Nothing adds life and excitement to an outdoor space quite like the sights and sounds of moving water. The first thing that needs to be determined is what exactly you like or find appealing in a water feature and what you wish to accomplish.
• Is it the sound of the water bubbling or “falling” over a rock surface?
• Is it the sight of water flowing or bubbling out of a fountain or cascading over a sharp ledge?
• Would you like to keep fish in the pond?
• Do you enjoy an open area of water for fish and other wildlife that will naturally be drawn to the feature?
• Do you wish to be able to walk or swim in your pond such as a natural swimming pond?
Once you have determined the main reason for wanting a pond it is easier to decide on which type. A pond in which you wish to keep fish is generally going to require much more time and energy to maintain, as well as be more expensive to initially install. Keeping an open pond’s water clear and looking nice can be difficult and sometimes requires a bit of a science. Unlike a pool where one must add chemicals and use mechanical filtration to keep the PH balance correct, a pond (especially a natural looking one) with fish should be thought of as a living, breathing organism. The healthiest and most attractive looking ponds are ones in which the pond becomes its own ecosystem, where plant and fish life and even beneficial bacteria all contribute to keeping the water clear and healthy. Although some form of mechanical filtration,
such as a skimmer, can and should be used to help keep the pond clear, regular maintenance will be much easier if the pond is initially designed and constructed in such a way that nature does most of the work for you.
There are numerous different types of water features. It is important to choose the right type to suite the property, as well as to fit the owner’s ability to care for and maintain it. Types of water features:
• Open water pond
• Pond-less waterfall
• Pond-less fountain
• Natural water feature
• Formal water feature
For example, you would not try to install a large open water pond with a winding stream in a small back yard that would not allow for any other
type of functional space such as a deck, patio, fire pit or play structure. The size and type of water feature should match the size and function of the yard itself. As well, you would not install such a feature so large that it requires more time and maintenance than a family would be able to give it.
I often get calls from people seeking help with their ponds and water features. The most common complaint is that the feature is full of algae or that they are simply no longer happy with how it looks. This is because making an attractive and functional water feature is a lot more involved than simply digging a hole in the ground and filling it with water. The vast majority of water features that I see are installed incorrectly by individuals or companies that do not have the necessary skills or knowledge to build them properly. This is likely because a quote for a professionally installed feature will likely be several thousand dollars more than a quote from someone without the experience or know how. One also needs to consider that a pond or water feature will require landscaping in and around it to make it look and feel like it belongs in that space. A water feature that does not blend into the surrounding landscape properly may stick out like a sore thumb and could look awkward and out of place. For people with extremely busy lifestyles and no time to spend on caring and maintaining a pond, I recommend a pond-less water feature. This can be either a fountain or a pond-less waterfall and stream. A pond-less feature is simply a pond where the basin or reservoir that holds the water supply and pump is filled with rock and spacer material. The void cavities in the basin are filled with water and when the feature is running it gives the appearance that the water just disappears in to the rock. These are much easier to maintain as you do not have to worry as much about algae growth in the water, and because it does not contain fish, it is generally ok to add chlorine or other additives to the water to help with clarity. Pond-less features offer the sight and sounds of moving water without requiring the maintenance of a pond and have gained popularity for this reason. Pond-less features are also less likely to be a liability because no open body of water is visible.
Water features can add a special vibe to any yard.
The traditional water feature has been the pond or stream, but there are many other options available.
A water fountain emerging from the top of a large rock.
What you can do with water features is limited only by the size of your imagination.