The beauty of a pond is something everyone can appreciate and enjoy. Yes, even in Phoenix, AZ! A flash of colorful fish swimming in clean, clear water beneath the pads of waterlilies is a sight to behold and enjoy. Add the sound of a running waterfall or babbling brook stream and you have a dream come true in your backyard.
Keeping pond water clean and clear is the basis for a healthy pond that requires little to no maintenance. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to create a proper pond environment that benefits your fish and plants. Follow our not-so-secret steps to ensure a naturally-balanced, low maintenance pond throughout the year! Remember: it's SO much easier to work WITH Mother Nature than AGAINST Her.
Make sure your pond pump is the correct size for your pond and waterfall. A pump provides valuable aeration to the water. Several variables need to be considered when choosing a pump, such as the size of your pond and the height of your waterfall. Most pumps will give you the specifications you need for water flow, head pressure, etc.
More often than not, when answering questions about pond water quality, we find that people don’t have proper filtration installed on their pond. If you don't have a filter, you ARE the filter, and this makes for more maintenance. For the lowest maintenance possible, you want to make sure your pond has both a biological filter and a mechanical skimmer. The biological filter is typically the apex of your waterfall and adds beneficial bacteria to your pond. The mechanical skimmer is similar to a pool skimmer, removing surface debris such as leaves and sticks. Ideally, you want to position the biological filter and skimmer at opposite ends of the pond. This ensures movement throughout the entire pond so you don’t end up with stagnant areas.
Rocks & Gravel in a Pond
Ponds can be built in various ways. Some are created with concrete, others with a simple pond liner. We believe in an ecosystem approach to the pondering lifestyle and use rocks and gravels in our ponds, after installing underlayment and liner. Gravel provides much-needed surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. Your fish will graze on these bacteria, as well. The gravel won’t be a breeding ground for muck and debris if you ensure that your low maintenance pond has the proper pump and filtration system. The ecosystem works together, like a circle of life, so it’s important not to eliminate any of the elements.
While fish keeping is fun, your finned friends also play an important part in the overall ecosystem of your pond. They eat algae, and their waste becomes fertilizer for your pond plants. Too many fish, however, can pose a problem. A good rule of thumb is to limit your fish load to no more than 10” of fish per 100 gallons of water. So if you have a 20 fish at various lengths totaling 300” when combined, then you need a 3,000 gallon pond.
Plants in a Pond
Plants also play a critical role in the pond’s ecosystem due to their filtering capabilities. Plants absorb nutrients from fish waste and help starve algae of its food. During hot summer months, make sure to have at least 40% of your pond’s surface covered with plants. You can accomplish this with waterlilies and various marginals or floating plants.
There you have it! Not so tough, eh? You now know the secret to a truly low maintenance pond. Start with the basics and create a naturally balanced pond with a combination of proper circulation, filtration, fish, plants, and rock and gravel. You’ll be amazed at how easy pond-keeping can be!
What kind of filtration do I need for my Phoenix AZ pond?
The type of filtration you need for a Phoenix AZ pond varies wildly by what type of pond you want or have. It also depends on your goals. For example, if your goal is to raise show Koi, that's a decidedly different kind of filtration and circulation system (and entire pond concept, frankly), than if you want a water garden to host pet Koi or goldfish. Fish are an integral part of a pond ecosystem, but a water garden may not be the best choice for raising show Koi.
Basically, you need both mechanical and biological filtration for any living water feature. YOU can be both of these. OR, you can install systems that do the work for you. There are MANY to choose from. Just remember that you tend to get what you pay for in life. You can purchase most equipment online these days, but that rarely comes with good customer service.
We are absolutely familiar with all styles and types of ponds -- and there are literally HUNDREDS of ways to build a "pond."
Here are The Pond Gnome's thoughts on pond filtration for Phoenix AZ for creating beautiful low-maintenance ecosystem water features:
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!
What Aquatic Plants Should I NOT Put in my Phoenix Pond?
