How do I find a leak in my Ecosystem Pond?
Many times what people think is a leak in their backyard pond is actually a water displacement issue with the waterfall or stream. Or it could simply be a malfunctioning autofill device. OR, in May and June, which are our hottest, driest months, it could very well be evaporation at its finest.
When a leak really isn't a leak:
Remember that water wicks up the side of the rocks in your pond, so be sure you are actually seeing a drop in water, and not just wicking action. If the autofill device is not running at more than a drip, then you don't have a leak.
Phoenix pond leak troubleshooting steps
Before spending money for someone else to find the problem, here are some simple things you can do to troubleshoot the issue. Heck, you may even be able to fix it yourself and save some money!
Turn off the water supply to the pond and unplug the pump, monitoring the water loss overnight. If the water level does not drop any further, you know the "leak" is in the waterfall or stream, and is more likely than not the result of plants needing to be thinned, or another displacement issue like shifting rocks on the edge of your liner due to some settling.
Aquatic plants need thinning in a Phoenix pond or stream!
This is an easy fix with a living ecosystem pond built using EPDM rubber. Use an appraising eye to evaluate whether or not your stream is packed full of plant roots. If you've just been trimming off the dead leaves and not actually thinning the root material, chances are, you've located your issue. Sometimes you have to be brutal and thin those babies good! Just don't do this during winter when there's a chance that an upcoming frost will kill what's left of the plants.
Settling leak around the edges of a Phoenix pond
Once that is done, check around the edges to make sure that water is still not going over the side of the liner. If it is, then you may have a settling leak. Again, this is an easy fix. Move some rocks out of the way, lift the liner up, shove some dirt under it, and replace the rock. Viola! Problem solved.
The leak is in the waterfall
If the previous two steps didn't solve the problem, then the leak is somewhere in the waterfall, and you should call your contractor to come deal with it, unless you're really handy and know what you're doing. Make sure that the flow over the falls is not being impeded by plants that have shifted into position. This sometimes causes a dam, causing water to flow off the back of the waterfall instead of the front.
The leak is in the pond
If the water continued to drop despite the waterfall being turned off, go ahead and turn the system back on to keep it oxygenated for your fish if it's summertime, and call your contractor for help. You may be advised to turn the waterfall back off and let it drop until it stops so that the hole or tear can be quickly addressed.
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Container water gardening is a rapidly-growing garden hobby and provides a whole new opportunity for an exciting group of plants. Not to mention, you can even add small fish to your aquatic container, thereby creating your very own mini pond to enjoy without having to pick up a shovel. These mini ponds are fabulous for folks who don't have a whole lot of space, like condos and townhouses, etc.
Plants are what makes your container water garden a garden. They add interest, texture, and a splash of color to the spot you choose for your mini pond. They also help keep the water clear of algae, while providing perching spots for birds that seek out the water.
To make choosing plants easier, we’re sharing our list of favorite aquatic plants for mini ponds. And what’s more – you can add any of these plants to any pond, large or small!
Feathery heads on sturdy green stalks create a striking vertical element in container water gardens. Dwarf papyrus enjoys a little shade but can take full sun, too. Use this charmer as an annual in colder climates.
Feathery lime green foliage on vibrant red stems creates a mat that will spill over the edge of your container. It grows 3” to 4” tall and is a great choice for both small ponds and container water gardens. Place it in full sun to part shade. And keep it pinched back to make it grow fuller.
Add a bit of height and color to your mini pond with the impressive pink or purple pickerel rush plant. This easy-to-grow aquatic plant rewards you with bright blue flowers atop lush green foliage. Prefers full sun to part shade and grows 24” to 30” tall.
Taro, Green or Black
Glossy green leaves on deep purple stems add a stunning effect to your container water garden. Each leaf is a work of art atop 36” high stems. Choose Taro when you want an especially tall plant for your container. Enjoys full shade in Phoenix. Available in standard green or black (pictured below).
Looking for a smaller plant that blooms all summer? Look no further than this dainty white flower with a cone-shaped center. As they age, the flowers get pink spots. This plant is actually an Arizona canyon native plant. The Native Americans use it in a tea form to relieve digestive issues.
Soft and velvety, this floating plant performs best in shady to partly sunny locations. Each “flower” sends out shoots to create more rosettes. If your container gets crowded, simply thin them out.
Nymphaea ‘Pygmaea Helvola’
Helvola is the smallest of all the hardy waterlilies with delightful 2” to 3” star-shaped blooms and heavily mottled 1” to 2” pads. Prefers full sun to partial shade and blooms all summer long
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these can get you started off on the right foot. Check out our page on pond plants for your backyard!
