Fall Pond Care
Fall Pond Care consists of a few simple task that will save you tons of headaches once the spring come around. Below our friends at Aquascape have provided a list of a few chores to tackle before old man winter arrives.
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.
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:
- 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® 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.
Watch this short video on how to winterize your pond:
This beautiful waterfall and stream installation was recently completed in Lancaster, PA. The water feature is approximately forty five feet in length. We built the falls through an existing masonry seating wall already existing on the property. This is first phase of what we hope to be an additional 45′ feet or so of pondless waterfalls and stream that will travel up through the front of the home. The water feature flows down to the basin just before the natural stone boulder wall and is outfitted with an overflow that directs into a natural spring pond on the property. Underwater LED landscape lighting was also installed through the feature for nighttime enjoyment. The feature is made of of natural slightly weathered limestone and as per normal the water feature products are from aquascape.
Looking for Plants for Ponds? Unsure what type to buy? What their purpose in a pond is? Will they last all year in my climate? Well lucky for you we have the answers for you about all types of plants for ponds provided below. Our good friends at Aquascape have put together a nice reference guide for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
Plants for Ponds: AN EASY REFERENCE GUIDE
Pond plants like water lilies, cattails, pickerel weed, and water lettuce are a necessary part of your customers’ pond ecosystems. It’s important for you to know the different types of aquatic plants available and the critical role they play in the water garden so that you can educate your customer.
Aquatic Plants in the Big Picture
In the big picture, pond plants are a necessary and essential part of a naturally balanced aquatic ecosystem. If plants are excluded from a water garden, the entire ecosystem is thrown out of whack. Plants use the excess nutrients in the pond to grow, thereby stealing them from the algae, essentially preventing algae from growing.
Elminate plants from a pond and you’ll have …
– A pond without sufficient oxygen
– A pond without healthy fish
– A pond without aerobic (good) bacteria
– A pond without the ability to break down waste products
– A pond without naturally crystal clear water
– A pond without the ability to inhibit algae growth, and
– A pond that most resembles a pot of green pea soup
The moral to this part of the story is, don’t allow your customers to contradict Mother Nature by underestimating the value and function of pond plants in and around the water garden. If they don’t understand the “balanced ecosystem” concept, then do yourself a favor and take 5 to 10 minutes to explain this basic aspect of water gardening to them. Those 5 to 10 minutes could save you 5 to 10 hours (or more) of headaches and help you avoid unhappy customers in the long run.
Aquatic Plants in the Smaller Picture
If you’re not familiar with aquatic plants, or aquatic plant terminology you may be able to use this quick, user-friendly, guided tour through the mysterious, linguistic forest of water gardening.
10 Common Aquatic Plant Factoids You Should Know
To make it easier to remember, we’ve broken this information down into ten factoids you should know. Here they are in plain English:
Terrestrial Plants vs. Pond Plants
This one’s easy. Pond plants live in and around water. Terrestrials live on land. So water lilies are aquatic. Sunflowers are terrestrial.
Marginal and Deep Water Pond Plants
Within the community of aquatic plants there are those that live on the edge of the pond in well-saturated soil or gravel, and those that live deeper in the water. The first are referred to as marginal, or transitional, plants. The second are referred to as deep water plants.
One of the characteristics water gardeners concern themselves with is a plant’s aggressiveness; its tendency to propagate, reproduce, multiply, and grow at the expense of its neighbors. The term used to describe this characteristic is invasiveness. It refers to a plant’s tendency to invade or aggressively take over and occupy a particular part of the water garden. If a plant exhibits extremely invasive, aggressive tendencies, your customer will probably have to trim it back so that it doesn’t suffocate its neighbors.
Plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce are referred to as floating plants for obvious reasons. These plants are excellent filters since they derive all of their nutrients through the water. They also tend to be annuals in most non-tropical climates.
For plants and gardening, the world is divided into 11 geographical/climactic zones, which go from #1 (a tropical climate) to #11 (Antarctica). These zones are used to indicate where plants will survive, thrive, multiply, and propagate. The phrase “this plant will be hardy up to zone 7” is how it’s usually expressed.
