanting to turn a deaf ear to the ins and outs of pumps as they relate to your pond? The truth is, knowing a bit more about your pump and plumbing can actually help you understand the living, breathing ecosystem that lies beneath the surface of the water. Most importantly, it can help you solve problems and navigate through situations a little easier.

Your Functioning Ecosystem

Learning about pumps and plumbing in plain English can be valuable for people who’d like to know more about their water feature, or for prospective pond owners looking to learn a little bit more. To start off, you’ll want to educate yourself on the purpose of the pump in relation to your pond’s ecosystem.  Pumps and plumbing make up the circulatory system of a water feature and are extremely important when it comes to the aesthetics of your pond. More importantly, they supply the system with necessary oxygen levels and keep the water circulating.
 

Water Garden Pumps

There are several different types of pumps to consider – from swimming pool pumps to the common sump pump you find in your basement. According to some experts, sometimes just the variety of pumps that are out there can confuse potential water gardeners. Pumps made specifically for water gardens are definitely the way to go. In fact, information about what kind of system the pump will fit is usually right on the outside of the box.

All of the specifications should be available so that you are aware of what kind of performance you’ll get out of the pump. But what are specifications, and what do they mean to you? Plenty.

Just the Facts

Specifications can mean the difference between a gushing waterfall and a trickle that sounds like a leaky faucet. That’s why it’s so important to learn the meaning of each one and what they’ll do for your pond. Let’s start with the acronym GPH, meaning gallons per hour. The term “gallons per hour” represents how many gallons that pump is circulating every hour and can also be referred to as “rated flow.” Other terms listed are volts, watts, and amps, which basically represent your voltage, electrical power, and current, respectively.

Then there’s shut-off height, which judges the amount of elevation change a pump can take to pump water. For example, some pumps may not work with your 20-foot waterfall and this is a way to find out without having to field test it. Perhaps the most confusing phrase is total dynamic head (TDH). Total dynamic head refers to the pressure on a pump caused by the interactions of flow rate, pipe diameter, pipe length, elevation, and pipe material. Basically, it takes all those things into account and lets you know the limitation of your pump. TDH is usually calculated by a pond professional.

Save Your Wallets!

If you aren’t convinced that knowing a bit about your pumps and plumbing is important, the term “operating cost” may perk your ears up a bit. This is where you find out how much your pocketbook gets hit.

Obviously, the bigger your pump, the larger the operating cost per month, but you should also be aware that some pumps have a lower operating cost than others. Seek out the high-efficiency kind. The basic difference between the two is the motor. High efficiency pumps use less power. It’s important to note that operating costs are based on a median number, however, so it isn’t exact but will be very close.

Which Pump is Best for Your Pond?

If all that lingo makes you even more confused, perhaps things will clear up once you start relating the terms to your own pond. Establishing the flow rate is probably the most important thing to do when it comes to your waterfall. Experts say that for each foot of spillway width (the width of the initial waterfall drop), you should allow 1500 gallons of water flow. For example, a 2-foot wide waterfall usually requires a 3000-gph pump.

The flow rate helps ensure that you have enough water to cover the entire width of your waterfall and stream. This rate provides an attractive amount of water, so it’s not overpowering and not just a trickle. Most people believe that a pump rated at 3000 gph will always push that amount of water. That’s where waterfall and stream height factor in and the term “shut-off height” comes into play. Once you subject your pump to higher waterfalls or longer streams, it will push less water. Once it reaches that shut-off height, you won’t see any more water…a pretty important statistic when you put it in plain English.

On to the Plumbing

The plumbing that is used with pumps is also an important part of the equation. Using the wrong pipe can cause friction, hindering the performance of your pump and affecting the power of your waterfall. The type of pipe you choose is also important to the function of your water feature. With so many different types of pipe on the market – from schedule 40 pvd to poly pipe – it’s hard to tell which will work for a water feature.

Flexible pvc is a popular choice for pond projects. The research and development team at Aquascape, Inc. credits the pool and spa industry for flex pipe. Not only can it handle sharp turns and tight corners, but it also expands and contracts with seasonal changes – a great plus for those of you in the cooler climates.

Check it Out

Something you’ll definitely want to invest in when it comes to keeping your pond functioning correctly is the check valve. The check valve helps prevent water from draining back into the pond when the power to your pump is cut. The reason this is important is because you need to keep water in your biological filter so that the beneficial bacteria can continue to grow. Without the water, the bacteria can die and throw off the balance of your ecosystem. And no one wants to see the return of the dreaded algae.

A Little Extra Knowledge

So what now? What can you do with all the extra information you’ve learned about pumps and plumbing? Well, you can rest assured that if anything happens to your pump, you’re not at the mercy of the retailer or contractor that sold or installed your pond. You can sit back and relax with your favorite book by the pond … now that you really know everything you need to know about your water garden pump.

For more information on pump maintenance, watch our short video:

Everyone has their favorite collection of pond plants, but there might be some varieties that you haven’t yet added to your water garden. We invite you to consider the following list of popular aquatic pond plants that make a welcome addition to any pond!

1. Creeping Jenny Pond Plants

creeping jenny pond plants
Often used as a ground cover in terrestrial gardens, Creeping Jenny fares excellently when used in water gardening applications. Growing approximately 2 inches in height, it’s a great filler to soften edges of rocks with its bright leaves creating a vivid contrast against the cool gray of wet stone. Tiny yellow flowers appear on the plant throughout summer, giving it added appeal. Creeping Jenny is a perennial and best used in Zones 3-10.

2. Pickerel Pond Plants

10 Popular Pond Plants - Pickerel
Available in blue, white, and pink lavender spiked flowers, Pickerel is a great choice for ponds with its shiny, green heart-shaped foliage. The blooms are long lasting and create a beautiful display when planted in masses. It grows about 24-30″ in height and performs well in Zones 4-10.

3. Horsetail Pond Plants

10 Popular Pond Plants - Horsetail
Horsetail Reed provides a striking architectural presence in your pond with its segmented reeds, growing to 24″in height, while the dwarf version grows to 8″. Hardy to Zone 4, it’s a fast spreader and you’ll want to thin the plant in the summer. In the fall, cut the plant all the way down to the ground to keep the spores from spreading.

4. Taro Pond Plants

Taro pond plant
Several varieties of Taro are available for your pond and do well in full to part sun. This is a tropical plant suited for Zones 8-11, but colder climes can bring the plant inside during the winter months. This impressive, leafy water lover grows to about 48″ and always makes a striking appearance in the water garden.

5. Cardinal Flower

10 Popular Pond Plants - Cardinal Flower
Plant this pretty flower along the shallow edges of your pond and watch the birds flock to it. Deep burgundy foliage sets off the vibrant red flowers. The leaves are up to 8″ long and the plant can grow as tall as three feet. Cardinal Flower performs best in Zones 5-9.

6. Water Lettuce

10 Popular Pond Plants - Water Lettuce
Water Lettuce produces fuzzy, lime-green rosettes of leaves that look like little floating heads of lettuce. Super easy to grow, you simply let this plant float on the surface of the water with its roots dangling below. They produce babies throughout the summer and can be shared with friends or moved to container water gardens. Hardy in Zones 9-11.

7. Mosaic Plant

10 Popular Pond Plants - Mosaic Plant
The beautiful Mosaic Plant consists of red and green diamond-shaped leaves in 3-6″ wide rosettes. In the summer, this floating plant produces sunny yellow cup-shaped flowers. Easy to grow, the plant provides a place for your finned friends to hide underneath. A tropical plant, Mosaic is hardy in Zones 11-12.

8. Blue Iris

10 Popular Pond Plants - Blue Iris
Many water gardeners enjoy the elegant splendor of the aquatic iris, which is among the first plants to bloom in the spring. Aquatic irises comprise such a large and diverse group – there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of cultivated and natural hybrids. The Blue Flag Iris is a native plant that can grow up to four feet tall! A wetland lover, the Blue Flag’s large flowers are breathtaking, ranging in shades from pale blue to purple.

9. Sweet Flag

10 Popular Pond Plants - Sweet Flag
Also known as golden Japanese sweetflag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’), this plant is ideal for containers and water gardens alike. It’s extremely flexible, as it can be grown with its toes in the water or partially submerged. The beautiful foliage is light green and highlighted with bright yellow stripes, remaining beautiful all season and sometimes through the winter. An all-around great plant that adds a bright, cheerful spot to any water feature!

10. Waterlilies

10 Popular Pond Plants - Waterlilies
Waterlilies are stunning creatures in the water garden and often the reason why many gardeners add a pond to their landscape. These beautiful pond plants are characterized by amazing flowers representing all colors in the light spectrum … red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet (including the collective white), and a number of shades in between.

The flowers range from a mere 2″ in diameter to some blooms measuring 12″ or more. Their leaves typically float unless they’re crowded, and are more or less round, ranging from 2″ across to over 6 feet for the giant Victoria. Waterlilies are perennial and can be broken down into 2 basic groups; hardy and tropical.

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The Basics of Aquatic Plants


You’re finally taking the plunge. You’ve decided you want the soothing sound of water in your landscape but aren’t sure where to begin. Start by asking yourself, “What made me think about adding a water feature in the first place?”

Maybe you were on vacation and enjoyed lounging by the lake or ocean. Perhaps you visited a shopping center and were drawn to the sound and beauty of a fountain where you could rest your weary feet. Or maybe you were thumbing through the pages of a magazine and saw photos of children interacting with fish in a pond and you envisioned your own family enjoying time spent with Mother Nature.

Your intent for adding water to your landscape will be the first step in helping you determine what type of water feature to install. If you envision hours of interaction with nature, then an ecosystem pond with fish and plants is in order. If you simply want to enjoy the sound of running water while sitting on the deck or patio, then a Pondless® Waterfall will suit your needs. Or maybe you’re thinking of enhancing your home’s curb appeal, in which case a stylish fountain near the entrance to your home will do the trick. There are 4 basic types of water features you can select for your home.

Ecosystem Pond

An ecosystem pond may be the perfect option for you when choosing the perfect water feature for your yard!
An ecosystem pond is made of 5 basic elements that work together to balance the system so that your water garden is truly a low-maintenance experience.

You can choose to hire a Certified Aquascape Contractor to install your water garden, or you can purchase a pond kit if you want to do it yourself. Large or small, you’re sure to enjoy watching your colorful fish swim in your new pond.

Pondless® Waterfall

A Pondless® Waterfall may be the perfect option for you when choosing the perfect water feature for your yard!
Pondless® Waterfalls are simply a re-circulating waterfall and/or stream without the presence of a pond. You can tuck them into a small space, like an unused corner near the front door. Or you can create a more expansive waterfall and stream that twists and turns its way through your back yard, inviting you to explore more. You can purchase a DIY kit to install your own waterfall, or you can hire a professional to do it for you.

