Why Won't You Work on My Pond?
We get two to three calls per day about dysfunctional water features that folks want us to just patch up or repair. Maybe they bought a home that came with a problem water feature. Or maybe the guy who built it for them went out of business, or is just no longer returning phone calls. There are even companies out there that will build water features, but are not willing to service what they build -- shocking, but true.
We are not equipped to work on many of these. Why not? Well, there are a myriad of reasons, pretty much as many reasons as there are ways to build a "pond." For one, we can't possibly train our service techs to work on every single one of them. And our trucks cannot carry every single pond part ever made so that we're prepared for every possible part replacement. It's just not feasible.
For 20 years, The Pond Gnome has specialized in organic water gardens, flexible pond systems, and low-pressure biological filtration systems, as well as subterranean water harvesting re-circulation. Water features that do not fall within these parameters of what our company is designed to handle are referred out to colleagues who work on those types of features.
Being specialists has allowed our construction crew and service team to be the very best at what we do. And, not to toot our own horn too much, but we're in pretty high demand and it doesn't make sense to distract our employees with issues that another company is better equipped to solve.
Who WILL Touch This?
Depending on your specific feature, you might find more appropriate help from one of these reputable companies:
What Can The Pond GNome Do to Help?
Frustrated by repeated attempts at patching or repairs? If you’re planning to stay in your home, why not have something that you will enjoy? So, if you’re tired of messing around with the monster on your hands, have tried all the fixes and nothing is working, and are interested in replacing what you have now with a beautiful, low-maintenance, living ecosystem water feature or perhaps a custom fountainscape, we would be tickled pink to help! Send us a photo of what you've got, and let us know you're ready for what we do!
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Requests for a recreational pond, or a swim pond, or a natural swimming pool are increasing every day! People seem to have had enough of chemicals in their life. We understand this new trend and have always preached against chemically-dependent landscapes, using integrated pest management techniques instead.
The terms for these larger human-interactive bodies of water are often used interchangeably. The terms and descriptions in this article are based on how WE define them.
We deem a recreational pond to be simply a large ecosystem pond. Some people just want lots of Koi. Some people want to be able to wade in a bit, which would be necessary for gardening the feature. Some folks want game fish so they can practice their fly-fishing techniques.
A recreational pond starts in the size category of about 25’ x 30’, and includes a skimmer or intake bay, biological filter or constructed wetland, and is typically a 2-pump system. The plants and fish are contained within the pond itself. It is NOT designed for regular human swimming activities, as the pump is a submersible and the filtration system is designed for aquatic life, not human activity. You can get into any ecosystem pond, provided is designed and built properly for ingress and egress, for gardening activities, etc. However, we sell these as “landscape water features not intended for swimming.”
Budgets for this category begin around $40,000, and of course there are lots of options.
Swim Pond or NSP (Natural Swimming Pool)
A swim pond is a bit of a sticky subject as far as Arizona law is concerned. Arizona law currently does not have anything on the books for “swim ponds.” As it stands now, all bodies of water for human interaction over 18” in depth are considered “pools” and subject to those standards and restrictions.
A swim pond is a very large ecosystem pond, which would include at least one skimmer or intake bay, needs a constructed wetland for filtration at least 1/3 of the size of the pond, can have a separate pond area for the fish, and requires that the pumps be located outside of the feature. Yep, this is going to take up a little more room in your yard.
A natural swimming pool (NSP) is a whole different animal! The natural pool trend began in Europe several decades ago. Since then, they’ve been slowly gaining popularity in the United States, Australia, and other regions with sunny climates. Unlike a traditionally rectangular, chlorine-filled swimming pool, a natural pool is often designed to imitate pools, ponds, or other bodies of water in the wild with irregular shapes, rocks, waterfalls, and boulders.
This requires a pretty big yard because you’ll need a separate pump area and a very large regeneration zone for filtration.
An NSP is NOT cheaper than building a conventional pool. In addition, there will be a cumbersome permitting process, which Arizona laws are still not quite equipped to handle, so it’s going to be a hassle and take some time. But it can be done if you’re up to the task.
Budgets for this category begin around $85,000.
Pros & Cons of Swim Ponds or Natural Swimming Pools
There are a lot of things to think about when considering these types of water features.
If you’re considering any of these types of water features, here are a couple of cool videos about what goes into the design, construction & maintenance of recreational ponds, swim ponds, and natural swimming pools.
As a responsible contractor, we believe that you should have the WHOLE story. Here are a couple of resources for further research on concerns with recreational ponds, swim ponds and natural swimming pools:
Pond Itch is a concern in any open-air natural body of water, but can be avoided by simply hosing down or showering off immediately after being in the water. Ducks are actually the main perpetrator of this problem, as they transport this from pond to pond during their visits.
Brain-eating amoeba is a concern in warm fresh-water environments; however, this is a rarity that can be avoided by not putting your head under the water.
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Design of an indoor pond
The type of filtration will depend on what kind of aquatic life you’ll host. Goldfish would likely be the easiest to deal with. Turtles would add the most maintenance.
You’ll need a controlled overflow to the outdoors or the sewer system so that you don’t flood the house.
