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?
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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.
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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.
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:
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
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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You betcha! Many of our Phoenix pond clients enjoy their turtle pets! That’s the short answer. Turtles can provide hours of entertainment and education, and truly become members of your family. However, there are some considerations.
Types of Turtles for Phoenix Ponds
If it’s a non-native species, please remember that you need to be responsible about turtle ownership: it must remain contained, without the possibility of escaping from your yard into a natural riparian area. And since turtles do add a level of maintenance to your pond, be sure that you're okay with that decision. As long as you're fine with a little added maintenance, turtles are great pets!
There are many different species of turtles. Some are more welcome in Arizona than others. Please do your research before you get one. You can read more about turtles at www.azgfd.gov/turtle.
Phoenix Pond Design for Turtles
Your Phoenix pond should been designed in a way that would take good care of these pets. Proper filtration is a must! Turtles do add quite a bit more to the water, in terms of bio-load, than just goldfish and/or Koi. You will need a good biological filter, or better yet a constructed wetland filter, but at least some kind of regeneration zone. If you don’t have either of these, more bacteria treatments will be necessary to keep your water quality up to snuff. A basking island is also necessary for many species.
Turtles can also be somewhat destructive, and since they’re at the top of the food chain, this could mean wreaking havoc on your tidy pond. They have zero respect for what you may consider aesthetically pleasing. For example, if they’re swimming along, and there’s a lily pad in their way, they may simply munch right through the middle of it for no other reason than it was there, in the way.
Along with large Koi, we do NOT recommend adding turtles prior to the establishment of a healthy ecosystem in the pond. They are the most destructive and ammonia producing thing you can add to your pond. We don’t recommend them in anything less than a year old if things are going well in a well-designed and constructed Phoenix pond. You should plan on spending a couple of years building a healthy eco-system before you attempt to introduce turtles to the mix.
The depth of a turtle pond will vary a bit depending on the species, but should have a relatively large surface area (provides better oxygen levels in the water). Red eared sliders and some other turtles can handle a deeper pond, while some turtles prefer to be in shallower water, so again consider the natural habits of the turtle species when planning your pond. Try to have varied levels of water with slopes between them. A shallow area where the turtle can sit in the water with its head out of the water is desirable as well.
Phoenix Pond Maintenance with Turtles
Thirdly, with the bio-load that comes with having turtles, you should be adding some kind of bacteria/enzyme product on a regular basis to aid the micro-organism struggle to convert the nitrite and ammonia into plant food. This means that if you plan to be away for a while, you’ll need to enlist the aid of someone to do this while you’re gone so that you don’t come back to a big pea-green mess.
Outside of your Phoenix pond, turtles will want to dig into the soil for egg laying and over-wintering under plants. An area in which to forage, comprised of either a compost soil or sand next to the pond, is like heaven for turtles, especially for females looking to lay eggs. Therefore, be sure to have an area nearby where females can build a nest. This area may also serve as a basking spot.
If you’re considering a pond for your pet turtles, let us know – we speak turtle!
How Many Fish Can I Have in my Backyard Pond?
Well, that’s kinda personal, isn’t it? ;-) LOL!
This is a good question for a swimming pool contractor, or someone digging a well on your property. It is not, however, of utmost importance for a living water feature.
A backyard pond pump is an essential component of a circulation system. It helps the pond skim off debris that fall into it, as well as adds necessary aeration for your fish. And then there’s the all-important waterfall element that simply won’t exist without a pump. And we all love our waterfalls, don’t we?
When talking pond pumps, there are a few things to consider:
Appropriate Water Flow for your Phoenix Pond
Without getting too technical here, let’s just say that you want to turn over the water in your pond completely between 1 and 2 times per hour. If you’re buying a pump for a DIY project, be sure to check the specs for this information, together with head pressure, length of pipe run, etc. A backyard pond pump is properly rated in gallons per hour. For example, a Tsurumi 3PL is rated at 3,000 gph at 5’ of head pressure, and this is plenty of water flow for the average backyard pond and waterfall, most of which hold 2-5,000 gallons of water. Save the horsepower question for the next car you plan to buy!
