Ornamental gardening, "stay-cations," and "backyard Living" are at an all-time high in popularity. It seems that, in our high-tech society, everyone wants to get "outside," reconnect with nature, and enjoy the simpler low-tech pleasures. Nothing is better than sitting in a backyard by a water garden and watching the birds and butterflies at play. Many different types of birds visit our garden on any given day and in the summertime the butterflies abound! They eat, play, nest and bathe. And in the process we (and neighbors that walk by our front-yard stream), get to enjoy the gifts of nature.
Backyard Ponds & Gardens Should Work with Mother Nature
Like ALL living things, these beneficial creatures need certain basic things to live and prosper: food, water, shelter, and places to raise young. If you provide these things, you will see your new friends moving in almost overnight.
Want to increase the number of birds and butterflies in your landscape? Here are some brief hints:
Plant some native trees, shrubs and flowers. Using the right plants will provide places for shelter, nesting and food & will add beauty to your landscape. The great thing is that many of the plants that shelter and feed the birds and butterflies are native plants. Most of these natives are long-lived, drought hardy, and insect and disease resistant.
Put in a living water feature. We must ALL have water to live. Your water feature can be as simple as a bird bath or as large as a custom re-circulating waterfall, water garden, or rainwater harvesting system. The main thing to remember is that birds like shallow water for bathing and drinking (2″ to 4″) butterflies like a “seep.” Think about your overall landscape design and get some water in the mix! As a bonus, your kids/grandkids will really engage with a water garden.
Put up some Feeders. Putting up a few feeders will almost immediately draw in some new visitors. Platform feeder are great for black oil sunflower seeds, fruit, bread, nuts, and more. Tube feeders and socks are great for black thistle (a Finch favorite). A large hopper-type feeder is great for general feeding and can be filled every few days with an inexpensive song bird mix. Suet feeders are great and you can hang or mount them almost anywhere. AND don’t forget the Hummingbirds! There are even Butterfly feeders that you can put nectar and fresh fruit in to attract and feed butterflies. Spread your feeders out a bit around your outdoor living/viewing area. It will give you multiple viewing opportunities and it will give the birds a bit of room to move around.
Put up some bird and butterfly houses. Some birds require housing to get their attention! Some birds are particular on the placement, color and construction of these houses, so do some research on the birds in the area and what they like. If you get it right, you will be blessed with some AWESOME birds that will eat their weight in insects and will thrill you daily with their beauty and grace. And don’t forget the butterflies! A butterfly house makes for a great conversation piece and is a really unique addition to your garden.
Want to help your environment and make your little critters healthier and happier? Think organic! Pesticides and other garden chemicals are VERY harmful to birds and beneficial Insects! It’s not easy being green, BUT it’s not that hard either. Try to use organic alternatives like neem oil, insecticidal soap, dormant oil and non-chemical fertilizers (or, better yet, compost). You will notice a difference in the quality of your garden AND in the quality of your life!
Enjoying the abundance of nature is awesome and it’s not all that difficult! In fact, if you do some of these things, you will see an immediate increase in the number of birds, butterflies and beneficial insects in your landscape. These beneficial creatures will make your flowers more beautiful, your vegetables more productive, and your Life more abundant!
Does a Water FEature Increase Property Values in Phoenix?
This is a question that comes up a lot. And if you ask 5 different realtors their opinion on how water features affect property values, you'll get 5 different answers.
First and foremost, if you're doing a home improvement, it should add to YOUR enjoyment and YOUR quality of life. So, would YOU enjoy a well-built easy-to-maintain living water feature?
Here's our take on the subject of how Phoenix property values might be affected by a pond or water feature:
Did you know that 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8% of them actually keep their resolutions? So, no pressure, but we thought we might give you a bit of inspiration, in case you're having difficulty coming up with your own.
Here are 5 resolutions for you to consider making this year that are sure to improve your pondering experience!
When you want to enjoy your water feature as the sun begins to set, outdoor lighting is a must. And here in Phoenix, nighttime is about the only time we can be outside in the summer! Most people think to add landscape lighting around a deck or patio or pathway, but neglect the water feature for optimal nighttime viewing. Here are some pretty backyard lighting ideas for your pond, waterfall, or fountain.
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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5 Biggest Drawbacks to an Ecosystem Pond
Ecosystem ponds can be gorgeous and low maintenance. They provide hours of pleasure, while requiring only minutes per week of care. But they have their drawbacks and they’re not for everyone.
Here are the 5 biggest drawbacks to having an ecosystem pond that we hear about:
If you don’t have the means, or the time, to travel the world, why not bring the world to you? An ecosystem water feature can mimic just about any zone in the world! So, where would you like to go?
