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Happiness Is Having a Pond To Come Home To

 

A little while back, we posted on Facebook two ‘before and after’ photos of this special Deck and Patio pond project.

Apparently they were so appealing, even Facebook’s change in algorithms (ahem) couldn’t limit post viewers and responses. Indeed, these pics were so well received, we thought we’d revisit the pond project in today’s blog. Enjoy!

 

 

Background

 ‘Before’ Pond Project Photo

‘Before’ Pond Project Photo

 

Shortly after the homeowner purchased his property, he contacted us.

An entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

He asked us to accentuate a beautiful 1880 bridge structure with a man-made reflecting pond.

 

 

 

Pond Project

 

“I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”

–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

 

 

 Reflecting Koi Pond (Long Island/NY): Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. This water feature is more than 240 feet long and 60 feet so it also captures the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful water expanse made the perfect habitat for koi.

Reflecting Koi Pond (Long Island/NY):

Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. This water feature is more than 240 feet long and 60 feet wide so it also captures the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful expanse of water made the perfect habitat for koi.

 

 

Ideal Pond Design for Koi (Long Island/NY): Deck and Patio’s team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

Ideal Pond Design for Koi (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio’s team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

 

 

Pond Waterfall (Long island/NY): Our designers incorporated a 12’ waterfall with a 20,000 gallon-per-hour water flow. This helps keep the pond fresh and aerated with oxygen.

Pond Waterfall (Long island/NY):

Our designers incorporated a 12’ waterfall with a 20,000 gallon-per-hour water flow. This helps keep the pond fresh and aerated with oxygen.

 

 

Large Reflecting Pond with Stone Bridge (Long Island/NY): The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water. The water stays this way because we used a natural ecosystem to keep it clean. There is a large bog filter at the waterfall on one end, with a 3,000 gallon pondless reservoir with two 20,000 GPH pumps feeding the waterfall.

Large Reflecting Pond with Stone Bridge (Long Island/NY):

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water. The water stays this way because we used a natural ecosystem to keep it clean. There is a large bog filter at the waterfall on one end, with a 3,000 gallon pondless reservoir with two 20,000 GPH pumps feeding the waterfall.

 

 

Award-Winning Reflecting Pond (Long Island/NY): This pond, we’re proud to add, won a God medal award from the Association of Pool and Spa professionals (APSP) for “Residential Water Feature” as part of their "International Awards of Excellence.”

Award-Winning Reflecting Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond, we’re proud to add, won a God medal award from the Association of Pool and Spa professionals (APSP) for “Residential Water Feature” as part of their “International Awards of Excellence.”

 

 

How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

First, Pond Fish Are A Good Thing!

When a pond water feature is well-designed-and-built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem.

However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Keeping Koi Safe

Keeping Koi Safe

 

 

And while it is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions that will mitigate their attempts to reach your pond fish.

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Rock Overhangs

Adding Rock Overhangs

 

Adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond will give fish a safe place to hide from many predators.

Include rock overhangs around the outside of the pond. This will, first and foremost, make any pond appear more natural while discouraging cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

 

 

 

 

Pond Water Depth is Key

Pond Water Depth is Key

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading.

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, will put off many avian predators.

 

 

Herons do not like deep water

Herons, for example, do not like deep water.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is installing scarecrows, such as owl statues. A net will also work, but most pond owners prefer to limit net use to fall foliage season.

However, one particularly effective deterrent Deck and Patio has found is installing a motion-activated sprinkler.

Indeed, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, agrees. After testing just about every animal repellent conceivable, he wrote in his blog last year:

“…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

—Larry Hodgson, the Laidback Gardener

 

 

Art Courtesy: the Laidback Gardener

Art is Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener

“At Deck and Patio, we believe that if you build your pond well, and install a motion-activated sprinkler, there really is no reason not to add koi to your pond,” says Dave Stockwell.

“And when using a motion-activated sprinkler, you might find it will drive unwanted animals away from your garden as well.”

 

 

 

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

 

The feature photo at the top of today’s blog is artwork courtesy of the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson.

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2018-05-31T13:30:00+00:00 May 31st, 2018|Gardening, Koi Ponds, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Waterfalls|Comments Off on How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

How To Be Confident In Backyard Design Plans

Sometimes even having a reputation as a top notch landscape design/build firm isn’t enough. For, while these Deck and Patio clients were enthusiastic about our design ideas, not being able to picture how it all would look when it was finished concerned them.

This was understandable. We weren’t being hired to simply tidy up their yard. They were looking for a backyard retreat that included a pool with spillover spa, dramatic pool surround, pool house and bar area and attractive landscaping — all in a contemporary design that fitted their style.

3D Landscape Design Plan

3D Landscape Design Plan

“However, our design team had an easy solution,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “We completed a 3D digital animation of the entire project using a special computer program. This permitted them to view every part of the retreat from any angle they wished. Once they saw what it all would look like, they were eager to go forward.”

Dave adds that having this computer program allowed us to document changes during the project — thereby giving the clients confidence that any alterations would appear as expected.