There are LOTS of great choices for aquatic plants to put in your Phoenix pond. In fact, many terrestrial plants can be used in Phoenix ponds, as well.
However, there are several plants that you should absolutely avoid adding to your Phoenix backyard pond.
Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) in a PHoenix Pond
This is not your typical Louisiana Iris that stays demure. This guy is a monster! If you're going to use it, you must absolutely stay on top of keeping it thinned. Here's what happens when you don't:
Bamboo in a Phoenix Pond
Although you might think that bamboo and ponds just naturally go together, this one is a huge no-no. It's roots (stolens) are super-sharp, travel underground, and will puncture even concrete, let alone any kind of liner. And it gets pretty darn big!
Cattail (Typha) in a Phoenix Pond
While the dwarf variety is fine, stay away from full-size cattail. Like the Yellow Iris, it can get out of control quickly. It also spreads via it's fluffy seed. Check out a quick video shot at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale of this aggressive plant and what it takes to remove it:
Illegal Plants for Phoenix Ponds
There are some plants that are flat-out illegal in Arizona. Sadly, one of those is Water Hyacinth because irresponsible people have tossed them into canals and waterways, where they grow unchecked and clog up the systems. There are clubs and private parties that will give you cuttings, but it is absolutely illegal to sell, and the State looks unfavorably at anyone keeping it in their pond.
For a complete list of illegal plants/noxious weeds: POND PLANTS ONLINE
Watching your fish glide gracefully and happily through the pond is a sight for sore eyes after a long day and/or week at work. But do you have a pond that promotes the health of your fish? Several factors influence whether a pond is habitable by fish, so before you stock your new pond or choose a few new finned friends at your local pet store, take a few minutes to assess your fish’s dwelling space as it relates to pond fish health.
Healthy Goldfish and Koi in an Ecosystem Pond
It all starts with the size of your pond. You need to make sure that it is large enough to support the type of fish you want (whether that’s Koi or goldfish) and their growth potential. Pond fish generally need 10 gallons of water for every inch of their length, and you have to be ready for them to grow larger, so be careful not to overstock, no matter how tempting this may be! Some pond experts go so far as to recommend only ½ inch of fish per 10 gallons of water as a maximum stocking density.
You’ve probably seen ponds crowded with two or even three inches of fish per 10 gallons of water and the fish seem to be fine. However, the density and ecological strain of this kind of fish load turn these ponds into fragile systems. The fish tend to grow more slowly and disease can become a too-common occurrence. Too many rats in a cage, so to speak.
You won’t be able to salvage sick fish in a pond that’s overcrowded. Eventually, Mother Nature will pick off some of your fish (mostly likely your favorites) to achieve her ideal stocking density based on the environment the fish are in, and then the remainder will recover as if by magical intervention. Reduce the number of fish if your pond is over-stocked before Mother Nature handles this crucial step for you in a manner you may not appreciate.
Good Morning, Sunshine
Some aquatic plants that tolerate shade include Taro, Papyrus, Horsetail, Cardinal Flower, and Lizard’s Tail.Ponds that have at least some sunlight are also beneficial to pond fish. Valuable vitamins are contained in sunlight. Sunlight also helps the plants in your pond grow, thereby reducing nitrates in the water. Unfortunately, you can’t just up and move your pond, so if you have a shady-place pond, add shade-loving plants to help balance the water. Aquatic plants play a critical role when it comes to enhancing pond fish health.
When it comes to pond depth, Koi and goldfish aren’t really very picky. Just be sure that the pond is deep enough (generally about 2 to 2 ½ feet) to give the fish a chance to get out of the way of predators. Or you can opt for a cave network within the pond to allow them to hide when need be.
A Balancing Act
The quality of your water is critical to pond fish health and you want to make sure your water garden is balanced. The proper mix of fish, plants, filtration, circulation, and rocks and gravel all provide an important role in your pond’s ecosystem. Work with Mother Nature, not against her, and you’ll find you spend more time enjoying your pond and less time maintaining it. Now, doesn’t THAT sound like a dream come true?
