11 Tips Before Building a Backyard Water Garden or Backyard Pond

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From The Pond Warehouse who has over 13 years of experience in ponds and water gardens, building and owning a pond, water garden or pond-less waterfall can be an awesome and rewarding experience to enjoy. The Pond Warehouse strongly suggest you think through this list of 11 Tips before beginning your backyard water garden or back yard pond project.

1. Pick an area in your yard that you can make a pond or water feature look natural, preferably not a low area in the yard.  Low spots gather rain runoff which can be full of nutrients. Nutrients cause algae blooms and can turn a pond green fast.

2. Do not build your pond too close to a tree.  This can damage a trees roots and possibly kill the tree.  That is something you do not want to deal with at a later date.

3. Do not build a pond in direct sunlight.  This will cause pond algae problems.  We recommend no more than 4 hours of direct sunlight.  Plants will grow perfectly fine in shaded pond. In shaded areas of your pond, simply use slow release aquatic fertilizer tablets a couple times a year. You can find good Aquatic Plant Fertilizer at The Pond Warehouse. Also, consider using pond plant baskets containers, such as a Round Aquatic Plant Basket. Planting in containers makes it easier to move, divide, trim and maintain unwanted spreading of plants!

4. Make sure there is plenty of room for landscaping around your backyard pond.  This will add beauty and help the pond look natural even in the flattest of yards.

5. To layout the shape of your pond, we recommend using a cord, rope or garden hose. You can continue to change the outline in your yard and play with it until you get the pond shape you are happy with.

6. Keep pictures and make notes of the things you like and incorporate them into your water garden pond.  Take into consideration water flow.  Do you want a gentle waterfall or more a gushing look?

7. You should decide what you plan to do with your backyard pond or backyard water feature? Do you want fish and plants in it or not. A pond with fish and plants requires different design considerations and treatment than a pond without fish and plants.

8. Make sure you check with you local county or township codes regarding any restrictions regarding building your pond, such as pond depth.

9. Placement of the pond waterfall is important. It is best to place the pond waterfall at the back of the pond.  This way you can see it and hear it from your view point. There are many items that go into building a pond waterfall, so to make things less complicated The Pond Warehouse has different pond waterfall kits based on stream length and width. We even provide a suggestions on how to build a waterfall for those that want a beautiful waterfall but no pond so make sure you check out The Pond Warehouse.

10. Proper filtration is a must.  We recommend putting all the water in the pond through a filter every hour.  This means if you have a 2000 gallon pond then you need a pump that will move 2000 GPH (33 GPM) such as the EasyPro 2200 GPH Mag Drive Pump.  You also need a filter that can handle 2000 GPH, such as the EasyPro 2500 Gallon Pressurized Filter with UV or EasyPro AquaFalls biological filter.

11. Once you are ready to build your own dream water garden we strongly recommend you speak with an expert as pond design is critical so that everything works properly. If you do not know an expert in your area please feel free to contact The Pond Warehouse at 877-268-6186 for pond assistance. Also we can share with you exactly what to do in treating your pond with bacteria and water treatment so that you have a healthy, trouble free, beautiful pond that you can enjoy.

The Pond Warehouse has over 13 years of experience in ponds and water gardens. We can help you with all of your pond supply needs. We pride ourselves on delighting you – our customer by providing the pond expertise, highest quality pond products and top notch customer service all at the best value.

Thanks, The Pond Warehouse 1-877-268-6186

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Koi Pond & Waterfall: Top 21 Most Asked Questions Answered

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Q  What is the ideal depth for a koi pond?

A  In my experience of over 25 years, 4 to 5 feet is ideal. You need a minimum of 3 feet for koi fish for several reasons. Safety for fish from wading cranes they can not wade in 3 feet of water. Plus the water temperature in shallow ponds fluctuates too much with the changes in ambient temperature. The greater the volume of water, the longer it takes for the temperature to change. Warm water or fluctuating temperatures are unhealthy for fish.

Q  What is the ideal size for a pond?

A  The ideal size would be determined by the size of your yard. Its size should be proportional to the size of the yard. Also, the larger the pond, the greater the maintenance.

Q  What is your opinion on using a liner to construct a pond rather than using a hard molded or concrete one.

A  My recommendation is and always has been to use concrete. However, if you are on a tight budget or do not plan on living there for an extended period time, a liner would be recommended. In this case, you would have to add a thin layer of mortar between the liner and soil to prevent tree roots, ground squirrels, rats, mice, gophers or chipmunks from compromising the liner. The hard molded, preformed plastic ponds become brittle from the sun’s UV rays in just a couple of years. No good!

Q  What type of pond filter do you recommend?

A  That cannot be answered simply because many factors are involved. Do you have an existing pond with a submersible pump or above-ground pump? What’s the volume of the pond? Do you have fish, and if so, how many? What size plumbing pipe is being used? This is so involved, I have devoted an entire chapter in my construction manual to the subject. I have an 8000 gallon pond with above-ground pump and I use a pressurized biological bead filter. It takes 2 minutes to back flush with the turn of a handle and keeps my pond crystal clear.

Q  I have tons of algae hanging from the rocks in my falls and growing in clumps in my hand. What can I do to get rid of it?

A  When the first Polynesians settled in Hawaii between 300 and 600 AD, they were probably very annoyed by the aggressive, wild, pervasive taro plant, just like you are your algae. They tried to chop it down, burn it, stomp it, but to no avail. It just came back, so they eat it, and still do to this day. In fact, it’s a staple like peanut butter is to some Americans. Just kidding! However, if you told me it was watercress I would suggest eating it. Many pond stores will try to sell you a very expensive algaecide to solve your problem, but all you need to do is increase the salt content of your water. Some experts recommend one pound of rock salt to every 100 gallons of water. This will not hurt your fish; in fact, it will help to produce a healthy shine coat. However, it will harm most of your plants if you apply that dose all at once. Plus the dead and decaying algae will deplete the oxygen and this will harm your fish. Apply it slowly over a week or two, and be patient. It takes longer to kill it this way, but your fish will appreciate it! This topic is also a chapter in my construction manual.

Q  Should I keep salt in my pond on a regular basis?

A  If you maintain a specific gravity of 1.000, your fish will be less susceptible to ulcer and fin rot. And you will keep the algae from getting out of control.

Q  I am considering building a waterfall between my house and my neighbor’s against the fence. Will the sound of the falls annoy them if I let it run 24 hours a day?

A  The sound generated by a waterfall is called white noise, which is very relaxing and soothing, not annoying. I have several hundred clients who leave their falls running 24/7 and none have ever had a neighbor complain. In fact, they all appreciate the fact that they did not have to spend the money to enjoy the sound.

Q  How many koi fish can I put in my pond?

A  The amount could range from 150 to 250 gallons per fish. If you are starting out with small 6″ to 8″ long koi, they can reach 2 feet in three years, depending on how much food and how often you feed them. They could even grow to over 3 feet long! The overcrowding of fish produces stress and a lot of waste material. It can reduce the health of the fish and result in various diseases. Also, a less crowded pond is more pleasant to look at.

Q  Do I really need a filter in my pond?

A  Not in every case. If your pond is small and you have any guppies or mosquito fish and adequate water plants covering 1/3 to ´ of your pond, your pond will clean itself by means of the nitrogen cycle. The biological aspects of pond chemistry is well covered in my waterfall and construction manual.

Q  How long do koi fish live?

A  The average life span of koi in Japan is 70 years. Some have been known to live to 100 or more, such as the legendary Hanako, alleged to have lived for over 200 years. Unlike the amazing results of the meticulous care the Japanese give their koi, American koi live a fraction of that time, usually due to neglect and lack of care or proper environment.

Q  How can I protect my koi against predators?

A  Unfortunately, most people that come to me are frustrated people who already have a pond or a rather poorly planned pond. If your pond is shallow, less than 3 feet, or has a shallow end, the raccoons, coyotes, cranes, egrets, etc. have easy access to your fish. You may think your fish are safe because you have a deep end for the fish to retreat to. Well, you and your fish are dead wrong. A crane will stand perfectly still for 10 to 20 minutes waiting for the koi to forget he is there. Some will regurgitate chum into the deep pond, luring the fish to the surface. Your only solution is a net, or try the crane statue, scarecrow, or high-frequency sound emitters for smaller animals. However, one of my clients watched a crane land next to his crane statue. While the scarecrow was pelting him with a stream of water, it snatched up one of their prize koi.

A critter-proof pond is over 3 feet everywhere and has a raised deck 13″ minimum over the water surrounding the pond. Raccoons cannot swim and catch fish at the same time, and they or the birds will not be able to reach the water.

Q  I would like to have a koi pond but I live in Michigan and every year ponds and lakes freeze over. Will they survive?

A There are fish in those lakes you are talking about: blue gill, bass, sunfish, carp, and they all survive. And guess what? Koi are in the carp family. Koi were originally raised for food in Japan. They would grow rice in the summer and then flood the rice patties and raise koi in the winter, cutting holes in the ice to catch them for food. However, your pond must be 4 ´ to 6 feet deep to ensure the water stays about 40 o the bottom. Turn off the waterfall and bottom drain, draw water from the skimmer to keep the bottom still. Place swimming pool solar blankets over the surface. If your pond is deep enough, you can let it freeze over. However, you need to install a horse tank heater to keep a hole open in the ice to allow any ammonia gas from rotting debris on the bottom to escape. If your pond is less than 4 ´ feet deep, take the koi indoors for the winter and place them in a garage or basement tank.

