Wa­ter Fea­ture De­sign And Main­te­nance

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - HOME & GARDEN SHOW -

Home­own­ers can em­ploy many dif­fer­ent de­sign tech­niques to cre­ate one- of- a- kind prop­er­ties. Adding a wa­ter fea­ture to a land­scape is one such tech­nique.

Wa­ter gar­dens, koi ponds or foun­tains have been home land­scap­ing trends for the past sev­eral years. Although wa­ter fea­tures can add an el­e­ment of re­lax­ation to land­scapes, such fea­tures re­quire main­te­nance to keep them at­trac­tive and run­ning prop­erly.

The right de­sign

Home­own­ers should cre­ate a wa­ter fea­ture de­sign that is fit­ting with the scale and style of their homes while also keep­ing their life­styles in mind. Ponds are pop­u­lar wa­ter fea­tures and, like pools, come in both in­ground and above- ground styles. Above- ground ponds are eas­ier and faster to build than in­ground ponds and may be safer op­tions for par­ents of young chil­dren. Streams and wa­ter­falls also are pop­u­lar and can make use of nat­u­ral vari­a­tions in prop­erty grad­ing. Foun­tains can be free­stand­ing struc­tures or a com­po­nent of a pond or an­other body of wa­ter.

Rec­og­nize that the lo­ca­tion of the wa­ter fea­ture can im­pact its main­te­nance. For ex­am­ple, a foun­tain or pond lo­cated di­rectly un­der de­cid­u­ous trees will re­quire more fre­quent clean­ing to re­move leaf and tree de­bris. Ponds that re­ceive di­rect sun­light may have more pro­nounced al­gae growth. Home­own­ers should work with a skilled wa­ter gar­den ex­pert in plan­ning the fea­ture’s de­sign and lo­ca­tion with safety and up­keep in mind.

Main­tain pumps. Wa­ter fea­tures re­quire the con­stant flow of wa­ter to pre­vent stag­na­tion and pro­lif­er­a­tion of mos­quito and other in­sect lar­vae. That re­quires a pump to push the wa­ter around. Ac­cord­ing to Grounds Main­te­nance, a green in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als re­source, the pump should be se­curely sit­u­ated on level ground so that vi­bra­tions will not cause the pump to move around and even­tu­ally loosen fit­tings.

Even pumps pro­tected by an in­take fil­ter or screen can be­come clogged with de­bris. It’s nec­es­sary to rou­tinely in­spect the screen and the pump fil­ter and re­move any ob­struc­tions. Oth­er­wise, the pump mo­tor can over­heat and mal­func­tion.

Keep in mind that de­bris also may in­clude an­i­mal life, such as frogs, snakes, tur­tles - any­thing that may be drawn to the wa­ter fea­ture.

Find­ing bal­ance. The wrong bal­ance of con­di­tions in the wa­ter can cause prob­lems. Ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts at This Old House, which of­fers ideas and ad­vice for old house en­thu­si­asts, al­gae can be the root of all evil in gar­den fea­tures. Con­trol­ling nu­tri­ents, which may in­volve watch­ing the lev­els of ni­tro­gen com­pounds and phos­pho­rous, will help con­trol the al­gae.

Avoid lo­cat­ing the wa­ter fea­ture where lawn and gar­den runoff will find its way into the wa­ter. Fil­tra­tion and rou­tine test­ing of wa­ter lev­els also can help. Wa­ter fea­tures that are not meant to be­come wildlife habi­tats may ben­e­fit from a mild san­i­tizer to keep al­gae at bay. A thor­ough clean­ing of lin­ers at the end of the sea­son to elim­i­nate ma­te­ri­als that build up on the bot­tom can help, too.

Win­ter prepa­ra­tion. When colder weather ar­rives, home­own­ers must de­cide if they want to keep the wa­ter fea­ture run­ning or shut it down. Many ex­perts say smaller ponds should be drained, cleaned and left empty un­til spring. This is also a time to cut back the dead plant ma­te­rial and re­move any trop­i­cals from the wa­ter. Re­move pumps and drain wa­ter fea­ture lines so they can over­win­ter with­out freez­ing.

Wa­ter fea­tures can make prop­er­ties invit­ing. But such fea­tures add an­other level of main­te­nance to land­scap­ing tasks.

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