Ponds, Waterfalls & Water Gardens
What is it about the sound of water that brings peace, rest and solitude to the mind? The splashing sound of waterfalls, the beauty of water gardens, or the tranquility of ponds designed to enhance your landscape can create a pleasurable haven in your own backyard. Whatever you desire in the way of water features for your surroundings, the Deck and Patio Company can bring the soothing and calming effects of water to your landscape.
"I have this great space in the back of my property for a pond..."
We cannot tell you how many times a client has come to us with the idea of putting a pond into the background. While the acoustics are soothing, the beauty is lost because the pond tends to be out of sight and out of mind. The designers at The Deck and Patio Company incorporate ponds into active space rather than just using it for space filler. Building a pond alongside and in maximum view of the home's deck, patio, window or door, allows a deeper enjoyment in the beauty and interactive environment a pond can provide.
One of the most graceful elements to bring to your landscape is a pond and a waterfall integrated into your surroundings. The Deck and Patio Company is a certified dealer and installer of AQUASCAPE INC.™ water systems and can bring a low maintenance pond, stream and waterfall onto your property.
AQUASCAPE INC.™ has years of experience in designing and building water garden products that are both technologically and biologically efficient. As an authorized pond contractor and installer, Deck and Patio can provide high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters for the garden ponds as well as gravel beds, elegant waterfalls and water plants as a part of a total biological system.
Quick Links for Pond Information:
In 2006 The Deck and Patio Company was awarded the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals Chairman's award, the highest award, for a design and construction that we proudly built in Dix Hills, NY. This honor signifies recognition not just from our industry peers, but from the association as well. We have hundreds of successful ponds and water garden projects and we are always proud to show you photos to inspire you on the possibilities for a pond and water garden on your own.
In order to get the facts and eliminate the myths about the current "state of the art" water garden products, visit AQUASCAPE INC.™.
To get the design that works with your water garden or other water features, call or email the Deck and Patio Company.
Your pond is a very important ecosystem that play host for many
organisms in the environment such as birds, fish, frogs, plants and
many microscopic organisms. Water is the most basic element of an
ecological region that is made up of thousands of elements. As the
commercial industry develops our wild habitats are depleted, so it
is so important to restore and preserve as much of our habitats as
Your all-natural backyard pond plays a very important roll in restoring a part of an ecosystem. An ecosystem pond works along side of Mother Nature to provide food, shelter and safety to the wildlife in and around it. In order for you to have a fully functioning true ecosystem in place you must be sure to include all of the parts that make up the ecosystem. Once you have everything you need you can sit back and enjoy the all-natural beauty of your low-maintenance
pond. The following is a check list and description of everything you will need to operate and maintain your all natural ecosystem pond.
Proper size pumps and plumbing – This creates the circulation system you will need. It keeps the water moving providing the necessary oxygen levels for healthy fish and plants.
Proper size filters – The proper filtration system includes the use of both a biological and a mechanical filter. A biological filter helps beneficial bacteria to colonize and remove excess nutrients from water. The mechanical filter will pre-filter the water and house the pump while skimming debris from the water’s surface to prevent the accumulation of debris on the pond floor.
Rocks, Gravel and Bacteria – Rocks and gravel will not only make your pond look natural but they will also protect pond liners from UV light and provides a tremendous surface area for beneficial bacteria that breaks down excess nutrients in the water and dissolve organic debris on the pond floor.
Aquatic plants – Otherwise referred to as “Mother Nature’s true filters” They not only add color and texture to the pond, but they also add a type of filtration system as well. They thrive on excess nutrients in the pond and as it does this it deprives the algae of its food supply.
Fish – They are a very important part of any ecosystem. Contrary to what some people believe, fish actually reduce pond maintenance. They feed on the string algae and the pond floor and this helps to keep the pond clean.
Trees and ponds don’t mix.
Not true. In fact to have a natural pond what would be better than natural trees? By placing the pond near trees you do run the risk of having more leaves fall into your pond, but the shade from the trees helps keep the algae blooms down to a minimum. Using a skimmer will help to pull most of the leaves and related debris into a net. If the pond is close to trees you will likely have to empty the net on a daily basis which takes about 30 seconds. So don’t worry about trees and ponds. They’re fine.
High tech equipment is necessary to control Mother Nature.
First golden rule when it comes to Mother Nature is if you mess with her you will absolutely lose. The key to a successful water garden is to be observant and to do exactly what Mother Nature does. If she doesn’t do it, chances are you’re not supposed to do it either.
In koi ponds bottom drains work the best.
