Is there anything that lasts a lifetime anymore? It seems that everything either wears out or needs replacing or upgrading within a few short years, especially if technology is involved. So, with technology increasing exponentially, do things just need updating/upgrading faster because of it? Or are things being made cheaper nowadays? Or are we being trained as consumers to expect things to have to be replaced more often?
Our grandparents had ONE refrigerator that lasted them their entire life. Now, we have to buy new appliances every 10 years, it seems. The more gadgets involved (ice maker, water dispenser, built-in screen), the more things that can go wrong. Is it the appliance, or have we gotten lazy about maintenance?
We’re told that computers shouldn’t be expected to have more than a 2-5 year lifespan. So, as soon as we have a bit of an issue, we immediately check the purchase date. “Oh, yep, it’s over two (or three; or five) years old. Guess I have to go buy a new one.” The over-the-counter ones are sealed units – can’t replace parts, just dispose of the whole thing.
Rarely do you meet someone who has kept and drive just one car for their entire life. Cars are all computerized nowadays. The GPS systems need upgrades and downloads. You can’t just pop the hood on a newer vehicle and adjust the carburetor because it’s running too thin or too rich. It needs to be hooked up to another computer to tell you what to do. Tires, of course, need replacing every 40,000 miles or so, and many of the newer vehicles have some pretty pricey replacement requirements!
TVs are getting better and “smarter” all the time. We just replaced our 12-year-old one with a new “smart TV.” As a result, we were able to get rid of a bunch of peripherals, too, because this new TV did it all “in-house,” so to speak. Well, that certainly cleaned up the look of the living room. There really wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the old TV, but we thought we should “upgrade” because it was getting “old.” I guess we fell victim to that consumer training thing...
Ponds & Water Features
So, how’s your pond doing? It is not a maintenance-FREE item, nor is it the one thing in life where upgrades/updates don’t need to be made throughout its lifetime. If nothing else is expected to last forever, how could a pond or water feature be expected to do so when it’s outside in the elements?
If you have a rigid water feature system, like concrete, you’re probably going to notice some cracking and leaking around the 10-year mark or so. We don’t freeze and thaw much in Phoenix, but our ground still moves a bit, and that causes rigid things to crack because they don’t exactly go with the flow. Unfortunately, patches to these systems are very temporary, if effective at all, and most are pretty ugly. If you’re having this problem, you might want to consider remodeling or replacing it with something that lasts a bit longer.
If you have a pre-formed tub that’s having leak problems, there is no patch or fix. You’ll need to replace it with another one, if you can find that exact size and shape again. Or consider replacing it with an upgrade.
We began installing flexible ecosystem ponds and water features 20 years ago. The vast majority are still up and running and the owners are happy campers. However, we’ve had some upgrades/updates over the years. Some time ago, we had to do hardware change-outs from the metal scews that came with the system to stainless steel because the old hardware disintegrated after many years in our Arizona hard water (electrolysis). Plant roots have wreaked a bit of havoc over the years: sides of skimmers have been crushed or warped inward; root balls have grown inside plumbing where a tiny hairline crack allowed entry; roots have snuck into the water features themselves and caused major leaks.
It’s safe to say that ponds need a bit of upgrading occasionally, too. Even water feature “technology” is making leaps forward. For example, the skimmers that we’ve been installing for the past few years were huge upgrades from the old style: the new ones have debris baskets with a convenient handle, rather than a cumbersome net. The newest Signature Pro-Series Biofalls® is designed to be stronger and easier to service and grow plants in than its predecessor.
A couple of new things coming this next year are lights and pumps that can be controlled from your phone. Oooh, ahhh!
Stay tuned for more information. If you’re not on our mailing list, you might want to subscribe to stay abreast of cool new things coming along in the industry.
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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THE SECRET TO A LOW MAINTENANCE POND
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:
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
WHAT KIND OF POND MAINTENANCE DO I WANT TO DO?
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LANDSCAPE IDEAS: SMALL SPACE WATER FEATURES
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:
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