Energy Efficiency for Phoenix Pond Pumps
Any pump being marketing based on their rating in horsepower is likely going to cost a fortune to run 24/7. Not to mention, it will probably be too noisy and you’ll end up hearing it rather than your waterfall or babbling brook. Not the desired outcome for a backyard pond. For a backyard pond pump, you’re looking for a product that’s basically an aquarium pump on steroids, and should cost you between $15 and $30 per month to run. Much more sustainable than your average pool pump running around the clock!
Handling Heavy Solids in Phoenix Ponds
Another MUST feature of a backyard pond pump is that it must be DESIGNED to be used in a backyard pond. This means that it will pass heavy solids, or a small stone, through its mechanisms without plugging up or jamming up on you. A swimming pool pump is absolutely NOT designed to do this, as they assume the water to be a sterile environment. A living backyard pond is not, and should not be, a sterile environment.
So, the simplest answer to the question of “how big is your pond pump” is that the pump is only as big as it needs to be. Clear as mud?
Over the years, Phoenix backyard ponds have been constructed with a variety of materials. Many are made out of concrete, while others use preformed plastic tubs or various types of flexible liner. One of the main reasons we advocate the use of gravel is that it plays a vital role by providing a natural habitat for beneficial microorganisms. It’s also a cost-effective way to cover the liner and enhance the ecosystem, making your Phoenix backyard pond a lot lower maintenance!
The rocky bottom of a Phoenix backyard pond is alive and brimming with activity, covered in algae, microscopic invertebrates, and bacteria. This section of the pond is basically a compost pile. When organic debris falls to the pond’s bottom, it’s broken down by the benthic (bottom) inhabitants. These organic recyclers live off of uneaten fish food, decaying plant matter, and nitrogenous fish wastes. If this substrate wasn’t present, the pond would quickly die, effectively being suffocated by toxic fish waste and organic build-up. If you don’t have this substrate, draining & cleanings must be done often to eliminate that build-up.
Fortunately, nature has given us a way to solve this problem with your Phoenix backyard pond. And it’s SO much easier to work with Mother Nature, than against her! Organisms have evolved to use practically every bit of available food. Fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects will feed on these minute organisms, including bacteria and algae that live on the rocky pond floor.
In addition, gravel lends structural stability to the Phoenix backyard pond. To achieve this, gravel is placed in between and behind the boulders. This eliminates spaces between them, which keeps them from shifting around, giving you a stable substrate. The gravel becomes a free-floating mortar, naturally locking the boulders into place. Again, Mother Nature does this as a matter of course in the naturally-occurring ponds and streams.
When adding gravel to your Phoenix backyard pond and waterfall projects, be sure to vary the size of the gravel in order to provide a more natural appearance, as well as stability. You can have your gravel mixed at the stone yard, incorporating a blend of 3/8” to 3” gravel. The larger pieces give mass to the gravel bed, and act as a nice transition to the larger boulders. The smaller sizes provide lots of surface area, which is key for the pond’s biological activity.
What to Expect When You're Expecting -- a Phoenix Ecosystem Pond!
Welcome to the world of organic water gardening! Unlike lawns and pools, ecosystem ponds in Phoenix are not as common-knowledge for most of us. Very few of us grew up with a backyard pond, or knew anyone that had one. And if we did, it’s unlikely that they were practicing organic water gardening specifically. With so many different backyard landscape ideas bombarding the market, it's sometimes difficult to choose!
Basically, we are working with the same processes in a new feature as are used in organic vegetable gardening, and even hydroponics systems. Well cared for, and properly maintained, your feature will provide decades of beautiful, low maintenance, entertainment and viewing pleasure.
Think of the new feature as a puppy. “Pond chemicals” are akin to a rolled up newspaper or a swift kick. That’s no way to train a new pet! With patience, and proper positive reinforcement, an organic water feature, like a puppy, will develop into a cherished and well-behaved individual.
But here’s what happens right away as the ecosystem in a living water feature is brought to life. Just like a new garden, we prepare the foundation by adding aquatic plants, fish, and beneficial bacteria (just like good soil, amendments, and plant starts in a garden). This also means keeping the “weeds” at bay, which in an organic water feature means string algae. Once the aquatic plants get established and start growing aggressively, the algae, like weeds in a healthy garden, will be choked out for the most part. Remember that there will always be green fuzz on the rocks – this is not a pool or spa with dead water. That green fuzz actually serves as another filter to produce crystal clear water. If you want a sterile environment, then an organic water feature is not the backyard landscape idea for you.
