Our pond experts at Deck and Patio — and a growing number of new clients — want a pond and waterfall less as a lovely background filler and more for the opportunity it offers to invigorate the surrounding ecosystem.
Indeed, the sound and look of moving water brings any yard or business property a restful escape for rejuvenation, which in and of itself is a great idea. But ponds and pond-less water features also provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.
As certified installers of Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), our water systems and water garden products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Using high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, as well as gravel beds, and water plants, these contribute to creating a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.
Such rainwater harvesting systems will support the beautiful water feature you install — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams — by ecologically collecting and reusing rainwater. This captured water can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.
Rainwater Harvesting Reservoirs
“Totally below ground, a rainwater harvesting reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “City water is not used. The water is harvested totally from rainfall on the roof of the house or through permeable pavers. Gravity alone collects it into pipes and moves it along.”
(Above) The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system. Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected. We planted dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe.
Along with waterfalls, stream and pond, for a healthy ecosystem, it is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants). A beautiful Japanese maple shades this pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo).
Permeable Pavers for Water Purification and Collection
Permeable pavers over gravel and a rubber liner allow easy walking while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The gravel underneath the pavers filters the collected water runoff before it is sent to any reservoir installed at the end of a stream/water feature.
The system we use for this is a RainXchange Harvesting System, produced by Aquascapes Inc. In addition to using the water collected by the pavers, the system includes an auxiliary pump that can be connected to any irrigation system including a roof runoff system.
In collaboration with the Town of Huntington, we did such a project at our local Train Station:
This water feature is not just for aesthetics, but it is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The station area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.
100% of this client’s irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. In this first of 3 photos, you see how rainwater is collected from the roof. At any given time, there is now about 1,000 gallons of water in the reservoir and about an equal amount of water underneath their permeable pavers.
Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water. Under all that, a liner captures the rainwater, and it is pitched so it pushes water towards the underground reservoir.
For this project, we also installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes it.