Fountainscape

A fountainscape may be the perfect option for you when choosing the perfect water feature for your yard!
Fountains are the perfect way to add a splash of water to your landscape! Typically found in kits, they come in a variety of styles and sizes and can be installed in just a couple of hours. If you love the sound of water in the garden, a fountain is your perfect beginning. Place it in the middle of a garden bed for the birds to enjoy, tuck it next to a patio or window to enjoy the soothing sound, or place it by the front door to greet friends and visitors. The options are almost endless.

Patio Pond


Interested in testing the waters of owning a pond? A container water garden is a great place to start! Patio Ponds can be placed anywhere and allow you the opportunity to enjoy small fish and aquatic plants. Add a small fountain and you’ll enjoy the added benefit of the soothing sound of water! A patio pond is easily assembled in no time and provides unique beauty for you to enjoy.

As you consider your water feature options, you’ll find your space and budget will also define the type of feature that’s best for your lifestyle. A fountain or Pondless® Waterfall can be tucked into any corner of your landscape, whether it’s located at the heart of an English knot garden, or situated in the midst of perennial flowers for birds and butterflies to enjoy. Water gardens with fish and plants can be small or expansive, with multiple waterfalls and streams. Add a bridge or stepping stones to provide up-close viewing vantages.

The range of options for adding a water feature to your landscape is almost limitless. You’ll be sure to find the right solution that suits your needs and lifestyle for refreshing your landscape with a beautiful water feature.

Spring is here and summer is right around the corner. April is a great month to consider what changes you’d like to make in your backyard. Since we love water features, we can’t think of a better way to add beauty and interest to your outdoor living space than with some type of running water. Here’s an example of how a boring expanse of grass became a gorgeous oasis in the suburbs of Chicago.

Aquascape Backyard Pond with Bench
This landscape used to be all lawn and no pizzazz. Now, the homeowner can sit by their watery paradise on a  rustic bench. A variety of plants helps to blend the pond into the surrounding landscape.

Aquascape Backyard Transformation with Pond|
A few colorful koi enjoy the cool, clean waters of the pond. When you combine the right balance of fish, plants, filtration, circulation, and rock and gravel … your pond water will be clean and clear.

Aquascape Waterfall Drops
Waterfalls aerate the water, providing much needed oxygen for the overall health of the ecosystem pond.

Aquascape Backyard Waterfall
Careful placement of rocks help the water feature appear as though it’s always existed in the landscape.

Aquascape Waterfall Drop
Marginal plants like wet feet and should be placed near the edges of the pond. Not only do they help to filter the water, but they soften the edges of the rock and create a natural look.

Aquascape Stream
Normally, it takes about 3 years for a pond to look fully mature like this one with its lush plantscaping. This gorgeous water feature combines a babbling brook like this along with a larger waterfall.

Aquascape Frog in Stream
If you build it … they WILL come! A friendly frog enjoys a small burrow he found near the stream. He and his friends provide a beautiful chorus well into the evening.

Aquascape Land Bridge over Stream
A simple land bridge was added over the stream providing a way to explore and enjoy the pond from all sides.  Be sure to incorporate interactive areas into your pond where you can dangle your feet or feed the fish.

Aquascape Pond Transformation
Before and After photos show the refreshing transformation of this suburban Chicago yard. The homeowner will spend less time maintaining the pond than he did mowing the lawn!

Aquascape Backyard with Pond
Learn more about creating an ecosystem pond that’s naturally balanced. You’ll spend years enjoying all that nature has to offer when you add a little water to the landscape.

Most people who want water in their landscape choose the sound of a waterfall as the number one choice for their desire. Backyard rustic waterfalls can take the shape of small, babbling brooks or loud, thunderous falls. Rock choice makes a big difference in the appearance of your waterfall, and many homeowners choose a rustic appearance for their water feature.

Adding a waterfall to a shady spot in your landscape can help bring out a dramatic effect.
Cool, dark rocks create an air of intrigue and mystery to this suburban backyard water feature. Note how the water is divided between the crags of the rock as it flows downstream.

Rocks lend an architectural element to a waterfall and should be chosen carefully. Often, a pond installer will re-position a boulder several times until the right look is achieved.
Rocks lend an architectural element to a waterfall and should be chosen carefully. Often, a pond installer will re-position a boulder several times until the right look is achieved.

Even a small rustic waterfall such as this one can add drama and an air of rusticity to the landscape.
Even a small rustic waterfall such as this one can add drama and an air of rusticity to the landscape.

By the looks of the moss and worn appearance of the rocks, you'd never know this is a new backyard waterfall.
By the looks of the moss and worn appearance of the rocks, you’d never know this is a new backyard waterfall.

Ask your pond contractor to choose rocks with moss and an aged appearance if you want a rustic look.
Ask your pond contractor to choose rocks with moss and an aged appearance if you want a rustic look.

Man-made rustic waterfalls should look like it's always existed in the landscape. Choose your installer wisely to get a natural looking waterfall as opposed to a pile of rocks stacked willy-nilly. You'll wind up with a beautiful waterfall that looks like Mother Nature carved it herself!
Man-made rustic waterfalls should look like it’s always existed in the landscape. Choose your installer wisely to get a natural looking waterfall as opposed to a pile of rocks stacked willy-nilly. You’ll wind up with a beautiful waterfall that looks like Mother Nature carved it herself!

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Some people love water features and others are downright passionate about them. The owner of this suburban Chicago residence wanted something grand and peaceful in his backyard, all at the same time. The typical suburban expanse of grass with a patio or deck has been completely transformed into an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of city life.

Taking center stage is a beautiful ecosystem fish pond with waterlilies and lush landscape.
Taking center stage is a beautiful ecosystem fish pond with waterlilies and lush landscape.

From this angle, you can see that the pond comes right up to the stone patio, as opposed to being tucked in a corner of the yard where it can't be fully appreciated.
From this angle, you can see that the pond comes right up to the stone patio, as opposed to being tucked in a corner of the yard where it can’t be fully appreciated.

A close-up view reveals an aged appearance to the waterfalls, even though this water feature is brand new.
A close-up view reveals an aged appearance to the waterfalls, even though this water feature is brand new.

A stone bridge traverses the pond, beckoning visitors to explore more of this backyard paradise.
A stone bridge traverses the pond, beckoning visitors to explore more of this backyard paradise.

Suburban backyard is transformed into amazing oasis with pond, stream, and waterfalls.
Another view of the back of the house shows the expanse of the pond.

A simple stone path winds its way throughout the landscape, revealing plants and water features at every bend ...
A simple stone path winds its way throughout the landscape, revealing plants and water features at every bend …

A re-circulating pondless waterfall. A sub-surface reservoir holds water that is repeatedly turned over the falls, conserving on the use of water in the landscape.
… like this re-circulating pondless waterfall. A sub-surface reservoir holds water that is repeatedly turned over the falls, conserving on the use of water in the landscape.

A rustic tree-type pergola provides shade on hot summer days in this beautiful backyard.
A rustic tree-type pergola provides shade on hot summer days.

An amazing stone bar creates a strategic view of this oasis, while the pooled water at one end constantly flows into the water feature itself.
An amazing stone bar creates a strategic view of this oasis, while the pooled water at one end constantly flows into the water feature itself. Who wouldn’t want to entertain out here?

This rustic waterfall can be seen right outside the office window located in the home's lower level.
Speaking of views … this rustic waterfall can be seen right outside the office window located in the home’s lower level. Once again, the water is stored in a buried basin and continually recirculates over the falls.

It's hard to believe this amazing waterscape is located just west of Chicago!
It’s hard to believe this amazing waterscape is located just west of Chicago!

Watch the video to see the entire backyard:

 

Newlyweds living in the suburbs of Chicago yearned for an entire backyard makeover after moving into their first home together. The landscape was typical of most homes in the area … a patio with an expanse of grass. The couple added a fence to the yard but didn’t realize their dreams of an outdoor retreat until the addition of a beautiful Pondless Waterfall!

A Pondless Waterfall is basically a waterfall without a pond.
A Pondless Waterfall is basically a waterfall without a pond.
The couple’s new waterfall hugs the patio so that it can be enjoyed up close and personal.

By using rocks of various shapes and sizes, this waterfall appears as though it has always been there.
By using rocks of various shapes and sizes, the waterfall appears as though it has always been there.

Moss covered rocks lend an aged appearance to this water feature.
Moss covered rocks lend an aged appearance to the water feature.

enjoys listening to Enjoy the soothing sound of running water in your landscape.
Proper biological filtration ensures the water stays clean and clear.
The couple enjoys listening to the soothing sound of running water in their landscape.

A Patio Pond with aquatic plants was cleverly added to the edge of this waterfall's stream.
A Patio Pond with aquatic plants was cleverly added to the edge of the waterfall’s stream.

 

The couple’s Pondless Waterfall provides a refreshing background while enjoying summer days out on the patio. Instead of watching the grass grow, they now enjoy the beauty and sound of running water!

You can easily improve the appearance of your home by incorporating a waterscape into your front yard. Water adds a great touch to your landscape and can help make your home more inviting. Not to mention the addition of a water feature also improves the value of your home! The following water features are not only beautifully refreshing but require very low maintenance as well. See if there’s one you like!

1. Pondless Waterfall Entry

A Pondless® Watefall is basically a waterfall without a pond, and is sure to make your home stand out from all the others when you place it near the entry to your home!

A Pondless® Watefall is basically a waterfall without a pond, and is sure to make your home stand out from all the others when you place it near the entry to your home! The Pondless® Waterfall can be easily incorporated into small spaces while still allowing you to enjoy the sight and sound of running water.

2. Shallow Streams

Shallow streams and Pondless® Waterfalls are a great option for those who have small children since there is no pond to contend with.

Shallow streams and Pondless Waterfalls are a great option for those who have small children since there is no pond to contend with. Plus kids love playing in the water and will delight in all the critters that come to visit the water feature. Wind your stream around the front of your home or have it meander through your favorite garden bed.

3. Trio of Fountain Rocks

Fountains are the perfect way to add a splash of water to your landscape and add architectural interest to your landscape, as well!

Fountains are the perfect way to add a splash of water to your landscape and add architectural interest to your landscape, as well! This trio of bubbling rocks sounds beautiful and attracts birds and butterflies to your home.

4. Multiple Fountain Rocks

The impact that a fountain can have on your front yard is quite dramatic. Fountains can typically be found in kits; they come in a variety of styles and sizes and can be installed in just a couple of hours.

Why stop at 3 fountain rocks? The impact that a fountain can have on your front yard is quite dramatic. Fountains can typically be found in kits; they come in a variety of styles and sizes and can be installed in just a couple of hours. If you love the sound of water, a fountain is your perfect beginning. Group as many of them together as you like!

5. Front Yard Pond

An ecosystem pond can also transform your home's appearance from Plain Jane to the house everybody talks about as they drive by.

An ecosystem pond can also transform your home’s appearance from Plain Jane to the house everybody talks about as they drive by. Can’t you just see yourself lounging in the Adirondack chairs while drinking in the view?