“A major part of their retreat was a custom-designed pool house, with all the amenities of a home. The patio was built with Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers that are reminiscent of old-time European plazas; but we laid them in a random pattern that complemented the lines of the geometric pool.”

Outside the pool house is a custom 25-foot-wide pergola that enhances their ability to entertain in comfort. Providing shade while sitting at the bar or in lounge chairs, it is also a beautiful architectural piece that adds drama to the space.

The project was recognized by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) with a Gold Award for geometric pool design.

“The award, although given to us, was as much the clients’ as ours,” says Dave. They contributed and participated at every level.”

 

 Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

The main feature in this award-winning project was a striking geometric pool with a raised spa surrounded by a multi-level patio. Deck and Patio’s carpentry crew and masons worked tirelessly on this project. From the 25-foot-long microlam beam on the pergola to the smallest detail and door stop on the pool house, everything was built from scratch.

 

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

The raised spa, topped with the same Cambridge Ledgestone pavers used on the patio, spills over through a rectangular cutout that echoes the pool’s overall geometric design.

 

 

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

As the clients step out of the pool house, they walk under a 25-foot-wide shade pergola making this space ideal for entertaining; there is also a handsome bar area, fitted with a sink and all the components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages.

 

 

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

A major part of the project was this custom-designed pool house, complete with a bathroom, changing room, and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view overlooking the pool.

 

In-ground Pool with “Spillover” Spa: There’s More Than One Way to Make a Splash

In addition to a destination in-ground pool — with moss rock waterfall and handsome patio surround and bright landscaping — these clients asked Deck and Patio for a “spillover” spa that would give them not only the joys of a soaking in its relaxing waters, but provide an additional waterfall splashing into the pool. They also wanted to use this spa/hot tub all year, even when the pool was closed.

The Challenge

Most custom in-ground spas that “spill over” are connected to the pool’s functions requiring the pool be on when operating the spa. This would be a problem for the months the pool is closed. Our solution was, rather than build the usual connecting cement spa, we install a portable Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub in way that looked built in — with a waterfall just below it that appears to be coming from the spa, but actually coming out of the pool itself.

The clients agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted, especially since they would also get the superb hydrotherapy benefits of Bullfrog’s JetPaks massage jets/seats — and have those benefits all year long.

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa

The movement in the pool’s free form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow — ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely backyard oasis for a long time to come. And what about during seasons when the pool is closed? There’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area outside of pool season.

 

 

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio.

 

 

Spill Over Spa:

Spill Over Spa:

Deck and Patio set the Bullfrog Spa all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it — and added a moss rock waterfall just beneath that splashes into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, the waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground spa.

 

 

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Next to the Wild Ride slide that also spills water into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over an extended rock.

 

 

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

The free-form vinyl pool was designed with an expansive tanning shelf that boasts room for two large S-shaped recliners. Having no legs, the recliners sit right in the water for a comfortable way to keep cool and sunbathe at the same time.

 

 

Cambridge Paver Patio:

Cambridge Paver Patio:

The handsome patio/pool surround is made with durable Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection). These pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design.

 

 

Bullfrog Spa Installation:

Bullfrog Spa Installation:

We left one side of the hot tub exposed to make it easy to get to the plumbing operation of the hot tub. However, when looking at the hot tub from the patio or pool area, it appears to be all in-ground.

 

 

Keeping Pond Fish Safe and Healthy in Winter

It is a common myth that you can’t leave your pond fish outside once the cold sets in. Actually, fish do just fine during winter. That said, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, does caution to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.

This can be remedied 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. This allows the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascapes Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick suggests using a pond de-icer. “This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.  The fish do not need to eat during this time and, in fact, shouldn’t be fed at all.  

 

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Before winter sets in, carefully look over your plant material and remove dying plant material. These materials rot and build up poisonous gases that can’t escape through ice when it forms. Such conditions might mean the koi are no longer simply hibernating, but are in a dangerous state of torpor.

 

 

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form. But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

 

 

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc)

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc)

This pond has been cleared of excessive plant material and ice does not cover over the pond so that the fish are happily hibernating.

 

 

Water Plants in Winter

Water Plants in Winter:

Hardy water lilies (shown here) that float on the water’s surface and have a short blooming period can withstand the cold winter months nicely. Lotuses also can withstand the cold winter months because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter. Note that frost kills water hyacinths; water lettuce, which fights algae, should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.

 

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

To be on the safe side, take water temperature regularly once it hits 55 or lower. If your pond jewels are hungry and moving about and you haven’t fed them, they will find something in the pond to eat and soon will be dormant anyway.

 

 

Pond Caves for Fish

Pond Caves for Fish:

Ask your pond designer/builder to create a small cave, or caves, where the fish can hide and also lay dormant during the winter months. Caves are easily made from the way rocks are positioned in and around the pond.

 

 

Falling Leaves, Feeding Koi, and Other Pond Tips

Plants and Falling Leaves

“If you want to greatly diminish spring pond maintenance,” says Bill Renter, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, “now is the time to take a few steps to prevent too much debris from accumulating before winter sets in.”

