There are multiple Feng Shui disciplines. In general, Feng Shui is the art of carefully planned spatial equilibrium within one’s environment, whether that’s your garden or your home. Reference used for this blog: Feng Shui for Gardens by Lillian Too.
Here are 5 basic Feng Shui principles regarding water in the garden that we keep in mind when designing and building a pond.
Water Must be Alive
A pond is an excellent Feng Shui feature for any garden, if it is healthy and full of life. A murky, or lifeless pond will generate bad luck. The Pond Gnome works with natural rock and stone, appropriate aquatic plants for our Sonoran Desert environment, fish (either goldfish or Koi), and beneficial bacteria & enzymes to create a complete closed ecosystem. Our ponds are full of lush plants and beautiful floating fish. Take the FREE pond tour when you have a few moments to simply sit and experience the atmosphere created by a pond or flowing stream.
Don’t Overpower Your Space
Feng shui is all about harmony and balance. Ensure that your water element fits naturally into its environment. A pond or stream will almost certainly be the focal point of your garden, but it should not overpower the space. Waterfalls are too often built too high or too loud for the space and it ruins any beneficial Feng Shui effects (not to mention, can be a constant irritant to the people trying to enjoy the ambience). Water is a powerful force in the art of Feng Shui; be very careful not to over-build. In Feng Shui, balance is everything!
Embrace The Space
The pond or stream should be laid out in a way that appears to embrace the house. You want people to wonder how the heck you managed to find a house right next to a pond or stream. It should not look contrived.
Light Up Your Life
A dark pond brings with it an abundance of yin (bad) energy. Add underwater lights to give life-affirming yang (good) energy to an otherwise dark area that saps energy from the overall garden space.
Let It Flow
Water in motion should be flowing towards the home, preferably toward the front door – and the slower the better. Too much flow, where water is splashing and breaching the edges, can cause dangerously bad Feng Shui: chaos.
There is a TON of reading and research to be consumed on Feng Shui. Our recommendation is to find a discipline that you feel you can live with. Just like ponding in general, ask 5 different people, get five different opinions.
The Pond Gnome believes in working with Mother Nature to keep your pond and its maintenance as simple as possible. If this is what YOU’RE after, contact us to get started on your project today!
Creating gardens and outdoor living spaces as havens for restoration of human health and wellness has been reflected throughout history right up to the present. Each generation seems to need this more than the last. Research reveals that contact with nature provides stress reduction, which in turn leads to improved health outcomes.
Research shows that spending time in your garden is likely to improve your wellbeing
Gardens designed for stress relief have four primary considerations: social support for garden users; provision of privacy and control; opportunity for physical activity and movement; and establishment of natural elements.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Organization, 1946). This definition encompasses a holistic approach to our general health and wellbeing.
Access to nature can enhance wellness
Research from the fields of healthcare, psychology, design, public health, and other disciplines indicates that access to nature can enhance health and wellness. Annerstedt and Wahrborg (2011) propose three main kinds of public health effects related to nature: short-term recovery from stress or mental fatigue, faster physical recovery from illness, and long-term overall improvement on health and wellbeing. Wilson (1984) addressed the premise for using contact with nature in the treatment of diseases more than twenty-five years ago!
Short-term recovery from stress or mental fatigue has been well-studied, which agree that nature views are more effective in reducing psychological and physiological stress than urban views, and lead to more positive feelings in subjects (Hartig et al., 2003; Ulrich et al., 1991b).
Faster recovery from illness has also been documented. The best-known study included surgery patients in a hospital, some having a view of a tree from their bed, and others having a view of a brick wall. The patients with a view of a tree had shorter hospital stays, needed less severe pain medications, and received less negative comments from nurses (Ulrich, 1984).
Long-term overall improvement on health and wellbeing has also been well-documented, most recently by a ten-year study of vacant lot greening in Philadelphia, PA USA. In this statistically rigorous study, residents reported less stress and increased physical activity levels in neighborhoods where vacant lots were turned to community garden spaces. Reduced crime rates were also reported in these neighborhoods (Branas et al., 2011). Bonus!
Residential gardens allow us to switch off from the stresses of modern living, experience the beauty of nature, and be more fully present to the 'here and now'. Gardens, and outdoor living spaces in general, can be designed to enhance the positive effect they have on our wellbeing.
Discover what you love
Although there are several things you might incorporate into your garden, we are all different and different things help bring about our individual sense of peace and inner harmony. Water is a good example. A water feature that includes the sound of running water can be deeply relaxing to some, but can jangle the nerves of others. One person’s babbling brook can be another person’s leaky pipe! So, spend some time reflecting on what would be your perfect sanctuary space and what it would include.