Rhizomes are horizontal stems or roots on a pond plant. Rhizomes serve as a mother stem off of which lots of baby stems grow.
In the animal kingdom this term refers to animals that give birth to living young (like humans) instead of eggs (like chickens). But in the plant kingdom, it refers to plants that germinate while still attached to the parent plant.
Variegated – Having to do with variety in colors and shapes, such as a variegated leaf.
Anthropomorphic – Giving human-like qualities to something that’s non-human.
Equip yourself with pond plant knowledge so you can talk intelligibly with your customers, whether you’re a retailer or a contractor. Your customers will view you as a reliable resource.
This project consisted of waterfall renovations to our front entrance water feature display. The display features all types of different elements that can be installed in your very own yard. While this display is quite grand, water features can be built to fit any size and almost any budget.
The original construction of this feature began in in early 2007. Since then it has undergone various upgrades, renovations and additions. We started this build in January of 2007 and it was absolutely freezing to say the least. There were quite a few days where we had to set fires in attempts to soften the ground for digging. Certainly not the ideal situation.
The below pictures and video depict some of the latest upgrades. While there’s still a lot of the original installation that remains today, quite a few updates have been made. Most recently being the remodeling of the main waterfall for the side stream. Along the side stream we also installed a rosetta outcropping wall The massive size and weight of the outcropping system makes it visually striking and extremely strong. The retention basin area was also partially renovated along with a complete rebuild of the final waterfalls.
Some drift wood was added to further naturalize the feature. A skimmer was added to the pooling area to improve circulation as well as house additional pumps. A small stacked slate urn was installed in the pooling area running off the skimmer pump. A customized fire bowl was outfitted with a spillway modification which also poured into the pooling area. The pump for the custom fire bowl is also housed in the skimmer. The majority of the surrounding landscape has been renovated with the addition of tons of new plants, trees, and shrubs, as well as additional landscape beds.
BUILDER TIPS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS
Constructed wetlands have grown in popularity over the last couple of years mainly because of their natural look and aesthetic appeal. But what exactly is a wetland and just how does it function?
A wetland works just like a biological filter, but instead of creating a waterfall; it creates an area in your pond thick with naturally-filtering plants, as well as rocks and gravel, which provide a surface for bacterial colonization … nature’s perfect filters. So a wetland, while naturally beautiful and pleasing to the eye, is a great filtration method, and will help keep your water looking crystal clear.
One of the greatest things about wetland filtration is that it can be used with almost any system. But will it fit in with your pond? Do you have to have a lot of space to construct a wetland? There are no size limitations because it acts as your biological filtration. The plants, rocks, and gravel act as the filtration media, similar to what you see in nature.
Sure it might look pretty, and it might be designed like a wetland straight out of the marshlands, but how clean does it keep the water? Some say it’s even better than a biological filter, but in actuality, the benefits are very similar. Wetland filtration balances out your water very well, sometimes better than the biological filter, and once it is balanced, your pond will require less water treatment application.
If you install a larger pond with more than one biological filter, the financial benefits of the constructed wetland system will make your customer’s pocketbook pretty happy. If you only have one waterfall, the energy consumption is about the same, but if you have multiple waterfalls, powered by multiple pumps, you can save money by using the wetland system instead.
Learning the Secret
The key to a wetland filtration system lies with the plants. Plants are an integral part of a balanced pond ecosystem and help create a natural looking environment, which is becoming more important to today’s consumer. Plants help purify the water by reducing nutrients, filtering out sediments and absorbing toxic compounds through the process of phytoremediation, they’re also the basis of a food web in which pathogens are consumed by microorganisms associated with the aquatic plants.
Another key to the filtration lies in the sediment chamber created by the AquaBlox®on the bottom of the wetland. This sediment chamber reduces the velocity of the incoming water below 2 feet/second, allowing the sedimentation process to occur while dispersing the water evenly along the bottom of the wetland. The slow, even flow of water is necessary for optimal contact time between the water and gravel bringing nutrients and oxygen to the bacterial colonies. Beneficial bacteria are housed in this gravel, providing your first layer of filtration before the water even hits the plant roots.