How about a desert riparian zone:
Or maybe a Mediterranean feel:
How about a tropical paradise:
Rain forest, anyone:
Or perhaps a beach home:
Or maybe just a lake house:
Bio-mimicry. Yeah, we can do that!
The cost to build a backyard pond in Phoenix, AZ, can vary greatly. The size, style, materials, and equipment you select will all impact this price -- not to mention the contractor/artist you choose to hire, depending on level of experience, training, certification, and warranty policy.
The cost of a pond also depends on your definition of a “pond.” Some people view a pond as an organic body of water, large or small, while others envision a concrete fountain shaped like a pond with dead sterile water. The first questions to ask yourself are what do you want it to look like, why a pond (or a pondless water feature option), how do you want to enjoy it, what kind of money do you want to spend on this home improvement project, and what kind of maintenance are you willing to put up with?
The Cost of a DIY Pond in Phoenix, AZ, is Not Just the Equipment
If you’re building the pond yourself, you can do it for about a hundred dollars, depending on where you buy your supplies. A little DIY kit from one of the big-box stores is pretty cheap. And if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy the hobby, this is an inexpensive way to test the water, so to speak. We’ve replaced LOTS of DIY ponds over the last 17+ years because people fell in love with the hobby after trying it out on their own and are ready for the next step or a larger pond.
A couple of caveats about a DIY project: it’s a PROJECT. It might take you literally a month of Sundays to finish. The DIY kits are also not likely to come with the best equipment and filtration, so your maintenance chores will be a bit more than professional-grade equipment. Be sure to check the parts warranty, as not all warranties are created equal. Some parts you can just return to the store; others, you have to ship across state lines to get a replacement, provided a replacement part is still in production and available. Don't expect any help or advice from the sales people, either. They're there to sell stuff, and are not a "ponder." And in this neck of the woods, if you want aquatic plants, that can be a tough find for a do-it-yourselfer.
The Cost of a Professionally-Installed Pond in Phoenix, AZ
When dealing with a true experienced certified professional, you can expect to pay between $8,000 and $14,000 for the average-sized professionally-installed custom pond. Our pricing starts around $5,000 for a small goldfish pond. If you’re looking to keep Koi, plan on spending at least $10,000 for the extra size and filtration necessary.
Of course, we highly recommend that you hire someone whose work you’ve seen in person, and whose licensing and references have checked out. This is a bad time to make an impulse purchase! We’ve replaced countless poorly designed and installed ponds that folks have spent plenty of their hard-earned money on in the heat of the moment because of a home show mock-up, special deal, or because the salesman was a nice guy. FYI, you can see a variety of our work via our FREE Pond Tour.
You also want to make sure that the contractor you’re considering is in tune with what you really want in your yard. For example, if you want to raise multi-thousand-dollar show-quality Koi fish, you want to hire someone who specializes in that type of pond and filtration and isn't too terribly worried about the pond aesthetics themselves. If you want a gorgeous living ecosystem pond, and the fish are simply a beautiful part of that system, then that’s a whole different philosophy.
Shopping for a Pond Contractor in Phoenix, AZ
The best way to shop for the contractor who will best suit your needs is to first visit their website. Make sure that the photos on that site are actually pictures of THEIR work. As in any industry, there are always a few charlatans out there. If you like what you see online, go see their work in person. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but seeing it for yourself is priceless! And talk to a client or two. Most reputable companies will list references/testimonials right on their website that you can contact. If not, then ask. Do your due diligence! If they can’t send you to see some of their work in person, and they can’t produce at least 3 references, flee!
Before you actually talk to a contractor, have a strong idea of what you’re looking for (but be open to options), what kind of budget you have to work with, and be clear in your mind about how you will know when you’ve found the right contractor for you. Did they listen to you? Can they meet your expectations and budget? Do they seem knowledgeable and competent?
It’s not ALL about price when shopping for a pond in Phoenix, AZ. Yes, you probably have a budget to live by, as most of us do. This is an investment in your home, and your property value. Remember: it’s always more expensive to have to do it over than to just do it right the first time, as several of our clients can attest.
Good luck in your quest, and let us know if we can be of service!
Looking to spruce up your yard in 2017? When planning your landscape ideas and options, consider a new water feature! Fountains and container water gardens are the perfect way to add a splash of water to your landscape. Affordable and easy to install, you’ll find a variety of water features to give your outdoor living space a unique look.
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 goldfish.
Refreshing 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.