When you visit places that you love and that put you put you at peace, where you find yourself breathing more deeply and wanting to dwell for longer, notice what it is about that space that encourages that sense of wellbeing. Is it the way the space is arranged, overall? Does it feel intimate and enclosed, or open and expansive with views of the horizon? What are the sights, smells and feelings that you experience?
Sit in your yard, relax and close your eyes. Bring to mind the most beautiful garden you can imagine. Spend some time in this space, looking around and enjoying the sights, scents and sounds. Then gently come back to the your yard and make a few notes or sketches of what you saw.
Create a feeling of 'being away'
Research has shown that one of the factors that contribute to the healing effect of a garden is the feeling of ‘being away’ or being transported to somewhere else. What element of a garden really transports you to your favorite vacation spot? Is it all the flowers? Is it a waterfall? Is it simply peace and quiet? Wouldn't you just love a place to "get away" where no passport is required?
As this is a space where you will naturally want to rest and be still, you’ll need some comfortable seating. What does that look like for you? Do you want a lounge chair to soak up the sun? Or upright seating to stare into a Koi pond?
Also think about what times of day you are likely to want to be in the space and where the sun is at those times.
Engage all the senses
Having elements that catch our attention provide a focus for our minds and distract us away from the incessant thinking that our brains default to. Not everyone finds water relaxing, but water can be fascinating, with the potential for movement, sound and reflections. I have heard water described as ‘a mirror for the sky’ and being near water can be deeply relaxing. A Koi pond with living plants can provide a myriad of delight for the senses: lush plants, floating flowers, gently swimming colorful fish, the occasional dragonfly and butterfly.
You might also like to include something that you use as an ‘object of concentration’ to meditate on, such as some form of sculpture, rocks or seashells. Plants provide color and an infinite variation of shapes and forms, but movement is also worth considering, such as grasses that sway in the breeze – it can be quite hypnotic.
Scent is an important element to consider too as being surrounded by the beautiful perfume of roses or flowering vines. However, if you are allergic to bees, you might want to keep this at a distance from where you sit.
Use plants that soothe you
This is very much where personal preference comes in. Would you like the feeling of a forest glade, a lush jungle, an English meadow, a Mediterranean grove, or a simple Sonoran Desert landscape? Cool toned whites, pinks, blues and purples have been found to have a calming and relaxing effect on people’s state of mind, so you may like to include more of these colors. It has been shown that green requires the least amount of effort for our eyes to see, so is naturally relaxing.
The Blue Mind
There’s a little something called The Blue Mind Theory by Wallace Nichols. There are books and YouTube videos that discuss why we as humans are drawn to be near the water, for both living and vacationing. So, water is typically a pretty important part of any healing garden. The choice comes in whether you want a waterfall, a babbling brook, or a fish pond – or all three! We would suggest sitting next to each one for a bit to discover what most puts you at ease and relaxes you.
Now that you are armed with some information, go sit down and design your own private paradise. And let us know if The Pond Gnome can be of service!
The “gravel bottom pond debate” (to use gravel or not to use gravel) has been ongoing for many, many years, but there are 5 critical reasons to use gravel in a pond that are really quite easy to comprehend.
1. Enhances the Ecosystem
First and foremost, gravel provides a habitat for beneficial microorganisms in the pond. Fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects feed on these minute organisms, as well as bacteria and algae that live on the rocky shore. These bacteria help break down decaying plant matter and fish waste, turning it into usable plant nutrition, which is then consumed by aquatic plants over and over again in the aquatic “circle of life.”
Without the rocks and gravel, the bacteria would not thrive and the decaying plant matter and fish waste would accumulate on the pond bottom, getting deeper and deeper. This is the muck that you slip on if you’ve ever walked in a pond without rocks and gravel. Far less muck accumulates when you have rocks and gravel in a pond, which also means less maintenance!
2. Naturalizes the Pond
Rocks and gravel are used to naturalize a water feature, create waterfalls, and increase the biological activity in and around the entire pond. Rocks and gravel create a natural feel for the entire water garden. And simply put, they’re an important ingredient in the overall ecosystem pond recipe.
3. Protects the Liner from Sun
Have you ever placed a couch in front of a window only to groan in dismay months later when you see how the sun’s rays have faded the color? Pond liner is also susceptible to the sun’s ultra violet rays. You protect the liner from its worst enemy when you cover it with gravel, thereby increasing the liner’s longevity.
4. Holds the Liner in Place
Just like you use a rock to keep a napkin from blowing away at your family picnic, installing gravel over pond liner helps to hold the liner in place. If you don’t use rock and gravel, air bubbles can form underneath, and on occasion, pond liner can bubble up over the surface of the pond creating a Loch Ness monster of sorts.