The important thing to remember when considering a constructed wetland filter is that, similar to your biological filter’s placement, the wetland filter should be flowing down to your pond for optimal efficiency. The wetland must sit a little higher than the pond because you need the water to flow back into the pond, because the bacteria housed in the wetland will consume dissolved oxygen as they utilize nutrients. This flow of water in the form of a waterfall or swift-moving stream back into the pond is a natural way to re-oxygenate the water.
The Snorkel® and Centipede®
Aquascape’s Snorkel® Vault and Centipede® Module, along with a layer of small AquaBlox® strategically positioned along the bottom of the filter makes building a wetland simple. All you need to use in conjunction with these two components is a pump appropriate to the amount of water flow, rock and gravel, wetland plants, piping that is appropriate for the size of your pump, a skimmer or wet well, and, of course, water.
The water flows through the plumbing from the wet well or skimmer, into the Centipede® Module, which pushes the water into the AquaBlox® sediment chamber up through the layers of gravel where it comes into contact with beneficial bacteria and then the plant roots for final filtration. The Snorkel® Vault is convenient for cleaning any sludge that may accumulate on the bottom through usage. Simply pop off the cap and you have complete access for easy cleaning.
What about the Waterfall?
Maybe your customer wants a wetland but doesn’t want to lose the beauty and sound of a waterfall. No problem! Your customer can have both! You can’t over-filter a pond. It’s virtually impossible. And remember, for large ponds, incorporating both a constructed wetland and waterfall will cost less in operational costs than two waterfalls.
What some installers don’t realize is that your biological filtration actually acts as a wetland filtration system of sorts when you place certain plants in the top of it. Water hyacinth and water lettuce are always a fan favorite, but certain marginals like iris, dwarf cattails, pickerel rush, and any tropicals also work. The important thing to remember is that all of these plants will have to be removed when the cold temperatures hit. You may want to keep some of them in pots for easy removal before the winter winds howl. This may inhibit their filtration a bit, but something’s always better than nothing when it comes to filtration.
So even without a full-fledged constructed wetland system, you can feel comfortable that a wetland of sorts is working in your pond by adding aquatic plants inside the top of the biological filter. After all, the same process is in effect, with water pushing up and through the filter media, and then up through your plant roots.
The bottom line is that constructed wetlands work, and they make any pond look natural and gorgeous. What’s more, natural wetlands and the associated riparian habitats are the most biologically diverse habitats on earth, more species of plants and animals are associated with them than any other type of ecosystem.
But because of our construction practices and changes to natural hydrology, these systems are under great stress. By adding a small wetland in your customer’s backyard, you’ll be helping to preserve the natural biodiversity of your community. With today’s growing tendency toward creating sustainable landscape solutions, you can see why wetland filtration is an obvious choice for today’s environmentally-conscious consumer.
Add beauty to your home and freshen your environment with lush plants contained in an attractive Deco Planter. Plants help to filter the air and beautiful Deco Planters provide a convenient way to house and display both aquatic and terrestrial plants.
Enhance any indoor or outdoor setting with a unique Water Creations Deco Planter. The modern-style planter can be used with both aquatic and terrestrial plants. You’ll enjoy the ease and beauty of these colorful planters.
BUILDER TIPS: IMPORTANCE OF POND LEDGES
Whether you’re installing a small residential water garden, or a larger one for a commercial project, be sure to include ledges along the perimeter during the excavation process. If someone were to accidentally or purposefully walk into the ponds, you want to avoid a dangerous drop-off. Ledges act as a safe staircase as opposed to a slippery slope. They also add strength and stability to the pond. Terracing is much more stable and less likely to collapse than a steep, tall wall.
In addition, ledges provide aesthetic appeal. If you create a proper ecosystem pond, the water will be clear and the pond floor is visible. Ledges provide layers and contours, adding interest to the pond’s interior. Pond ledges also provide shelves for aquatic plants; different ledge depths are perfect for planting the many different species that are available:
- Marginals, for example, require a water depth from one to 12 inches, depending on the type of plant. In general, however, we recommend setting a shelf at 10 inches to take care of most plants in this category.
- Water lilies thrive in between 12 and 36 inches of water. You can’t go shallower: Even hardy water lilies planted in less than 12 inches of water may not survive over winter.