The process of bringing a living water feature to life takes a bit of time and patience. It may take a bit longer, or it may happen quicker, depending on many factors, including the weather. The bottom line is that each feature is an individual and will balance when it’s darn good and ready. But we promise you that this WILL happen as long as no one tries to “help” things along using chemical treatments and "quick fixes."
If you would like to learn more about how an aquatic ecosystem works, you can read the various other blogs that we've written, as well as check out the information provided at Aquascape for additional backyard landscape ideas.
For inspiration as to what a living water feature can become, and other backyard landscape ideas, you are welcome to go see some of our publicly accessible displays at your convenience.
Sounds like the deal of the century, right? It is! Here’s how to get six Phoenix ponds for the price of one:
Every Phoenix pond has six distinct personalities, including a Spring personality, a Summer personality, a Fall personality, and a Winter personality.
A pond is a living and breathing entity, and it changes with the weather and the seasons. Now, in Phoenix, we don’t have a lot of seasonal change, but your pond notices, nonetheless. Believe it or not, a Spring Phoenix pond is not the same as your Summer Phoenix pond, and the Fall pond is very different from the Winter pond.
That covers four ponds. So, what about the other two, you ask? There’s also the day time Phoenix pond and the night time pond, both with very different looks, as you can imagine. The magic of the daytime Phoenix pond, with the sun glistening off the water’s surface, the colorful Koi darting around below, all surrounded by lush green and colorful plants is truly spectacular. The night time Phoenix pond is full of romance, with underwater lights turning the entire aquatic ecosystem into a transparent liquid world that, for all practical purposes, is invisible during the day. Do you know anyone who can resist the seduction of the night time Phoenix pond? It’s absolutely spellbinding!
Oh, wait! That’s actually EIGHT ponds for the price of one, when you consider all four seasons, both night and day. Hmmmm….. That’s a deal just too good to pass up!
10 Common Blunders for Ponds in Phoenix
Poor Location for your pond in Phoenix
Starting with the design of the pond Phoenix homeowners plan are too often placed in an unused area of the property or in a low spot that collects water. Both of these locations cause problems. Unused areas of the landscape are unused for a reason and it's a waste to put a key feature in an area that won't be seen regularly. Out of sight, out of mind … meaning nobody will care for it. Low spots that collect water are challenging to build in (high water table) and water quality can suffer from too much runoff and pollutants entering the pond system. Rainwater harvesting and stormwater management are completely separate conversations that a simple pond in Phoenix.
Underestimating Labor for Your Pond in Phoenix
Underestimating the amount of physical work involved with a pond installation is very common. As professional pond contractors, we are regularly asked to complete ponds in Phoenix that are partially excavated by a homeowner. Unless you dig for a living, it's tougher than you think … and digging the pond is the easy part!
Creating Steep Sides for your Pond in Phoenix
Digging a deep pit with no provisions for shallow areas makes stacking stone on the inside of the pond in Phoenix very difficult. The excavation would be unstable and since there aren’t shallow areas, it is difficult and dangerous to get in and out of the pond for maintenance. Plus, there's no place or ledges for aquatic plants, the majority of which grow in less than 12" of water, even in Phoenix.
Too Shallow for a Pond in Phoenix
A shallow pond in Phoenix is obviously easier to dig than a deeper one, but if it’s not deep enough, the fish won’t be able to over-winter in the northern part of Arizona. And if you live in the central or southern area, your pond won’t stay cool if it’s too shallow. Fish don’t like hot ponds in Phoenix!
Lack of Ledges in your Phoenix Pond
A common mistake is when the pond is excavated in a bowl fashion, with gently sloping sides that get deeper towards the middle. This is difficult to disguise with rock since gravel will slide towards the deep area and boulders take up too much room.