Q  Can I keep koi and goldfish together?

A Yes, you can. They are both cold water fish and members of the carp family. Most other cold water fish can also swim together, such as shubunkins, rudd, orfe, blue gill, mosquito fish, guppies, sunfish, bass, etc. However, only in deeper ponds where the mean temperature is 65 degrees or less on the bottom for bass, sunfish and blue gill.

Q  Should my pond have a bottom drain?

A  First of all, a bottom drain is essential for a healthy pond. However, if it is exposed and the suction is strong enough, turtles or fish can get stuck to it and not be able to get loose. Therefore, two drains should be hooked in series to relieve the pressure between them, just as in a swimming pool. Bottom drains draw falling waste from the fish before it reaches the bottom, keeping it clean. Areas where it does build up can be swept to the drains for easy cleaning. If you are using a submersible pump or pulling the water from a skimmer, water is not circulating properly on the bottom of the pond. That is where rotting debris is producing ammonia and other toxic gases.

Q  My pond water is very clear, but my fish are dying. What is wrong?

A  Drinking water might taste good, smell good, and look clear. But some of the most toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer are colorless, odorless and tasteless. I recommend that you purchase a test kit form a pond store and check your water regularly. Nitrates, nitrite and ammonia are all detrimental to fish. Ammonia and nitrite can, at high levels, be fatal to fish. These substances are dissolved in the water and consequently are impossible to detect by the clarity of the water and they can break down the fishes’ immune system.

Q  What type of filter do you recommend?

A  For any pond over 1000 gallons, I recommend a pressurized biological bead filter that can be back washed. I have used Aqua Ultraviolet Ultima II filters for years. Most larger pond suppliers carry them. Their filters range from 1000 gallons to 10,000 gallons. Up-flow and gravity flow filters require regular cleaning, which is a filthy job. The filter media is packed with stinky, putrid fish waste and decaying pond scum. As you handle the filter screens, media, scrubbers, etc., you will have little white feces-eating worms that are 1/16″ long crawling on your hands and arms. Not to mention the noxious smell that burns your eyes and lungs.

It cost pennies on the dollar to make, yet dealers charge a fortune. You pay the price for the filter and in the time it takes to maintain it you pay an additional cost for your time maintaining it. With a pressurized filter, it only takes the turn of a handle for 2 to 3 minutes and the filter is clean. The waste water is not wasted either. You can water your plants with it using the discharge hose. If you can imagine, that brown, colored, stinky water is packed with nitrogen. It’s better than Miracle Grow T.M. I have used my 6000 gallon Ultima II for over eight years and it works as well now as they day it was installed. Happy, happy fish!

Q  How much does an average pond cost?

A  What is average? It depends on whether you are talking about a liner pond or a professional concrete and rebar pond. A typical liner pond can be 6 feet by 8 feet, and depending on who is installing it, could cost between $2,500 and $3,500. The other dimensions are pretty much proportionate. Liner ponds are susceptible to leaks from punctures, gophers, and rats, etc. Concrete ponds last for decades and on the average cost only 20% more than liner ponds.

Q  My pond is green and I can not see my fish. What should I do?

A  Your challenge is algae (suspended planktonic algae), which does not directly hurt the fish. However, algae gives off oxygen during the day from photosynthesis. But unfortunately, it uses up oxygen at night. In addition, it is unsightly and blocks the view of the fish. You can increase the salt content or install an ultraviolet light, which not only kills spore algae but kills the bacteria that causes the water to become murky and stinky.

Q  I heard that UV light will also kill the beneficial bacteria. Is that true?

A  If I say “No,” I am calling many so-called professional experts liars. So I will put it this way. All the beneficial pond bacteria such as aerobic or anaerobic bacteria, nitrobacter, etc., reside in the filter or in the decaying debris at the bottom of the pond. They aren’t floating around in the pond. Bacteria and algae containing pathogenic disease are, and as they pass through the UV light, they are eradicated.

Q  Do I need a waterfall for my pond?

A  With no hesitation, YES! Most definitely. First of all, waterfalls are beautiful to look at. The sound is soothing and relaxing and the water moving over rocks generates negative ions which are added to the air. As you breathe negatively charged air, it relieves stress and anxiety. Waterfalls also add extra oxygen to the pond. Waterfalls are a must!

Q  I heard concrete ponds will leach alkali into the pond. Is that true?

A  Yes and no. A poorly constructed concrete pond will, but only until algae starts growing on the sides. Also if the pond is constructed of 3500 psi concrete and coated with Thoro-seal T.M., it is impossible for alkali to leach out. Plus, if you use Doug Hoover’s secret mortar mix formula, the mortar in the waterfall between the rock will not leach either.

Q  What is the advantage of building a waterfall using concrete and mortar?

A  A major reason is that the rock will be securely mortared in place, preventing a serious accident from rocks sliding, as with a liner waterfall. Trust me, some day, some adventurous child will climb onto it. That is a lawsuit in the making.

Happy koi, peace & joy.

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Fish Pond: Backyard Pond Building

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Backyard ponds are once thought to be owned by only the wealthy and filthy rich individuals. That was then. Now, backyard ponds can be built by even the simplest homeowners. These can liven things up and can be a good conversation starter for guests and visitors. It will not only provide a beautiful and visually appealing backyard but a relaxing one as well.From cozy and small to rich and lush, back yard water gardens can range from almost any design you want. Just a little background about building a back yard pond and the right materials is enough to create your own private oasis.

Step one. Decide where your pond will be situated.

Look for an area in your yard where there are little trees. Falling leaves are a big no-no to your pond since it can make maintenance an everyday job. Place your pond in an area reached by the warmth of the sun. Aquatic plants need the sun to grow. However, stay away from too much heat since this can cause some plants such as lilies to die.

Another advice is to place your pond in a high area. This can prevent runoff water to accumulate and overflow your pond causing murkiness and further maintenance.

Step two. Lay out the area of your pond.

If you want to design your pond to the size you want it to, trace the perimeter of the pond using a bendable material like a garden hose. If you are satisfied by the size and shape of your pond, mark the area using a spray paint or any marker.

Step three. Use a pond liner.

Pond liners are used to prevent water from the pond, fishes, aquatic plants, and other pond contents to escape the pond. In the same way, it also prevents non-pond materials to enter and cause dirt or excess nutrients to the pond. Pond liners range from pre-formed liners to PVC liners. If you are willing to spend the extra cash, using cement will also be applicable.

Pre-formed liners are usually utilized by small ponds. These can be bought at pond supply outlets and can be easily installed after digging the pond. However, if you want to create the design and size you want, PVC liners would work best. These are usually used for large and complex ponds. Other types of liners are available. It is best to ask for advice from your local pond contractor about this stuff.

Step four. Dig your pond.

Dig your pond according to the width and depth that your prefer. Place rocks on the edges of the pond liner and fill in spaces with gravel. Do this part diligently and carefully. Camouflage the area with stones, pebbles, or plants.

Step five. Assemble the equipment.

Place the filters, lighting, and water supply. Make sure that these will all function well. Connect them to the electrical supply and place them in locations that will suit them best. Do not forget to make a drainage system for the pond.

Step six. Just add water.

Now is the time to fill the pond with water. Observe if there is any leaking. Clean out the area first and then add clean water for your pond. Place the plants in their rightful places in order to create a beautiful appearance. Let the plants settle for at least a week and then it is appropriate to add the fishes. Add fish one at a time. Fill the pond with just the right amount of fish. Consider the size of the pond and your fish. Make sure they are compatible.

And now, sit back and relax. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

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Pond Landscaping

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Adding a pond to your yard can help you add a place to relax. Landscaping this area can help to make it an extension of your home.

Landscaping around your pond is a something that you can accomplish with your entire family. Ponds can help to add beauty and interest to any backyard, no matter what size yard that you have. You can easily find a pond that will fit the size and feel of your yard. Landscaping around your pond is easy and fun to do. If you need a place to rest and relax, then you can add fish and plants to your pond area to make it into the refuge that you need and want.

Pond Planning

When starting your pond planning, you may want to consider purchasing one of the many pond kits that contains everything that you will need to install your pond or you can decide to create your own pond that meets your specific needs and purchase the supplies on your own. You need to keep in mind certain things before you begin digging your pond. Finding the right location for your pond is the most important part of planning.

You need to choose a site for your pond that gets at least four to six hours of sunlight each day. Water plants usually need full sun to thrive, so keep that in mind. To eliminate leaves and debris from your pond, you may want to place the pond away from trees. You also want to stay away from electrical sources for obvious reasons.

Viewing Your Pond

When you are trying to find the right place for your pond, make sure that you choose a place where you can enjoy it from inside of your home, too. This will give you a focal point that you can enjoy even when the outside weather is not conducive to being outside.

The Shape of Your Pond

There are many different shapes that you can consider for your pond landscaping design. You will want to ensure that it fits your space and your desires to increase your satisfaction. If you want a formal landscaping area, then a square or rectangle shaped area is best. A more casual, informal styled pond would include more unusual and curved shapes in its design.

Landscaping Around Your Pond

After you have installed your pond, then you want to consider how you are going to landscape around it. The landscaping around the pond will be dependent upon your personal tastes and desires, but there are many different ways that you can landscape it. You will find that there are many different landscaping ideas for this area, including brick, stone, or even flowers.