6. Koi Pond

Not every house you see has koi greeting you as you walk to the front door. An avid koi lover lives in this home.

Not every house you see has koi greeting you as you walk to the front door. An avid koi lover lives in this home.

7. Stone Bridge over Waterfall and Pond

A water feature can completely transform your landscape. This lucky homeowner added a stone bridge to the front door.

A water feature can completely transform your landscape. This lucky homeowner added a stone bridge to the front door. Everyone crosses over the stream and waterfall when they come to visit!

8. Cascading Waterfalls with Pond

Front yard waterfall to improve curb appeal

Imagine greeting your guests as they walk into your home with a beautiful waterfall and pond like this one. Who says a water feature has to be relegated to the back yard?

 

When I think of the perfect backyard, something like this one comes to mind. It has a little of everything … patios, fire pit, plantings, stone pathway, and of course, a pond and waterfall! The design is flawless as one area leads to the next, beckoning you to stay outdoors longer.

Enjoy your backyard patio with a water feature wrapping around it.
An etched stone says “Sanctuary” and truly it is … for humans and critters alike!

A mossy waterfall not only provides beauty but adds soothing sounds to this perfect backyard.
A mossy waterfall not only provides beauty but adds soothing sounds.

Not only can these homeowners enjoy a fire but can also listen to the sounds of the waterfalls in the background as they relax on their patio.
Not only can these homeowners enjoy a fire but can also listen to the sounds of the waterfalls in
the background as they relax on their patio.

Your meal or beverage tastes that much better while enjoying it at a pondside bar.
Your meal or beverage tastes that much better while enjoying it at a pondside bar.
Guests will certainly feel welcome and inspired here!

Stepping stones descend from the patio in the background, winding their way to the lower level, inviting visitors to explore the twists and turns of the stream and waterfalls.
Stepping stones descend from the patio in the background, winding their way to the lower level, inviting visitors to explore the twists and turns of the stream and waterfalls.

A stone bridge in this backyard creates a place to sit and dangle your feet in the water.
A stone bridge creates a place to sit and dangle your feet in the water.

Plantings soften the rock of this water feature while large outcroppings provide a place to sit. Shallow pockets of water entice birds to come bathe.
Plantings soften the rock while large outcroppings provide a place to sit. Shallow pockets of water entice birds to come bathe.

When you think of the perfect outdoor living space, what do you envision?

To see more outdoor living inspiration, visit us on Pinterest!

 

The Aquascape Pond De-Icer prevents winter fish loss by keeping a hole open in the ice during the cold winter months.  The Pond De-Icer helps ensure there is sufficient oxygen levels and proper gas exchange in the pond helping to prevent fish loss…even during extreme weather conditions.

The Aquascape Pond De-Icer prevents winter fish loss by keeping a hole open in the ice during the cold winter months.

Energy Efficient

The Aquascape Pond De-Icer is energy efficient, requiring only 300-watts of electricity.  The low energy consumption of the Aquascape Pond De-Icer results in a heater that costs 5x less to operate than traditional Pond De-Icers you would find in the market.

Stainless Steel Construction

The Pond De-Icers stainless steel construction is extremely durable and prevents corrosion, cracking or issues caused by extreme weather.  A built-in LED light at the top of the De-Icer allows you to look out the window of your warm home and see that the De-Icer is still operating.

Taking the time to properly prepare your water feature for winter will make sure the fish survive their winter slumber.

Watch the Aquascape Pond Squad video and see how to properly install the 300 Watt Pond De-Icer.

Some pond enthusiasts like to actively tinker in and around their pond, while other water gardeners prefer to relax by the patio listening to the sound of the waterfalls. Maybe you’re like most pond owners who enjoy a little of both activities! Whatever your preference when it comes to enjoying your water feature, we’ve developed a fun little quiz to help you identify what type of pond owner you are. See Below

Some pond enthusiasts like to actively tinker in and around their pond, while other water gardeners prefer to relax by the patio listening to the sound of the waterfalls.


1. When you think about adding a new feature to your pond you …

a. Immediately poll your family to see what type of koi should be your next purchase.

b. Struggle with choosing between Creeping Jenny to cascade over the rocks, or adding something architectural to the pond like Horsetail or Corkscrew Rush.

c. Have no doubt what it’s going to be. Hands down it’s an IonGen electronic water clarifier.

d. Dream of where your new underwater lighting will go so that you can extend the viewing hours of your beautiful water garden.

When you have a few hours of leisure time you …

a. Grab your camera and fish food and run outside for a photo opp with your finned friends.

b. Head out to the pond store to see what new waterlilies have arrived. More than likely, you’ll bring at least one new plant home (if not two or more).

c. Put on your waders and step into the pond to clean the excess debris off the bottom.

d. Grab your favorite magazines, along with an iced tea, and park yourself on the lounger next to your pond.

You’re entertaining dinner guests by the pond and you talk about …

a. The names of all your fish and point out the details of the different types of koi.

b. The difference between hardy and tropical waterlilies.

c. Why fish and plants are important to your backyard pond.

d. Your guests’ recent trip to Hawaii, and all the while you’re thinking you have Hawaii in your backyard every day of the week.

At this same pondside dinner party, your centerpiece is …

a. A series of 3 small goldfish bowls with one tiny fish in each bowl.

b. A large bowl of water with tea light candles and water lettuce floating on the surface.

c. A miniature container water garden with fish, plants, and a small fountain.

d. You don’t have one. You want your pond to be the focal point of the evening.

If your pond water turns green or tea colored you …

a. Call the koi vet to make sure your fish are still okay.

b. Buy more floating plants to hide the green water.

c. Consult your local water gardening expert to make sure you choose the proper water treatments to solve the problem.

d. Call your local pond contractor to give your water garden a clean-out while you’re at work so you can come home at the end of the day and relax by the pond.

 

If you got mostly a’s … you’re a bona fide fish aficionado!  You love your fish and can’t imagine life without ‘em. You’ve named each one and you remember precisely the moment when you added each fish to your pond. You love when your koi has babies and experience separation anxiety when you have to give some of them away. Your challenge lies with the potential of overstocking your pond and creating a crowded and unhappy home for your finned friends.

If you got mostly b’s … you put the “garden” in water gardening!  Pond plants are the apple of your eye and they often play second fiddle to their terrestrial counterparts in your garden. You eagerly await the hybridization of new waterlilies and firmly believe you can never have too many aquatic plants. You’ll need to be careful you don’t create an imbalance in your pond’s ecosystem by overpopulating it with all the beautiful pond plant options out there.

If you got mostly c’s … you’re all about the balanced ecosystem! You take pride in the clarity of your pond’s water and revel in your knowledge of the nitrogen cycle, the benefit of rocks and gravel, and more. Your water garden has become an exciting outdoor classroom for the entire family. You don’t mind getting your feet wet to work in and around your pond and wear your pond knowledge like a badge of honor.  You’ve most likely worked your way through the free online Aquascape Academy … and you did it in one weekend!

If you got mostly d’s … you’re an expert at living the pond lifestyle! You adore your pond and know how to fully experience the benefits of owning a water feature. Your pond enhances your quality of life and you want to share the benefits with all your friends and family members. Your philosophy is, “Who needs a doctor when you can have a pond?” You prefer to leave the maintenance issues to the expert, so you can spend less time tinkering with your water feature and spend more time enjoying the pond lifestyle.

The 10 most interesting things I’ve learned

There’s more to having a pond than having fun. You can learn stuff from a pond too. When I was asked to write about the things I’ve learned from growing up around a pond, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But my mom thought it was a great idea and I said I’d try. She said, “Just tell me the 10 most interesting things you’ve learned from being around a pond, and I’ll write them on a piece of paper. Then you can take that list and write about each thing on it. Just write like you talk.” And I said OK. So, here are the 10 most interesting things I could think of, and I hope you like it.

1. Not all bacteria is bad.

I thought bacteria was the stuff I was washing off my hands to keep from getting sick, but there is actually good bacteria that helps keep a pond clean. Bacteria helps eat up the fish poop and dead leaves that are in the pond. It is so small that you can’t even see it, but without it the pond would be yucky.

2. Koi can fly out of the water.

Koi can jump out of the water. Once my mom was in the pond and one of our koi jumped over her head like in “Free Willy.” Sometimes, when I look out my bedroom window, I see them jump so high that they look like whales in the ocean.

3. You shouldn’t go fishing in your pond.

I love to fish, so it seems like my pond would the perfect place for fishing. It has a lot of big fish, right in my backyard, and the fish are always hungry. I think it would be really fun, but you wouldn’t want to catch the really expensive ones. I’m sure my mom and dad wouldn’t be very happy with me.

4. Swimming in a pond is more fun than swimming in a pool.

My friends always ask if we can go swimming in our pond, and I tell them yes. It’s really fun when the fish circle around you. We can’t do cannonballs in the pond, but we can still have fun if we are not “too wild.” That’s what my mom says. Sometimes we put on masks and we look under the water at all the fish and lily pads. My mom makes us promise never to go swimming in the pond without asking her first. She also insists on being out there to watch us for safety. That’s just how Moms are.

Ponds are just as much fun for children as they are educational!

^ Austin shows his neighbor, Ally, how much fun it is to swim with the Koi.

5. Koi can get sick from parasites.

There are little bugs that are in some ponds that can make the fish sick. Just a few are OK, but when there are too many they can wreck the water and hurt the fi sh. Doc Johnson, the koi doctor, showed me how to biopsy a koi, which means scraping some of the fish slime off them to look at under a microscope. I saw some weird parasites called “flukes” which look like wiggly worms. According to Mom, it’s not that big of a deal, so my dad is going to put some medicine in the water to kill the flukes. I’ll bet the flukes won’t like it though.

Ponds can provide endless amounts of education for children.

^ Doc Johnson, the koi doctor, shows Austin how to biopsy a koi.

6. The pond is coolest at night.

I love our pond at night because you can see the fish a lot better, and the waterfalls sound so much louder at night. The crickets, toads, and frogs also make really cool sounds. It’s a perfect way to fall asleep.

7. Koi have teeth, but they can’t bite me.

Koi have big mouths that act like big suction cups, but they can’t bite because their teeth are too far back. They suck on your finger and think it’s a worm. It’s a funny feeling to have a fish eat food out of your hand, especially if you close your hand around the food and make them try to suck it out. I’m always trying to get my friends to try, but they always ask the “teeth” question first.

8. Herons are beautiful, but they like to eat koi.

Herons love to eat fish, and they are very determined hunters. Once we had to scare a heron away every day for a week before it stopped coming back. We would run out in back looking like we were crazy, waving our arms and yelling. We even put out some of my rubber snakes to scare it away. The heron did stab one of our koi in the side, but he’s still living.

