Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Category: Ponds/ Water Gardens

Ponds and Water Gardens

Planning & Installing a Pond

By Debra Maurer

Backyard pond rock waterfall AquartA pond allows you to add a truly organic element to your backyard. By attaching the pump’s hose to a fountain or waterfall, it keeps the water circulated while also providing an attractive water feature. However, ponds require ongoing maintenance. Keep the following in mind when planning your pond:

Pond Plants. About 60 percent of the pond's surface should be covered with plants to reduce algae and balance the water chemistry. Keep in mind that some water plants, such as water hyacinths and water lettuce, will multiply in a matter of weeks. If you plan to include water lilies, note that these potted plants must be lowered 12 - 18 inches so you'll want to create a few ledges in your pond design.


Pond Fish. You may also want to add fish to your pond. Japanese koi are brightly colored, friendly, and eat algae. However, they are prey for blue heron and raccoons so you should dig a few places in the pond where koi can hide. You can protect koi from predators by keeping a mesh net over the pond, installing a motion-activated water sprayer, or purchasing a heron statue. (Note: The statue must be moved around every few days to maintain its "scarecrow" effect.)

Pond Size. Make sure you're satisfied with the size of your pond before installing the pond liner. Many pond owners often wish they built bigger ponds so they could have more plants and fish. If you simply want a water garden containing plants only, the water can be a minimum of 2 feet deep, but if you plan to have koi, the depth must be at least 3 feet.

Pond Location. You also want to choose the location of your pond carefully. While fish ponds require some shade, you don't want to put your pond under a tree with much leaf drop (though the use of a net will catch falling leaves or debris).

Photo courtesy of Aquart; Photography by Rocio Escobar

Outdoor Patio Fountains and Ponds


Patio fountains, water gardens, and patio ponds make a great addition to your outdoor space. They add a beautiful focal point and create a lovely ambiance through the sound of falling water. Choose from a variety of unique fountains and ponds to accent your deck, patio, or backyard.

Freestanding Patio Ponds

If you love the idea of having a pond, but aren’t ready to handle the installation and maintenance, you may opt for a self-contained patio pond, which also makes a great water feature. One manufacturer offers a variety of freestanding patio ponds. Each patio pond kit is easy to assemble and functions as a completely stand-alone unit. Simply plug into a standard electrical outlet and your pond is ready to go.

 


square patio pond fountain planter Pond BossThis square patio pond blends perfectly into the nicely coordinated seating area of this brick open-air patio. The small fountain in the center keeps the water aerated and functions as a subtle water feature. The classic, clean lines make it an elegant addition to any outdoor setting or sunroom. Once evening strikes, set the mood by turning on the patio fountain’s LED light, available in white or blue.


 



two-tier rattan patio pond planter waterfall Pond BossThis two-tiered patio pond features a sheer-descent waterfall with a spillway that lights up. The (blue or white) LED light and water feature can be turned on independently of one another so you can create the perfect mood. Not only does this unique pond make a great water feature, the upper tier also doubles as a planter! The intricately woven wicker finish allows this sophisticated design to pair with a variety of outdoor furniture designs.

 



patio pond urn planter fountain Pond BossThis woven wicker urn would make an attractive planter on its own. But when you add a patio pond kit featuring a fountain and your choice of a blue or white LED light, this unique water feature really comes to life. Add a tall water plant and this self-contained mini pond is both beautiful and easy to maintain.

 

 

 


Above three photos courtesy of GeoGlobal Partners - PondBoss Manufacturers


Freestanding Patio Fountains

Stand-alone patio fountains are a simple way to liven up your backyard. Easy to install, all you need is an electrical outlet to plug in the fountain (though some solar-powered fountains are available from various manufacturers). Freestanding patio fountains come in almost every design, size, and material you can imagine. From small tabletop fountains to large multi-tiered stone fountain bowls and vases, you can find just the right water feature to adorn your outdoor space.



Campania platia stone fountain three-tier bowl table topThis three-tiered cast stone fountain offers a natural look, blending into any backyard theme. Since it can be placed on a ledge or tabletop, it won’t be hard to find a home for this fountain in your outdoor setting.

 

 

 



Campania recife freestanding fountain black square bowl gardenThis modern cast stone fountain bowl adds both contemporary flair and Zen-like appeal to your garden. The combination of curves and sleek lines creates dimension and generates visual interest.