Finishing Touches

Adding fish and plants to your pond can help to increase that relaxing feel that you want. It is important that you add these things carefully though, because your fish will reproduce and your water plants will grow. If you don’t consider that now, then your pond could quickly become overloaded.

This project may take you quite a bit of effort and time, but you will find that it is well worth the effort. Your pond and landscaping will be a place that you will enjoy for many years to come.

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7 Secrets of Building a Koi Pond

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Are you thinking of building a koi fish pond? Keeping these magnificent fish in your garden can be great fun and it is not as difficult as you might think. With the right care koi can live for decades and some can become almost a meter long. Follow these tips to plan your pond properly so your koi will live long and happy life.

1 Depth is important

Depth of your pond is crucial. The minimum recommended depth is 4 feet, however it is much better to give your fish six or even 8 feet deep pond. This will ensure that your koi are protected from raccoons, cats and other animals who love a fish dinner. Deeper fish pond also helps to keep water cool in hot summer days

2 Make your pond as large as you can

Small ponds are not suitable for koi. Remember, with time koi can grow quite large and they will need a lot of room. Also there are so many color variations of koi, that with time you will probably want to add more fish to your pond. So it is better to create a large pond from the start than rebuild it later. About ten thousand gallons is a good size for a koi pond, bigger would be even better.

3 Use fish pond heater in colder months

Unlike tropical fish, koi don’t suffer much from cold; however you should never let your pond freeze completely. Installing a proper pond heater will always keep an opening in the ice. Also keep in mind, that koi only grow when the water is warm, so with a heater your fish will grow faster

4 Plan some shade for your koi

When selecting a spot for your pond, make sure it is out of direct sunlight. Also keeping water plants like water lilies in your pond are a good idea – not only they add beauty to the overall design, but they also provide shade for the fish. However, you should avoid building your koi pond under trees. Cleaning a fish pond of fallen leaves is no fun.

5 Plan to install a bird net

There are many birds of prey that would love to steal your koi. Don’t give them the opportunity; plan your pond location so it is possible to cover it with a net.

6 Keep insecticides away from your pond

When landscaping your pond keep in mind that you should not use any insecticides or herbicides near the water. Even a small amount of common garden poison can kill your beautiful fish.

7 Get proper equipment for your pond

Several accessories are absolutely essential for a healthy koi pond. Ideally you will have to invest into a water pump, filtration system, water aerator and an ultraviolet sterilizer. If the water in your pond is still, your fish might get sick and eventually die. Koi pond filtration systems are expensive, so as an alternative you can make your own homemade filters.

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Koi Pond or Pondless Waterfall: Where Do I Begin?

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1.) Have you thought about A Water Feature?– Is it true that a water feature will add equity to my home? What about a swimming pool? Doesn’t a pond require a lot of upkeep? What is the average cost? Do I need a building permit? Do I have to have fish? …we travel a lot!

American Society of Landscape Architects

Landscape Architects Identify Trends for 2007

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –“Sustainable design is bigger than ever and homeowners and commercial building owners alike are looking to utilize outdoor spaces even more. The New Year will bring a number of exciting and creative design solutions from landscape architects.

Homeowners are requesting that landscape architects design complete outdoor rooms, such as kitchens and bars, for entertaining. Water features such as koi ponds, waterfalls, and fountains continue to be popular (with no signs of slowing), according to a new survey of leading members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).”

The American Nurseryman Association reports that “water features are the fastest growing trend in landscaping since 1990 (2007 should break all records.)”

Regionally, in-ground pools will add about 5 percent to the value of a home in the Northeast, about 6 percent in the Midwest, and 7.5 percent in the Southeast and West. In the Southwest, a swimming pool will add nearly 11 percent to the home’s value.

If you add a $35,000 pool to a $300,000 house, you will just barely recover your initial expense. However, you still have the high maintenance cost and you have just limited the future buyers of your home to people who want a pool. Therefore, you have actually reduced the equity in your home. On the other hand, everyone loves a beautiful water feature, young and old! Therefore, increased equity!

Swimming pools require constant attention and maintenance. Unlike ponds, pool owners cannot rely on the nitrogen cycle to lend a hand at keeping the water healthy. This can only be accomplished by due diligence and a myriad of chemicals. Unlike a pond, the enjoyment of a pool comes from its use; and for most regions of the country, the climate dictates a very short period of time for pool use. Unless you heat your pool, then your dumping more money in your pool.

A pond requires minimal attention compared to swimming pool. Once a properly constructed pond is established with the right proportion of fish, plants and biological elements, a pond will take care of itself, the rest is enjoyment, year round. You do not need to use a pond as you do a pool, it only need to exist for you to enjoy.

2.) What do I do about the safety of my small children or grandchildren? How big should it be? Is this something I can do on my own or do I need professional help building a pond?

Unlike a swimming pool, ponds can be child proofed, with very little expense. A swimming pool, however, requires special self-closing gates with special latches. Another required code requirement is 95-decibel alarms on all exit doors leading to the back yard.

And for your added peace of mind, you can install an unsightly, removable, lightweight fence that cost hundreds of dollars. Then you can continually agonize over whether you, or someone else, forgot to close the fence gate.

A pond, however, can be filled with large boulders, which can be removed later when the children are grown. Or you can construct a pondless waterfall to begin with. Now you still can enjoy the sight and sound of cascading water without the concerns for safety.

An added advantage of a pondless waterfall is that a pondless waterfall costs less to construct and maintain. A pondless waterfall can be added to your front yard, meet all building code requirements, increase curb appeal, and thereby increase the equity and the resale value of your home.

The “size of the water feature” is a relative term. There are many factors that need to be considered. Far more than can be be discussed in the space I have allotted for this article. I will cover it in my next article. A few questions to ask yourself: How big is your yard? Where do you spend the majority of your time?

What is your budget? How is the size, shape and topography of your yard related to certain limitations regarding the building codes? Will the existing water table affect your water feature? Does your property currently have adequate drainage? Do you have underground utilities? If so, where are they located? What are the local building codes regarding pond depth? Do you need a building permit, or a licensed contractor? …just to name a few of the topics covered.

Whether you need a professional contractor is another article. What type of access do you have to your property? Do you want large boulders? If so, is there proper clearance for a crane or Bobcat? How do you find a qualified contractor? How do you go about qualifying them? Are they properly licensed? Insured? Bonded? Workmen’s compensation? Liability insurance? Hospitalization? References? Background checks and much, much more. Do your homework and proper research prior to commencement, it could save you thousands of dollars.

3.) What is the single most important first step in building a water feature? What about equipment? Should I get koi fish and a turtle? Where should I place my pond and waterfall? All these questions can be addressed with two words: Plan & Design!

First, decide where you spend most of your leisure activity. …family room, living room, patio etc. Your waterfall and pond should be in close proximity to that location. Not in the far corner of your property. Sound and visualization are two of the major benefits of a waterfall and pond. These decisions are part of the planning process. Once you decide on these issues, the design process begins.

The best way to approach this phase is to consider a digital design. There are companies that can produce an incredible digitally designed, virtual photo of your backyard, by simply providing them with a digital photo of the area you want the water feature located. You may opt to digitally design your own. There are digital design programs that are simple to master on your own for less than a hundred dollars. Just search the web by typing in digitally designed ponds or waterfalls.

The type of equipment you should use is dependent upon the size of your pond. Your budget is another factor. If you have a small budget, you’re looking at designing a small pond. In addition, look at the available options for construction materials.

You can buy a rubber liner kit and install it yourself, or have a rubber-liner-kit-installer-guy install it for you. Bottom line, either way, is there is no guarantee against bucked-toothed critters such as mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers and ground hogs, from burrowing underneath your expensive rubber liner and chewing a hole in it. Concrete (3500psi) and rebar is the best construction method, and if done correctly, will last for generations. Concrete ponds cost only 10 to 20% more to build than liner ponds.

Your pond will require less maintenance if you allow the nitrogen cycle to do all the work. This means you need to do your part by providing the elements needed for the nitrogen cycle to operate. The fish provide the waste which produces nitrates and ammonia. Certain essential bacteria break down the nitrates and ammonia into safe byproducts used by the plants and other organisms.

Once this process is started, with the aid of a biological filter and possibly an ultraviolet light, future maintenance is minimal and routine. An above ground, high efficiency pump produces more water flow at half the energy and less initial cost than a sump pump used with liner ponds. The savings in electrical costs alone could easily pay for the additional cost of professional concrete construction in less three years.

4.) Where do I find the equipment and construction material I need to complete my project? How do I know what size filter, pump or ultraviolet light I need? If I want to have a concrete pond and waterfall shell, Where do I begin?

The internet is the best place to start looking for equipment. Local pond stores are usually higher priced, because of overhead expense. Most of the internet dealers are knowledgeable on sizing pumps, filters and ultraviolet lights to any size pond or waterfall. However, keep in mind, most on line dealers are trying to push pond liners, sump pumps and pond liner-related filters and accessories.

Look for energy efficient pumps first, and those dealers will carry concrete pond related products such as bottom drains, pool type skimmers and pressured, back-flushable biological bead filters. Also, Liner dealers sell the cheap mechanical autofill devices, because of a high profit margin.

Make sure you invest in a reliable electronic autofill system that is less likely to malfunction such as the levelors and aquafill systems. A stuck float could result in the chlorine poisoning death of all your fish and possibly thousands of dollars in flood damage.

