Could Be to Simply Go Outside!
Stressed? Having trouble focusing at work? Can’t lose those stubborn 10 pounds? Ecotherapy (nature-based remedies designed to treat mental and physical health) is becoming increasingly popular for all kinds of ailments, as well as the solution to breaking those annoying bad habits. According to a Success Magazine article, 4 Ways to Spend More Time Outside, April 26, 2016, ecotherapy includes activities like hiking an outdoor trail, or simply soaking up some rays on a park bench. Just getting outside!
DC Park Rx, a community health initiative in Washington, D.C., explored the effects of “park prescriptions” as a preventive measure to help treat everything from obesity to ADHD. Since its inception in 2013, the initiative has seen very promising results in patient health, happiness, and recovery time. Although ecotherapy isn’t a quick or comprehensive fix-all, who can argue against the case for more fresh air?
I Work Full Time! What Can I Do TO GET OUTSIDE?
You can do a lot more than you think! For example:
The Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols is a fascinating study of the emotional, behavioral, psychological and physical connections that keep humans so enchanted with water. Nichols examines seas and oceans, lakes and rivers, swimming pools and ponds, and even the contents of our bathtubs in a study that is both highly readable and rooted in real research. He believes that just spending time next to and staring at water will rejuvenate and revitalize you. And wouldn’t it by handy to have that respite at home? You can see more on his YouTube Channel.
Having a living ecosystem pond, stream, or waterfall right in your very own back yard can facilitate your ecotherapy. Here are some issues and “bad habits” that can be treated in the convenience of your home.
Meditate. This doesn’t have to be a structured activity or complicated process. Just sit and stare at the moving water, or the fish swimming lazily in the pond, or the butterflies, hummingbirds, or dragonflies that visit your yard, and let your mind wander. After some time spent in quiet thought, you might be amazed at what pops into your head that solves an issue that’s been plaguing you.
Give your eyes (and brain) a break -- and a bit of “exercise.” Your eyes get accustomed to looking at those screens we tend to stare at up close all day long. So, exercise them by staring into the distance and watching nature. A living ecosystem water feature will give your eyes plenty to look at, and your brain a chance to relax and decompress.
The best way to stop more spending is to appreciate what you have. And there’s no better way to appreciate what you already have than spending time in the lovely outdoor space that you’ve created. You’ve already spent that money, now put it to good use.
Neglecting Loved Ones
Spend time together talking. There’s no better way to reconnect with loved ones than hanging out by a pond. Conversations start themselves. Children are engaged in something other than video games and TV. Some people have even said that we’ve saved their marriage because they sit down at the end of the day with their spouse and a cocktail and TALK instead of staring at the boob-tube.
Occupy your mind and hands by feeding your pond fish, or maybe even doing a little gardening in and around your water feature. This encourages a bit of movement in your life, too.
Take a healthy snack outside and share it with your fish. Feeding your fish treats like lettuce, watermelon, oranges, etc., will not only keep your water cleaner, but encourage you to eat healthier, too.
Breathe fresh air. Inhale deeply and spend time in the moment appreciating what it’s like to NOT inhale anything else. And, again, occupy your brain and hands with other tasks. Start by just delaying the activity, and work your way up to skipping one a day, then two a day, etc.
Stimulate a different kind of conversation. Talk about the fish, the plants, the birds, the butterflies, the dragonflies, the frogs. No curse words necessary under THOSE circumstances.
Do something else with your hands instead of biting your nails, scratching, picking, etc. Feeding your fish, or gardening your water feature, will give you something to occupy your hands besides any nervous habits you’ve established.
Multitasking, Overpromising, and Taking on Too Much
Take time to chill. You deserve to be a humanBEING instead of a humanDOING once in awhile.
We all have the power within us to control ourselves, our habits, and our happiness. Sometimes, you just need a change of environment. If you need to upgrade your outdoor environment with a home improvement that will cost you minutes of maintenance a week, and reward you with hours upon hours of enjoyment, let us know!