- Oxygenators (including Anacharis, Hornwort or Cabomba) also prefer being planted in 12 inches to 36 inches of water.
The first pond ledge is typically 6 to 10 inches deep and should be dug around the perimeter of the entire pond. Remember, this ledge should be covered in gravel, so a ledge that is six inches deep will become a ledge that’s four inches deep after the gravel is installed. Ledges can vary according to their usage, but they do not have to be perfect. The goal when creating a pond is to copy nature, and natural ponds don’t have perfectly level or symmetrical ledges graduating towards the bottom of the pond. When the first ledge is completed, you can mark out the next area to be excavated.
Remember that the vertical walls of the ledges will be covered with boulders or larger rocks and the flat areas will be covered in gravel. If you will be using all hand-placed stones, make sure you keep your ledges to a maximum of 12 inches tall; otherwise you’ll be stacking multiple rocks on top of each other which will increase the allotted amount of time for stone placement. Ideally, use one or two rocks to cover the vertical walls. If you have equipment on site you’ll have more freedom to use larger boulders to create deeper ponds with taller vertical walls.
The width of the ledges should also vary according to the pond design. Aim to use narrow ledges of 6″-10″ wide in the foreground, and wider ledges 16″-24″ in the background. The reasoning behind it is simple; the foreground area (adjacent to patio/viewing areas) is the area where your clients will be feeding and viewing their fish. This allows ample space for the fish to get up close to their owners.
The background area is the zone where the pond will transition into the surrounding landscape; the wide shallow ledges are perfect for mass plantings of aquatic plants to help with this transition.
As you plan your excavation, always keep primary viewing locations in mind. you might consider eliminating a portion of the near-side planting area altogether. Instead, create an edge where the pond meets up with a hardscape or formal viewing area. Providing a deeper section of plant-free water here will allow fish to come to the side of the pond and greet the owner for feeding.
Pond ledges go a long way to beautifying a pond and shouldn’t be overlooked. In addition, shelves create strength and stability, creating a safer environment for your customers.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR SUMMER POND HEALTHY
Your summer pond’s water temperature might feel just right to you as you dip your toes into it after a long day of work. But once the water temperature rises above 80 Fº, you may run into problems. An obvious sign of an undesirable issue is noticing your fish gasping for air close to the water’s surface or near a fountain or waterfall.
Warm water has a low capacity for holding oxygen, while cooler water can hold large amounts of oxygen. Warm water and increased activity in the pond go hand and hand. That increased activity means your fish require more oxygen when less oxygen is available, thus creating a vicious cycle. Stressed fish often begin to develop diseases, and no pond owner wants to see that happen.
Following are preventative measures you can take in order to keep your pond from becoming a warm, unhealthy mess:
- Stock your pond with plants that provide shade. Water lettuce or the leaves of a waterlily are perfect in accomplishing this goal.
- Aim to cover one-third to one-half of your pond’s surface with plants.
- Add oxygen to your pond with an aerator, small fountain, or the Aquascape AquaForce® Pump.
- If you feed your fish, do so in the morning and be careful not to overfeed. Uneaten food decays faster in warmer water and can pollute the pond.
- Remove dying leaves and flowers before they have a chance to decay in the warmer water.
Enjoy your pond during the summer months, and keep it healthy by following our easy tips. Your fish and plants will thank you!
Pond Construction: Show and Sell
Reveal Your Repertoire in full-sized pond displays
as seen in Pond Trade Magazine
by Bobby Kenyon,
C.E. Pontz Sons
Being in the business of pond construction, we’ve done all types, shapes and sizes over the years. It has been a thriving part of the business for us for a long time. But with more and more landscape contractors installing “ponds,” we’ve got to continue to set ourselves apart from the rest. Thinking outside the box and staying as creative as possible are tasks we embrace on a daily basis. Designing a pond used to be a simple as spray painting a layout on the grass and letting the pond crew work their magic. They would build an amazing pond, the homeowner would love it and we’d be on to the next build. With ever-growing competition, we continue to strive for bigger, brighter and more creative things. Designing and building amazing water features is near the top of that list.
