Anything is Possible…
Under the stillness of this water feature’s vanishing edge upper pond and lower pond, as well as under the rush of its waterfalls and the gentle trickling of its stream, exists and extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water. Even more extraordinary than the water feature itself, however, is that all this was an afterthought.
“We first approached Bill Renter of The Deck and Patio Company [in Huntington Station] to landscape the front of our new vacation home, on a bluff in Eatons Neck,” says the wife.
Renter adds that, one day, when looking at the old deck in their back yard and the majestic westerly views beyond it of Long Island Sound, he suggested that a vanishing edge swimming pool would create a beautiful effect there.
“But when we went for the permits,” says Renter, “we learned that the regulations for swimming pools that close to the bluff would not allow a pool. As I thought about it, I remembered my long-held desire to build a vanishing edge pond, which, in this case would be regulated differently, and I approached them with the idea.”
Beyond the promise of glorious Long Island Sound water views appearing to connect through a pond right up to their back door, what inspired the homeowners most was Renter’s ideas for how it all could be maintained naturally, without chemicals of any kind. But, while Renter had abundant experience in creating natural ponds, as well as vanishing edge swimming pools, only one other vanishing edge pond had ever been created in the United States before.
“We had seen a good deal of Deck and Patio’s work in House magazine, and knew he was very creative,” says the wife. “So we took a leap of faith. And as the project continued, his excitement was infectious.”
His final plans for this water feature included three bodies of water: two ponds at two different levels, and a 3,000-gallon underground storage vault of water – all kept clear and clean with “biological filtration” through the use of beneficial bacteria, plants and other filter media.
The vanishing edge upper pond is raised in front of the bluff, says Renter. Water spills from it into a connecting stream to the lower pond, which is located at the side of the house.
“Water is pumped from the underground vault to both ponds through variable energy efficient speed pumps,” he says. “In the upper pond, water enters from its floor. In the lower, it enters through a separate bog – a natural filtering system – and continues through a waterfall into that pond. Except for what is pumped in from below, everything works through gravity along gradations we created in the landscape,” says Renter.
Renter adds that every part of the water feature has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way. “In autumn, leaves from the trees fall into the water and are pushed along the stream where they are caught in a bed of gravel and are easy to remove, like emptying a skimmer basket in a pool,” he says. Considering the energy efficient pumps, which only ramp up when the homeowners arrive, as well as the fact that the system harvests rain water to help sustain its underground water reserve, it’s a project to delight the heart of any green enthusiast.
However, the water feature is not all that The Deck and Patio Company did to help create the ideal vacation spot for these clients. They also build two tumble stone patios on either side of the main vanishing edge pond, that connect through stepping stones along the edge of the house. Wide Techo-Bloc Rocka steps were also installed to lead from the property’s driveway up to the main house.
“Working with Bill was great,” says the wife. “This was a new idea but we were certain he would do it right and wouldn’t stop until it was perfect, including being up to code and regulations. He also took careful, and very technical, measurements for water levels that I didn’t always understand, but he was always confident that he did.”
She adds that their vacation home has become a favorite spot for friends and family who begin “making reservations” well before summer. What she most loves, however, is that the whole feature is chemical free. “While the lower pond is not intended for swimming either, we occasionally find the kids snorkeling with the koi. We understand why it’s so tempting. When you dip in to it, you feel so fresh. Someday, we’d like to add a hot tub as well – if it can be done naturally. If there’s any way it can be done, Bill Renter will be the one to figure it out.”
Written By: June Sullivan