9. Dragonflies are awesome.

Dragonflies are fun to watch when they circle around the pond. They eat tons of mosquitoes and deer flies. Dragonflies are so fast and such good flyers. They can fly close to the water, but the koi never catch them. My dad told me that people have never been able to build a flying machine as good as a dragonfly.

10. Ponds are better than TV and video games.

My friends and I love to feed the fish and explore the pond. We are always searching for frogs and toads along the sides of the stream. There are a lot of interesting creatures that live in the stream and in the shallow areas of the pond. Besides toads and frogs, we also find water striders and dragonfly naiads. One of our favorite things to watch is a pair of ducks that visit each day to take a bath in the waterfall. They are really funny.

Young children also enjoy water features.

^ Austin Beaulieu has grown up in and around a pond. That experience has taught him to love and respect the natural world, increasing his awareness of our delicate ecosystem.

Attracting amphibians with a little H2O

You’ve got the water, you’ve got the plants, you’ve got the fish, but something just doesn’t seem right in your aquatic paradise. Something seems to be missing … something that made every childhood vision of a lily pad complete. What natural ecosystem would be complete without frogs and other amphibians?

Why Frogs?

Well, besides being just plain cute, there’s a valid reason why you would want frogs and other amphibians visiting your pond every year. They play important roles in the ecosystem – in fact, the number of amphibians in your pond can be a good indicator of the health of your pond. Ecologists are constantly monitoring the frog population to make sure everything is running smoothly in nature.

Say So-Long To Harmful Insects

Amphibians are instrumental in keeping the undesirable insect population to a minimum. This is certainly a good thing for your neighboring garden, but also for those lazy summer nights when you want to sit on your deck and not have to worry about pesky bugs bothering you and your guests. Frogs and toads will keep the mosquito population in your yard at bay, and will also help with other annoying garden pests. Amphibians can be very handy when it comes to keeping slugs and rodents away as well. And what about those earwigs? Well, you can kiss them goodbye (if you want to get that close to them) because a toad can eat over 1,000 earwigs each summer!

Having these wonderful animals around reduces the need for harmful pesticides that conflict with Mother Nature! In fact, if you do decide to lure these wonderful creatures to your pond, it would be wise to stay away from fertilizers or pesticides that might harm them.

Water Attracts

Almost any expert will admit that water attracts amphibians such as frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Mostly, they flock to water because they need a place to breed and lay their eggs. Since tadpoles need water to live, it seems only natural that a pond is a great place to raise a frog or toad family.

Tadpoles and fish can be a deadly combination though, because those tadpoles can be a great snack for your Koi. Water features are often built with a place where the eggs can hatch and mature out of the reach of the hungry Koi. Something like a small, upper pond separated by the main pond with a stream, would do the trick. Just make sure that the force of the waterfall doesn’t push the eggs and tadpoles over the edge toward your fish and mechanical filtration system.  The force of the pump inside the skimmer could pull your tadpoles straight into it. While tadpoles have been known to make it through the pump unharmed, it can be a wild, shocking ride for them.

Certain species of salamanders also need water in which to breed and raise their young (referred to as larvae).  So, come breeding time, you may see these salamanders by your pond as well.

Newts spend half of their lives in water and then, as adults, retreat to land.  These part-time pond inhabitants have an interesting way of caring for their unborn. When the eggs are laid, the female wraps each sticky-coated egg in a leaf or other similar material using her hind legs. With as many as 600 eggs per year, it may take her as many as two months to produce her annual clutch.

Doing A Little More

Amphibians are complex and need a little more than water to make your pond their permanent home.

Boggy Areas: Biologists suggest a boggy area full of native grasses and ferns to keep them safe and happy in your yard. Local wetlands are great places to check out when looking to mimic the right environment for your little visitors.

Aquatic plants:  Plants are very important because they provide food and shelter for both tadpoles and adults, and a breeding site for adults. Additionally, the native grasses planted beside your pond will grow to be tall and flowing, providing excellent shelter for your aquatic creatures. If you let areas of your garden grow wild, it will also provide a shady place for amphibians to relax and cool off.

Permanent Shelter: A well-located rock pile can also lure toads, salamanders, and newts to your pond. They can be made out of, well, rocks … as well as bricks or broken concrete. The rock pile should receive both sun and shade, and where you put it depends largely on your climate. For example, if you live somewhere with hot summers, you’ll want to put the pile in a mostly shady spot.

A “Toad”ally Bright Idea!

Some frog and toad lovers suggest using a light to draw these adorable creatures to your pond at night. Some people put lights up in their yard to accentuate their evening landscape or to keep animals away.  For frog and toad enthusiasts, the exact opposite is true. The light should be set no more than 3 feet above ground, and placed near the garden.  Insects are attracted to the light, giving your toads and frogs a great place to feed at night.

If You Build It, They Will Come … And Stay

It is very important that your pond get the right amount of sunlight and shade for your new inhabitants. They need a little of both to keep their body temperatures in check. Since all of these animals love playing around in muck and debris, a perfectly manicured lawn is not their cup of tea. Letting your lawn grow a little longer than usual will give them a place hide from predators while traveling from pond to pond. Leaving some tree, shrub, and garden litter out so that they have something to burrow through will help keep them safe as well.

Safety Is Key

While they need damp conditions, some frogs can actually drown in water. Make sure that your pond has shelves, complete with rocks and gravel, so you don’t have steep edges. Remember, once they take a dip in the pond, you want to make sure they have a way out and steep edges can be deadly to them.  A piece of driftwood hanging in a shallow portion of the pond can make a great dry resting spot for your favorite creatures too. And if you have a larger pond, a floating platform in the middle of the pond anchored to something is a great idea. Salamanders and newts are especially fond of cool, damp spots under logs.

Be cautious when handling these creatures. Some species of amphibians have poison in their skin glands, which can be harmful to you, your children, and your pets. Our touch can be a danger to them as well. The oils and lotions we have on our hands could be harmful to certain amphibians.

You Can’t Lead A Frog To Water

It’s great to want frogs, toads, and salamanders in your pond to complete an ecosystem, but you should be patient. Don’t go to a store and purchase these animals to put into your pond. In many places, it is illegal to release certain species into the wild because they are detrimental to native plants and animals. Chances are that they will not stay at your pond, and they may not survive in the wild. And by no means do we suggest that you go to a local pond or wetland and catch these animals to bring back to your pond, either – it’s not a good idea to remove them from their habitat because they will undoubtedly try to return to their place of origin and get killed along the way.

Creating A Winter Wonderland

In the winter, frogs are attracted to water and they will even over-winter in your pond. Now, one of the myths out there is that frogs need to be in water that is at least 6 feet deep in order to hibernate. Not true! As long as you have mud for them to burrow in, whether it is a deep plant pocket or a potted plant, they’ll be just fine. Make sure the pocket or pot is deep enough to keep them away from cold temperatures.  If your pond is shelved, they’ll probably go for the pot or pocket on the deepest shelf.

So, how do they keep from freezing? Simple … they are ectotherms – regulating their body temperatures largely by exchanging heat with their surroundings. The soil in the plant pocket or pot keeps the frogs nice and warm throughout the winter.

As with fish, it is important to keep a hole open in the ice through the winter to allow harmful gases to escape and for oxygen to circulate. This can be done with a submerged re-circulating pump bubbling at the water’s surface, or combination of that and a floating de-icer, depending on just how cold it gets in your area.  When spring comes, and it’s time for the spring cleanout, gently wake them from their winter slumber.

Get Ready!

It’s always helpful to read up on any animals that you are trying to attract to your backyard paradise, so be sure to stop at the bookstore or library and pick up some materials. The more educated you are, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Get ready, because once you get these creatures in your yard, you’re never going to want to let go!

 

Watch Backyards and Community Spaces Transform Into Tranquil Retreats

We have some really exciting news to share with you! Beginning this fall, four members of the Aquascape team will appear in the new POND STARS TV series on Nat Geo WILD, premiering Tuesday, September 9th at 10 PM ET/PT. You’ll be able to watch from the comfort of your home as some of the world’s best pond builders turn barren plots into beautiful and inspiring aquatic ecosystems.

From the wetlands of Northern Florida to the mountains surrounding California’s San Gabriel Valley, Nat Geo WILD’s latest series introduces you to a new type of behind-the-scenes adventure and a number of furry, feathered and scaled critters. Led by longtime pond expert Greg Wittstock, or “The Boss,” the team uses its unique expertise and appreciation for the outdoors to tackle these challenging assignments.

Wittstock, who has successfully developed a childhood hobby into Chicago-based Aquascape Inc. – North America’s leading supplier of water gardening supplies – is joined by co-workers and outdoor enthusiasts Ed Beaulieu (“The Scientist”), Brian Helfrich (“The Foreman”) and Chris Hanson (“The New Guy”). Together, the team presents more than 75 years of experience in the business, having spent decades both training and educating on backyard redesign. Each team member brings a distinct expertise and personality to the series’ transformations and plays a pivotal role in reconnecting clients with the nature around them.

We hope you’ll join us in watching the Pond Stars which premieres Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. PDT.

For more information on the show, please visit www.NatGeoWild.com or contact [email protected]

You may have just spent your weekend cleaning your pond – or having your pond contractor do it for you. A couple of days … weeks pass, and you notice an incredible growth of algae. “Not again,” you screech to yourself. “I thought my pond was clean!” Cleanliness does not necessarily mean algae-free, especially in the cool waters of the early spring. Understanding the transition that your pond makes from winter into spring, combined with the use of a few water treatment products to help balance the ponds ecosystem is all it typically takes to maintain a crystal clear, trouble-free pond.

The Secret to Achieving a Crystal Clear, Trouble-Free Pond

The Plants

Plant - Aquascape

Plants play a vital role in your pond’s ecosystem. As the aquatic plants start to grow, they will absorb the nutrients in the water. This means that they will naturally start to out-compete the algae for the nutrients causing the algae to starve. You will notice the water becoming clearer as your plants grow and algae is eliminated. Another benefit that plants provide, particularly water lilies, is that they shade the surface of the water, keeping it cool, all while cutting down on the growth of string algae and green water.

The Bacteria

Beneficial bacteria living in the biological filter and throughout the rocks and gravel in the pond are another key component to achieving crystal clear water and reducing pond maintenance. The bacteria, similar to aquatic plants consume excess nutrients, but are also capable of breaking down organic debris. It is important to the ponds ecosystem for these maintenance microbes to become established as early in the spring as possible.

One way to help jumpstart the bacteria in the spring is by adding Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria. This particular water treatment contains a special blend of microbes that are found to thrive in colder water temperatures as far down as 35°F (2°C).

There are also a number of other water treatments available to help control excess nutrients and the algae that are determined to take advantage of this food source.

Aquascape Automatic Dosing System – Take the guesswork out of water treatments

• Aquascape’s IonGen™ System  – An electronic ionizer designed to control string algae

• EcoBlast Contact Algaecide  – A quick, effective and economical way to spot treat problem algae areas in the pond, stream and waterfalls.