Many koi keepers believe that the lower levels of the water will lack sufficient oxygen, and this can be detrimental to your koi. The bottom drains are also known to have a tendency to promote leaks, leaving your fish without water.
The more filtration, the better the pond.
You can actually believe or not, over-filter your pond. Remember, we’re not going to be drinking this water our selves, we just want the water to be healthy for our fish. Fish in the wild certainly do not do well in bottled water. Rule of thumb, if you can see a dime on the bottom of the pond, then the water clarity is just right for your fish and filtering past that is not necessary and will create more problems than it’s worth.
If you have a pond in your yard, expect a lot of mosquitoes.
This is a very common mistake. Mosquitoes will generally only lay their eggs in still, stagnant water. If mosquitoes did happen to lay eggs in your pond and the mosquito larvae hatch, the fish in your pond will consider them a tasty snack and will eat them with great enthusiasm. Your skimmer will also sweep up whatever the fish miss.
I have concerns regarding safety and liability!
While it is only natural to have these concerns, it is important to remember how a water garden is installed. They have levels. The first level is only ankle high. The next level is up to your knee, and the last level is just above your knee. We do recommend however that you do let your neighbors know of the water garden and educate your own children and friends about the safety of any body of water.
I can use a timer on my pond!
Not true! Your pond is a living, breathing ecosystem that needs constant oxygen, just like the human race. If you shut your system down at night, then you can never have a sufficient growth of beneficial bacteria to fight algae blooms, and your finned friends will have a hard time breathing.
Your pond water must be tested on a daily basis.
Mother Nature never tests her water, and her ecosystem does just fine. A well conceived, naturally balanced water garden normally requires no testing either.
It’s good to use chemicals in and around your pond.
Products like algaecide (copper sulfate), dechlorinator (sodium thiosulfate), and fish antibiotics are commonly used as quick-fix solutions to balance related problems. The best thing to do is to find the root cause of the problem first then only if necessary use the chemicals. When you have a naturally balanced pond again, allow Mother Nature to take care of all the rest of the maintenance issues.
Rocks and gravel will make it difficult to clean your pond.
Contrary to the myth, having rocks and gravel on the bottom of your pond actually allows Mother Nature to clean up after herself, saving you headaches and hours of work trying to keep the bottom of your pond muck-free. Smooth-bottom ponds, have a tendency to have an incredible amount of muck and grim build up. Some people are amazed at how rocks and gravel can be the solution to that problem. Rocks and gravel offer a natural place for aerobic bacteria to colonize and set up housekeeping. The bacteria helps to break down the fish waste and debris that would otherwise accumulate in the pond and turn into sludge. Regardless of your pond’s location (i.e. close to trees and loads of leaves), or how many fish you have in it, you’ll find that having rocks and gravel in your pond not only makes it look better, but it makes it healthier as well.
Your pond has to be at least three feet deep in order to have koi.
This is a common mistake in the colder climates because people believe the water will freeze and kill the fish. This is un-true because the water in a two-foot deep pond will generally only freeze up to eight inches down, even in the coldest of climates, because of the insulating qualities of the earth that surrounds the pond.
Koi and plants don’t mix.
In a naturally balanced ecosystem, koi and plants complement and need one another. In nature, fish feed on plants. As a result, the fish waste, which is broken down by aerobic bacteria on the bottom of your pond, which, in turn, is used as fertilizer by the plants to grow and produce more natural fish food. It’s known as the circle of life, and to imply that koi and plants shouldn’t co-exist is to ignore nature. Fish naturally love to eat plants, and most of the time the fish will survive nicely without you feeding them at all due to the plants and algae.
You can’t leave your fish out side for the winter.
Fish do fine during the coldest of winters as long as you give them two feet of water to swim in, oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator, allowing the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice. Otherwise, you let Mother Nature do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.
Predators will eat all of your fish!