Plants for an indoor pond
Aquatic life for an indoor pond
Servicing an indoor pond
Here’s a great video of an indoor pond created for a unique pet store:
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You Don't Like Fish
Don’t get a pond if you don’t like fish. Fish are an integral part of an ecosystem life cycle. Some people think that having fish requires extra maintenance, when the opposite is the case. They eat bugs and dead plant material, and poop fertilizer for the aquatic plants. And as long as you don’t confine those plants to buckets, this works beautifully – we’ve never been able to teach our fish to back up and poop into the plant pots. So, if you don’t want to relax and watch colorful fish swim lazily around, don’t get a pond.
You Don’t Like Plants
Don’t get a pond if you don’t like seeing lush aquatic plants in your yard. Granted, there’s some gardening that needs to be done occasionally, but what better place to garden when it’s 110 outside than in your pond? Or there are services that do that for you. By the way, when your terrestrial plants are looking their worst (in the hottest part of summer), aquatic plants are rockin’ it. But, if seeing lush aquatic plants in your yard all summer long doesn’t interest you, then don’t get a pond.
You Don’t Like Butterflies
Don’t get a pond or water feature if you don’t like butterflies floating around your yard. There are several great aquatic plants that attract butterflies. In fact, if they weren’t so cute, it could be considered an infestation! They flit around the yard, all colorful and perty, and they are actually pollinators for certain plants. They’re definite mood uplifters. But, hey, if you don’t particularly like butterflies, then don’t get a pond.
You Don’t Like Dragonflies & Damselflies
Don’t get a pond or water feature if you don’t like dragonflies and damselflies. They are highly attracted to water. It’s where their food hangs out, and it’s also where they lay their eggs. They eat their weight in mosquitoes and gnats every single day, so they’re an important part of integrated pest management practices. But, if that’s not important to you, then don’t get a pond.
You Don’t Like Birds
Don’t get a pond or water feature if you don’t like birds in your yard. They do poop up the place a bit, which requires someone to go around with a hose once in a while and hose things off. We’ve seen all kinds of birds in our yard, both native and migratory, from Cactus Wren to Northern Cardinals to Orioles to hummingbirds, etc. Many people enjoy being able to sit in their livingroom or favorite lawn chair and watch and/or photograph the feathered visitors. But, if you don’t like birds in your yard, don’t get a pond or water feature.
You Don’t Like Wildlife
Don’t get a pond or water feature if you don’t want wildlife in your yard. All creatures need water to live. Putting an ecosystem pond or water feature in your yard will absolutely attract all kinds of critters. We happen to take great delight in seeing them in our yard, and photographing them when the opportunity presents itself. However, if you’re a veggie gardener or are afraid of wildlife, then in all seriousness, don’t get a pond.
You Don’t Like the Sound of Water
Don’t get a pond or water feature if you don’t like the sound of water. A water feature will permeate your outdoor living space with the sound of water, tricking your mind into thinking that it’s at least 10 degrees cooler in summer. The sound of a waterfall or babbling brook has been proven to enhance sleep – during those times of year when we can have the windows open at night. But if the sound of water just makes you want to go to the restroom more often, then don’t get a pond.
You Don’t Want to be Entertained
Don’t get a pond if you want your entertainment to consist solely of movies and television. A pond will draw you, and your family, outside at every opportunity. Some people enjoy the simple act of feeding their fish. Others just want to sit and decompress outside of this techo-crazy world we live in today. Children can be taught all kinds of lessons at the water’s edge (art, philosophy, biology, chemistry, English, math, etc.). You and your spouse can sit and talk to each other at the end of a day instead of plopping down in front of the boob-tube and zoning out. Guests will be drawn to the pond, as it will naturally be the focal point of your yard, and there’s always something to spark a conversation. But if that doesn’t interest you, then don’t get a pond.
Yes, this has been a shameless, sarcastic way of telling you a bunch of cool benefits to having an ecosystem pond or water feature in your yard. It was written with humor, and we hope you appreciated that aspect. All our best clients have a great sense of humor!
Ready to take advantage of these benefits yourself?
Yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) is native to Arizona!
Yerba mansa is a fabulous plant to have in your living ecosystem Phoenix pond, waterfall, or stream. It's actually an Arizona native.
This plant displays showy white flowers which rise from a dense growth of dark green leaf clusters. The compact conic flower spike is very distinctive. Similar to the sunflower family, what appears to be a single bloom is really a dense cluster of individual small flowers when observed closely.
In nature, Yerba mansa is found in wet, usually alkaline, soils along streams and in wet meadows, often growing in large colonies, typically from 1,000-6,000 ft elevations.
Yerba typically flowers April-October.
Yerba mansa is well known for its medicinal uses, including external use on sores and burns, as disinfectant for cuts and scrapes, and as a wash for sore feet and muscles. It’s also used internally for stomach ulcers, colds, coughs, menstrual cramps, diabetes, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and syphilis. It's been used as a laxative and an emetic, and the seeds are made into mush and eaten by Native Americans. It’s quite versatile!
The only caveat to cultivating Yerba mansa in your back yard pond or water feature is that you’ll have to keep it under control. It reproduces rapidly via red runners (rhizomes) that shoot out across the ground and the water, and can be quite prolific in the warmer months. It’s easy to thin, though, by just yanking some out, and having a serious talk with it about slowing it’s roll.
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