If you act as your own project manager, you can get competitive bids from local concrete contractor for pouring your pond and waterfall shell. Also find a stone mason who will build your waterfall using mortar. With liner ponds and waterfalls, the rocks sit on the liner and can easily move when stepped on by adults or children resulting in serious accidents.

Trying to save hundreds up front, could possibly cost you thousands down the road. You get what you pay for.

Penny wise and [pond] foolish? Happy koi, peace & joy.

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Goldfish – How To Build Your Very Own Pond

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If you’re planning to keep your goldfish in a garden pond and you’re also planning to build the pond yourself, then there are a few things you will need to know first.

The tools you will need are a shovel, pond liner and underlayment, a long piece of rope, coping stones and decorations, plants, a pump (you will need a pump to run a filter, fountain, or waterfall in order to keep the water circulating and the plants healthy), a filter system and some cooperative friends or family members! Now you can get started –

Building Your Pond

There’s no reason why you couldn’t build a pond in one day, although that purely depends on the size of the pond you’d like to have in your yard. The first thing you will need to do is find an area of the garden that is most suitable for keeping a pond. Make sure it is –

– Close to the house as you will need power to supply your pump with, unless of course you have an external outdoor power socket.

– Don’t build your pond at the bottom of a slope, because when it rains, dirty water will runs down and into the pond, maybe containing chemicals from your garden.

– Try to place it in an area where it will have access to at least 4 hours of sunlight. Your pond plants will require sunlight to stay healthy.

– Don’t place it in an area directly under leaf dropping trees. The last thing you want to have to do is clean all the leaves out of your pond every day.

Finally once you have found a suitable position to build your pond, you can start digging! You’ll need to-

– Decide on the shape and size of the pond. Use the rope to outline the shape you want and then begin digging. That’s why you need a couple of helping hands so that the work gets done faster!

– Do not go for a small pond for goldfish because they need space. Also try and keep different levels of depth, as in a swimming pool. Mark out the shallow areas and the deeper areas. This would give the pool a natural variety.

– Usually ponds in moderate climates should be at least 2 feet deep while in colder climates, you would need to make sure that the pond is deep enough to allow for at least 12″ to 16″ of water below the freeze zone.

– Dig according to the shape you want and dig a shelf-like level around the perimeter of the pond, which is about one foot deep and one foot wide. Also make provisions for a waterfall by digging a slight slope to one end.

– Time now to position the external pond filters. If you have pond skimmers as well, then you would need to place and level these in the proper places. Also dig a ditch to the external pond pump from the skimmer and from the pump to the external pond filter or waterfall.

Next you will need to line your tank with a pond underlayment that you can pick up at any hardware or landscaping wholesaler.

– Now you have to line the pond with what is called as Pond Underlayment. This is a lining that can be cut according to the shape needed and can be taped together. This underlayment will help the pond lining to stay in place.

– You can now put the rubber pond liner into pond and spread it out.

– Make sure you smoothen the folds and position it evenly. Some folds will still be there but the water will take care of that.

So that’s the building process of a garden pond, from there you will need to add in a pump that is correctly matched to the size of your pond as well as purchasing plants and other accessories to add to the pond.

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Having your Own Garden Pond is not as Difficult as you Might Think

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A garden pond adds new dimensions to any garden. As well as providing a tranquil spot to sit and relax on a hot summer’s day, it attracts a whole range of wildlife to your garden such as frogs, newts, and water birds and almost inevitably gives you a mini nature reserve. It also opens up new plant growing opportunities both in the water and at its edges.

Choosing the right location, shape and size of garden pond

An ideal spot for a garden pond is in an open area with plenty of sunshine, but not too exposed to the wind and it is best not to locate it directly under trees to avoid accumulating soggy leaf mould every autumn. You should aim for as large a size as you can manage and the location will comfortably support, as larger ponds will gave a greater impact and are easier to clean and maintain than smaller ponds and are less prone to green water. The shape should be gently curving to blend with the environment and it is best to avoid narrow necks of water if possible. The ideal depth for a garden pond is around 2 feet deep, any shallower and it will be prone to drying in the summer and if much deeper it will accumulate mud in its base.

What lining material to use

Flexible liners are generally the best materials to use and are usually made of either butyl or PVC. If working to a lower budget then polythene can be used but this is thinner and generally won’t last longer than 3 years before it needs to be replaced.

Preparing the hole

You should mark out the area to be excavated with a trail of sand or an old hosepipe and the best months for pond making are April and May, so you should start digging around March. The pond base should be dug to around a 3 feet depth in its centre and you should make arrangement for disposing or using the surprisingly large amounts of material which will result! It is a good idea to consider preparing a shelf around the edge of the pond, in preparation for plants that prefer to grow in shallow water and otherwise the sides should slope at around 45 degrees. It is also advisable to protect the liner with a layer of fibreglass matting or sand in the base of the hole.

Laying the liner and filling the pond

Make sure the liner is large enough and then stretch it over the hole and hold the edges down with some heavy stones and check that it overlaps an even amount all around the pond and even out any wrinkles. Now you can start to fill it with water. A hosepipe should then be prepared and the exciting part can begin, filling the pond with water, which will settle down the liner with the weight and help even out any wrinkles. Fill the hole to the brim.

Edging the pond

Usually the best way to edge a pond is by laying flagstones and tucking the liner under them, they should be laid so that they overlap the edge by about 2 inches. These should be laid carefully to get a level finish and should be bedded with fine soil or sand. It is best to avoid concreting them in or repairs can be difficult. Now it’s time to stand back and admire your new pond but a little patience is required as it requires about 2 weeks to bed down and for undesirable chemicals in the water to disperse.

Then it is time to start planning to decorate it with water plants of your choice and for you local wildlife to discover it and hopefully take it up as their new residence.

It should always be borne in mind that open water can present a dangerous hazard to young children and this should be considered before making a garden pond.

In a future article I will discuss the range of plants now at your disposal and some of the fish wildlife that you may wish to introduce.

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Koi Ponds – Tips On Building The Pond Of Your Dreams

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There are beautiful Japanese fish known as Koi and can grow up to roughly 1 meter long. With the proper love and care they have the ability to live up to several decades. Because these large types of fish are very beautiful and serene to watch, numerous owners of homes have dreams of building their own koi ponds.

Koi Have been called “Dragon Fish” by people through the ages who admire them. Koi have a definite captivating quality to them. Originally bred in the country of Japan, Koi are bred and kept by professional fish farmers as well as hobbyists throughout the world.

Koi are ordinarily kept in man-made or natural Koi ponds. Constant attention as well as care is required by the Koi and you must be prepared to devote some of your time as they need a stable environment and also need to be well fed.

Fundamental Principles Of Constructing Koi Ponds

You first need to understand what the Koi needs are so that you’ll be able to take proper care of them and meet their needs. The preferences of these fish are shady ponds so the place where you want to put your Koi pond needs to be shady but not completely dark.

Because of the length of time that these fish can live as well as the size that they can grow you will need to have some foresight when constructing these ponds. The size of your pond needs to take into account the amount of fish as well as the length that these fish will grow.

Most people who purchase Koi fish usually purchase more than two for their ponds. Be sure that the depth that you make your pond is deep enough for the fish not to get accidentally trapped or get caught by flying egrets and herons. These fishing birds have a tendency to swoop in on these types of ponds and eat half the population of the Koi in a relatively short period of time.

Ponds that are man-made also require the use of aerators as well as water filters to maintain a a healthy water environment for the Koi. A way to help aerate the pond is by putting water plants into it, however the majority of man-made ponds require artificial aeration. The ponds filtration system needs to be reliable and durable. Constructing Koi ponds requires quite a bit of thought and work.

Always bear in mind to make the location a priority when building Koi Ponds. When building Koi ponds you’ll need to be sure that you build it on a stable area where the ground will not ***** open or end up sliding off a slope.

There is a lot of satisfaction to the owners and they may often interact with other owners and that is another reason why many people love their Koi fish and ponds. Make sure you do some additional research when you plan on constructing Koi ponds in regards to the habitat and food of the Koi species you select.

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Koi Pond: is Ph Important?

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It can mean the difference between life and death of your koi fish!

Alkaline Koi Ponds

Generally speaking, alkaline conditions are more common than acidic in ponds, especially the newer ones. If the pH remains over 8.5 for any length of time, the koi fish will become stressed or diseased. Here are some helpful examples:

Symptoms

• Lethargic or listless fish due to damaged mucus coating; prone to fungal

infection and other disease

• Plants chalky in appearance due to calcium deposits

• Prominence of waste chemicals which harm pond life

• Biological filter loses effectiveness

Reasons

• Introducing fish too soon into a newly constructed pond that was not properly sealed; the lime or alkali from the cement will raise the pH to the top of the scale. Even a shovel full of concrete or mortar can cause serious problems.

• Lime leaching from cement products such as blocks, stepping stones and

similar materials over a period of time.

• Lime in stone products subject to erosion

• Excessive growth of algae.

Solutions

• If the pond alkalinity is from the koi pond being new, allow adequate time for the pond to age. To speed up this process introduce bacteria found in a koi pond starter solution.

• Institute a partial pond water change to dilute the alkalis

• If high alkalinity is due to an over-abundance of algae, remove excessive growths of thread algae.

• If these steps do not result in a lower pH, use acidifying compounds or pond

pH buffers.