• Algaecide  – A liquid algaecide designed to control a wide variety of algae types

• Aquascape SAB™ Stream and Pond Clean  – contains bacteria along with a powerful phosphate binder. Controlling excess levels of the nutrient phosphate, is an easy way to prevent unsightly water conditions.

Patience Please…

You need to have patience as your pond awakens from its winter slumber. Give the plants and bacteria a chance to do their thing as the water temperatures begin to increase and in return you will reap the benefits of a well-balanced, low maintenance ecosystem pond.

Check out our new digital Aquascape Lifestyles magazine on Flipboard. This magazine focuses on all the things you need to know right now to enjoy your water feature! Experience beautiful pictures, videos and informative articles with the option to “+ Flip it” into your own magazine to enjoy and share later.

What is Flipboard?

Straight from the source itself, Flipboard states:

Something for Everyone – Flipboard is your personal magazine, filled with the things you care about. Catch up on the news, discover amazing things from around the world, or stay connected to the people closest to you—all in one place.”

Browse Sections – The best content is just a flip away – Explore recommended reading in the Content Guide, including major publications and award-winning blogs, thoughtfully curated magazines, beautiful photography, and even audio and video.”

For more information about Flipboard visit https://flipboard.com/.

How do I get started?

You can view our Aquascape Lifestyles Flipboard by visiting http://flip.it/1xvax.

Aquascape Lifestyles Flipboard

Signing up for a Flipboard is free and easy, all you have to do is:

**Note: We recommend a tablet for the best Flipboard viewing experience although most smartphones will support Flipboard. Most currently updated internet browsers allow you to view a Flipboard magazine on your desktop without requiring a login.

Be sure to “Subscribe” to Aquascape Lifestyles magazine to keep up to date as new things are continually being updated to the magazine!

Building your own pond or water garden can be hard work, but the results are extremely satisfying! Many do-it-yourselfers will consult a book, magazine article, or even a YouTube video before grabbing a shovel for their pond building project.

how to build a pond and avoid common mistakes

Before putting spade to soil, remember that there are several things commonly overlooked by many a would-be water gardener. Often, enough thought isn’t given to the project because building a pond can look so simple … but these overlooked elements are important for successful pond building.

 

  1. Poor Location: Starting with the design, ponds are too often placed in an unused area of the property or in a low spot that collects water. Both of these locations cause problems. Unused areas of the landscape are unused for a reason and it’s a waste to put a key feature in an area that won’t be seen regularly. Out of sight, out of mind … meaning nobody will care for it. Low spots that collect water are challenging to build in (high water table) and water quality can suffer from too much runoff and pollutants entering the pond system.
  2. Underestimating Labor: Underestimating the amount of physical work involved with a pond installation is very common. Professional pond contractors are regularly called to complete ponds that are partially excavated by a homeowner. Unless you dig for a living it’s tougher than you think … and digging the pond is the easy part!
  3. Creating Steep Sides: Digging a deep pit with no provisions for shallow areas makes stacking stone on the inside of the pond very difficult. The excavation is unstable and since there aren’t shallow areas, it is difficult and dangerous to get in and out of the pond for maintenance. Plus, there’s no place or ledges for aquatic plants, the majority of which grow in less than 12″ of water.
  4. Too Shallow: A shallow pond is obviously easier to dig than a deeper one, but if it’s not deep enough, than fish won’t be able to over-winter in the north.  And if you live in the south, your pond won’t stay cool if it’s too shallow. Fish don’t like hot ponds!
  5. Lack of Ledges: A common mistake is when the pond is excavated in a bowl fashion, with gently sloping sides that get deeper towards the middle. This is difficult to disguise with rock since gravel will slide towards the deep area and boulders take up too much room.
  6. Improper Use of Rock and Stone: An installed pond is disguised with rock to give it a desired naturalistic appearance; a typical feature will use several tons of stone. That can be a lot of wear and tear on the family minivan and it needs to be moved and placed properly. Many do-it-yourselfers will decide this to be too much work and they’ll choose small, manageable stones that are easy to move and place. While the work might be easier, this results in the pond falling short of aesthetics. Also, the pond loses the structural importance provided by the larger, more difficult-to-move boulders. In some cases, the novice pond installer will just eliminate the stonework altogether, which can look bad. Without rock and gravel, the system fails to function properly because stone not only lends to the aesthetics of the feature, but it also functions as a habitat for colonization by a variety of benthic organisms from bacteria to crustaceans … all critical to the success of the feature.
  7. Too Small: Again, a small pond is easier to construct (less digging and rock placement) but it’s actually harder to maintain. A small feature is less stable than a larger volume of water and most people end up making the water garden larger later down the road because they not only love it, but their plants and fish outgrow a small feature.
  8. Lack of Proper Filtration: Consumer thought is that real lakes, rivers and streams function without pumps and filters, so why does their backyard pond need it? Well, that’s not even a close comparison because it’s completely different hydrology. Do-it-yourselfers sometime purchase inadequate filters or will purchase components “a la carte.” It may be cheaper to purchase the items piecemeal, but it’s challenging because different manufacturers use different fittings and they need to be rigged to work together versus having everything matched and designed to work as a unit. Efficiency and simplicity will create a better system for your pond.
  9. Poor Access: Before you get started, think about where to place your rock and gravel when it’s delivered or where you want to place the dirt during excavation. Poor planning can lead to having little to no room to get in and out of the property during the construction process.
  10. Improper Berm Size for Waterfalls: If the mounded or bermed area for the waterfall is too small or too steep, then the waterfall will look out of place and more like a volcano than a waterfall. The berm and waterfall need to be scaled according to the size of the property and feature. Many people want a big waterfall that looks and sounds great, but it can become difficult and expensive to build and it can overpower the space. The waterfall needs to fit with the property and lifestyle of the pond owner.

Now that you have our list of 10 ten pond installation mistakes, you’ll know what to avoid. So go ahead and grab your shovel and get digging! You may have to endure hours of sweat, but you’ll reap years of relaxation by your beautiful backyard oasis.

 

UV clarifiers and UV sterilizers: Two terms that are commonly heard in the world of water gardening and sometimes are surrounded by a veil of mystery and disapproval.

You ask some people and they say they are bad, you ask others and they say that they are good. Who is right? The truth is they are both right. The general conception is that they do the same thing but this is far from the truth. Technically, UV clarifiers and UV sterilizers are the same thing in that they both contain all of the same parts, but where they differ is what they are used for.

How They Work

Since UV clarifiers and sterilizers are made from the same “guts,” let’s dive into how they work. In a nutshell, both units do their job using an extremely high output ultra violet bulb that is protected by a crystal sleeve. These bulbs are designed to emit light (energy) waves that are out of the spectrum of visible light.

So what does this mean? The particular wavelength of light that the bulb emits is harmful when it comes in contact with things around it. So when organisms such as bacteria, parasitic protozoa, and algae cells come in contact with the light from the bulb, their DNA is altered, ultimately causing harm and death to the organism. In essence, they are “nuked.”

Generally, bacteria and algae are pretty sensitive to UV light, and a short exposure is all it takes to “nuke” them. This would be a good job for a UV clarifier. Parasitic protozoa, like ich and costia, require a longer exposure time so the water would need to flow more slowly through the UV light, so a sterilizer is needed.

The longer the organism is exposed to the light, the more damage is done to it and that’s where the main difference between clarifiers and sterilizers lies – how quickly the water flows past the bulb, or how long the water and the organisms are exposed to the light.

Now let’s talk about things that affect the efficiency of the bulb. Generally speaking, although the bulb may still emit light, it is only effective at killing algae for about 8 to 12 months. The cleanliness of the water and of the crystal sleeve also influence the effectiveness of the bulb – the dirtier the water and sleeve, the less the UV light will be able to come into contact with the nuisance organisms. To prevent sludge and lime build up, the sleeve can be cleaned with a mild detergent, followed by a rinse of clean water.

UV Clarifier

Sterilizer vs. Clarifier

Everyone hates to have that dreaded algae bloom in their pond. If you own a water garden then you know your worst enemy is the unsightly scourge that is green water.

A well-balanced pond ecosystem rarely has problems with green water, but any water feature, when out of balance, might require you to resort to artificial means to control algae blooms. This is where UV clarifiers come in handy. Their main purpose is to clear the water and get rid of those nasty algae blooms that cause green water. But remember, UV clarifiers only get rid of the single-celled, floating algae. It does not get rid of other forms of algae such as string or blanket algae.

UV Sterilizers

Sterilizers, on the other hand, do exactly that. They sterilize. Commonly used in the aquarium industry and fish husbandry as another line of defense in preventing major parasite and bacteria outbreaks, they are designed to get rid of and kill just about everything in the pond water. To accomplish this, they need to have a longer contact time with the water. Sterilizers require extremely slow flow rates
compared to clarifiers. So, if you want to make sure you zap everything in your pond, then this is the way to go.

You also should be aware that UV sterilizers cannot be used with certain medication applications because in addition to the effect it has on bacteria and parasites, it can have a similar effect on the makeup of certain medications, often times rendering them useless. So a good rule of thumb is that the sterilizer be removed or turned off when medicating.

Where do these fit with the general hobbyist? A lot of hobbyists use sterilizers on a smaller scale, in the 9 to 24 watt range, in their own quarantine tanks. Whether you choose a UV clarifier or sterilizer, it should be installed in-line after the skimmer or other mechanical filter, pre-filtering the water to keep the unit from coming in contact with heavy debris.

A Place in the Hobby

When shopping for your UV sterilizer or clarifier, you need to know two things to help decide which unit is appropriate for your pond – how many gallons of water does your pond hold and what do you want the UV to accomplish? Clarifiers and sterilizers definitely have their place in the hobby, but they are only helpful when used in the correct application. Knowing when and how to use them can save you from a lot of headaches and let downs that result from improper application.

 

You love your finned friends and can’t wait to see them swimming about after the winter thaw. Now is the right time to be thinking of your fish and taking measures to ensure they remain healthy throughout the year. Most fish issues can be avoided by following these simple, preventative measures.

Understand Water Quality

The majority of issues with fish are caused by poor water quality. Make sure that the fish population is under control and don’t be afraid to do partial water changes often and consistently. Make sure when adding water or when doing a partial water change in your pond, that you treat the water with Aquascape’s Pond Detoxifier to eliminate chlorine/chloramines and chelate heavy metals. Aerating your pond water is also something that can potentially increase water quality dramatically.

Buy Your Fish from a Responsible Retailer

Never buy sick fish and if possible, quarantine new fish for a few days before adding them to your pond. Always ask how long the retailer has had the fish. If they have just received them in, ask the retailer to hold the fish for a few days to make sure the fish recovers from stress related to transport and new water chemistry.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Fish

If any signs of disease are seen, start using Aquascape Pond Salt immediately and start feeding with medicated fish food.  If things look like they are getting worse, immediately treat the pond with the appropriate Aquascape fish treatment. The longer you wait to treat the problem, the less chance you have of saving your fish.