We Love our Wet Pets!
Pond owners love their colorful Koi. And they also tend to love their pond plants. Yet many people struggle to keep their Koi from making a feast of their favorite waterlilies. What’s a water gardener to do? No worries, it really is possible for Koi and aquatic plants to live in harmony in the same pond.
Stocking is Key
One of the keys to the plant-eating Koi dilemma is to make sure you have the correct Koi-stocking density for your water garden. Put too many Koi in a pond and they’ll compete for everything – especially food. Your ravaged waterlilies are simply evidence of hungry Koi!
A good general rule of thumb for Koi stocking is to have no more than one inch of fish per 10 gallons of water. For example, you can have 150 inches of fish in 1,500 gallons of water, which is about five Koi. Remember, when buying small fish, they’re going to get bigger! So, choose fish based on how large they’re going to grow. If you don’t provide Koi with enough room, you risk plant health, water clarity, and the fish will suffer from stressful living conditions.
Another key is to have the pond well planted with mature plants BEFORE adding large Koi to the mix. Start with small Koi, less than 3” in length, and they won’t have the strength to disrupt your aquatic plants. Not only will this save your plants, but the Koi will adapt to pond life much easier.
The final key is to make sure those aquatic plants are planted securely in the rock substrate of the pond. Once the plants are established with a good root system, the Koi may nibble and root around, but won’t be able to uproot them completely.
Understanding and Feeding Koi
Keep in mind that Koi are inquisitive fish and explore their surroundings with their mouths. If you catch them rooting around the base of your waterlilies, simply use larger rocks around the base of the plant so the fish can’t move them and destroy the planting.
If your Koi are well fed, they won’t eat many plants. Although they love dining on your favorite waterlily, they actually prefer Koi food. Given the choice between a pelleted food and green vegetation, they’ll opt for the taste and high-energy of a pelleted food. Feed your fish once or twice a day all they can gobble in about two minutes, and they’ll be satisfied enough to steer clear of your plants.
When choosing fish food, the pellet size should be close to the size of the fish’s pupil (the black part of the eye). Toss in a few pellets for starters to get them going, and then throw in more food over the course of approximately 2 minutes. Excess food is caught in the skimmer and will decay, which isn’t ideal for the water quality of your pond. This is why it’s preferably to toss in a few food pellets at a time, as opposed to a large handful.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
The truth is that aquatic plants and fish complement one another. Combining the two creates a healthier, cleaner pond that’s easier to maintain. Pond plants offer coverage from predators and our Arizona sun, reduce nitrates, and oxygenate the water during the day. Just remember not to overstock the pond and to feed your Koi a quality fish food on a regular basis. You’ll find that Koi and aquatic plants can live in peace and harmony, providing you with hours of water gardening enjoyment.
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
8 HEALTHY KOI SNACKS FOR SUMMER
WHAT PLANTS SHOULD I NOT PUT IN MY POND?
LANDSCAPE IDEAS: SMALL WATER FEATURES
Yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) is native to Arizona!
Yerba mansa is a fabulous plant to have in your living ecosystem Phoenix pond, waterfall, or stream. It's actually an Arizona native.
This plant displays showy white flowers which rise from a dense growth of dark green leaf clusters. The compact conic flower spike is very distinctive. Similar to the sunflower family, what appears to be a single bloom is really a dense cluster of individual small flowers when observed closely.
In nature, Yerba mansa is found in wet, usually alkaline, soils along streams and in wet meadows, often growing in large colonies, typically from 1,000-6,000 ft elevations.
Yerba typically flowers April-October.
Yerba mansa is well known for its medicinal uses, including external use on sores and burns, as disinfectant for cuts and scrapes, and as a wash for sore feet and muscles. It’s also used internally for stomach ulcers, colds, coughs, menstrual cramps, diabetes, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and syphilis. It's been used as a laxative and an emetic, and the seeds are made into mush and eaten by Native Americans. It’s quite versatile!