Improper Use of Rock and Stone to Create your Pond in Phoenix
An installed pond in Phoenix is disguised with rock to give it a desired natural-looking appearance; a typical feature will use several tons of stone. That can be a lot of wear and tear on the family minivan, and it needs to be moved and placed properly. Many do-it-yourselfers will decide this is too much work and they'll choose small, manageable stones that are easy to move and place. While the work might be easier, this results in the pond falling short of aesthetics. Also, the pond loses the structural importance provided by the larger, more difficult-to-move boulders. In some cases, the novice pond installer will just eliminate the stonework altogether, which can look bad. Without rock and gravel, the system fails to function properly because stone not only lends to the aesthetics of the feature, but it also functions as a habitat for colonization by a variety of beneficial organisms from bacteria to crustaceans … all critical to the success of a natural-looking, organic pond in Phoenix.
Too Small for a Phoenix Pond
Again, a small pond is easier to construct (less digging and rock placement) but it’s actually harder to maintain. A small feature is less stable than a larger volume of water, and most people end up making the water garden larger later down the road because they not only love it, but their plants and fish outgrow a small feature.
Lack of Proper Filtration for a Phoenix Pond
Consumer thought is that real lakes, rivers, and streams function without pumps and filters, so why does their backyard pond in Phoenix need it? Well, that’s not even a close comparison because it’s completely different hydrology. Do-it-yourselfers sometimes purchase inadequate filters or will purchase components “a la carte.” It may be cheaper to purchase the items piecemeal, but it's challenging because different manufacturers use different fittings, and they need to be "McGuivered" to work together, versus having everything matched and designed to work as a unit. Efficiency and simplicity will create a better system for your pond in Phoenix.
Poor Access/Staging Area for your Phoenix Pond
Before you get started, think about where to place your rock and gravel when it’s delivered, or where you want to place the dirt during excavation. Poor planning can lead to having little to no room to get in and out of the property during the construction process.
Improper Berm Size for Waterfalls to Accompany Your Pond in Phoenix
If the mound or berm area for the waterfall is too small or too steep, then the waterfall will look out of place and more like a volcano than a waterfall. The berm and waterfall need to be scaled according to the size of the property and the feature. Many people want a big waterfall that looks and sounds great, but it can become difficult and expensive to build, and it can overpower the space you have set aside for your pond. The waterfall needs to fit with the property and lifestyle of the pond owner. And the pond needs to be large enough to contain the splash generated by the waterfall.
Now that you have our list of 10 ten pond installation mistakes, you’ll know what to avoid. So go ahead and grab your shovel and get digging! You may have to endure hours of sweat, but you’ll reap years of relaxation by your beautiful backyard oasis.
Save the (fill in the blank)!
Saving natural habitats is hot on everyone’s mind these days. Riparian habitats are the rarest type of habitat in North America. The plants and micro-organisms found in riparian areas and natural wetlands are extremely efficient at removing excess nutrients from storm water and runoff. Unfortunately, man’s increased use of commercial fertilizers creates run-off extremely high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which poses a major threat to the delicate ecosystems of our natural waterways. As a result of this, as well as excess traffic and use, 95% of the West’s best filtering habitats have been degraded to at least some extent.
Phoenix Ponds with Wetlands Replenish Disappearing Natural Wetlands
What exactly makes a wetland such a good filter, even for a backyard pond? Wetlands are giant sponges. They protect ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers by filtering out wastes and nutrients entering from storm water and runoff. Scientific studies have found that many common species of aquatic plants have the ability to uptake toxins directly from the water, thus scrubbing it clean again. This can even be accomplished in a backyard pond!
Thinking of aquatic plants as the kidneys of the earth, it follows then that a constructed wetland filter would be an excellent approach to cleaning up an existing problem pond, as well as an outstanding way ensure that a backyard pond has plenty of filtration from the start, while providing a lush, beautiful setting.
Wetlands are Nature's Filter
Clarity is one of the easiest and fastest ways to diagnose water quality in a backyard pond. Large loads of sediment and debris can have a serious impact on the aquatic life that a body of water can support. Wetlands, both in nature and constructed for backyard pond filtration, do a tremendous job of reducing sediment and debris, improving clarity within the pond. Natural wetlands are able to remove sediment by slowing the velocity of storm water, causing the sediment and debris to drop out of suspension. To see this concept in action, visit Regents of Scottsdale Apartment Complex, 15555 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Parkway, Scottsdale, Arizona. This riparian ecosystem that spans the center of the complex accepts runoff from the surrounding parking lots. Over the past six years of this system’s existence, the maintenance required has been quarterly bacteria and enzyme applications, along with monthly thinning of aquatic plants from within the streams
Phoenix Ponds Thrive with Wetlands!