Test Your Water

Test it yourself or have your local retailer test your pond water for any signs of a problem. It is also important to test the water coming directly from your tap as it is increasingly common to have issues including ammonia coming directly from your source water.

Feed Your Fish a High Quality Food

Feeding a high quality food will not affect water quality and will ensure that your fish are getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need to maintain proper health. Be sure to feed often and consistently. Before treating any potential problem with your fish, it is important to make sure that you are using the correct treatment, dosage, or treatment rate to prevent any recurrence.

Remember … prevention is the best cure for your finned friends! The easiest way to avoid disease problems is to maintain optimum water conditions. Feeding a quality diet and adding beneficial bacteria on a regular basis will help maintain a balanced ecosystem. Disease problems must be addressed in the early stages to be successful.  By following these simple tips you’ll enjoy seeing your pond fish swim happily about throughout the pond season!


Aquatic plants are a very important step in achieving a truly balanced ecosystem pond. Regardless of why you got into the water gardening hobby, adding aquatic plants to the pond is an important part of the water garden. They provide beauty and naturalization with a huge array of plant choices.

Most importantly, they help balance the pond’s ecosystem and provide valuable biological filtration that removes nitrogen, ammonia, nitrates and other minerals from pond water. These excess nutrients are often the cause of unsightly water conditions. The end result helps to minimize pond maintenance, leaving more time to enjoy your pond. Without aquatic plants, your pond would not be able to function as a complete ecosystem.

Aquatic plants can be classified into a few main categories: water lilies, marginal plants, floaters and submerged (also known as oxygenators). Plants can also be put into two basic types known as “tropical” and “hardy.” Hardy plants will over-winter in colder climates and tropical plants are more suited to warmer climates, although tropical plants are often used as annuals in colder climate zones.

Water Lilies

Water lilies are among the most popular of aquatic plants and are often the centerpiece of the water garden. A water garden never seems complete without a few beautiful water lilies. Not only are water lilies breathtaking but they provide valuable shade, which helps to keep the pond cool while providing refuge for pond fish. Ideally, thirty to sixty percent of the water surface should be covered with aquatic plants.

Marginals

The marginal plant group is the largest aquatic plant group by far, containing both hardy and tropical plants. Most of them are true perennials and come back year after year, like your favorite Daylily or Black-Eyed Susan. Marginal plants serve many functions such as adding beauty and providing valuable filtration. They are called “marginals” because they typically grow around the edges or “margins” of a pond or lake. Marginal plants thrive in wet soil or standing water that covers the crown or base of the plant by as little as two inches and up to as much as six inches. Some examples of marginals include sweet flag, marsh marigold, taro, canna, water iris and creeping jenny.

Floaters

Floating plants do just as their name indicates: they float on the water’s surface. Their roots dangle beneath the plant absorbing all their nutrients from the water. Most floating plants do a great job of filtering ponds by removing nutrients directly from the water as opposed to the soil where most other aquatic plants are situated or planted.

Submerged

Like the name implies, this group of plants lives below the water surface. They are commonly referred to as oxygenators. Submerged aquatics do produce oxygen during most of the day. Submerged aquatic plants live entirely under water, almost. Some oxygenators bloom and the flowers often rise to the surface. They include plants such as elodea, anacharis, hornwort, foxtail, cabomba and vallisneria. For the most part, submerged plants absorb their nutrients directly from the water. This means they compete with algae for nutrients, thereby helping to balance the ecosystem.

Putting it All Together

Just like their soil counterparts, a good mix of aquatic plants lends the best visual impact for your water garden. Marginals help to blend the pond into the surrounding landscape, while water lilies provide pops of color at the water’s surface. Take some time to familiarize yourself with all the wonderful options out there and you’ll soon find what most appeals to you.

 

Aquascape Pond Nitrogen CycleYou’ve got a pond and you know it’s important to include a good balance of aquatic plants and fish in your water garden. You also know some basic maintenance is important too, like removing decaying leaves in the fall or cleaning the pond in the spring. But you may not fully understand why these things are important to maintain water quality and clarity.

Fortunately, you don’t need a degree in environmental science to understand the cycle of nature that can influence the health of your pond.

The nitrogen cycle might be one of the most important cycles on earth because it’s the building block of all organic life forms. This is an important cycle to know and understand because it can help answer a lot of unanswered questions you might have regarding fish health and the water quality of your pond.

The Process

The nitrification process or nitrogen cycle is a biological process that changes ammonia (NH3) to nitrite (NO2), and then to nitrate (NO3). The amazing part of this cycle is it can start at multiple points and has the ability to go backward and forward in the cycle, allowing for a variety of complex biological processes to occur.

Unfortunately, the nitrogen cycle makes most of us scratch our heads, so it’s our goal to help you understand this critical, biological cycle.

But, be careful, a little knowledge goes a long way. Some new pond owners worry about the many forms of nitrogen in the pond and start altering the water chemistry in hopes of creating the perfect aquatic environment or ecosystem. If the pond is designed and built properly and you clean the debris out of your skimmer on a regular basis, add bacteria, and trim dead aquatic plants you’ll have no problems and you will have allowed this complex cycle to hum along as it was designed to … in perfect balance.

Nitrate Producer  – The Air, the Rain, the Pond

Basic nitrogen gas (N2) makes up approximately 78 percent of our atmosphere. This form of nitrogen is inert and cannot be used by plants and animals. It makes its way into the pond via the rainwater and takes a great deal of energy to convert it to a form that is usable to plants. Nitrogen gas returns to the atmosphere when it leaves the pond through the evaporation of pond water.

Ammonia Eater – Ammonia Nitrification

The large amount of surface area both on the surface of the biological filter media, as well as the rocks and gravel inside the pond allows for the colonization of beneficial bacteria that are responsible for the nitrification process, changing ammonia to less toxic forms of nitrite and the usable form of nitrate. Regular addition of beneficial bacteria such as Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds helps support the reduction of ammonia.

Nitrate Eater – Aquatic Plants’ Nitrate

Nitrate is either absorbed by aquatic plants or, in anaerobic conditions; it goes through the process of de-nitrification, which changes the nitrate back to nitrogen gas. Although uncommon in ornamental ponds, nitrate can also be removed by small frequent water changes if unusually high levels are detected in the water.

Nitrate Producer – Rain and Lightning

Nitrates can also be added to your pond by way of atmospheric fixation. This occurs during lightning storms when nitrogen gas is broken up, allowing it to combine with oxygen-forming nitrogen oxide which is dissolved in rainwater. This is why our lawns become so green following a lightning a storm – it not only receives water, but also a burst of nitrate (fertilizer). This is also why ponds can turn murky or have an algae bloom after a storm. If you add some liquid bacteria such as Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds immediately after the storm, you can counteract the influx of nutrients.

Ammonia Producer – Fertilizer Runoff

Be conscious of the amount of fertilizer you use around your pond. During a heavy rain or over-irrigation, the fertilizer, which is made of ammonia and phosphorus, could wash into your pond creating an algae bloom, water quality problems, or even killing fish and invertebrates.

Ammonia Producer – Dead Plant and Animal Debris

Organic debris like leaves, lawn clippings, and dead fish or insects will break down, forming ammonia as a byproduct, starting the cycle of de-nitrification again. Reduce the amount of plant debris in your pond by using a skimmer filtration system and removing plant leaves and debris before it enters the pond. The use of protective netting helps reduce leaf litter from entering the pond in the fall.

Ammonia Producer – Fish Food and the Resulting Waste

Most of our ponds have fish in them. When the fish are fed, the result is a combination of un-eaten fish food and fish waste. Both contribute to the ammonia level in the pond. Don’t feed your fish more than they can eat in a few minutes. A high-quality fish food is also very important. Aquascape Premium Fish Foods contain probiotics that help fish utilize more food, thereby reducing fish waste and actually help break down waste and other organics found normally in the pond environment.

Ammonia Eater – Oxygen

The waterfall in your pond creates oxygen necessary for efficient nitrification. This oxygen is also necessary for the survival of your fish.

As the spring season rolls out across the country, hopefully you can don your new-found knowledge of the nitrogen cycle and feel better equipped to keep your water garden in tip-top shape. Your fish and plants will thank you for it!

For information about our improved IonGen™ System (EPA Registered) and how it can help balance your pond, watch our short video.

 

Waterlilies come in a variety of colors and are easy to grow, making them a favorite choice among water gardeners. If you’d love to try your hand at growing these beauties but don’t have a pond yet, you can grow them in a water-tight container and place them anywhere in your landscape – although they do best in full sun.

Instructions for Planting Hardy Waterlilies

Before putting your waterlily into a decorative container, you’ll first need to plant it properly into an aquatic container or planter. These no-hole planters come in both rigid and flexible options and can be found at water gardening stores or online.

Plant the waterlily in an aquatic planter approximately 8”x6” in size. Add Aquascape Once-a-Year Fertilizer to the planter following package instruction. Waterlilies have voracious appetites and will perform best if well fed. Then add soil, using media specifically designed for aquatic plants, such as Aquascape Pond Plant Potting Media. Place the hardy waterlily rhizome at a slight angle (about 45-degrees) with the cut end deeper in the soil and placed at the edge of pot, with the growing tip projecting 3/4” above the surface of the soil.

You’ll then want to cover the top of the soil with washed gravel or small pebbles so the soil doesn’t escape into the water once you set the aquatic planter into your decorative container. Layer the rock or gravel about ½” thick. It’s helpful if you use black or dark gravel so that it’s not easily visible in the water. Now that your waterlily is properly planted in its aquatic planter, you’re ready to place it into its decorative container.

Your best bet is to use a decorative container specifically designed for container water gardening. That way, there’s no hole to fill in the bottom of the decorative container and you don’t have to seal the insides to eliminate seepage. Choose a container at least 12 to 15” deep with a diameter of 24 to 36”. Fill the decorative container with water before placing the waterlily in its aquatic planter into the container.

Carefully place the mesh pot into the decorative container, slowly lowering it at an angle while the bubbles escape. Tilting the waterlily in its aquatic planter while lowering it into the water-filled decorative container will avoid turbulence.

A Proper Home

Make sure you give your potted container waterlily a proper home. Waterlilies need a minimum of 6 hours of sun. However, they will perform optimally in an area that receives at least 8-10 hours of direct sun.

Feeding your fish is a fun activity that the whole family will enjoy. In the beginning, after you first bring your fish home, they will be a little shy and not seem interested in what you’re feeding them. Don’t worry too much about this; just sprinkle a little food in the pond and move back. After a few minutes, they will take an interest and eat.

1. Be Consistent

The key is to be consistent, try to feed at the same time each day, and from the same spot. After a few weeks in your pond, they will be conditioned to you feeding them and the response will be considerably different. After a complete season, you will have them eating out of your hand.

