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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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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Paul and I just started taking dance lessons a few months ago. We started out as complete bungling idiots, self-conscious and absolutely off-beat. We're now at least stepping to the rhythm and not on each other.
Last week, our instructor sat us down to chat about what exactly we're getting out of it, and what we hope to get out of it. She was, of course, setting us up for buying the next round of lessons. However, this discussion ended up being quite enlightening -- and produced some unexpected results.
There were the usual benefits. We're spending time together away from the business. We're learning something we can use at all kinds of social events. We're getting exercise. It's good for our mental health. It improves memory. It reduces stress. You know, all the logical benefits that you hear about from health professionals and dance instructors.
Then there were a couple of surprises that came out of our mouths, totally unbidden. We were spending time focusing on each other and on the task at hand, and not on discussing or thinking about our business (sorry, clients). In addition, I was enjoying having Paul lead for a change, and getting to spend 40 minutes not having to make any decisions. Paul was enjoying me just following him, and not trying to tell him what to do next (apparently, I can be a bit of a slave-driver and am an anti-procrastinator). But our roles were reversed there in the dance studio for just a little while. It's called balance! Who knew?
As we sat by our back yard pond later that evening with a cold drink (shameless plug) talking about the discussion we'd had with our dance coach, it dawned on us that our ponds and water features provide balance for our clients. Especially people who work in tech jobs, office cubicles, and any other high-pressure or stressful scenario. The ponds and water features are nature-based and low-tech. AND if people have a maintenance contract with us, they are completely no-worry and no maintenance. Folks just get to come home and decompress at the end of their work day and/or the weekends. Gee, we're kinda proud of that. :-)
So, what are you doing to provide balance in your life?
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!
Did you know that there are 950,000 species of insects? And that most of those are beneficial to our environment or food for other beneficial critters? Most people are really only trying to kill about 10 unwanted insects in their yard. When you take that into account, does it really make sense to broadcast poison over your entire property? And if you have beloved pets, that can be a serious issue! Let’s take a look at another option for the common “pest.”
This little blood-sucker is probably the most despised pest on the list. It’s been known to carry all kinds of diseases, and many people have a very bad reaction to the anti-clotting agent that they introduce when they bite. Would it surprise you to learn that a single dragonfly can eat its own body weight of these insects in just 30 minutes? Damselflies, too. And where would you find such great allies for your outdoor environment? Hanging out around a living water feature (pond, waterfall, stream), of course! Many biologists agree that a well-built ecosystem pond is actually the cure for the West Nile Virus!
In the Far East, it’s considered good luck to have a cricket in your house, and very bad luck to kill one, even by accident. But here in the States, we don’t really adhere to that superstition. So, what do we do about those? Well, frogs and toads LOVE crickets. And where can you find those? Hanging out around a living water feature (pond), of course!
Yikes! No one likes these guys around the house! Even our cat isn’t real fond of them. But scorpions are actually pretty resistant to the common pest controls out there, despite advertising claims to the contrary. So, what now? Believe it or not: frogs and toads. And where can you find those? Hanging out around a living water feature (pond), of course! Are you sensing a theme yet?
That covers the three top hated insects. There are others, but they can all be hunted and eaten by cool critters that will live around your yard happily if you have the right environment for them (pond, waterfall, stream, etc.).
Here are some great resources to learn more about integrated pest management:
For more general information on insects in Arizona:
Insects of the Southwest by Floyd Werner, Phh.D. & Carl Olson, M.S.
Draongflies & Damselflies of the Southwest by Robert A. Behrstock
Looking to spruce up your yard in 2017? When planning your landscape ideas and options, consider a new water feature! Fountains and container water gardens are the perfect way to add a splash of water to your landscape. Affordable and easy to install, you’ll find a variety of water features to give your outdoor living space a unique look.
Miniature water gardens, also known as Patio Ponds, are becoming increasingly popular on patios and decks. These small-scaled ponds provide the opportunity to enjoy beautiful waterlilies in a variety of colors. You can even add small goldfish.
Refreshing fountains are popping up in yards all over the country as more homeowners look for unique ways to improve the curb appeal of their house. An underground reservoir holds the pump and water that recirculates through the fountain. You'll find a variety of fountain styles to suit your taste and budget.
The Stacked Slate Urn fountain does double-duty. Not only does it provide visual appeal during the day, but night lighting gives it a magical mysterious look.
A trio of stone fountains amidst the desert-friendly landscape welcomes visitors to this suburban home, adding to the home's value with increased curb appeal.
Birds and butterflies visit outdoor fountains to enjoy a refreshing splash or nourishing drink.