Acidic Koi Ponds

Low pH conditions occur less often than alkalinity in koi ponds.

Symptoms

• Fish become stressed, resulting in sickness; they may start dying off.

• Oxygenating plants such as hyacinths, water lettuce, Elodea and Anacharis

become discolored and wilted.

• Biological filtration ceases to operate correctly.

Reasons

• Pond water may have lost its buffers due to excessive amounts of rain,

which is soft and very acidic in many areas due to pollution. Loss or

decrease in buffering agents can create drastic fluctuation in pH.

• There may be high levels of humic acid or other organic acids produced

by build-up of decomposing plants and leaves.

Solutions

• Regular partial water changes

• Adding buffers to pond by placing a mesh bag of oyster shell gravel,

dolomite or crushed coral gravel in filter or waterfall. Water passing

through the material will pull out the calcium carbonate and raise pH.

• Using pond-buffer salts (sold in pond supply stores)

Partial Water Changes

Wastes and toxins tend to build up in most ponds, despite use of a biological filter. As water evaporates, pollutants remain and build up over time, becoming dangerously concentrated. For this reason it is highly recommended for smaller koi ponds that you drain and replace 20 percent of the koi pond a couple of times a year. Larger koi ponds are generally much more stable and the water chemistry does not fluctuate radically. This water should be siphoned or pumped from the bottom of the koi pond, where the majority of pollutants collect.

No more than 20 percent should be replaced since larger amounts could easily upset the balance of the koi pond. This is especially true if the replacement water is softer or contains high levels of chlorine or chloramines. It would also be advantageous to keep most of the rotting debris cleared from the bottom. Decaying fish and pond waste produce ammonia, methane and other toxins which can be fatal to the koi pond family.

If you are adding water with a garden hose, it is best to adjust to low volume and a mist that sprays gently through the air before entering the pond. This will allow some of the chlorine to evaporate. If you add the water quickly, add a dechlorinating product to the koi pond to neutralize the chlorine and chloramines. Unless you are adding water to your koi pond by means of an electronic aquafill water leveling system, always use some type of a timer or alarm to remind you to turn off the water! If left unattended for an extended period of time, you could find your pond overflowing and your koi fish dying from chlorine poisoning. It happened to me… several hundred dollars worth!

Happy koi, peace & joy.

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More Pond Basics

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Here are a few more basics about ponds from my pond information site:

*Cleaning

In a healthy pond, with a properly functioning nitrogen cycle, water changes can be minimal. I still recommend a water change of 10-20% per month on a healthy, fully functional pond. In a newer pond larger and more frequent changes may be necessary.

If your pond has a KH below 80 ppm and a pH below 7.0, I would first look to possible causes. One common one is the buildup of organic mulm on the bottom of the pond. The decomposition of this will produce nitric acids which will affect the pH and KH. Since most pond keeper have koi or goldfish, this is important to note, as both these fish do much better at a pH above 7.2 and need the calcium provided by the KH for proper osmotic function. See “Proper Calcium, Magnesium and KH in Aquariums” for more information about Calcium KH, and GH.

If a lot of leaves fall to the bottom of the pond vacuuming them or raking them out is important to prevent organic buildup.

Water changes also will help with pH and KH if your tap or well water is slightly alkaline and has a KH above 80 ppm.

*Feeding

Feeding a quality diet can be beneficial for growth, breeding, color, and eve the environment as there is less nitrogenous waste to add to the water column.

You want a food high in aquatic based proteins (although not too high in protein as most koi and goldfish are more “grazers”). Whole fish meal or white fish meal is a good source. An amino acid that is important to koi and goldfish is DL-methionine and is found in Whole fish meal as well as peas.

Cereal is not a good source of energy for fish as it is in humans, fish utilize fats more for energy. Cereal is mostly used as roughage and to move other nutrients thru the digestive tract.

In summer months I usually feed twice per day, as temperatures fall below 70 F in the pond I feed once per day. When temperatures fall below 60 F in the pond I feed every other day or less, depending on fish feeding habits. Below 50 F, I do not generally feed.

For adult Koi there are several quality foods available: Hai Feng, Sanyu, A-Zoo, Hikari, and Nursery-Pro just to name a few. For goldfish or shubunkins I recommend Spirulina 20 Flake, Hikari, or Sanyu. For fry (in addition to natural foods that will be available around the plant roots and other calm areas of the pond), I powder Spirulina Flakes and stir it into a cup of water, then pour this solution into the area the fish fry are at.

*Winter Pond Care

It is important in winter to keep at least a small section of your pond open for proper exchange of gasses (O2, CO2), if water can still flow into the pond through a water or aeration device, that will work. However if you live in an area of hard freezes, you may need a pond de-icer

*Pond Chemistry

Generally most Pond Fish such as Koi and Goldfish like a higher ph of about 7.8 (although a pH in the range of 6.8 to 8.0 is often acceptable). A well planted stable pond usually does not have problems with too high or too low a pH.

If your pH is too low, Sea Chem Marine Buffer can help (Wonder shells somewhat too). For large volumes of water, aragonite may be more cost effective.

For too high a pH, these are cost effective ways in a pond:

-Barley Straw (great for algae control too, although so-so for ph)

-Almond shells (this is really good for lowering ph, more effective than peat and with the side effect of being antibacterial)

-A veggie filter (this helps with a stable pH and produces nitric acid)

*Pond Bottom

Construction and make up of your pond can be done in three different ways (and there is no one best way; the best way fits your pond size needs, climate and budget).

A preformed pond is probably the most simple. With this method you basically dig a hole to the shape of the pond, remove sharp rocks, add sand for a cushion maybe cut a few holes on the size for bulk heads to add filtration and you’re ready to add rocks, filtration and décor. This style is good for small applications (usually under 250 gallons) and where roots or gophers may be a problem.

A pond liner made of PVC material or EPDM. I prefer the EPDM in a 45 mil. thickness.

With liners you can generally go up to a 1000 gallon pond. Preparation is similar to a preformed pond, however more care needs to taken with sharp rocks and a pre liner or sand should be used. Also in areas of high tree roots or gopher activity these can be compromised.

The other method is a concrete pond using rebar for support as well. This is probably the most expensive method however this is the method I recommend over 1000 gallons. I have subcontracted (installing the filtration) for many concrete ponds and it is important to use a good contractor or prepare and build this properly yourself as even a concrete pond that is poorly built can have problems. Make sure to not build a concrete pond on “fill” as the pond will often settle and *****. Also proper use of rebar is a must especially in ponds over 3000 gallons.

Bottom substrate:

I personally usually do not had a substrate per say, rather I allow the roots of potted plants (that will grow out of there pots) to collect there own debris. I do often add some zeolite or laterite both for absorption of some nutrients but also as an inexpensive plant root material.

*Spring Fed Pond

If you live in an area of natural springs or have creek flowing nearby, this can make for a very healthy, clear and natural pond. If it is possible to divert water into your pond (or just fill from below with a spring), this is always an excellent idea! This way you will likely maintain lower nitrates and phosphates, less algae, better Redox, and better electrolyte levels resulting in a more clear pond and healthier fish. Make sure to have an overflow or skimmer to remove excess water. If you have a well you can achieve similar results (or even use your well during the dry season when the spring or creek diversion dries up).

I also have achieved a similar effect with just plain tap water used in a very slow flow (a 10% water exchange per day or less will not show any ill effects from chlorine). Make sure this is not a problem with local water companies first, although the ponds I used tap water overflow on used less than 200 gallons per day (for a 2000 gallon pond) which is less than watering one’s lawn for an hour.

If with this method, filtration and circulation are still needed in my experience, although this often allows for a more simple filter (such a the Hydro-Pond Sponge Filter). A Veggie Filter is very usefull in this set-up too!

*Pond Predators

Herons have been the most common predator to my customer’s ponds that I have had to deal with. I do not like to add anything that detracts from the beauty of the ponds I maintained, so decoys were my first choice. I found Heron decoys worked well at not only scaring away Herons, but other predatory birds as well such as Cormorants. I also occasionally employed motion sensor scarecrows that connected to a water supply and then ******** ANYTHING that moved, this device also worked for dogs that would “play” in the pond (often destroying it and scaring fish), but was not as effective for raccoons.

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How To Build A Pond With A Waterfall

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What type of pond

You should consider first what type of pond you want, in this case pond with waterfall feature. Would it be a home for fish and plants, these are things that you should take into consideration as well. But please keep in mind the most common mistake made when constructing a pond is the size, do not make it too small, if you decide to add fish at a later date, it will only make you more work as your pond may not be big enough.

Location

You will enjoy your pond more if you install it close to your home, or window, this way you can watch all the wild life visiting all year round. The pond needs to be located away from any drain pipes, keeping it away from any run off of rain, as this may contain contaminates. Also do not build your pond too near to trees as you will always have to be removing dead leaves and debris. Try to position your pond where it will receive a maximum amount of direct sunlight, this will aid the growth of plant life.

Determine the size and shape of your pond

This can easily be done by using a length of rope or string, or even a garden hose pipe. Lay the rope down where you require to the shape you want, you can then either peg the rope down, or use chalk powder. Now you can start to excavate, digging it to approximate six inch depth, making this the first shelf., this is called the coping shelf, dig down a further twelve inches making this the second shelf, and then a further six inches to the base of the pond. The reason for this shelving is for different types of plant life, and maybe the fish you are going to put into your pond. Remember a larger pond is more stable and easier to keep.