2. Serve High Quality Food

Since everything you put into the pond is going to be broken down and removed by the filter, it is important to remember to only feed them high quality food, such as Aquascape Premium Fish Food, that is specifically designed for the fish in your pond. Feeding them anything other than high quality fish food could lead to many water quality issues like green water, string algae, and poor water conditions.

3. Variety is the Spice of Life

Many pond owners also choose to offer their fish a treat now and again. If you want to spice things up a bit, try a little fresh watermelon and watch your fish go crazy. Most fruits and vegetables will be fine as well, just keep in mind that the natural ecosystem has to deal with every bit we feed them or that is left in the pond.

4. The Five Minute Rule

A good rule of thumb is to only offer what your fish can eat in four or five minutes. The decision to feed your fish is up to you. Many pond owners never throw a single piece of food into their pond. Your pond will produce food for your fish to eat and also help create a balance between plants and fish. Remember, however, that larger fish need more food than small ones, so they may take a look at your plants for a snack. Not to mention the fact that if you are not feeding your fish, you are missing out on another whole level of fun that your pond has to offer.

5. Choosing the Best Food

Studies have been done comparing the digestion of protein from various sources in fish, and found that fish proteins were the best digested and assimilated by fish. Fish eat fish.

Fish are adapted to the consumption of others in their food chain, so fish proteins are the best for fish. When you look at a bag of food and the first ingredient is wheat, is that the best choice for your fish? No, wheat protein is not equal to fish protein so keep looking. You should look for fish or other aquaculture proteins as the first ingredient in a decent diet for your koi and goldfish.

Watch our video for more important information about fish food:

Lysimachia nummularia

Often used as groundcover or as an accent plant in containers, Creeping Jenny fares excellently when used in water gardening applications. Its round, shiny Chartreuse leaves clasp to each side of its stem creating a wonderful chain that cascades over sides of tubs or trails along rocks in a pond.

Creeping Jenny enjoys very moist soil or water up to one-inch deep, making it an excellent choice for use as a marginal plant in your water garden. Growing approximately two inches in height, Creeping Jenny is a great filler to soften edges of rocks, its cheerful, bright leaves creating a vivid contrast against the cool grays of wet stone. Tiny, delightful yellow flowers appear throughout the summer, providing added beauty and interest.

Creeping Jenny is quite prolific and considered to be invasive in some areas, but it’s easily pulled and can be managed quite nicely. Nestled in between rocks at the pond’s edge, its trailing foliage floats into the water creating wonderful, lacy texture. Use this easy-to-grow charmer in a gentle stream, or let it tumble down the sides of a waterfall for visual interest.

Besides visual appeal, Creeping Jenny offers medicinal care. In traditional Chinese medicine, Lysimachia is used to treat gall stones and urinary bladder stones. The plant contains a number of phenolic acids and is also used by herbalists for treating wounds. Some practitioners use the plant to battle gout symptoms.

Creeping Jenny

Also known as Moneywort due to its round, penny-sized leaves, Lysimachia nummalaria is a perennial, native to Europe and best grown in Zones 3-10. For optimal growing results, keep its feet wet and plant in part-sun to sun.

Aquascape Fall PondPutting your pond to bed for winter doesn’t need to be an arduous process. Sure, it’s sad to say goodbye to your finned friends for a few months, but following a few simple tips will ensure that your fish joyfully greet you again in the spring.

Remove leaves and debris

Putting a pond net over your water feature before leaves start falling from trees is the easiest way to contain and manage leaf control. Once all the leaves have fallen, simply roll up the net, discard the leaves, and put the net away until the next time it’s needed.

If you didn’t install netting, you’ll probably have a build up of leaves and debris that need to be removed. A long-handled pond net makes an easy job of scooping the debris from the bottom of the pond. If you leave the debris on the bottom of the pond, you’ll be creating a bigger mess to face in the spring.

Trim dead or dying foliage

Trimming dead foliage helps remove excessive organic debris that would otherwise decompose in the water. Cut back hardy waterlilies just above the base of the plant and cut back marginal plants that could droop over into the water.

Add cold water bacteria

 Add cold water bacteria, such as Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria to help keep pond water clean and clear. Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria contains concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria designed to work in temperatures lower than 50 degrees. Regular use of Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria will help maintain water quality and clarity, as well as dramatically reduce spring maintenance by digesting debris that may accumulate over the winter months.

If you leave your pond running

Operating your pond and waterfalls during the winter will provide beautiful ice formations for you to enjoy throughout the frosty season. Keep in mind, there will be a bit of maintenance required this time of year, such as topping off the pond due to evaporation. Also, you’ll need to make sure ice formations don’t create dams that can cause unnecessary water loss over the edge of the stream.

If you shut down the pond

Many homeowners in northern climes choose to shut down the pond for the winter months. If you choose this option, remember to:

Ensure healthy fish before winter

A well-balanced diet creates healthy, happy fish. You want to make sure your fish are in good condition before they go into hibernation. When the water temperature falls below 60 degrees, the metabolism and digestion of your fish begins to slow down. Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food is scientifically formulated to properly nourish your fish during these lower temperatures. Be sure to stop feeding your fish when water temperature falls below 50 degrees.

Taking a little time and effort to prepare your pond for winter not only helps your fish survive their winter slumber, but makes your spring maintenance much easier. Be sure to follow these winter guidelines so you can experience the greatest joy from your pond when spring rolls around once again.

Watch this short video on how to winterize your pond:

Each pond ecosystem possesses its own qualities, conditions, and characteristics, but all ponds have a little algae – some more than others. An over-abundance of algae is the most frequent problem occurring in ponds.

The key, however, is to find the balance that Mother Nature intended and the algae will stay under control at an acceptable level. Managing the pond ecosystem in a way that’s logical and consistent with Mother Nature is a technique that’s been proven to be very successful.

Algae problems are most likely the result of an unbalanced ecosystem. In order to understand this, one needs only to understand that a water garden is an ecosystem of interrelated elements which all play an equally important role. Together these elements work to maintain a natural ecosystem without over-filtering or adding excessive amounts of chemicals to the pond. Here’s how it all works …

Filtration System

Designing and implementing an efficient circulation system ensures that the water is oxygenated and pond debris (including leaves, mosquito larvae, floating algae, and anything else that’s blown in) will be swept from the pond’s surface and deposited into an easily emptied skimmer basket. Through various forms of mechanical and biological filtration, the aquatic circle of life turns infinitely over and over again in your pond.

Plants

Algae are plants, and all aquatic plants feed off of the same nutrients in the water. The more plants you add to your pond, the more the algae will be starved from its food source. Algae growth will be minimized naturally and effortlessly.

A wide variety of aquatic plants are available for your pond. From waterlilies and lotus to marginal plants such as marsh marigold and horsetail, you’ll never tire of the options available to you.

Fish

Fish fulfill their role in the ecosystem by eating algae. Presuming they’re not overfed, koi over 10” in length will graze on the algae, effectively reducing its growth. Like plants, a variety of pond fish are available for you to introduce to your pond. Large, colorful koi to rosy reds and beyond! Fish are a delightful addition to any size water garden.

Rocks and Gravel

Like aquatic plants, the bacteria that live on the rocks and gravel in the pond feed on excess nutrients in the water, reducing the algae by starving it even further. The rocks and gravel not only hide the liner and create a natural-looking setting, but also provide a home for beneficial bacteria. Plant debris, fish waste, decaying organic matter, excess nutrients, or anything else that falls to the bottom of the pond will rest on top of the rocks and gravel. The bacteria living on the rocks and gravel will then go to work, breaking down the waste and debris, cleaning and clearing the water. Mother Nature’s circle of life is amazing, don’t you agree?

Finally … Patience!

 It takes between two and six weeks for the bacteria to colonize and actually begin to do their job. Creating a balanced ecosystem doesn’t happen overnight! Like fine wine, ponds mature with age, so don’t be surprised or concerned if a new pond begins to grow some algae. Once the plants, fish, and bacteria are established, the algae will decrease, as will the amount of maintenance on the pond.

Like good health, we shouldn’t take good pond water quality for granted. Some of what makes up the quality of the water in your pond is out of your control, but it still helps to understand a few things about it so you can manage it better. Ensure your pond has a balance of filtration, plants, fish, and rocks and gravel so you can spend more time relaxing by your pond as opposed to maintaining it.

 

Waterfalls are perhaps the most beautiful feature in a water garden. You can argue that you love your fish the most, or that your gorgeous water lilies are the favorite part of your pond, but the waterfall is what really makes it special. Not only is it beautiful, but it also serves a valuable purpose in your ecosystem by aerating the water for your fish and holding the beneficial bacteria that keeps your pond algae free. But could a waterfall survive without a pond? Sure it can. And the concept of a waterfall minus the pond is called “The Pondless® Waterfall.”

Child Playing in Pondless Waterfall

Simple Enough

Aquascape Pondless WaterfallThe name basically explains it all. It’s a waterfall and/or stream without the pond. But why would you want a waterfall without a pond? A Pondless Waterfall can be a great alternative for someone who isn’t quite sure about getting a full-fledged pond. The Pondless Waterfall allows you to get your feet wet with water gardening without having to take the plunge into a full-blown ecosystem pond. Maybe you’re just not that crazy about having fish but you enjoy the sound of running water in the landscape.

Or perhaps you’re already lucky enough to have a pond in your backyard but want to add a smaller water feature in the front yard. A Pondless Waterfall adds great curb appeal and is a truly unique way to welcome friends and family at the front door.

A Complete System

Aquascape Pondless WaterfallIf it’s hard for you to imagine a waterfall and stream without a pond, it must be hard to figure out how it works. Questions like, “Where does the water come from?” and “Where does the water go?” are common for inquiring minds. The truth is that a Pondless Waterfall works much like a regular pond. A hole, deeper than a normal pond, is dug, then lined with AquaBlox®, rock and gravel, and then filled with water. The water is then circulated from this sub-surface reservoir by a pump that sits on the bottom. A pipe runs from there up to a biological filter and into an overflowing waterfall, where it falls back into the basin. Since the water level never pools above the level of the rock and gravel fill, it gives the appearance of a Pondless Waterfall. But the greatest part of all is when the pump is plugged in for the first time and the water cascades over the falls and dances its way down the stream.

Could It Be This Easy?

Aquascape Pondless WaterfallTaking care of your Pondless Waterfall is a snap too, because there is even less maintenance than an ecosystem pond. You’ll only have to refill the reservoir every few weeks to compensate for water loss due to evaporation. What’s more, if you want to turn it off when you’re heading out for vacation, you can, since there is no ecological need to keep it running.

Future Possibilities

Perhaps the best part of the Pondless Waterfall is the possibility it lends to the future. It’s almost a stepping-stone for people who might be interested in a full-fledged pond later on. If your pond contractor is smart, they’ll make sure they leave enough room for a pond to be added later. Make sure that the waterfall is facing your viewing area too so that you gain the maximum benefit from this landscaping treasure. After all, there’s nothing worse than getting a water feature and not being able to see it from your favorite vantage point.