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
ECOSYSTEM PONDS NEED FILTRATION
SHOULD I PUT MY POND IN THE SUN OR THE SHADE?
IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE!
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.
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
GREAT WATER FEATURE IDEAS
SUSTAINABLE PHOENIX PONDS
SIX PONDS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!
When getting ready to hire a contractor, you should always get 3 estimates! Isn’t that what we’re always told? It’s how your father always hired someone. And it’s what the media always says to do. It’s how we protect ourselves from schysters, right? We get three bids, and take the lowest or the middle, never the highest. But is this really the best way to choose a contractor? Seems like it’s still a bit of a crap shoot. See the Insider tips below to possibly save yourself some time and effort –and maybe even heartache.
Get 3 Water Feature Estimates
You want a water feature. Time to shop. We all know the routine: First, you spend time calling around to every contractor in the area, and then waiting for a return phone call (because you know how contractors are), and maybe even playing phone tag for a few days, or weeks, because you’re busy, too.
Let’s say you find three contractors that actually return your call in a reasonable amount of time. Now, you have to schedule the appointments, and wait at home for them to show up. That’s IF they show up.
Let’s assume they do show up. They do a little tap dance for you, spill their dump truck of “expertise,” expound all their ideas about what THEY THINK you want, and promise to get you an estimate “right away.”
Then, a week, or two, later, you get the estimate. It’s vague and ambiguous, and you’re not sure you remember exactly what you talked about with them – because you talked to three people.
And let’s assume that all three actually do send you estimates. Can you tell if they’re all bidding the exact same thing, or did they all have different ideas of what you should do? Can you compare apples to apples, or are you looking at apples and oranges? Did they all include everything you were asking for?
And just getting three estimates DOES NOT guarantee that you’ll choose the right contractor. Unfortunately, I speak from personal experience here.
Might there be an easier way to get through this shopping process?
Use the Technology
If you’re reading this, we’ll assume you have access to the internet. You know it’s for more than Facebook, right? With a little effort and a couple of hours of reading, you might become knowledgeable enough that you can get three estimates just from three phone conversations. Or, better yet, if you do your due diligence BEFORE you contact a contractor, you might not have to go through the arduous and time-consuming task of getting three estimates at all, but will know who you want to hire before you pick up the phone. There’s a time-saver.
Insider tip: Before beginning your investigation, make sure you’re clear on who you’re looking for, and what you want to see about the contractor you hire, as well as what you want to hear from them. For example, if you want a pond, do you want a contractor that installs living ecosystems, or are you more interested in a sterile environment? If you’re looking for flooring, do you want someone who specializes in eco-friendly renewable resources, or just the cheapest thing you can get that looks pretty good because you’re going to sell this house in a few years?
This is the FIRST think you should check! Make sure the contractor you’re considering is licensed with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, and in good standing. Check to see if they have any complaints, resolved or unresolved. Insider tip: Don’t just assume that a contractor is bad because they have a complaint. People can be rather litigious these days, so read through the documents to make sure that the person isn’t just blowing smoke. And read the company’s response to make sure that it was handled in a professional and classy manner.
You can get a good read on a company simply by reading what other people think of them. There are A LOT of sites where you can check someone out: Facebook, Google, Houzz, Hometalk, Angie’s List, Yelp, Thumbtack, etc. Insider tip: if a company has NO less-than-stellar reviews, they may be faking it, so take a REAL close look.
Referrals & Testimonials
Most reputable companies will post testimonials on their website. Don’t take their word for it, though! Insider tip: If the testimonials are real, there should be some that can be contacted directly as a referral. Do it. Ask them about their experience. Ask if they’d hire that company again. Ask how long ago the work was done, and how it’s held up over time. Heck, some of them may even invite you over to see it! And, you never know: you might even make a new friend, to boot.
What’s their website look like? Do they even have one? Is their website all about sales, or is there good information being presented? Can you read about THEM, their story, etc., or is it just a big storefront? Can you see their passion, their company culture, their philosophy, etc.?