Construction

Once you have got your pond excavated and ready, you need to line the hole with soft sand, minimum of half an inch thickness, and pat down firmly. You are now ready to line your pond. You can buy pond liners from any good garden centre or pond specialist. Determining the size of your pond liner is simple, measure the maximum length and width, add the depth twice to these measurements, plus a foot or two for overlap and this will give you the size. Lay the liner into the bottom of the pond and feed it into the contours of the shape, remembering first to remove your shoes before getting into the pond. Once you have completed all the contours pushing the liner into the back of the shelves, keeping folds to a minimum, start to fill your pond.

Waterfall

This is the time to start construction of your waterfall, first we raise the level to make a slope for your waterfall, this can be achieved by either a pre-formed waterfall mould, or you can make it yourself by using stones, or soil remembering to shelve it up to the desired height, cover this with more soft sand then place either your preformed waterfall mould or rubber liner, making sure if you use the liner that you have it pushed well back into all the recesses. Then you can add an external water tank, which will re-circulate the water from the pond down through the water fall, to do this you will need either an electrical pump, or solar pump, you can both from a garden centres or pond specialists. The pump should be placed in the bottom of the pond with a feed pipe running to the waterfall tank, this pipe should be buried in the ground for safety reasons and not be unsightly,

The finishing touches

All around the pond, your first shelf which was called the coping shelf is now ready to have the coping stones put in place, these can either be decorative paving stone, or cobble stones, this holds the liner in place and gives wild life a way of climbing in and out of your pond. It does not harm adding a few stones onto the other shelves of your pond. This is also the time to add your plants such as water lilies, oxygenated plants and other decorative water plants that add colour to your pond throughout the year. Now you should link your pump to the power supply, switch on, and then you will see the water level go down, now add more water to just below the coping stones and then you have your final result.

Your pond will be a really nice relaxing feature in your garden, to watch and listen to on warm summer evenings.

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A Clear Pond; Proper Pond Maintenance, Filtration, and Chemistry

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Keeping a clear pond in the warm or hot summer months involves these key ingredients for proper filtration:

[1] ADEQUATE WATER CIRCULATION AND MOVEMENT.

A general principle (not a rule) of about 50-200 gph per 100 gallons can work for this (A lower proportional gph for large ponds, a higher proportional gph for small ponds). This can be achieved with more than one pump and even a large aeration device (air stone). As for the air stone, I find they are excellent for vertical circulation, often better than water pumps of greater gph. A large double air pump such as a ReSun 9603, Million Air 600, Whisper 800, or Maxima with two air stones can circulate at a rate up to 500 gph. A way to check this is to place the air stone down a narrow PVC tube or aquarium lift tube, then place the top of the tube just above the water level and measure the rate the water fills up a gallon container (one gallon in 15 seconds= 240 gph).

A good water pump is the Via Aqua 2600, 3300 or 6500 hydrant pump. Both have sealed electromagnetic motors and ceramic shafts.

[2] GOOD FILTRATION.

I prefer pressurized pond filters such as the “Clear Stream” for their efficiency and ease of hiding in the ground. But there are many excellent filters available.

For small ponds (and even medium-large), large sponge filters are excellent bio filters and reasonable mechanical filters. They are inexpensive, easy to service, and simple to attach with either a power head pump or and air stone. There now is a specific Pond Sponge Filter called the”Hydro-Pond” there are two models; one air driven, one pump driven. They are useful up to 1500 gallons and more can be used for larger ponds or in combination with other filters.

Bio falls are also excellent pond filters. I do not recommend the old style Becket or Pond Master Submersible filters; they clog easily, are hard to service, and are not efficient filters. Multiple types of filtration are also excellent, such as a pressurized filter- bio falls combination, or a pressurized filter- sponge filter combination.

[3] PLANT FILTRATION (Often called Veggie Filters)

This is a very important part of pond keeping and filtration. A well planted and diversified planted pond is VERY important for clarity, pond and fish health, and even fish breeding. Any plant with a good root structure that grows fast and has the majority of their leaves above water is a good candidate to start with. I recommend water iris for their strong root structure, fast growth, great nutrient absorption, and a great place for baby fish (fry) to hide feed and grow. There are many other excellent plants as well such as bull rush. Make sure these types of plants (plants with roots in water and leaves above) are planted in an area of good, but not strong water movement. This ensures that they will do their job as plant filters.

Other plants such as lilies and hyacinth are excellent for nutrient removal too, but not at the rate of iris and similar plants. They are useful for shade, which will slow algae growth

[4] UV STERILIZATION.

Although not always necessary in a well planted, well shaded, well filter aquarium; they are still very useful. UVs help with algae control, disease prevention, and the Redox potential (which is important for fish health and proper filtration). For the UV to properly function in a pond, the flow rate should not exceed 20-45 gph per watt of UVC. In larger ponds with high flow rates I recommend more than one UV sterilizer, with a by-pass from the main line, connected in PARELLEL not in line together. For this reason, I also do not recommend the popular filters with built in UVs, as the flow rate is usually too high to work properly. A separate UV is always best! For more information about proper UV sterilization and how it works please visit this site; “WHY USE A UV STERILIZER”

Many times I have heard of complaints that their UV did not help with algae control, when I checked this client’s pond, I found inadequate filtration and an improperly installed UV sterilizer. Even a properly installed UV Sterilizer cannot over come poor filtration and a poorly planted pond. And many manufacturers make claims of high flow rates that are impossible for proper contact time.

[5] CLEANING (proper chemistry):

In a healthy pond, with a properly functioning nitrogen cycle, water changes can be minimal. I still recommend a water change of 10-20% per month on a healthy, fully functional pond. In a newer pond larger and more frequent changes may be necessary.

If your pond has a KH below 80 ppm and a pH below 7.0, I would first look to possible causes. One common one is the buildup of organic mulm on the bottom of the pond. The decomposition of this will produce nitric acids which will affect the pH and KH. Since most pond keeper have koi or goldfish, this is important to note, as both these fish do much better at a pH above 7.2 and need the calcium provided by the KH for proper osmotic function. See “Proper Calcium, Magnesium and KH in Aquariums” for more information about Calcium KH, and GH.

If a lot of leaves fall to the bottom of the pond vacuuming them or raking them out is important to prevent organic buildup.

Water changes also will help with pH and KH if your tap or well water is slightly alkaline and has a KH above 80 ppm.

A final note about KH, if your KH is below 80 ppm you will NOT have a healthy pond in the long term!

For much more, please read my vastly expanded Pond article with links to even more resources as well as pictures: A Clear Pond; Pond maintenance set-up, chemistry, filtration, predators and much much more.

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Pond Maintenance 101 Keeping Your Pond Clean

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Most people have poor water quality and extra algae in their water gardens for one main reason; they don’t do enough regular maintenance to keep their pond from turning into a green mess. Ponds need to be treated just like aquariums, and require weekly maintenance to be at their best. Most pond owners and contractors are taught to only do once per year cleaning in the spring. The truth is, this is not enough. Imagine only doing once per year cleaning on your aquarium in your home. Your aquarium would look just as bad as your pond in the back yard. Your aquarium stays perfectly clean and clear because you perform weekly cleanings to remove excess fish waste and nutrition that would other wise lead to heavy algae growth and poor water quality. Your pond needs the same amount of attention to look great.

Follow my instructions below and never have poor water quality again.

#1 Get in your pond and vacuum out your pond gravel with an aquarium vacuum that you can by at any pet store once per week. This will remove allot of the fish waste that would normally build up in the bottom of your pond and cause algae problems. Doing this will also change out about 1/4 water volume on your pond every week. If you can’t find an aquarium vacuum just make sure you do weekly 1/4 water changes with a pond pump. Also find yourself a rigid type of scrub brush to scrub down the rocks or the sides of your pond. This will also keep the algae growth to a minimum. this whole process only takes about 1/1/2 hours to complete once per week. Doing this weekly maintenance never allows the fish waste to build up in your pond thus, keeping your pond clean and not green.

#2 Keep the amount of fish in your pond to a minimum, the less fish you have in your pond the less waste you will have providing nutrition to algae growth. This will make it easier to keep your pond clean. Do not feed your fish more than once per day, this will keep the fish waste down to a minimum improving water quality. You should stock your pond with goldfish, shubunkins, comets, etc… They have a max size of only 12″ inches. Their smaller size makes it easier to keep a healthy water garden. Also thin out your baby fish in the spring when you do a full clean-out on your pond. The biggest problem with most customers’ ponds is that they have way too many fish. Your pond filtration determines how many fish you can have, not the size of your pond. The average waterfall filter sold in the industry today is designed for a very small fish load. What I mean by small is 4 or 5 goldfish, shubunkins, or comets at a max size of 12″inches with no koi.

Koi get way to large for most backyard water gardens reaching an adult size of 36″ inches. It’s sad but allot of koi are forced to live out their lives in cramped under filtered ponds that stunt their growth, and lower their life span. Big fish also mean big waste; Koi can quickly turn a water garden into a green mess in record time. Koi require large ponds with perfect filtration to be at their best. We use large bead filters in conjunction with a waterfall filter when we build koi ponds. You also need to clean your waterfall filter once per month like an aquarium filter not once per year. This will also make your filter pads last allot longer than they would if you were cleaning them once per year.