People constantly have the fear that raccoons and other four-legged predators will go swimming in your pond, and while they’re in there, they’ll help themselves to some of your prize winning koi, or goldfish. When you go out to your pond in the morning and discover your missing a fish or two, it’s very tempting to blame it on such critters, especially if you don’t see it happen. However, take the following facts into consideration before you jump to any conclusions. Raccoons generally won’t swim. That’s not to say they never swim, or couldn’t stand on the edge of your pond and take a paw swipe or two at your fish. Fortunately, most fish will swim to a deeper, more protected part of the pond when a predator is threatening them. The one predator with legitimate credentials is the blue heron. These tall, long-legged, big beaked birds can easily wade into your pond, help themselves to any fish they think look tasty, and fly away with their bellies full. They are a protected species, so they are off-limits if you’re thinking about taking revenge on them. However, a scarecrow, a motion-sensing sprinkler that can be set up alongside your pond, ready to fire a steady stream of water at the heron, has had some degree in success in warding off these curious critters. It’s a good idea to move the sprinkler often though, to keep them guessing. Giving your fish a place to hide dramatically helps their odds of survival. Plenty of lily pads give them some protection and will work to minimize attracting a heron in the first place. Other protection measures include a cave-like structure that can be built in during the pond’s excavation, or if you already have a pond, they can be added with a little remodeling. Rocks are essential in creating these hiding places in your pond. Crevices, or miniature caves, can be created within the rock walls of your pond. The possibility of pond predators seeking out your pond is, indeed, a valid concern in terms of the safety of your pond’s inhabitants, but the possibility shouldn’t be a reason to avoid building a pond.
Tropical Water LiliesThey are much larger and much more fragrant but they don’t withstand the cold winter months like their hearty cousins. They need to be fertilized often. They can be purchased in either a day or night blooming variety. The day blooming water lilies come in different shades of blues and violets. They are also found in white, yellow, pink, and sunset. Night blooming water lilies can only be found in white and shades of red or pink. Their flowers can be 6 to 12” above the waters’ surface.
Marginal AquaticsThey are the largest grouping of aquatic plants. The name “Marginal” comes from the fact that they are usually found growing in the “Margins” or shallow-water areas of lakes, streams, swamps, and rivers. Some examples of marginal plants would be the iris, pickerel rush, sweet flag, canna, umbrella palm, and bulrush. Marginal plants grow in waters with depths of as little as 2” deep and as much as 12” deep.
LotusesThey can withstand the cold winter months and are one of the most impressive aquatic plants in the world. They can grow as large as 13” on 4-6’ stems. Lotuses’ leaves can measure up to 30” in diameter. This flower only blooms in the summer and goes dormant in the winter. Because of there large size they also need to be fertilized often in the spring and then at lower rate regular intervals throughout the growing season. They are limited in colors to choose from but can be found in white, yellow, and various shades of pink.
Hardy Water LiliesThey are lightly scented and are about 2-7” diameter flowers. They float on the water’s surface. They bloom during the day. They are found in a variety of colors like red, pink, yellow, white, and “changeable” The “changeable lilies start out yellow but change to a reddish yellow color over the 3-5 day blooming period. They can withstand the cold weather winter months and prefer to grow in waters 12 to 30” deep.
Water HyacinthWith broad, thick and glossy ovate leaves, water hyacinths may rise some 1 metre in height. The leaves are 10-20 cm across, supported above the water surface by long, spongy and bulbous stalks. The feathery, freely hanging roots are purplish black. An erect stalk supports a single spike of 8-15 conspicuously attractive flowers, mostly lavender to pinkish in color with six petals.
Water LettuceWater lettuce is a free-floating plant with many spongy, dusty green simple leaves. The leaves are covered in very fine hairs and arranged in a spiral pattern from the center of the plant. The leaves are 1 to 6 inches wide and have large veins running their length.
Submerged Plants (Oxygenating)Submerged plants spend their entire lives growing beneath the surface of the water. They are usually called oxygenators. They obtain their nutrients from the water directly through their stems and leaves. By consuming nutrients, they help keep your garden from becoming a slimy green ooze by consuming dissolved nutrients. Submerged plants provide a spawning area and hiding place for fish and other water creatures. However, be careful, many are invasive and should be grown in containers. Common submerged plants include: anacharis, arrowhead, eelgrass and water milfoil.
Fish Feeding Tips
- Fish do not have to eat everyday.
- Give your fish what they will eat in 2-3 minutes per feeding.
- Higher temperatures increase the metabolic rate of fish. Although fish may be fed once a day, they enjoy several feeding times. Be careful, excess food becomes nutrients in the pond that may readily be used by algae.
- Stop feeding when water temperature is below 55˚ F.
- If you feed from a consistent location, your fish can be conditioned to be rather friendly.
- Store fish food in a cool, moisture-free environment in an air-tight container.
Q - Will my pond attract / breed mosquitoes?
A properly-designed pond will not attract mosquitoes, as mosquitoes prefer stagnant water to produce their offspring. Most backyard-ponds have constantly moving water, between the skimmer and the waterfalls/streams. Additionally, any mosquito larvae that manage to hatch will either be sucked into the skimmer or eaten by the fish.
Q - What is the best shape for a pond?
You can shape your pond in any configuration your imagination and budget can handle.
Q - Does the pond need to be drained frequently?
