Wa­ter fea­tures

Manitoba Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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.

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