Fountains make a great accent piece for any area of your garden. This grouping of spillway bowls is part of a living fountain system. Who wouldn't enjoy coming home to this beautiful scene?
You can turn any garden container into a fountain. You only need to add the plumbing, reservoir, and pump. Your fountain becomes the crowning touch to any corner of your landscape.
One of the fastest-growing trends in outdoor living features is the combination of fire and water. The Fire Fountain creates a soft, pleasing sound of water as it flows over and around the pebbles. Fire adds a surprising element that looks great at night, too.
Whatever you choose, you're sure to enjoy the beauty and refreshment that a small water feature adds to your outdoor living spaces!
There's 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
Curl up with a Good Brook!
Who doesn't love to hang out next to a babbling brook? It's such a soothing and relaxing sound! Sometimes, a waterfall is just too much sound if you have a quiet little yard. And maybe you don't want a pond for whatever reason. A re-circulating disappearing pondless stream is a great landscape idea!
Backyard Design Ideas for Streams
Streams are SO versatile! Here is just a small list of benefits to landscape ideas for streams to "wet" your appetite:
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For more great backyard landscape ideas, check out our friends at Planted Well!
Did You Know These Facts About Koi Fish?
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The Pond Gnome designs & builds award-winning living water features for the desert Southwest. Invite a little magic into your garden!
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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There are bugs around my Phoenix pond!
Every living thing is attracted to water – including bugs. According to the University of Arizona, there are more than 13,000 identified species of insects in Arizona alone. Don’t worry, only about 8 of those species are problems that people try to control with chemical applications. Surprised? For more information, check out an interesting and fun read titled Insects of the Southwest by Werner/Olson.
Will my Phoenix pond draw mosquitoes?
Yes. And no. Yes, mosquitoes are attracted to any water source. However, most biologists agree that a well-built organic water garden is the cure for the West Nile Virus. Hungry fish will devour any insect that lands on the water. Even bees have to watch their P’s and Q’s. Just make sure that you don’t have anything else around your property that’s holding water where they could breed.
What can I do about the bugs around my Phoenix pond?
We recommend organic remedies, such as integrated pest management (IPM): good guys to eat the bad guys. Hummingbirds, flycatchers, western toads, dragonflies, and damselflies will automatically show up to most water features to help out with pest problems. If you have a pond, you can add mosquito eating minnows to take care of that annoyance. Pesticide chemicals do not discriminate between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.” They kill everything.
For more information on integrated pest management, you can contact the Master Gardeners at 602-470-8086.
Can I use a pesticide around my Phoenix pond?
If you must use an herbicide or pesticide, make sure there is no wind and that your application is accurate. We DO NOT recommend you spray any chemical herbicide or pesticide within 50 feet of your pond or water feature. Inform your service, if you have one, of this requirement. Yes, it’s true that the poison is harmless once dry; however, it will never dry out if it hits the pond water, and can cause catastrophic results.
What's the Process for Adding Fish to my Phoenix Pond?
The number one killer of pond fish is stress. This makes the acclimation process (adding fish to your pond) one of the most important moments in your fishie’s life. Each time a fish is captured, transported, and released, it's a stressful event for that fish – how stressful is in the hands of the “handler” – literally. Three things contribute to stress levels in you new fish:
Where Can I Get Fish for my Phoenix Pond?
If you're interested in getting show-quality Koi, there are many sources that you can research on the internet, and find the best pricing and methodology that meshes with your beliefs, wants, and needs. If you're simply interested in some cool pets, we recommend the local pet store. Buying small is less expensive, and they acclimate to the pond environment much more easily.
Gambusia (Mosquito Minnows):
Gambusia should be acclimated in the same manner as described above. Pet stores will often carry them, but you’ll need to call around. Many cities, towns, and counties will give them away as vector control. For example:
Maricopa County Vector Control (free source)
3343 W. Durango
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In our humble opinion, a backyard pond, waterfall, and/or stream is essential to include in a healing garden. It must, however, be well-built, sustainable, and easy to maintain, or it will have the exact opposite effect. Healing gardens, like Liberty gardens, are making a comeback. In our hectic techno-filled daily life, we humans need a little breather. And there’s no better relief from high tech than a little low tech.
Studies show that nearly all visitors to a healing garden feel a significant positive change of mood during and after their visit, contributing to their overall well-being. Nature is referred to as a ‘positive distraction’ by Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., Texas A&M University. We couldn’t agree more! We hear from clients often that their backyard pond "feeds the soul."
With a backyard pond, the action of a waterfall represents life; as the water falls down to the calm surface of the pond, you feel and see the serenity of the backyard pond. Add goldfish & Koi, and the mere observance of their slow, graceful movements will slow you down, too.
What is a Healing Garden?