#3 Remove all leaves, and spent lily and lotus blooms out of your water garden. They will rot and have to be broken down by bacteria. Which will contribute to algae growth if they are not removed from your pond. Net your pond in the fall, and do a complete pond cleanout in the spring. Drain all of the water, power-wash the pond and stream, and clean out all filters.

#4 Plant your pond with lots of aquatic plants if you’re planning a water garden with minimal fish load shubunkins, comets, ect… up to 60% of your pond’s surface should be covered with pond plants. Plants provide shade and shelter for your fish which prevents algae growth, they also consume phosphorous the main nutrient in pond water that causes algae growth. Thus helping to keep your pond clean and not green.

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Pond Supplies – A Must For Your Pond

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Pond supplies are an important aspect for all pond owners. It is important for you to keep your pond clean as well as preserve your pond and add necessary supplies when required. Mentioned below are few pond supplies that are a requisite for every pond owner:

* A stock of filters for the filtration system as well as any chemicals that you use in it. * A supply of good quality food for the fish. * Cleansers, skimmers, and other supplies to clean the pond. * You might have to purchase a pond heater to maintain a standard temperature of the pond. * An aeration kit to keep it full of the oxygen richness it needs.

Matching Fish And Pond Supplies

It is important to know what type of pond you own so that you can have the right kind fish and supplies for it. Different types of ponds maintain different balances of eco systems and so it is important for you to know the type of pond you own. If the pond supplies don’t match with the eco system of your pond then you are simply killing the aquatic life in your pond and making the water poisonous. Once you know the type of pond you own purchase the best quality pond supplies along with fishing and thus ensure a long life to your pond.

Fish and Pond supplies vary depending on the various type of fish you have within the pond. Suppose you have gold fish in your pond then you have to find a pond supply that will not disturb the gold fish. It is not necessary that a pond supply that does not harm gold fish can be applied in ponds with other fish- specific types of fish genre requires specific types of ponds supplies; so you need to consult an expert before purchasing any pond supplies.

It is also important that you select a pond supply that is in harmony with nature. Don’t go for cheap pond supplies; buy the right type of food for your fish. You also need proper pond liners and filtration system to protect the aquatic life in your pond. The pond kits that you choose should fit with the environment around them. The pond and fish supplies that you require can be purchased online but you have to be very careful with the quality. Buy a product that is always available in the market and that is recommended by experts.

Always remember that pond supplies ensure a healthy well being of all the aquatic life within your pond.

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Steps of the Pond Nitrogen Cycle

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Did you know that manmade ponds rely on the same ecosystem principles that natural ponds do? Yes, for any manmade pond to thrive it must mirror the ecosystem of the natural world. One aspect of this is a pond nitrogen cycle. Understanding how this cycle works is invaluable for maintaining a pond’s overall life.

To an untrained or inexperienced eye, a natural pond seems like little more than a natural “tub of water”. That is, water – mostly from rain or runoff – collects into a small body of water. This then “magically” turns into an acceptable ecosystem for plant and animal life to live in.To an average person, the need to know how a pond regulates itself is relatively useless information. However, when someone wishes to duplicate a manmade pond on their property, the passive witnessing of nature may not be enough. Instead, it becomes important to understand the cyclical process that maintains the pond’s aforementioned ecosystem. This includes understanding the pond’s nitrogen cycle.

And what is a pond’s nitrogen cycle? A ponds nitrogen cycle is a series of steps that take place in a pond that helps to keep the pond clean and cycle out organic waste. Here is a simple break down of it.

In a fish pond, fish will release waste into the water. As the waste breaks down, ammonia is produced. Ammonia can be toxic if it builds up. To keep ammonia levels from getting to dangerous levels, beneficial bacteria called Nitrosomonas will break down ammonia and convert it into Nitrite, which is still toxic if it builds up, but less so than Ammonia. After the Ammonia is converted to Nitrite, another group of beneficial bacteria called Nitrobacter will in break down and convert Nitrites into Nitrates, which are far less toxic than Nitrites. This Nitrate is then utilized by the plant life in the pond as a source of nourishment, which helps to keep the Nitrate level low and can also help with controlling algae. So, the nitrogen cycle is essentially the amazing way a pond’s ecosystem cleans itself of harmful toxins and creates sustaining nourishment within its environment.

This natural process was developed over many years of evolution and is the way it should work in a naturally balanced pond. However, manmade ponds sometimes require assistance from pond products to tip the ecosystem odds in favor of pond life survival. Pond filters can help filter out extra waste and also provide a safe breeding ground for beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive. There are also bacteria inoculants on the market that can be added regularly to ensure that proper levels of beneficial bacteria are present to help break down waste and to help convert ammonia and nitrites. Additionally, pond plants can be purchased and added to a pond to help with the utilization of un-necessary nitrates to prevent its availability to nuisance plants like algae. All of these products can assist a small fish pond environment with establishing a proper and efficient nitrogen cycle.

Over time, the need to take special steps to maintain a pond’s nitrogen cycle will decrease. This is because the pond will become self-sufficient and able to produce and feed adequate amounts of bacteria that fish waste ammonia is no longer a threat. As the saying goes, nature eventually takes care of itself.

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Prepare Pond for Fall and Winter

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Fall is arriving and it is time to prepare your pond for fall and winter.  Pond netting, aeration and deicers are important items to consider when preparing your pond for the winter.
Pond Netting:

If you are in a wooded area or in an area where you get a lot of leaves from the wind pond netting is a must. The pond netting comes in two different sizes.  3/8” is best for needles, small seeds, nuts and berries.  3/4” is best for larger leaves.  The pond netting can be placed over the pond and staked around the perimeter or tented over the pond.  Tenting is commonly done with PVC pipe, fittings and stakes.

Tenting prevents the leaves from getting wet and is easier to blow the leaves off.  Inner tubes can also be used in water gardens to float the netting..  Floating the tubes in the pond and then covering with netting will help prevent the netting and leaves from getting wet and sagging in the pond.  If many leaves collect on the netting it may weigh the netting down and the leaves may set in the water.  If this happens you will need to get the leaves off the netting and out of the water.  If left in the water they will begin to decompose and release unneeded nutrients into the pond causing lots of problems.  The Pond Warehouse offers a few different Pond Cover Netting, such as 3/4″ Boxed Netting 20′ x 100′ for you to consider.

Water garden de-Icers:

De-Icers keep an opening in the ice.  These units will not heat the water and they keep a small area open usually enough to let out harmful gases and keep fish safe.  If you loose power for a period of time the ice will freeze in pretty quickly and usually need to be chopped out for it to work properly so consider a Pond De-Icer Heater from The Pond Warehouse.

Water garden Air Bubblers:

Air bubblers will supply your pond with oxygen and are easy to maintain through all of the seasons.  They will typically keep an a hole open in the ice. In extremely cold conditions the pond may look frozen over but it will actually be “honeycombed” so gases can still escape.  A water garden aerator is necessary for getting your pond ready for the winter.

Aeration in Large Ponds:

When ice covers a pond and snow then covers the ice light rays are not able to penetrate and help produce oxygen.  Gasses are not able to escape and this is very detrimental to a pond and you may loose fish.  As a pond ages the risk gets higher from added decomposing plant materials that will us up all the oxygen left in a pond causing a fish kill.  Pond aeration will provide the necessary oxygen, speed up decomposition and allow gases to escape.

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Easy Pond And Water Garden Construction

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Today’s successful water garden usually is designed as an ecosystem that uses a balance between fish, plants and bacteria keeping the water clear. The type of pond I’m talking about is self-contained (not fed by a spring or stream) and between 100-900 sq ft; a backyard water garden that is easy to maintain and adds value to your lifestyle and property. 20 years ago the typical do-it-yourself water garden was a muck-filled cesspool waiting to happen, while the successful koi pond required deep water and unattractive out of the pond filtering equipment. Thanks to a better understanding of the pond ecosystem and some equipment ideas borrowed from the pool equipment industry, anyone with the ability to dig, make things level, and move rocks and dirt around can create a beautiful living water garden if they use proven equipment and methods.

Now I will admit that there are other ways that can work; But none of the other pond construction methods have the successful track record I’ve seen with pond installs using this system.

The basic elements for this system are underlayment, liner, rocks and gravel, skimmer, fill valve, pump, plumbing, biological filtration, plants, fish, and bacteria.

Here’s a simplified explanation of how this works as an ecosystem. Fish eat insects and plants and then the fish waste spreads through the system . The skimmer draws water off the top layer of the pond helping with circulation and aeration while trapping floating debris in a net. The pump is situated under the net in the skimmer and pumps up to a bio-filter. The bio-filter is often designed to be incorporated into a waterfall. The water enters the bio filter and rises up through filter media that is colonized by bacteria. The bacteria converts the waste into forms less harmful to the fish and less conducive to excessive algae growth. The waterfall or stream add more aeration that the bacteria and fish need. The plants uptake more of the nitrogen and some oxygenate the water. The rocks and gravel provide more area for bacteria and protect the liner from UV rays.

Sheesh! Every time I set out to give a simple explanation of a pond ecosystem it still takes 10 sentences. Suffice it to say that all the parts work together to make your pondkeeping easy!

I use the word easy as a relative term. Compared to the work and rebuilding you may experience with other methods this is the easiest way I know. But there is still a good deal of work in pond construction. Obviously you need to dig and shape a hole in the ground and move some heavy items around. A well trained crew with everything needed on-site can install a pond in a day. It may take a few weekends for a homeowner to do the job himself, depending on their ability, time, and conditions.