 

 

 



Campania tall fountain bronze birdbath gardenThis classic cast stone fountain is perfect for the garden and doubles as a birdbath. Adding height and warm natural tones, the fountain becomes a real statement piece without going over the top. Shown here in bronze, this fountain (along with the other two fountains pictured above) is available in a number of patinas so you can find just the right look for your garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Above three photos courtesy of Campania International; Photography by Rick Urbanowski



Winter Pond Care Guide


As winter draws near, it’s important to prepare your backyard pond or water garden for the cold weather ahead. Follow these guidelines for winterizing your pond to keep your fish and water plants healthy during the cold winter months.





Clean and Cover - Decaying leaves and plants produce gases that are harmful to the fish and the pond’s ecosystem if left in the water.

    • Use a net or vacuum pond cleaner to remove any fallen leaves and dead foliage that has entered the pond.
    • Cut back dead leaves and branches from surrounding pond plants so that they do not hang over the pond.
    • Cover the entire pond with netting to prevent additional leaves and debris from falling into the pond.

    • (Note: Once all the leaves have fallen, clean and remove the pond netting before the snow arrives. Snow and ice can accumulate on the netting and cause it to collapse.)


      Change the Water - Perform a 30- to 50-percent water change before the water temperature drops below 60 degrees F to remove contaminants and help maintain pleasant water conditions throughout the winter.

    • Use a de-chlorinator and neutralizer to remove chlorine in the tap water when adding it to the pond since chlorine and chloramines are poisonous to fish.
    • Make sure there is no more than a five-degree difference in the temperature of the pond water and the water from the hose as a severe change in temperature is stressful for fish and can cause disease.
    • Add pond salt (one pound per 100 gallons) to help fish restore their slime coat and boost their immune system.
    • Add cold water bacteria to reduce buildup, keep the water quality healthy for the fish, and condition the pond for startup in the spring.
    • Test the water and O2 level to make sure everything is in good balance.

Modify Fish Feeding - As water temperatures plummet, fish metabolism slows down and they require less food.

    • Start feeding your fish food with a wheat germ base when the water temperature drops to 60 degrees F. (Wheat germ is easier for the fish to digest at low temperatures than protein.)
    • As the temperature continues to dip below 60 degrees, feed your fish only two or three times a week.
    • Stop feeding your fish altogether once the water temperature reaches an average of 45 degrees F. (Fish are no longer able to digest food at this temperature.)

    • (Note: In order to overwinter fish, the deepest part of your pond must be below the local freezing line.)
      Check with your nearest pet store for additional information on keeping your fish safe over winter.


      Protect Your Plants
      - Fall is the perfect time to divide and repot your water plants because the mild temperatures give the plants time to heal their root systems before the chilly weather arrives.

    • Remove or bring tropical plants inside when the daily temperature drops below 60 degrees F. Many tropical plants can overwinter indoors with a large container of water and bright light. Floating plants, such as water hyacinth and water lettuce, should be discarded.
    • When temperatures reach 50 degrees F and before the first hard freeze, trim winter hardy plants (such as water lily and lotus) and then lower to the bottom of the pond.
    • Cut back marginal and bog plants and submerge them below the freezing line.
    • In very cold climates, such as the northeast, insulate bog plants with straw or commercial insulation material.


Close Up the Pond
- Depending on the climate in your region, you may or may not need to shut down your pond equipment in the winter.


    • If you live in an area with warm or mild winters, you can keep your pond pump running to prevent the pond surface from freezing. (Note: You will need to monitor the water level and stay aware of ice formations and weather changes so that water does not freeze in the pipes.)
    • In colder climates, shut down and remove the pump, filter, and UV sterilizers when the temperature drops below 40 degrees F.
    • Drain water out of the plumbing to prevent standing water from freezing and expanding, which can crack the pipes.
    • Clean all of the equipment according to manufacturers’ directions.
    • Store the filter and UV sterilizer in a warm, dry place.
    • Keep submersible pumps in a bucket of water to prevent the seals from drying out and place in a frost-free location.


    • Install Winter Equipment
      - If you have fish, you need to oxygenate the water and keep an opening in the ice so that toxic gases do not get trapped and kill the fish.

    • Place a small air pump or bubbler on the top shelf of the pond. The agitation from the pump will provide oxygen and help keep a hole in the ice when the pond’s surface starts to freeze.
    • Add a floating pond heater or de-icer if you experience temperatures below 10 degrees F for extensive periods as a small air pump will not be enough to maintain an opening in extremely cold temperatures.


    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Never try to physically break the ice if your pond freezes over. The shock waves can seriously damage or kill the fish. Instead, place a pot of hot water on the ice to gently melt a hole.


      Photos courtesy of Aquascape, Inc. www.aquascapeinc.com


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