The only caveat to cultivating Yerba mansa in your back yard pond or water feature is that you’ll have to keep it under control. It reproduces rapidly via red runners (rhizomes) that shoot out across the ground and the water, and can be quite prolific in the warmer months. It’s easy to thin, though, by just yanking some out, and having a serious talk with it about slowing it’s roll.
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
HOW DO I CLEAN MY POND?
CONTROLLING PLANTS IN YOUR POND
10 POND PLANTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT!
Make sure the fish know you’re ready to feed them before you toss the peas into the pond. Peas sink fast and you don’t want uneaten peas polluting your pond. Some experts say the skins are hard to digest but peeling peas can be a tedious task. To make it easy, peel partially frozen peas. Give them a little squeeze and the pea pops right out of the skin and into the pond! Koi seem to really love them – as long as they know they’re there.
You might be thinking it’s cannibalistic for Koi to eat sardines. However, they’re actually a healthy Koi snack to serve in the summer. Thawed, chopped, frozen sardines are from salt water, which means they’re less likely to carry parasites applicable to Koi. However, feed in moderation.
Big fish will take mandarin orange segments right out of your hand! It’s a great party trick to impress your friends and family. Larger seedless oranges can be cut into quarters and fed to the fish, as well.
What child wouldn’t love to share some of their cereal with pond fish? Cheerios are low residue and low nitrogen. We’ve found that Koi tend to prefer Honey Nut Cheerios.
Okay, so you probably don’t serve worms at your dinner table, but nevertheless your Koi will enjoy earthworms, Georgia reds, night crawlers, pinks, and others. Fresh, active earthworms are well accepted and safe, and when the first Koi takes a bite, the rest will quickly catch on.
Nutritionally invisible, but perhaps the least messy of greens for the fish to munch on. Don’t bother with iceberg lettuce. Get the darkest romaine you can find and cut it into six-inch long thin strips.
Koi like watermelon, but not as much as grapefruit. It doesn’t supply a lot of nutrition so keep this snack to a minimum.
What Kind of Pond Maintenance Do You Want to Do?
Most people are resigned to the maintenance that a lawn requires: watering, mowing, edging, fertilizing, dethatching, etc. It’s the urban version of slavery, if you ask us, but that’s another subject for another blog.
So, are you the type of person that would enjoy messing around with and adjusting things daily on your pond? Or are you the person who wants to come home from work, pop a top, and just chill next to your water feature? This is really the first question you need to ask yourself when deciding what kind of pond or water feature you want in your yard – exactly what kind of maintenance do you want to do?
“I like fiddling around with my water chemistry and adjusting my filters daily. I don’t mind back-washing often, or the need to drain & clean more than once a year. I enjoy the challenge and that part of the hobby.” Then you will be completely comfortable with many of the products on the market! Most high-pressure filtration systems need constant checking, adjustment, back-washing, etc. And playing with water chemistry can be a daily task. This is not a bad thing – many people do enjoy that. But The Pond Gnome doesn’t build those kinds of ponds, so you’ll need to find a contractor that’s a better fit for your hobby.
“I just want to come home at the end of a long day, kick off my shoes, grab a cocktail, and put my feet up. I want to have crystal clear water so I can see my fish dancing in the water. I also want to see beautiful lush aquatic plants and watch dragonflies flitting around my yard. Maybe even hear the occasional frog croak.” Then you want a low maintenance ecosystem pond or water feature with filtration that mostly takes care of itself and works with Mother Nature’s formula. This maintenance will cost you about 10 minutes of your precious time per week, and reward you with hours upon hours of enjoyment.
Here’s a short (fairly short) rant by the Arizona Pond Guy that speaks to this subject:
OTHER ARTICLES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
HEALTHY POND FILTRATION
SIX PONDS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
EXPECTATIONS OF AN ECOSYSTEM POND