Do they have a photo gallery for you to peruse? And don’t just look at the pretty pictures. If you’re looking at an outdoor home improvement, analyze the photos a bit to make sure that they represent the contractor’s work here in Arizona. Believe it or not, some people may have stolen photos of other contractors’ work, or the photos may have been taken in New York, and they have little to no experience with our Sonoran desert environment.
Do they have a blog with good current content? Read through some articles and see if they seem to be an expert in their field. Are they saying what you want to hear? Is the information kept current, or did they post their last blog article a couple of years ago?
If this home improvement is something that requires occasional maintenance, does this contractor provide that service? If not, you might want to ask yourself why not? Insider tip: the “we’re too big to do maintenance” is a cop-out; maintenance is the bread and butter of a business that thinks long-term and cares about keeping in touch with their clients beyond the initial installation.
Have a Conversation
Now that you’ve done your research, you may have narrowed it down to just one contractor. Or maybe you have 2 or 3 that you’d like to talk to. Call them. And have an HONEST conversation with them. Tell them what you want. Are they saying what you want to hear? Are they really listening to you, or are they telling you what THEY think you should do? Do you feel that they care about what you’re saying? Do they value themselves? Can they do what you want within the budget you’ve set?
Insider tip: Beware the contractor that wants to run right out and give you a “free” estimate without first having a conversation with you to make sure they’re a good fit. A lot of contractors spend hours and hours running all over town to give free estimates, to the detriment of being able to provide good service to paying clients -- there are only so many hours in a day, after all. You don’t want someone who spreads themselves too thin right from the get-go. What will the rest of the experience be like? And, let’s face it, nothing in life is “free.” The paying clients are covering their time to visit the “tire kickers.”
Reputable Water Feature Contractors
As a water feature specialist, we know who does good work in this town. The biggest Insider tip in this article is to check out these folks if you’re looking to hire a water feature contractor. Although they each have a different philosophy on water feature construction methods, we believe they are reputable contractors.
Pondscapes of Arizona
Crosstimber Koi & Pondering
Aquatec Fountains & Ponds
When we think of concrete, we typically think of something very durable that will last forever. And we’d like to believe that a concrete pond would follow suit. The foundations of our homes are concrete, after all! And our roads and bridges! And swimming pools! Yep, things that are expected to last forever are made of concrete. So, it just stands to reason that a pond should be made of concrete right? Meh, maybe not so much.
1. CONCRETE IS NOT FOREVER
Concrete is a rigid method of building. It’s exceedingly difficult (and often impossible) to add onto or enhance a concrete pond once completed. You also need to excavate it like a big bowl, which can be dangerous for pets, children, and wildlife if they fall in because it becomes very slick once the “pond patina” layer has formed.
Pools are made of concrete, this is true. However, underneath the concrete in pool construction are a bunch of things that help stabilize it and keep it rigid (like rebar), despite the movement of the earth around it. It's pretty expensive to put all that stuff in place, in case you haven't priced pools lately. If all you're going to do is dig a hole and slather concrete over it, you haven't done any of the things that make concrete durable enough to stand the test of time, like a pool. This process leads to failure of the concrete shell. Every time.
2. CONCRETE IS MORE EXPENSIVE
Once the ground has shifted or settled (which will definitely happen because the earth is always moving just a bit), you're looking at completely re-doing the whole thing in a few years because the concrete shell has cracked and now you have leaks. By the way, if you let that small leak go too long, it becomes a bigger leak, and the water leaking out may be undermining various structures around it via erosion.
You can try patching a leaky concrete bowl, but that’s not a permanent fix. A better “fix” would be to prep and coat it in a liquid rubber liner product, which is not cheap to do it properly. Oh, and it’s kinda ugly.
If you can’t fix it, you have to jackhammer out the old pond and put a new one in its place. And the whole process repeats. Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.
3. A GOOD POND LINER CARRIES A 20-YEAR WARRANTY
Liner ponds allow the ground to shift around it without damage. Sure, sometimes there's a settling leak at the edge of a liner pond. But that's easy to fix: you just lift the liner a bit, shove some dirt under it, and call it bueno.