5. Prevents Slipping
Have you ever stepped into a pond without gravel on the bottom? Unprotected liner is very slippery and if pond owners like to wade in their pond to trim aquatic plants or get up close and personal with their fish, stepping on small gravel is much safer.
Not only do rocks and gravel help to maintain the balance of a healthy pond, but it protects the liner and acts as a safety feature, as well.
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My Pump Quit! Now What?
Oh, no! My beautiful waterfall just quit working! What can I do? What's it going to cost? Can I deal with this myself, or do I have to hire a professional? Will my fish be okay?
These are usually the first panicky thoughts that run through people's minds when their pond pump quits working. Before paying for a service call to a professional, let’s check some basics to make sure you actually need professional help. Here are some basic, logical steps to checking out what's going on so that you'll know which professional to call if you need help.
If you're worried about your fish, you should have an air stone or two on hand to help with oxygenation of the water.
Rain, Rain, Go Away!
If it's been raining recently, and things have gotten pretty sodden around your yard, unplug the pump and let everything dry out. Once you're sure it's all dry, reset the GFCI plug (and the breaker) and plug the pump back in.
Check the Electrical Connections
If rain and potentially wet connections aren't an issue, unplug the pump and check/reset ALL of the GFCI buttons and breakers to make sure that it’s not just a push of a button or a flip of a switch to solve the problem. There should be a GFCI reset button on the outlet where the pump plugs in. There's also a breaker in your home's breaker box. Make sure you check them both. If anything is tripped, reset it, and then plug the pump back in. Sometimes a surge in the electrical service can cause this to happen, and then it's no big deal to reset everything and you're back in business. It's always nice when a problem has a simple fix, isn't it?
Electrical CHECKED, Pump still Not Working
If the pump is still not coming on after resetting the plug and the breaker, then unplug it again. Now, take a hair dryer or a lamp or something easy to carry and plug it into the outlet that the pump was in (again, after making sure all the GFCI's are on). Does that appliance work?
Do I have to Call a Professional to Replace the PUmp?
Not necessarily! If you have a pump that just plugs into a standard GFCI outlet, you may be handy enough to replace it yourself. You may have to call around to find the appropriate replacement.
How Much is This Going to Cost?
The price will include a service call (varies by professional), as well as the price of the pump. You can obtain a replacement pump yourself at one of the big-box stores or from Amazon.com; however, be aware that if there's a warranty issue with the pump later on, it will be all on you to deal with it -- a professional will not honor the warranty on a pump that they did not provide.
When It's NOT an Emergency
During the winter, when the water is cold (below 55 degrees), your fish shouldn’t be in any immediate danger, especially if you have a good amount of surface area of water exposed for oxygen transfer, and your fish are less than 6" in length.
When It IS an Emergency!
During the summer, when our nights are not dipping below 90 degrees, it’s more of an issue, especially if you have fish larger than 6” in length and your pond is quite plant-heavy. Your pump going out under these conditions is considered an emergency.
Hope these tips help, and might even save you an unnecessary service call fee. Let us know if we can be of service!
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What are the little brown fish in my pond?
What the heck are those little brown fish in my pond -- are they baby Koi? This is a common question for people after we build someone a pond. Most of the time, they don't even notice them until their Koi or goldfish start becoming friendly. Once the hand-feedings start, they suddenly realize that there are a bunch of little brown fish in the pond. No, they are not the result of your Koi or goldfish fish breeding. They are Gambusia Affinis, commonly known as Mosquito Minnows, and they are part of the reason that a well-built pond is the cure for a mosquito problem.
What Do Mosquito Minnows Do?
They are vector control. Mosquito minnows' main purpose in life is to seek out and eat mosquito larvae in a body of water (as small as a mud puddle!). This is their all-time favorite food. That's not to say that they're not opportunists, as well. They will happily munch on Koi food, too, when given the opportunity, which is when people usually start noticing that they're there. All of a sudden, there are a bunch of little brown minnows darting around amongst the colorful pond fish. Water naturally attracts mosquitoes, so a pond full of hungry fish (and Mosquito Minnows) will keep those blood suckers under control.
Do I Have to Feed Mosquito Minnows?
Nope. They feed themselves: first and foremost, on mosquito larvae. If none of that is available, they'll eat whatever they can get, including roe (fish eggs). Yep, they are also population control for your Koi and goldfish. In fact, fish eggs are their second-favorite food source. As long as you have these in your pond, you will not have baby Koi or goldfish and your planned population will be maintained.
Mosquito Minnows are a Self-Controling Population
If no mosquito larvae is present, and there are no fish eggs to eat, then they turn cannibalistic. So, when times are good (lots of food), they multiply like crazy (they have live babies every 4-6 weeks). When food is scarce, they eat each other, thus being a self-controlling fish population. It may seem harsh, but that's part of life in and around water: the cycle of life.
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