A healing garden is a place to meditate, alleviate stress, and promote natural healing. It is an outdoor garden space that has been specifically designed to meet the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of the people using the garden, as well as their caregivers, family members, and friends.
Healing gardens can be found in a variety of settings, including hospitals, skilled nursing homes, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities, out-patient cancer centers, hospice residences, and other related healthcare and residential environments.
The focus of the gardens is primarily on incorporating plants and friendly wildlife into the space. The settings can be designed to include active uses such as raised planters for horticultural therapy activities, or programmed for passive uses such as quiet private sitting areas next to a backyard pond with a trickling waterfall or babbling brook.
What are the Essential Elements of a Healing Garden?
The bottom line is that a healing garden should center around YOU. What do YOU like? What colors, sights, and sounds evoke a feeling of wellbeing for YOU?
The majority of elements in a healing garden should be plant related, such as perennials that attract hummingbirds, shrubs that attract butterflies, and a backyard pond for goldfish and Koi. Plants in the healing garden need to be non-toxic and non-injurious. Issues related to sustainability of the garden, such as using native plants and rainwater harvesting, should also be considered in the overall design. Attracting nature, such as butterflies, hummingbirds, and native and migratory birds into the healing garden, is important. Believe it or not, a backyard pond can incorporate all of these elements. Talk about multi-tasking!
Other considerations include providing ample shade, movable furniture, smooth and level walking surfaces, and year-round interest. Consideration should also be given to maintenance and upkeep of the healing garden, as safety is an important consideration.
Who Benefits from a Healing Garden?
Hospitals have used natural landscaping, gardens, and fresh air as components of healing for centuries. The healing garden at St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, WA, for example, was created to continue with this tradition and provide patients, visitors, and staff with a place of healing and peace. It represents the hospital's dedication to healing mind, body and spirit of its patients and to offer a comforting backdrop for them, as well as visitors.
Here in town, we installed a backyard pond at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in 2006 thanks to a generous donor who appreciated the hospital’s treatment of their child. This particular healing garden is in the PICU ward, and outside visitors are severely restricted for security purposes. The children, doctors, and staff enjoy it every day, though.
How Can I Get my Own Healing Garden?
Your entire landscape can be a healing garden, if you so desire. On the other hand, you can divide your space up: a place for entertaining, a place for the children to play, a place for relaxing, etc. Make a list of colors, sights, and sounds that you find relaxing. You can even tear out pictures from magazines that evoke this feeling and study them to decipher what about it, specifically, that you like. Then contact us to plan and install the backyard pond portion of the area!
Healing Garden by The Pond Stars:
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Backyard living is at an all-time high in popularity. It seems that, in our high-tech society, everyone wants to get ‘outside’ and enjoy the simpler low-tech pleasures. Nothing is better than sitting in a backyard by a water garden and watching the birds and butterflies at play. Many different types of birds visit our water garden and stream on any given day, and in the summertime the butterflies abound! They eat, play, nest and bathe… and in the process we (and all of our neighbors who walk by our front-yard stream) get to enjoy the gifts of nature.
Living & Working With Mother Nature in a Phoenix Pond
Like ALL living things, these beneficial creatures need certain basic things to live and prosper: food, organic healthy water, shelter, and places to raise young. If you provide these things, you will see your new friends moving in almost overnight.
Want to increase the number of birds and butterflies in your landscape? Here are some brief hints:
Plant some native trees, shrubs and flowers. Using the right plants will provide places for shelter, nesting and food & will add beauty to your landscape. The great thing is, many of the plants that shelter and feed the birds and butterflies are native plants. Most of these natives are long-lived, drought hardy, and insect and disease resistant. For more information on exactly what plants to choose, contact the Arizona Master Gardners if you’re planning to do it yourself, or Harper’s Nursery for a professional design.
Put in a water garden. We must ALL have water to live. Your water feature can be as simple as a bird bath (which needs to be cleaned daily for health reasons) or as large as a custom re-circulating waterfall, water garden or rainwater harvesting feature. The main thing to remember is that birds like shallow water for bathing and drinking (2″ to 4″) butterflies like a “seep” (wet rock or ground). Think about your overall landscape design and get some water in the mix! As a bonus, your kids/grandkids will really engage with a water garden. For more information on water gardens, START HERE.
Put up some feeders. Putting up a few feeders will almost immediately draw in some new visitors. Platform feeders are great for black oil sunflower seeds, fruit, bread, nuts, and more -- remember to clean and replenish them often. Tube feeders and socks are perfect for black thistle (a Finch favorite). A large hopper-type feeder is great for general feeding and can be filled every few days with an inexpensive song bird mix. Suet feeders can be hung or mounted almost anywhere. AND don’t forget the Hummingbirds! There are even Butterfly feeders that you can put nectar and fresh fruit in to attract and feed butterflies. Spread your feeders out a bit around your outdoor living/viewing area. It will give you multiple viewing opportunities and it will give the birds a bit of room to move around.