Some key points:

Size: It’s best to have it at least 6 ft across. Bigger is better. 16 x 11 is a good medium size. Generally people regret not making the pond larger when they are done with their first one.

Location: There is a tendency to put ponds in a place where water already collects in the yard. This isn’t always the best idea. Groundwater running into the pond can create problems. If possible bring it right up near the patio where you can enjoy the fish and flowing water everyday.

Electric and plumbing: Don’t overlook the need for a GFI outlet near the pump and a water source to keep the pond topped off. Most kits for some reason don’t include a fill valve, but it really is important since on a windy day a pond can easily lose an inch of water. Left unattended this can lead to the pump running dry in the skimmer for a long period causing possible damage. The ponds level of course won’t drop below the skimmer opening.

Lets go over the basic steps for installing this type of pond system.

Decide the size of the pond and order a kit with all the necessary components. Layout the shape of the pond with something like a garden hose. Leave it out there for a while, move it, think about where the falls and different plants will be. If you are building a stream do the layout for it too. Level ground isn’t a problem since you will be excavating enough soil to buildup around your waterfall filter. Paint an outline with orange marking spray paint.

Make arrangements for getting the variety of rock and gravel you will be using.

Position your skimmer and BioFilter. The skimmer should be on the opposite side from the falls or stream to create circulation. Then lay the flexible PVC, or kink-free pipe between the skimmer and waterfall filter. This is so it can be covered during excavation instead of trenching it in.

Establish a firm compacted and level base for the Waterfall filter, perhaps leaning slightly forward, depending on it’s design. If you have help they can be working on digging the pond while you get this right, or vice versa.

Hook up the plumbing to the filter and backfill around it. It’s a good idea to have someone stand in the filter while it is being backfilled to prevent it from shifting out of position on the base.

Examine any slope of the land and establish where the water level will be; usually a couple inches below grade. Finish digging the pond relative to the water level. A rotating laser level is the ultimate tool for this, though they are expensive to rent. Patiently checking string levels in all directions can get the job done also. Include shelves for marginal plants and keep the sides and shelves level. The deep part of the pond should be around 2 ft or a little less. Any deeper and most towns swimming pool codes kick in with fence requirements. Unless you intend to keep a great number of koi this will be plenty deep for your fish. Planting pockets for water lilies can also be dug now. These pockets create a plantable depression in you liner for later. You can either plant directly in these pockets or hide your planters in them covering with gravel creating a more natural looking pond.

Excavate the position for the skimmer so it will be on a firm level base that gets it into correct position relative to the water level. Recheck everything. All the measurements and levels. Make sure the pond is free of sharp objects and unfold the underlayment into it. Start in the deep area pushing the underlayment into all the shelves and pockets. The EPDM rubber liner is then installed in the same way, making sure that it extends far past the waterline (settling will occur) and above the openings on your skimmer, filter, stream etc.

Add rock and gravel. Pre-washing the stones can help with a clean install or you can hose them down in the pond while pumping out the dirty water. Use larger stones at the base of each wall that forms a shelf, building up with smaller ones. Cover flat areas with 1″-2″ gravel…absolutely no more than that. If you have extra gravel don’t be tempted to just use more in the bottom of your pond. This is for biological reasons I won’t go into now. The rock should have your liner pretty well pulled into position now so you can make final adjustments on your skimmer and attach the liner to it according to the manufacturers instructions.

Start filling the pond. Now the fun of building the waterfall and stream. Make sure you have plenty of slack running up to the falls opening before you attach it and make any cuts. Also take care to avoid folds in the liner as you twist downstream. Folds in the stream liner are a common source of leaks and why a very wide liner for a stream is recommended. Dry stack stones as in a wall up the front of the waterfall filter. Using black waterfall foam or some other type of expanding foam to seal the space between the rocks. This makes the water flow over the rocks instead of disappearing into the cracks between. Black waterfall foam is nice for blending in with the rocks. The basic outline of the stream should have been established with excavated soil from the pond, but some digging of different catch pools may be necessary and you may need to build up more of a berm at the waterfall. Rock in the sides of the stream and cover the bottom with gravel as in the pond. Use the waterfall foam to seal in rocks wherever a cascading effect is wanted, using flat rock to form the lip of falls and sealing under them.

Install the pump, install the overflow plumbing and fill valve in the skimmer. When water level is high enough and all the waterfall foam is dry, (you can assume your hands will be covered with the stuff, but try to avoid it because it is very difficult to clean off!) try out the pump. You will then need to refill the pond as it will take a large volume of water to fill the plumbing, falls and stream. Once you are happy everything is as it should be, cut the excess liner away. Leave several inches of liner for settling and possible adjustments.

There are plenty more nuances to building a pond but this should give you a decent feel for what a water garden project entails. The kits we sell include a decent installation manual and I’m happy to answer any questions as are many other pond enthusiasts.

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Natural Pond Filters

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Cleaning the pond regularly is essential for the healthy growth of the local pond ecosystem in your garden. The pond in your garden is a representative of a very complex habitat and the small and big creatures living there need a fresh and clean environment. While, you can use many artificial methods to clean the pond that includes the use of filters, there are certain natural approaches to clean the pond also. Nature offers the best solution for any kind of problem. Here are some useful tips for cleaning your pond naturally.

Some plants, such as water lilies play a vital role as a natural pond cleaner. Water lilies are helpful to avoid green water from your pond. Covering the half of the pond with plants, such as water lilies helps a lot in natural pond purification. Water lilies spread easily throughout the surface of your pond. Apart from helping in natural pond cleaning, water lilies also help the fishes in the pond to hide from the sun during extreme summer.

Various other water plants also play as natural pond cleaners. These water plants maintain the health of your natural pond ecosystem. They exhale a lot of oxygen into the environment and in to the water as well, helping the oxygenation of the pond water regularly. These water plants help process and remove organic waste materials from the pond naturally. You can use both floating and submerged water plants as natural pond purifiers. While floating plants take care of cleaning the upper water surface, submerged plants purify the basement and lower part of the pond. The roots of the floating water plants contain many beneficial microorganisms, which digest the organic wastes, thus helping in natural pond purification.

Bacteria are also helpful and act as a key agent in the natural pond cleaning process. Bacteria colonize inside the pond and help avoid cloud formation by various organic waste materials.

Another consideration for natural pond purification is waterfall. Waterfalls avoid the water in your pond to settle at one place, thus helping in the transport of important organic maters to various parts of the pond. Waterfalls not only ensure beauty to your pond but also help in the process of natural pond purification by transporting out heavy organic and chemical pollutants, such as mercury, heavy metals, and nitrate; and phosphate chemicals.

Nature certainly has the best solution to help you in the process of natural pond cleaning process. Consider the above methods to get a clean and pure natural pond in your garden.

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A Backyard Fish Pond

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Water gardens and backyard ponds are for butterflies, frogs, birds, fish, you, and the whole family. These ponds may be small, may even be no larger than 3 to 4 feet in diameter. These may be built in patio containers and barrels. Drawing wildlife in your backyard may be done by adding water gardens and ponds. These will not only provide enjoyment and interest but also a natural and relaxing environment as well.

A fish pond in your backyard may become the focal point of your backyard conversation. So spice it up with this tips and techniques.

Where to Put Up a Backyard Pond

Place your fish pond in a place where you can best view it from, whether from a deck or the patio. Make it coincide with the natural surroundings. Do not place the pond where the sun can overheat it. Nestle it in a shaded place but not under the trees.

Landscaping

It is best to slightly elevate the soil surrounding the pond so that excess water will not enter into it.

Plan the drainage system of the pond, making sure that it draws the water away from your house.

Landscaping the surroundings around your pond will provide a natural dwelling place for birds and frogs that need water and land. Make sure that electricity is available if you plan to use lights, filters, or a water re-circulating device.

Do not place the pond under the trees to avoid fallen leaves into the pond. This technique will also provide less maintenance to the pond. Expose the pond to sufficient sunlight only since some aquatic plats grow well in full sun and others do not.

Using Pond Liners

Pond liners are used to keep water from leaking into the soil. It is almost always necessary for ponds even if it they are situated in clay soils. Pond liners come in different shapes and sizes. They even include built in waterfalls or any design based on your preferences. They are durable and convenient.

Consider a polyvinyl chloride liner (PVC liner) in building larger ponds. In determining the size of the

PVC, you have to know the maximum length, width, and depth of the pond. After which, multiply the maximum depth by 3. Add the answer to the width and the length. Now you have enough PVC to securely hold down the pond edges.

Pond liners come in different thickness as well. The thicker the pond liner, the more resistant it is to

punctures. Cement may be considered an optional pool liner. However, it requires more expertise to install and it may cost more than the regular plastic pond liner.

However, considering that many ponds are quite small, other plastics may be used. It may be cheaper but many may break down easily once prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light happens. Some plastics also may prove to be toxic to fish.

Pond Installation

Time your pond building when the ground is not overly wet or frozen. Dig the hole according to the right depth and place (and secure) the pond liner. Then landscape the pond surroundings. Remove any rocks from the surrounding area. Add water, plants, and a pump. Let the pond sit for a few days before adding plants and fish. Let the plants settle for at least one week before placing the fish.

Then sit back and enjoy your backyard fish pond!

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