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PLANNING YOUR WATER FEATURE

Various garden settings present different kinds of design possibilities for including water features in the landscape. Design your water feature to fit your space and your lifestyle. During the initial planning phase, consider the following for your pond.

Function - Why you want a water feature...what are the most important characteristics or functions? The sound and look of moving water...an opportunity to grow aquatic plants...providing a water source for wildlife...a fascination with raising and caring for fish, particularly Koi. Although there are many similarities in Fountains, Water Gardens and Koi Ponds, there are also some major differences: Waterlilies prefer still water...Koi eat plants and love to burrow in planting containers...raccoons, herons and other critters eat fish...Make sure to design and construct the type of water feature that suits your purposes and meets your expectations.

Placement - Location and size are the two most important factors in planning a garden pond. For maximum enjoyment, place it in close proximity to your living space, near a patio or deck and preferably where you can view it from inside your home. In sunny open spaces, large garden ponds are a natural. Most flowering aquatics require a minimum of 4 hours of direct sun for good growth and bloom, more is better. Shady sites are ideal for fish ponds, bubbling-gurgling streambeds and small water features. Autumn leaf fall can be a major maintenance consideration in areas with lots of deciduous trees, so keeping the surface area smaller often makes good sense in the shade.

Drainage - Make sure the pond will not block or dam up existing drainage paths and that during heavy rains, pond overflow can get out and away from the pond. Sometimes this requires regrading a portion of the yard, creating swales and berms to divert run-off and/or installing perimeter drainage systems to take excess water away from the pond site.

Power Sources - National Electric Code requires that electrical outlets used for water features be GFCI protected, and located 5-20’ from the water’s edge. Most pumps designed for water gardening come with a 15 - 20' cord. Extension cords are a "no-no". Lighting, whether inside or outside the pond, provides safety and added aesthetics to the scene. If lighting is a part of your eventual plan, make sure the power source is adequate. Consider the need for pond de-icers, additional pumps, a UV light or other accessories.

Style and Materials - Formal, semi-formal or naturalistic- what suits your taste? And what will blend best with the rest of your landscape? Wood, stone, brick and precast block are common choices for pond margins, and some combinations work very well. Wood margins require less space than masonry. If stone is your passion, plan on an 18-24” wide margin, and use large stable stones at access points. Be sure you plan to have at least one course of rock below the water level to hide and protect the liner.

Think once, twice, three times before putting gravel or cobbles on the bottom of your pond. Sure, they look pretty at first, but the voids quickly fill up with inevitable pond muck, creating an anarobic zone which can breed harmful bacteria and produce toxic gases. While bare-bottomed liner ponds that are regularly trimmed and dredged can go for years without a full cleaning, gravel-bottom ponds need to be power-washed annually. The ecosystem in a mature garden pond is much more stable, and hence easier to maintain due to the diversity of microscopic organisms which develop and thrive over time. Plant options for direct gravel plantings are limited. Many aquatics are invasive when left free to roam...and it is difficult to maintain plants without mucking up the pond. So...keep the gravel off the bottom- Please !!

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