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Beginning a landscaping project is the first step towards creating the outdoor sanctuary you have always dreamed of having. Japanese-inspired gardens offer a distinctive tranquility in all seasons. A lovely Japanese theme can be created through the strategic inclusion of Japanese water features. These water feature ideas can be applied to any outdoor space and add a soothing air of tranquility to your backyard garden.
Fun fact: a "Zen Garden" does NOT include water. It is a "dry landscape" garden, usually relatively small, surrounded by a wall, and is meant to be seen while seated from a single viewpoint outside the garden.
Japanese Water Feature Essentials
Since Japanese garden design typically aspires to mimic natural growing conditions, Japanese water features are generally rustic or rough-hewn. However, like anything else in a planned garden, the rustic appearance is carefully cultivated. The following are the four primary features typically found in a Japanese garden:
Japanese Ponds & Waterfalls
Of the four primary water features included in traditional Japanese gardens, ponds and waterfalls are most likely to be found in backyard gardens. These features are very flexible in terms of size and design and are generally simple to create and install. Like any garden water feature, these require some basic maintenance. This is especially true of ponds with goldfish. Japanese goldfish, or koi, are kept healthy through regular pond upkeep. Koi pond maintenance needs depend in part on how large the koi fish are, how many are in the pond, and what additional plants and animals are present in the water feature.
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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 a positive 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.
“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.
It’s no secret that water features provide soothing sights and sounds that help you relax and de-stress in today’s busy world. Now more than ever, with a lingering pandemic on hand, we need the healing effects that water provides.
Whether you’re dealing with stress, illness, or wish to improve your overall outlook on life, consider adding a pond, waterfall, or fountain to your outdoor living space. Experts agree it can be extremely therapeutic!
“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 sculptural water displays add a nice balance to the healing garden aesthetic.”
Geoff Roehll, Senior Vice President, Hitchcock Designs
“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
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Phoenix Ponds Have Measurable Value
Lucky is the pond owner who enjoys having a beautiful Kohaku koi swimming among the lily pads in their very own back yard pond. The Kohaku is the oldest and most well-known variety of koi, and is often the most popular among koi lovers.
Kohaku is a bright white koi, patterned with red. There are two types of Kohaku – one has the red pattern all over its body, which is the most common. The second type of Kohaku only has a red spot in the middle of its forehead. This is an extra-special type called Tancho Kohaku, and is a highly prized specimen because of its rarity.
A Model of the Japanese Flag
The red spot on the forehead makes the Tancho Kohaku a living, breathing model of the Japanese flag, which represents a red sun in the middle of a pure white field.
Kohaku is the most common fish to win “Grand Champion” in Japanese shows, because it is the most popular fish in Japan and therefore, the breeders of koi spend the most time producing the finest specimens of this type.
Judging Kohaku Koi
Judging good quality koi such as Kohaku is not an easy task! There are certain “pattern” basics that you can learn to apply when buying fish, but forecasting the way that pattern will look later as the koi matures is a special talent. Also, body shape and conformation are important features, and few Americans appreciate the complexities of this characteristic. Finally, the way the red, called Hi (pronounced “hee”), breaks into kiwa (the trailing edge of the Hi) or out of the white (sashi) is important. The more crisp the transition from red to white, the better.
The details concerning pattern intricacies of Kohaku during championship judging can seem tedious, so here’s a simplified method of Kohaku appreciation that, although likely inadequate in choosing show-quality koi, is effective enough to choose fish which most folks will value.
Patterns to Look For
When you see a Kohaku with a uniform pattern of a single, red blossom in the center of each scale, and the pattern is pleasing to the eye, it is called Kanoko (fawn). Some of these fish are thought to make a good investment, but rumor has it that Kanoko Kohaku are “going away” and the red dots won’t survive many years in the pattern, which leaves you with nothing but an expensive white fish.
The pattern of the fish can be solid (ippon), lightning strike or zig-zag (inazuma), or it may occur in spots. The appearance of two spots is called “Two-Step” Kohaku or Nidan, and three spots is referred to as “Three Step” Kohaku or Sandan. They even have names for Four Step and Five Step patterns, but they’re generally not as precious as the two and three step koi.
The body of Kohaku ought to be rather fat, rounded off, and sort of voluptuous or “Rubenesque.” The head should have fat “cheeks” in the more mature fish. The base of the tail, where the caudal fin emerges, should be fat and round instead of streamlining into the tail. The fan-shaped pectoral fins behind the head should also be big and round. The rounder and whiter, the better. Thin almond-shaped pectoral fins are a disappointment. The body of the fish should be wider than the head, which would suggest that the fish is a female, which is a good thing.
A Final Thought
Understanding the characteristics of different types of koi helps you make an educated selection when shopping for your finned friends. Keep in mind that unless you’re planning on entering your fish in competitions, it really only matters that you like the coloration and markings of the fish in your pond. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, after all!
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