 

Falling Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems:

Falling Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems:

To get some tips on how to protect our ponds, pond expert Dave Kelly at Aquascapes Inc. (St. Charles, IL) offers this advice:

“The best idea is to put up pond netting before the leaves fall,” he says. “But if you didn’t do that in time, you can use a long-handle pond net to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris.”

Ideally, put your net in place before leaves begin falling. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Value of Pond Netting: Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Pond netting is only needed for a short time and will save you countless hours come spring. Ideally, put your net in place before leaves begin falling. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc.

Kelly also suggests trimming back and removing dead foliage from aquatic plants to help remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature.

 

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Pond lilies are idyllic water plants. However, during early Fall, it’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.

 

 

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Since some debris will make it into your pond no matter how hard you work, Aquascape recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).  Dave Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

Caring for Pond Fish in Fall

You can — and should — plump up your darlings to survive winter hibernation, by gradually increasing how much you feed the as temperatures start to drop. When pond water gets below 59 degrees, use fish food made for cold water. As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.

Once temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Dave Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

 

 

Pond Fish in Fall

Pond Fish in Fall:

There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

 

Healthy Ponds Come Spring:

Healthy Ponds Come Spring:

Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall.

Awe-Inspiring Reflections From Man-Made Ponds

“I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”
― Henry David ThoreauWalden

At one time, enjoying something as relaxing and restful as reflections in a pond was occasioned by a lake-side holiday or visit to the mountains. However, with the growth in popularity of backyard escapes/oases, homeowners, in increasing numbers, are bringing that experience home.

Indeed, there is something mystical and restive in pausing alongside pristine still water. It is especially restorative to study the reflections of the surroundings that such water throws back — including distant delights like the clouds and the moon.

As a student of nature and avid outdoor enthusiast, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, believes that water features such as man-made ponds, when correctly designed, positioned, and constructed, can provide a transforming experience in one’s life: a ‘little world all to oneself’ to paraphrase Thoreau.

The following two projects are such examples.

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

This vanishing edge pond, like this project’s second smaller pond, is more than a reflecting pond; it’s also a swimming pond — part of a pristine Deck and Patio backyard oasis that includes the two ponds, a stream, and waterfalls. (See also next 3 photos).

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pond:

Vanishing Edge Pond:

Sunset is a magnificent time to mediate on the illusions created by the reflecting pond’s placid water. The water mirrors its surroundings so perfectly, it can be a challenge to tell the real sky, ocean, and landscape from their reflections.

 

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

The smaller of the two ponds is just steps outside the homeowners’ back door. Note how beautiful the back of the house is captured in the pond and reflected back.

 

 

Pond Stepping Stones:

Pond Stepping Stones:

During the day, stepping stones across vanishing edge pond bring you up close to the images created in the water. Bend down, gently pass your hand through its stillness, and watch the reflections ripple. If there’s a better pastime, we’ve never come across it.

 

 

Man-Made Ponds:

Man-Made Ponds:

Landscape design is an essential element in bringing about beautiful reflections and peaceful scenes. Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter used Mother Nature’s own creations — plants, moss rocks, and the water itself, to design a true mystical experience for this project.

 

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:42+00:00 August 21st, 2014|Infinity Pools, Ponds & Water Features, Pools & Spas|0 Comments

Are You Afraid to Keep Koi in Your Pond?

When a pond water feature is well designed and built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem. However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, offers encouragement: “While it’s true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions one can take that will mitigate these threats.”

For example, adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond will give fish a safe place to hide from many predators. Also, including rock overhangs around the outside of the pond, which first and foremost will make any pond appear more natural, also discourages cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

In addition, planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner. Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading. Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, we have found will put off many avian predators.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is including scarecrows, such as owl statues. In the end, if all else fails, a netting can always be installed over the pond.

Here’s some of The Deck and Patio’s favorite award-winning pond features. And, yes, even if not picked up in the pictures, there’s koi in each and every one.

 

 

Pond Ecosystems:

Pond Ecosystems:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

The homeowner wanted to accentuate the beautiful 1880 stone bridge structure with a reflecting pond. To allow the entire stone gazebo to reflect in the water, the pond had to be more than 250 feet long and 45 feet wide. This created the perfect habitat for koi. Lots of flowing water, rock overhangs, and lots of space to hide.

 

 

 

Natural Ponds:

Natural Ponds:

When creating a new pond, we consider each rock’s form, texture, shape and height. In addition, incorporating such finishing touches as plant material and gravel helps it appear as if it was created naturally.

 

 

 

Where to Position Ponds:

Where to Position Ponds:

We always look over the property for any new pond — both from inside and outdoors — in order to place the pond in the perfect location. Since in the northeast, we spend more time indoors that in our yards, it is essential to see, and perhaps hear, any water feature from key indoor locations.

 

 

 

Pond Water Movement:

Pond Water Movement:

Having the force of moving water into your pond is not only an aesthetic choice, but will deter many natural koi predators. Also —even if it comes from nearby sprinklers — pond water movement helps keep the pond ecosystem healthy by eliminating stagnation.