A good liner product (i.e., 45-mil EPDM rubber) carries a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty. Most concrete contractors don’t warranty their work beyond the 2-year requirement of the Registrar of Contractors. The one thing that concrete is guaranteed to do over time: crack. And leak.
4. FISH & PLANTS DON’T LIKE CONCRETE
Many a cement head has said: “Sure, Mrs. Customer, you can put plants and fish in the pond” right before they run out the door with that final check. And, yes, you can. That doesn’t mean that they’ll be happy. Concrete, filled with Portland cement, leaches lime and alkalis into the water forever, which does not make for especially happy, healthy plants and fish – especially considering our naturally high pH here in Arizona.
Because you can’t really build in plant pockets in a cement pond, you have to keep the aquatic plants in buckets. Not very attractive, and thinning/dividing those plants will be a bear some day. Then there’s having to fertilize the plants because you just can’t seem to teach those darn fish to back up the plant pots to poop – although, they do tend to dig in the pots like dogs. Fertilizer can then cause water quality issues.
5. A CONCRETE POND OR WATER FEATURE WILL NOT ADD TO THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME
Despite the claims, just because a water feature is built out of concrete, that fact alone will NOT add value to your home. What adds value is a beautiful well-built, serviceable water feature that fits well into its surroundings. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the construction method.
All that being said, if you plan to go spear fishing in your pond, or hand your kids a trident to play with, then you want to find yourself a good concrete pond contractor. However, if what you want is a well-built, serviceable pond system, you might want to continue your research on ALL of your options.
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!
We are asked quite frequently if we do consulting work for do-it-yourself ponds, or if we would just provide instruction to people (outside of the seminars and classes that we teach). No, we do not. Yes, we did do that at one time, but found that the experience on both ends was less than satisfactory for many reasons. And we'd really rather do things that we're actually good at and have fun with: ponds built right, customers served right!
What we mean by "helping" you with your DIY pond is to make sure you're thinking this whole thing through before you "dig yourself into a deep hole." The humorous (hopefully) article below may provide you with some insight on the DIY vs. PRO debate in your household.
Top 10 Reasons to Build Your Pond Yourself:
10. You aren’t too terribly concerned with saving money, as long as you’re having a good time. Folks often think that doing something themselves will save them a bunch of money. There are a lot of hidden costs, though, so don't be so sure.
9. You've got PLENTY of extra time on your hands with no demands from family or friends for that time.
8. You’re not challenged when it comes to reading directions. If you've never built a pond before, trust us, there's a big learning curve to do it right!
7. You don’t care if you get it done in one day or one summer. After all, you’re having a good time.
6. You're sure that you can do a better job than the Jonses' pro that they hired. That's just throwing away money, right?
5. You really can’t think of a better way to burn calories.
4. You enjoy physical challenges and you look good in a sun tan, too!
3. You love planning, tinkering with, and designing things. So whether you get it right the first time, or forty-first time is fairly inconsequential. It's just a hole with rock and water, right? Yeah, you just keep tellin' yourself that.
2. You take great genuine pleasure in creating something of beauty with your own two hands, and having others enjoy it as well. This is absolutely a legitimate reason to do it yourself if you have the time, the ability, the expertise, and will.
AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON:
1. Your spouse expects you to build a water garden! (You really don’t have to confess to this one out loud, or anything like that.)
Now, if this description fits you, then go ahead and have at it. You may be fiddling around with it all summer (or winter here in the Southwest, because doing this in the summer might kill you), but you’re the one who will enjoy the process immensely. That means that you are, in effect, a pond installer! Welcome to the club.
So, now here are some reasons to skip the above and just enjoy the fruits of OUR labor.
Top 10 Reasons To Hire a Pro to Build Your Pond:
10. In your day job you’re a business tycoon, you’re used to running your own corporation, or you're a professional of some kind. But you’re NOT A WATER GARDEN INSTALLER!
