pond skimmers

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Testing the Waters: Will Our Family Enjoy a Natural Swim Pond?

Most people are pretty certain their family will enjoy using a regular swimming pool. But a swimming pond? Not everyone is so sure.

One way to test the waters so to speak is ask yourself this question: Do we like swimming in lakes, the ocean, and swimming holes? If the answer is yes to any of these, then, you’ll probably love a natural swimming pond.

After all, families swimming in the ocean have probably brushed up against the occasional bit of seaweed and snorkeled to get close up to colorful fish.

So would it surprise you that in recent years, Deck and Patio (already known as pond experts on Long Island) has been asked to create several man-made ponds — designed especially for the clients’ swimming enjoyment?

In fact, here’s a video of people doing just that in a Long Island natural swimming pond created by Deck and Patio:

 

 

But what about bacteria?

In an earlier post on Aquascape Inc.’s website entitled Growing Up Around a Pond, the writer focuses on the ’10 most interesting things’ she has learned from having just such a pond:

all bacteria is not bad;

swimming in a pond is more fun than in a pool;

ponds are wondrous at night;

ponds are better than TV or video games.

We would have to agree with her. Snorkeling in a regular swimming pool isn’t all that exciting.

That aside, swimming in a pristine natural pond is very possible and thrilling. Using the right underlayment, liner, Biofalls and skimmers, bog filtration and water plants are all part of creating the perfect experience.

 

Pond/Playground Oasis in Brooklyn, NY

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

One great example of a swimming pond was this Deck and Patio project in Brooklyn. The heart of the project is, of course, its eco-friendly pond, which we built initially as a very shallow pond — only 8” deep.

That was deep enough so their young children could swim and play in it. However, we also constructed the pond to “grow” with them. We used boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they got older, could be removed — exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

The finished natural playscape is reminiscent of a secret cove on a desert island. It boasts a swimming pond with a beach-style entry, three waterfalls, a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features.

 

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond is one of two ponds the clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. Now you may think that our beautiful model is avoiding the ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

 

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim.

 

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

The child in all of us loves natural swim ponds. This photo was published originally by a homeowner who wrote an Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond.” She captured  her son in the photo encouraging a friend to join him in the pond.

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One ways you ensure a pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. This allows the aquatic plants and natural filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.

 

 

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.