A constructed wetland filter of proportionate size can help provide crystal clear water in almost any backyard pond. We’ve all seen the chemically treated, generally blue-dyed, bodies of water that adorn many golf courses, apartment complexes, and HOA common areas. Furthermore, backyard ponds with a lot of large fish require a filtration system sufficient to keep up with the wastes these fish produce.
On another note, many people have “green thumbs” and are attracted to the types of plants that can be grown in a backyard pond. Installing a wetland filter off to the side of a backyard pond will provide the perfect planting bed for a variety of aquatic plants, while allowing the garden owner to keep the pond surface area open for viewing.
Wildlife Appreciates Phoenix Ecosystem Ponds
In addition to being a superb filter system, placed appropriately, the permanent and accessible organic water in a backyard pond is a boon to birds, both native and migratory. 80% of desert wildlife lives within sight of a riparian corridor. However, we have been damming and pumping our riparian areas out of existence here in Arizona. Constructed wetlands, and organically maintained backyard ponds, may be the best bet for the survival of many species of native and migratory bird life. In terms of economics, Arizona is a top ten birding destination on every birder’s list, and birding is a $2.5 billion a year tourism industry. Arizona’s share of this money in is huge! Adding a constructed wetland filter to a backyard pond not only adds a truly “green” element in every sense of the word, but provides a safe oasis to native and migratory birds, whether in the open desert, on a golf course, or in someone’s back yard.
Would you like a side of a algae with that? Although there are people out there who find some aquatic plants appetizing, that's not where this is headed. Feed your roses and/or citrus trees with the algae that you pull out of your pond -- it's great mulch and rich in nutrients (not so sure about the taste). But you CAN feed yourself delicious organic food with an "Aquapondics" system! Never heard of Aquapondics?
Aquaponics or AquaponDics?
Aquapondics is a new term that we're using to describe a system that basically grows food hydroponically, but uses our pond techniques and technology to make it pretty. In other words, we're going to prove that form may follow function, but that function can certainly have form! Many people would love to have a hydroponics system, but they don't want to look at it, especially outside of their kitchen or living room window. Well, neither did we, to be honest, and our kitchen garden area is easily viewed from the main part of the house. But we DO want to grow organic food for our family.
Gardening in Phoenix is tough!
We've tried traditional gardening, but we live on a serious caliche bed, which makes it very difficult to grow pretty much anything that isn't native. We tried raised beds, but they have their own issues. And, well, we're kind of lazy gardeners, so that whole process didn't work out so well for us. It was just easier to hit the grocery store than weed the bloody garden (which gets expensive when buying "organic"). Or put up shade structures so the summer sun wouldn't fry it all. We noticed, however, that our aquatic plants thrived even in 120 degree weather because their feet were nice and comfy in cool flowing water. And since hydroponics has been an acceptable form of growing food for a long time, we thought: why not combine the two!
The Frog Gourmet
The food will be grown in two different ponds: one above-ground made out of wall block, and one dug in-ground, connected by a babbling brook. The food from pond number one, and the decorative stream, will be our vegetables and herbs, utilizing it as a constructed wetland filter for the entire system. The food from pond number two will be Tilapia, our protein source, and won't be a particularly decorative pond, but still not an eyesore. We're using our very small north side yard to demonstrate that feeding your family through hydroponics can be done in a small area, and yet still be attractive. Think of it as a twist on the Square Foot Gardening principles.
Water gardening and ponds have become popular trends in home yard design over the last few years. The backyard pond has become the favorite space outside the house for relaxing alone, with the family or entertaining friends. Similar to having a swimming pool in your backyard, there’s more to having a pond than simply digging a hole, filling it with water, dropping in a few fish and surrounding it with some greenery. Some basic pond maintenance is essential to the longevity of your water garden. Regular pond care and the installation of pond filtration systems will keep your backyard oasis thriving and beautiful for many years of enjoyment.