9. You’re 42 years old, 30 lbs. overweight, you haven’t been near the gym in many months, and this is HARD PHYSICAL LABOR!
8. You would much rather be spending your time with your family or your friends because you work hard and deserve the time off to enjoy life.
7. But you’ll save two or three thousand bucks by doing it yourself, right? That’s what everyone says, anyway. But who the heck is this "everyone?" Are THEY pond builders and know the actual costs, labor, and expertise involved? Hmmm...
6. You know that a well-trained crew can put this thing together easily in less than a week! You know down deep in your heart it will take you at least four weekends - minimum. And you’d still be just hoping to get it right. Think about the last time your tackled an unfamiliar home improvement project yourself. You might have ended up calling in a professional who had to clean up your mess before he could get started anyway, which made the project more expensive than hiring a pro to do it right the first time.
5. Impressing your spouse and kids with your ability to multi-task gets lower and lower on your list as you consider all the possibilities. And you'd rather treat them to a weekend of your undivided attention, and maybe an ice cream.
4. Impressing your neighbors, the Joneses, with your ability to multi-task, or anything else, has never enjoyed a position of priority in your life.
3. Your 9-year-old son who loves to play in the mud, provides you with all the fishing worms you’ll ever need. So digging a big-ass hole in the yard wouldn't really help with that.
2. You’re not a sado-masochist! Fact: the average do-it-yourselfer builds three ponds (or the same one three times) before they get it right.
AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON TO HIRE A PRO:
1. What the heck would John Wayne do? What would Clint Eastwood, or Bruce Lee, or Rambo, or General Schwarzkopf, or Arnold Schwarzenegger do? I’ll tell you what they’d do. THEY’D HIRE A PROFESSIONAL TO DO THE JOB. THAT’S WHAT THEY’D DO! Now these boys (John, Clint, etc.) are all rugged individualists for sure. But they aren’t stupid, and they know when they'd be in over their heads!
So, what do you want to do next? Dig in . . . or:
There's a lot of information out there on Koi fish. Here are a just a few fun facts that you might not know! When consulting an expert, make sure you're talking to someone who is familiar with the location in which you live!
Koi fish are sensitive to the sun. They may get sunburned if they live in ponds that do not provide enough shadow and shade for them to escape to. This kind of shade can be provided by either external elements, such as trees, bushes, or shade sails, or from within the pond, like as lily pads, marginal plants, and well-positioned rocks and Koi caves.
Koi fish release ammonia into the water. When a large number of Koi inhabit the same pond, levels of ammonia can increase rapidly and induce poisoning of the fish, especially if it’s not an ecosystem environment. Although life in a community can be dangerous, Koi fish enjoy the company of other Koi fish. It’s a good idea to consult an expert to see how many Koi are right for your size and type of pond before adding them.
During the mating season, females produce thousands of eggs that will be fertilized by the male's sperm in the water. Only 50% of fertilized eggs will survive. This explains the “foaming” and “fishy smell” that is sometimes present in the pond, particularly in the Spring.
Koi fish can mate with goldfish because they are closely related; however, the result is sterile offspring.
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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When you hear the word “pond,” any number of things may come to mind, depending upon your personal experiences, or that of friends and relatives. For example, if you’re from the Midwest, a pond to you is probably anything you can see across. If you’re from the Southwest, it may be a cow tank.
Game Fish/Recreational Pond
This type of pond can be anything from a cozy little fishing retreat to a man-made lake supporting everything from bass fishing to water skiing. If your goal is to hang out on your back porch and practice your fly casting, this might be something that interests you.
Pros: Quite entertaining if you're into fishing or raising game fish
Cons: Generally not very attractive
This type of pond is specifically designed to catch run-off from rain, irrigation, etc. It is actually designed to be dry most of the time. This is something of a requirement in some cities and communities, either as a neighborhood or on individual lots.
Pros: Acts as stormwater management
Cons: Can breed mosquitoes if the water stands too long because it has no circulation
Rigid System Pond
This type of pond is appropriate in some settings, such as swimming pools. There are several types of rigid liners to choose from, depending on the application and your goals.