No, the only time it is necessary to drain your pond is during a clean-out, usually in the spring. You see, cleaning out a pond destroys most of the beneficial aerobic bacteria that your balanced aquatic ecosystem depends on. So save your cleanouts for once a year in the springtime, and eliminate headaches and unnecessary cost.
Q - Where is the best place to locate my water garden?
Resist the impulse to locate the pond at the back-corner of the yard, where water tends to accumulate when it rains. The best place to locate your pond is near the area where you spend your outdoor time. Try to situate the pond, stream, and waterfalls so they are visible to different living areas inside the house. By bringing the pond up close the house, you’ll get the most out of your investment.
Q - What's the main purpose of landscaping around the pond?
Aesthetically speaking, the purpose of the landscaping around the pond is the same as the pond itself, for the whole area to look and feel as natural as possible.
Q - Should I expect my pond to be totally algae-free?
Algae is part of Nature and you should expect it to be part of your pond – to a small degree. What you don’t want is for algae to take over your pond. Creating a natural ecosystem utilizing desirable plants will help keep the algae at a tolerable level. Excessive amounts of algae are typically found when the natural ecosystem is out of balance.
Q – Do I have to have plants in my pond?
Yes and No, you must have plants if you want to have a naturally balanced ecosystem and a low maintenance pond where Mother Nature does most of the upkeep. Without aquatic plants, algae will have a field day on the nutrients that are bound to be in your pond. Aquatic plants are an absolute must in the eyes of knowledgeable water gardening enthusiasts everywhere. If you decide not to have fish in your pond and want to chemically treat your pond water then you do not need to have plants in the pond.
Q - How many plants should I have in my pond?
Ideally, 40 to 60 percent of your pond should be covered with plants. They should be made up of a mix of marginal and floating plants, which will not only use some of the nutrients in the water, but they will also provide your fish with shade and cover from possible predators. Additionally, plants make it possible to blend your pond in with existing landscaping.
Q – Will the aquatic plants survive through the winter?
Just like regular garden plants, aquatic plants can be like hardy perennials that come back year after year, or annuals (also known as tropicals) that you’ll need to replant each season (unless you pull them out of the pond and store them in a warm place).
Q – What role do plants play in filtering a pond?
Plants absorb nitrates and phosphates that would otherwise contribute to and encourage algae growth. Generally speaking, the more plants you have, the less algae-related maintenance will be required.
Q - What are the best plants to use close to the pond?
Any creeping plant that acts as a softener, naturally forming around the rocks. Mosses and various ground-covers work very well here.
Q - Will predators eat my fish? How do I prevent that?
It is possible that predators can visit your pond, however the vast majority of backyard-ponds are predator-free. For those ponds that attract unwanted visitors there are products and techniques to help protect your fish friends.
Caves – All koi ponds should be designed with caves for the fish to hide from predators.
The Scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler. When a pest goes near the pond, the infra-red sensor detects it and the Scarecrow shoots a blast of water to scare them away. It has been known to also squirt unwary pets and forgetful pond owners on occasion.
Pond netting – while not the most aesthetically pleasing option, it is fairly successful. A lightweight netting material is draped over the entire pond protecting it from everything but the most determined predators.
Q - How will my fish survive the winter?
If there’s a hole in the ice for gasses (including oxygen) to be exchanged, they’ll simply go down to the bottom of your pond and hibernate until spring. Ponds that are 24” or deeper have plenty of space for the fish to be comfortable, even though ice can be 8 to 10” deep in the colder climates of North America.
Q - Is there a rule of thumb on the number of fish in the pond?
The fish rule of thumb is one inch of fish for every one square foot of pond surface. Overstocking your pond can throw the ecosystem out of balance and lead to fish-health problems. For more information on fish care, visit our (DIN/Fish Care section).
Q - If I have fish, do I really need to feed them?
No, the fish are scavengers and can generally live off of anything the find in the pond, including the algae. On the other hand, if you want to see your fish grow in any significant way or if your pond is heavily stocked with fish, you will need to feed them. Give them no more than what they can gobble down in five minutes. Excess food creates more nutrients that can encourage algae growth, causing more work for you.
Q - Do I have to have fish in my pond?
Maybe, Fish are part of the recipe for a naturally balanced, aquatic ecosystem. A pond without fish is kind of like baking bread without the yeast. It just doesn’t work nearly as well. Not only that, but once you get used to watching them glide gracefully around your pond and you realize how little work is involved in fish keeping you, like most people, will get past the apprehension and be glad that you have fish in your pond. You do not to have fish if you decide to have a pondless water feature installed. Pondless water features do not have a pond therefore you can not have fish.