Aquascape Pondless Waterfall

Picture This

 

It’s a beautiful summer day and you are planning on having friends over to barbeque out on your patio. Somehow, setting up the sprinkler to mimic the sound of a natural stream doesn’t do it for you. But a Pondless Waterfall might just fill the bill, adding both the sight and sound of running water in your landscape.

And if you have small children, they’ll love playing outside in the water and you can rest assured they’re safe in this natural oasis. Watch the wonder on their faces as they encounter frogs, birds, butterflies and other critters that find their way to your watery habitat. You’ll also be amazed at the tranquility it affords after a hectic day.

Aquascape Pondless Waterfall

The Pondless Waterfall has made many water lovers, who were previously unable to indulge in the sweet sounds of falling water, very happy. It’s a great alternative for those who are looking to fit a little “peace” of paradise into their own yard.

Using BioBalls™ for Filtration

Aquascape BioBallsFor years, lava rock was “the thing” to use for media in a biological filter. With a fair amount of usable biological surface area – both on the outside as well as the inside – it made a good place for bacteria to colonize and grow. The problem, over time is the nooks and crannies that made lava rocks so great, start to clog with debris that eventually turn less effective and can actually cause nitrates (not nitrites) to increase. These nitrates are natural fertilizers that can ultimately feed algae, causing a problem.

Lava rock also becomes very heavy, which can be a back-breaker when trying to lift out for cleaning or maintenance. And, last but not least, the lava rock starts to break down and eventually has to be replaced.

There are other options for biological filter media that are made of plastic, like Aquascape BioBalls™.

Aquascape BioBalls™ provide a textured surface area (19 square inches per ball) for beneficial bacteria to colonize and grow. Aquascape BioBalls™ are the ideal filtration media for use in all biological filtration systems. They can also be used to create oxygen to de-gas pond water.

Features of the BioBalls™ include:
*  The center channels of the balls allow them to be strung together making cleaning easier.
*  Textured surface maximizes space for beneficial bacteria to populate.
*  Maximizes dissolved oxygen levels around bacteria populations
*  Compact size allows for placement into smaller areas.
*  Paddle wheel design breaks water flow helping to de-gas and aerate water.

 

 

Hariwake KoiThe Hariwake is one of the most common koi you’ll find in most retail stores, mainly because it’s relatively easy to breed and is very popular when found. It is also the most confusing pattern to correctly identify. As a two colored, all-metallic fish, the Hariwake occurs in the class of fish called the Hikarimoyo-mono. Literally that means one color (mono) on a platinum (hikari) background.

Two Colors

To identify the Hariwake, you can start by looking for a two-color fish – a white background with either yellow or orange markings. The background white should be a platinum white. This means that the white is actually shimmering, metallic, or reflective, not just bright white. So for the purposes of this article, I will say “platinum” and mean metallic, shimmering white.

You will also find Hariwake – a platinum white fish with a yellow or orange pattern with and without scales. If it doesn’t have scales it’s called a Doitsu Orinje (Orange) or Yamabuki (Yellow) Hariwake. If it has scales then it’s just called an Orinje (Orange) or Yamabuki (Yellow) Hariwake. In my opinion, the most beautiful, desirable, and brightest looking Hariwake is the Doitsu or scaleless version. This is also the most commonly available version.

Any Other Colors?

Hariwake Koi in tubSo what about other colors? If there is black in the pattern, it is not a Hariwake; it is a Matsuba with a Hariwake pattern or a Hariwake Matsuba (not a Matsuba Hariwake). So why is it called a Hariwake Matsuba and not a Matsuba Hariwake? This is because there are no Matsuba Hariwakes and if there were, by definition it would have three colors and then it would not be a Hariwake. It’s not worth stopping someone about it. If you’re in a shop and someone wants to maintain that the Hariwake you’re about to buy is actually a Matsuba Hariwake, just let it slide.

A Hariwake that has red instead of orange isn’t a Hariwake at all. Instead, it actually falls into another category called Kohaku, which means red on white. In the case of a platinum fish (not just white) with bright red on it, it becomes an exceptional Kohaku.  know this all sounds crazy and confusing. When you cut out all the detail in the middle, it simply comes down to the fact that a Hariwake is a platinum fish with only one other color – either orange or yellow.

What’s in a Name?

Metallic Hariwake KoiKoi varieties can be very confusing to a person learning to identify them and their color patterns. Of course they make perfect sense to the Japanese breeder because they are simply words that have literal meaning to how the fish looks. For example, the variety name, “Ochiba Shigure,” literally means “fallen leaves in autumn shower in Japanese.” So in a way it would be as if we were naming our koi with terms that meant, “big white ones with red blotches” which, in a foreign language, might sound pretty darn cool!

Floating aquatic plants can be a very effective way of adding filtration and surface coverage to a water garden. Since these are free-floating plants (having no roots anchored in soil), they draw 100 percent of their nutrients directly from the water, feeding on nutrients that would otherwise feed algae.

Floating plants can be placed in the pond, but need to be situated out of the reach of the skimmer. Tucking floaters into the edges of the pond, or in and around lily pads, can help prevent the skimmer from drawing them in.

Helping with the Green

Water Hyacinth - AquascapeExamples of floating plants that are heavy feeders include water hyacinth and water lettuce.  These plants are great at helping a water gardener naturally discourage and starve algae, keeping the pond from turning green. The floaters also help by providing some shade, which in addition to helping to prevent algae growth, also benefit the fish in the pond. Depriving algae of necessary sunshine is the best cure for a green pond.

Caring for floating plants is very simple. Keep them thinned back during the growing season and in northern climates, remove them from the pond in the fall to prepare for winter. For ponds with skimmers, it’s best to place floating plants in an area where they will not end up in the skimmer, blocking its opening. A good place to keep them is in the top of the biological filter, where all the nutrient-rich water will pass over their roots. It also helps to hide the opening to the filter.

They Could Be Illegal

While floating plants can be beneficial, some can become aggressive because of their ability to absorb nutrients so well.  It’s easy to remove extra unwanted plants in order to prevent an ecological takeover. Since there is no root system, it’s a matter of simply pulling out the unwanted plants and throwing them in the compost bin. Whatever you do, do not throw the extras into any natural body of water! They can easily take over and choke out native plant materials.

Because of their aggressive nature, many floaters are illegal in southern states. Before you use them in a water garden project, check with your local department of agriculture for your state’s noxious weed list.

Floating Plants

Frogbit
Limnobium spongia
Fleshy, heart-shaped leaves growing in a 2-6” rosette. When crowded, the leaves will extend above the water surface, otherwise they lay flat on the water surface. Hardy in Zones 6-10.

Water Hyacinth
Eichhornia crassipes
The most popular floater with its succulent leaves and bright purple flowers – great at competing with algae for nutrients and light. It is illegal in many states due to its aggressive growth habit. Hardy in Zones 9-11.

Water Lettuce
Pistia stratiotes
Large, light green leaves growing in a rosette that resembles a head of lettuce. Does best in part shade, but can be slowly acclimated to full sun. It may sunburn in some parts of the country. Hardy in Zones 9-11.

Koi

It may seem like a novel concept, but not all the fish in your pond have to be koi. There are other pond fish out there that can bring joy and benefits to your water garden.  Some are beautiful, others – not so much. Nevertheless they all bring their unique characteristics to a water feature and will lend a little originality beyond the expected koi.

Shubunkins

Shubunkins are a type of goldfish. They have a blunt head, can have either short or long fins, and they can grow to be about 14 to 16 inches long. They are undemanding fish with tough constitutions and friendly demeanors. They don’t tend to pick on each other and are customarily easy to hand train for feeding.

ShubunkinTypically, they are calico or multi-colored with a blend of blue, white, black, and red/orange. Some specimens have been spotted that were in fact mostly white, or mostly black, or mostly red, and of course, mostly blue. So, to an extent, it’s whatever your eye perceives as desirable, but also know this: The most desirable shubunkins are basically sky blue fish, “painted” to about 30 percent with brilliant red, and then highlighted with small accents of white and black. The more solid the black, the better, however the black can also be attractive when distributed solely as freckles.

For a while, there was a breeder in the North Eastern U.S. that hand-selected pure black and white shubunkins that had neither red nor blue in them. They were amazing but they were also as rare as hen’s teeth. The process was very laborious and yielded a small number of fish per pond, so these rarities were sold at a premium price. It isn’t certain whether their color “held” for their lifetime. Shubunkins are hardy fish for ponds in North America and are certainly durable for beginners. They are vulnerable to all of the same diseases as any other pond goldfish.

Mosquito FishMosquito Fish

Mosquito fish are from the gambusia group, known formally as Gambusia affinis. They are dull-colored, minnow-shaped fish that are closely related to guppies that are equally prolific (fast multiplying), giving birth to live young.

Their purpose in most ponds is simply to consume the immature forms of most insect creatures. In other words, they eat mosquito larvae, and that is why many people want them in their ponds. Here’s what you need to know. These mosquito fish are very, very hardy and they will survive exposure to most fish diseases with hardly any sign of illness. Therefore, you can buy very sick fish and not see signs of illness. For this reason, it is very important that you assume all mosquito fish to be parasite carriers that you quarantine and treat.

PlecostomusPlecostomus

The plecostomus is a South American catfish that it is ugly-as-sin, but very hardy and are a great curative for string algae. One fish in a 1,000-gallon pond will eat all the string algae – that’s its favorite food. When you go to the pet shop, buy the largest plecostomus they have.

These should be pretty cheap, and here’s why; when the average tank hobbyist buys a “pleco” it’s five inches long or less. Within the year, it’s pushing 10 inches, so they trade it back to the pet shop for next to nothing, and the pet shop unloads them for a good deal to you. When you go in to the store, ask for a large, ‘trade-in’ plecostomus.

Two notes of caution. At night, in very small ponds, plecostomus will rasp on (suck on) the flanks of slow moving fish. If the pond is really small and the algae is all gone, they’ll suck on anything they can find, and damage some fish. I would not deploy a plecostomus in a pond that is less than 800 gallons. And if you do, know that the larger ones are less likely to rasp on the other fish than the smaller, more agile plecostomi. Any fish, that because of some internal pathology, is forced to live on the bottom, will be eaten by the plecostomus because it cannot get away. Healthy koi never have this problem.

Secondly, plecostomus will die when the water temperature drops to 55° F. Not 54° F … 55° F! In the fall of each year, you should anticipate this and pull the plecostomus out and put him in a plastic garbage pail with a little sponge filter for the winter. Feed him a disc of zucchini every couple days and he’ll hang in there ’til spring for redeployment in the pond.

So there you have it. There are other types of fish that can not only live happily in your water garden, but provide a benefit to it. So next time you’re out fish shopping, be sure to try a new kind of fish for your pond.