Put up some bird and butterfly houses. Some birds require housing to get their attention! Some birds are particular on the placement, color, and construction of these houses, so do some research on the birds in your area and what they like/need. If you get it right, you will be blessed with some AWESOME birds that will eat their weight in insects and thrill you daily with their beauty and grace. And don’t forget the Butterflies! A butterfly house makes for a fun conversation piece and is a really unique addition to your garden.
Want to help the environment and make your little critters healthier and happier? Think organic! Pesticides and other garden chemicals are VERY harmful to birds and beneficial Insects! It’s not easy being green, BUT it’s not that hard either. Try to use organic alternatives like neem oil, insecticidal soap, dormant oil and non-chemical fertilizers (or, better yet, compost). You will notice a difference in the quality of your garden AND in the quality of your life! An organic, living water garden will naturally attract beneficial creatures to your yard for integrated pest management.
You Can Do It!
Enjoying the abundance of nature is awesome and it’s not all that difficult. In fact, if you do some of these things, you will see an immediate increase in the number of birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects (like dragonflies and damselflies) in your landscape. These beneficial creatures will make your flowers more beautiful, your vegetables more productive, and your life more abundant!
Cool Backyard Ponds are Hot in Phoenix AS LANDSCAPE IDEAS
The 2014 Garden Trends Report by Garden Media Group shows a strong upsurge in the popularity of outdoor living. People are focused not on moving to a larger house or onto a bigger property, but expanding their current living space by taking the indoors outdoors while not increasing their overhead. And backyard ponds, waterfalls, and streams, are some of the hottest items to include in the new outdoor rooms and living spaces. Aside from adding a cooling effect without the high maintenance of keeping up an impressive lawn, why do you suppose that is? Let’s explore…
Water Attracts -- Everyone
When you’re driving down the highway or the interstate and you look over and spot a body of water, whether it’s a creek, a river, a lake, or a pond, doesn’t that immediately grab your attention? That principle also holds true of backyard ponds, and that's one reason why they're such a hot backyard landscape idea. When you have family and friends over for an outdoor gathering, just guess where they’re inevitably going to gravitate and congregate. Children and adults alike are mesmerized by the life and interest in a well-built, living backyard pond. And if you’re a wildlife freak (like we are), your backyard pond will attract the most amazing birds and critters – it’s like living in a reverse terrarium!
Cacooning & Stay-cationing Trends
There’s also a trend called “cocooning,” which describes the modern family’s tendency to appreciate things closer to home, instead of having to jump on airplanes and go to exotic lands. You may have also heard it called “stay-cationing.” Why fly over 10 hours (from Arizona) to Jamaica, when you can bring Jamaica into your own backyard and keep it to yourself all year long? There’s a reason why people call living with a backyard pond a paradise, and creating that paradise that you can enjoy for many years is quite a savings. What other landscape idea does that for you?
Sounds of Tranquility
When you add a backyard pond with waterfalls and a stream, as many people do, you’re adding the sounds of tranquility, peacefulness, and relaxation. The whole experience is so comforting, so soothing. When the modern, 21st Century worker comes home after a hard day on the job, usually being surrounded by the constant buzz of voices technology, they’re often stressed out, agitated, and frustrated. They’re also often working away in an environment that requires more production for similar, or even less pay, and the day begins and ends in a traffic jam. Under those circumstances, do you think that a dose of naturalistic tranquility, peacefulness, and relaxation may be a welcome antidote to the workplace? Some even call it intoxicating, and one of our clients even said that it “feeds the soul.” Imagine coming home at the end of your techno-crazy day, kicking off your shoes, grabbing the beverage of your choice, and decompressing for a half hour next to a rolling waterfall, a babbling brook, and/or a backyard pond filled with aquatic life. Think you’d be a better spouse, parent, partner, etc., afterwards?
A Good Investment
Last but not least, in an era of investment instability and ever-dwindling ROIs, there’s hardly a better and more predictable place to put your discretionary funds than in real estate. And as long as you’re going to invest in real estate, why not make it your own home! Many studies confirm that an investment in landscaping is one of the best and most cost effective ways to increase the value of your home, and the property’s saleability. And since backyard ponds are one of the hottest landscaping ideas on the market, it’s easy to contend that investing in a beautiful, low maintenance, living water feature will pay large dividends when it comes to your home equity. And it’s a true treasure to enjoy in the meantime!
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.
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.
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.
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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!