The Stacked Slate Urn fountain does double-duty. Not only does it provide visual appeal during the day, but night lighting gives it a magical mysterious look.
A trio of stone fountains amidst the desert-friendly landscape welcomes visitors to this suburban home, adding to the home's value with increased curb appeal.
Birds and butterflies visit outdoor fountains to enjoy a refreshing splash or nourishing drink.
Fountains make a great accent piece for any area of your garden. This grouping of spillway bowls is part of a living fountain system. Who wouldn't enjoy coming home to this beautiful scene?
You can turn any garden container into a fountain. You only need to add the plumbing, reservoir, and pump. Your fountain becomes the crowning touch to any corner of your landscape.
One of the fastest-growing trends in outdoor living features is the combination of fire and water. The 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.
Whatever you choose, you're sure to enjoy the beauty and refreshment that a small water feature adds to your outdoor living spaces!
There’s been a lot of back and forth discussion on the subject of how water affects property values, particularly from real estate brokers looking to sell/buy homes. Some state emphatically that a water feature adds absolutely nothing to the purchase price, but if it’s nice, may make the place more saleable. On the other end of the spectrum, some say that it can add between $5,000 and $10,000 to the sale price, depending on the feature. Well, let’s look at some other types of examples.
An 800-square-foot, ramshackle house for sale on the beach in Del Mar. Almost no space between it and the two much larger homes on either side. Asking price of over $6 million. Not just because it’s in Del Mar, but because it’s on the beach. Meanwhile, two to three blocks inland, just a short walk or bike ride away from the ocean’s edge, you could buy the same size lot and house for $2.5 million. A bit of difference. This is a great demonstration of the value of proximity. People want to see and hear water from where they sleep and eat.
Two apartments in LA. Same floor and identical in size and floor plan. One faces the city; the other faces the ocean. The ocean view is over $500K more than the other. People want to see water from where they live.
People pay large premiums to live on river front properties, despite having to put up with flooding, erosion, and the very real possibility of being wiped out by a storm. What are they really paying for? The ability to relax to the ambience of flowing water. Can we put a value on that amenity?
Even though billions of people live close to water, the supply of water-front property is extremely limited. This results in a perfect case study on supply and demand economics. So, what is the perceived value of having a view of water from your living room couch, kitchen counter, or dining table? Or having the sound of a babbling brook within range of where you lay your head at night?
We believe there is real value in the sound of a stream, the meditative ambiance of a pond full of lush aquatic plants and moving flowers (fish), or the view of a waterfall. If you can have this home improvement for less money (by far), and with far less risk and inconvenience than that riverside home you’ve dreamt of, doesn’t it make sense to invest in it? Just our humble opinion.
Ready to invest in a home improvement that will turn your home into your own private paradise? START HERE!
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Who doesn't love to hang out next to a babbling brook? It's such a soothing and relaxing sound! Sometimes, a waterfall is just too much sound if you have a quiet little yard. And maybe you don't want a pond for whatever reason. A re-circulating disappearing pondless stream is a great landscape idea!
Backyard Design Ideas for Streams
Streams are SO versatile! Here is just a small list of benefits to landscape ideas for streams to "wet" your appetite:
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For more great backyard landscape ideas, check out our friends at Planted Well!
fountains make great landscape ideas!
There are no limits to the landscape ideas for which fountains can be used. For this blog post, we'll focus on living fountains -- many people don't realize that this is even possible! A fountain does not have to be a dead-water feature to be low maintenance.
living fountain design
Landscape ideas that begin with the goal of having a living fountain should follow through with an appropriate design. This means that the plumbing and pump choices need to be made with that in mind. You'll need plumbing that is big enough that it doesn't clog easily, a pump that will pass some degree of heavy solids (just like a water garden), and an autofill device so that you don't have to fill it manually all the time. Remember that form follows function, and you want it to be as low maintenance as possible. A little bit more time spent in the planning phase will be greatly rewarded with long-term enjoyment!
adding a fountain to an existing pond or stream
Yes, you can! If your yard and water feature is ready for a little face lift, adding a fountain to it is a great landscape idea that's a lot of bang for the buck. You can add a spillway bowl to the side of a pond, or add a stacked slate urn or fun spitter to your wetland area. The landscape options are limitless!
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Barbi Holdeman, co-owner of The Pond Gnome, enjoys sharing their 20+ years of education & experience with you! She writes about Phoenix Ecosystem Pond Installation, Pond Maintenance, Wildlife around the Pond, Koi and Goldfish in the Pond, and the Pond Lifestyle. If you enjoy what she writes, please share it!