We’ve always been known for water features,and that is a big part of our business. But nowadays,
every Tom, Dick and Harry are claiming that they install “ponds,” and they will do it for cheaper than you will. Unbeknown to the homeowner, these contractors are installing nightmarish water features, most of which will require twice as the much cost as the original price to fix. While in the end this typically provides our company more work in renovating these disasters, they can still cast a shadow over the water garden industry. Those of us in the know must hold ourselves responsible to educate homeowners on why shopping around based on price should never be an option. By providing proper education, as well as physically showing the homeowner what you can do, this can go a long way. This is why we like to provide potential customers with the opportunity to come and see what they can have in their own yards — specifically, what we build and how it’s constructed. Our Creative Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is loaded with tons of features on-site for the public to view. We always request that clients visit us first. Seeing videos or pictures online can help, but nothing compares to physical interaction. This is a great selling tool. It shows the homeowner that you know how to build amazing water features, and it shows them the different options available. Showing them the quality of your work in person will justify why your price might be higher than the guy with a pickup truck and a shovel. But it doesn’t end there. While there are plenty of hacks in our line of work, there are still numerous
quality water feature installers across the country. Being a Master Certified Aquascape Contractor, we enjoy the luxury of their add-on options. While every pond install is one of a kind, there are tons of options to turn something that’s already amazing into a masterpiece. Additions like driftwood, fountains, spitters, spillways, fish caves, cored boulders and fire features can really set you apart from the competition.
Our Dazzling Display
Feast your eyes on one of our masterpieces! This is one of our newest outdoor living displays. While this display incorporates other parts of our business, such as hardscaping, masonry, outdoor audio and landscape lighting, the water feature is the focus of the display, with many of these features already incorporated. It was constructed during rainy days, slow periods and after-business hours. For this build we started out with a large ecosystem pond. The pond is approximately 20 feet long by 15 feet wide. One of the most notable features of the pond is a large limestone boulder drilled to incorporate a fountain-style waterfall. Not only does this boulder look awesome and add tons of aesthetics, but the boulder fountain also helps to circulate what would otherwise be a fairly stagnant area of the pond. A zero-edge spillway was installed, flowing into the basin. The skimmer houses the pumps for the boulder fountain and the small waterfall
coming from underneath the log next to the boulder. Weathered limestone boulders were used to construct most of the pond, with a few areas of stacked flagstoneincluded for an added touch. Like in all our water features, we incorporated various logs and driftwood to help naturalize and soften the look of the pond. Never underestimate the added value of a couple of gnarly-looking pieces of driftwood. Not only are they much easier to maneuver, but they also give you that unique look that a boulder sometimes
just can’t satisfy. A fish cave was installed to help protect our fish from predators — specifically a local heron that tends to stop by. In most cases, we do a much more elaborate cave. In this case, we used a large piece of irregular flagstone atop the bottom shelf. Typically, these are constructed to completely blend in with the pond, but they can be as simple as a large stone.The fish will thank you for this. You may not have a heron roaming now, but build a pond, and you soon might. The final phase of the pond — or beginning phase, depending on how you look at it — flows over a zero-edge spillway into the storage basin. Multiple pumps are housed in the basin for various parts of the water feature; void space was filled with AquaBlox. Atop the
basin sit two stacked, slate bubbling urns of various sizes. The larger of the two urns doubles as a fire fountain as well. The third fountain on the basin is a selfcontained fire bowl. We customized the bowl to incorporate into the system and added three spillways to it. From the basin, the water is pumped up through a small bog filter and a spillway-bowl fountain. The spillway pours into the bog filter before entering the falls area. The water then flows down various cascading waterfalls. These falls were constructed out of a different type of weathered limestone to show the variety of options available. The pond is also equipped with a copper ionizer and automatic dosing
This small pondless waterfall build started with the removal of an existing waterfall. The existing pondless waterfall was poorly constructed with multiple pieces of liner in the stream with low edges cut way too short. The basin also had various low edges which needed to be addressed. The existing stream and waterfalls were deconstructed. Using a single stream liner we then rebuild the pondless waterfall using the existing rock as well as a few new boulders and new drift wood to naturalize the feature. This project was built in York, PA.