Pros: Can be easy to maintain, just throw in a chlorine tab once in a while
Cons: Will absolutely eventually crack and leak, and because it's a rigid system, repair is costly and most of the time ineffective compared to the cost. Not very natural-looking.
Koi Pond With Techno-Filtration/Sterilizers
This type of pond is for those of you who are specifically interested in raising multi-thousand dollar show fish. They are generally not pleasant to look at, they require a lot of equipment and maintenance (see picture), and they are rather expensive, both to set up and to maintain. However, if your goal is to raise show Koi, this is what you need to invest in.
Pros: Great for raising show Koi
Cons: Maintenance-hogs; not very attractive
Organic Water Garden/Flexible System Pond
This is the type of pond that we will spend the majority of this book discussing. An organic water garden is a sustainable, low maintenance, ecological environment created within the pond. This pond will support Koi (as pets) and aquatic plants, and provides a rich environment for both to thrive.
Pros: Beautiful; low maintenance; last a LONG time
Cons: Your friends, families, and neighbors may visit more often than you'd like just to hang out by the pond
Waterfalls add delightful sound to the garden and can be customized for your listening pleasure. If you live near busy traffic, you might want a grand waterfall to drown out the noise of cars rushing by. But if you live in a more suburban area, a small idyllic stream or waterfall can create just the right melody for harmonizing with native & migratory birds. Whatever your fancy, the perfect waterfall can be created just for you ... so sit a spell and enjoy!
Fallen logs are strategically placed to make this stream appear as though it's been part of the landscape for tens of years.
Flowers and plants soften the edges of large stone and help to naturalize the waterfall.
A gentle stream calms and soothes the soul after a stressful day at work. Who wouldn't want to grab a cold glass of iced tea or lemonade and unwind while gazing at this scenery?
This homeowner wanted to recreate a favorite vacation spot ... Hawaii, but adapted for the desert. He enjoys fond vacation memories every time he gazes at his backyard waterfall.
This newly created waterfall and stream was graced with a few mature plantings to tie it into its lush surroundings. Note a few strategic spots were created for sitting and dangling feet into the cool waters.
If rustic is more your style, rocks will create what you need.
Some landscapes cry out for a dramatic waterfall, such as this one.
A bit of whimsy lends itself to this smaller waterfall. Imagine a child's delight upon discovering the tiny fairy.
Do you have a tree-heavy backyard? Don't sweat fitting a waterfall into the landscape. Let the stream wind around the trees before emptying into a crystal clear pond.
No matter what your landscaping challenge might be, there's a water feature just for you! Anyone can enjoy the beautiful sound of water in the landscape. Let us know what you're dreaming of!
Lights in the Water?
Absolutely! Underwater low voltage lights are designed to be put in the water. You can create spectacular effects, too! Shine one on the waterfall for a lovely view. Shine one up from the waterfall to create a rippling shadowing effect on a nearby wall. Shine them around the interior of the pond to watch your Koi play tag and other fish games at night.
Are They Expensive?
That depends on your definition of "expensive." As with any product, you either pay for quality up-front, or pay for replacements over and over again. If you work all day and only have time to enjoy your garden at night, then it's worth your while to make sure you can enjoy it to its fullest. And here in Phoenix, we do most of our outdoor enjoyment at night during the summer months, don't we?
What Kind Should I Get?
We recommend the state-of-the-art LED lights. Not only do they carry a longer warranty, but they use A LOT LESS electricity! If you have older halogen lights, be aware that eventually the replacement light bulbs may stop being readily available. Upgrading to LED makes a lot of sense for ease of maintenance and reducing your electricity consumption.
Where Can I Get Them?
As a matter of fact, we'd be delighted to change out those old lights for the new LEDs, or simply add lighting where none was before. If you want to see what a pond can look like at night, register and attend one of our Happy Hour Mixers.
Here's a little inspiration to get you in the "mood."
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Barbi Holdeman, co-owner of The Pond Gnome, enjoys sharing their 17+ 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!