Pond maintenance can be low once you understand the basics. The main concept for maintaining a healthy pond is the understanding that caring for your pond requires managing animal and plant waste, such as fish excrement and the growth of algae. Rivers and streams naturally renew themselves with nutrients and fresh water; however, a man-made pond is considered a closed system. This means that nothing is organically added in or taken out by natural outside forces. For successful pond maintenance, manual intervention is necessary to take care of what nature isn’t and to keep the ecosystem of the pond in balance.
In a closed pond system, as opposed to an open, natural ecosystem, waste and algae needs to be equalized, and for this reason a proper biological and mechanical pond filtration system is needed. By caring for your pond, filtering out organic materials and not letting them break down and decay in the water, a healthy balance will be maintained in the pond. The best way to ensure a healthy pond is by installing a pond filtration system. A professional pond designer/builder will install a filtration system that is adequate for the size of the pond you have and add appropriate water plants to help with the filtration process.
Sprucing up a home's outdoor living areas has become very popular in places where the weather is temperate all year ‘round. Warm weather is conducive to outdoor parties, backyard dining and relaxing, or even getting work done out on the patio. Enhancing an outdoor space with an ecosystem pond or a disappearing pondless waterfall and/or stream for the home can turn an ordinary backyard into a serene oasis. Water is one of nature’s most calming elements, which is why people are generally searching for great water feature ideas to add serenity and beauty to their home. Being in a natural water setting heightens focus, lifts mood and soothes the body and mind. With unlimited design ideas for water features, there are surely many choices to complement any size space and personal style.
Designers, like the ones at Pond Gnome in Phoenix, are known for their distinctive outdoor masterpieces. Small or grand, size doesn’t matter when it comes to creating an at-home paradise. Every backyard retreat deserves to be personalized according to the homeowner’s own taste and desires. Water feature design ideas range from simple contained water fountains to small ponds to flowing streams fed by waterfalls. One of the most popular water feature design ideas is the Japanese water garden. A gently trickling stream is tranquil and soothing to the ears or a small still pond creates an even quieter place for peaceful contemplation. Staying with the Eastern tradition, an outdoor water garden should be accentuated with rocks and aquatic plants or even a small statuette or sculpture. These accents bring life and ambiance to an entire space.
Whatever type of water garden feature you choose, Japanese or otherwise, there are numerous plants and stones that work well along the edges of a pond, stream or waterfall. Garden pond plants as well as rocks, play an important role not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but from a functional one as well. To create the most natural environment, rocks, flora and fauna will add to creating the most organic look and feel. For details about these and other water feature design ideas, call 623-572-5607 today to speak with the professional waterscapers at The Pond Gnome.
We all know by now that an organic living water feature on your property benefits the local and migratory wildlife. We also know that it greatly enhances the enjoyment of your outdoor environment. And it's well-known that it tends to be the focal point of a garden.
Yes, Water Features DO Add Value to a Home!
Now, in addition to enjoyment, studies show that Phoenix ponds have measurable value! The garden/landscape/outdoor environment is the center of what is most likely your biggest asset: your home. According to Dr. Charlie Hall, Texas A&M University, landscaping is now the only home improvement project that actually nets you a return on your investment. You will receive a 9% increase in home value for well done landscaping expenditures! That's right, for every $1 you invest, you can expect a return on investment of around $3.1. That might be better that some stock market options right now. You also get curb appeal, a great outdoor living area, and you help improve the look of the entire neighborhood! Conversely, a poorly conceived, neglected garden can adversely affect your home value by as much as 8-10%.
How do I cash in on this added value?
If you don't already have a great living water feature, you might be interested to know that an upgrade of adding a Phoenix pond, waterfall, or stream to your outdoor environment can increase your home value by 10.8%. AND it's an investment that lasts! In fact, it gets even better as it matures -- like women and fine wine.
How can I get more proof?
Need more evidence? Check out what our customers have to say about theirs -- and feel free to contact them with your questions or concerns!
You can also check out some before and after pictures of Phoenix ponds, and/or disappearing pondless waterfalls and streams for ideas about improvements to your own garden.
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 problem with the waterfall. Or it could simply be a malfunctioning autofill device.
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 constantly, 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 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.
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.
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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!