January 17, 2019

The Pondless Waterfall – DIY

pondless stream with lush planting

The Pondless Waterfall

The pondless waterfall is exactly what you need if you have ever thought about putting a water feature in your outdoor space.  After researching all that is involved with pond ownership realize that it’s tons of work?  Your life is busy and finding the time, energy and money that goes into digging and maintaining a pond is almost unimaginable. That’s where the idea of a pondless waterfall comes in.

There are a couple of ways to approach this.  If you are looking for a simple plug and play type of solution, then a backyard fountain may be enough to satisfy that craving for bringing another dimension to your space.  However, if you are like me and want a more natural feel, then the pondless waterfall is exactly what you are looking for.

Keep It Simple

typical backyard pond and waterfall setup

Much of the hassle of a conventional pond and waterfall setup can be eliminated.  The digging is minimal and the maintenance that goes along with pond ownership is almost completely eliminated as well.

Come Up With a Game Plan

So let’s begin this project the way any project should begin, in the planning stage.  This can be the most difficult to do if you have a tough time making decisions. Location is the key.  Not only do you want your new waterfall and stream visible, but you also want it within earshot of your normal outdoor gathering place.

summer rushing waterfall

A stream with rushing water is one thing, but if a waterfall is added it’s entirely something else as far as sound is concerned.  I had no idea the impact a waterfall had on the noise, even in the outdoors. The white noise it creates almost completely eliminates any other sound from the space.  This is important to keep in mind when choosing location.

I have noticed from personal experience that conversations around my waterfall are somewhat private.  The sound of the water eliminates the chance of someone eavesdropping in on what you are saying. Just keep this in mind if you plan on a roaring waterfall next to your outdoor dining area.

Flow or Fall

When going the pondless route, you may not find a need for a waterfall at all.  Just the mere sound of water winding down over the rocks to its destination is a tranquil sound that won’t completely disrupt the atmosphere, and adds a bit of seemingly natural ambiance to the space.  The above image is a stream at a venue for a wedding. It creates a beautiful backdrop without completely taking over.

Once you have decided what you want, and where you want it, it’s time to lay out your project.  Use a garden hose to outline either side of your waterfall or stream. Move the hose around until it looks exactly the way you want it to.

pondless stream waterfall

The basic design of a pondless water fall is a waterfall unit or spill way, the water then flows down your rubber liner into a reservoir where it is then pumped back up to your spillway unit.  Be sure there is a correctly grounded power source near the reservoir.

Hammer Out the Kinks

How the water flows from one end to the other is entirely up to you?  There could be a steep cascade and then an area where the water can pool before dropping down again.  Or it could simply rush from your spillway to your reservoir without dropping off at all. This is all in your vision and design.

small pondless waterfall without a stream

If your goal is a robust waterfall with ledges and spill overs, then you will need to increase your elevation from start to finish.  If you are starting with level ground this could be a challenge. The higher your waterfall the deeper you will need to dig to provide the right amount of excavated dirt for your drop off.  Or you could order a few yards of top soil to help with raising the elevation.

When In Doubt Improvise

Instead of using dirt under your starting point, stacked cinder blocks work very well.  When they are placed on undisturbed ground they will settle very little. You could use them throughout as you step down from start to finish.  Be sure to put a thin layer of dirt, or even a piece of old carpet over top of them to act as a cushion between the blocks and the liner.

Although the rubber liner is very durable, I would rather not take my chances with a tear due to the liner rubbing on the course cinder blocks.

If you are starting on level ground, you will create a pitch by placing the dirt you excavate from the reservoir to the start of your stream.  If your plan is to incorporate a waterfall, more dirt may need to be brought in. Keep in mind, dirt that has been freshly disturbed is going to settle, so compact it as you go as best you can.

Crunching the Numbers

albert-einstein-alphabet-black-and-white-256369

The rule of thumb for the size of your reservoir is to have three times the volume of water your stream and waterfall hold.  This will ensure that your pump doesn’t take on any damage due to it running dry. To calculate water volume, the formula is Length X Width X Depth X 7.5 = water volume in gallons

Here is an example: For a 3’ wide stream that is 20’ long with an average depth of 3”

3’wide X 20’length X .25’ (3inches) deep X 7.5 = 112.5 gallons of water in the stream and waterfall

112.5 X 3 = 337.5 gallons of water in reservoir

In the case above example the reservoir would need to be approximately 48 cubic feet.  This is calculated by taking the gallons of water in the reservoir and dividing by 7.5.  Dig a hole with the dimensions of 6’wide X 4’long X 2’deep and it would offer a 360-gallon reservoir.  It is better to be oversized than undersized.

Go All In

Ok, you know how much liner you will need, it’s time to order your materials.  If you do this now before you break ground, there is a good chance everything will show up right when you are ready for it.  You can purchase precut liner in various sizes, just don’t forget to order the geotextile underlayment to go with it. This helps protect the liner from shifting rocks and roots underneath the liner once it is in place.

Your best option is to get a pondless waterfall kit. This way you can be sure all of the pieces are sized right and will fit together perfectly, and you won’t forget anything. Here (affiliate link to Amazon) is the best place to get one of these kits.

You can purchase these items one at a time, that’s fine too. Here is a list of what you will need for a typical installation:

Typical Parts List

  • Pump
  • Filtration
    • Pondless Waterfall Vault
    • Pondless Vault Extension
    • AquaBlox (or gravel for a reservoir)
  • Waterfall Spillway
  • Lighting – (optional, but recommended)
  • Return Hose
  • Liner – 45 mil EPDM
  • Underlayment – Geotextile – protects liner from sharp objects
  • Components – Pump Check Valve Assembly, all necessary fittings and
  • Silicone sealants

Now that you have all of your dimensions figured out and you’ve decided on a location it’s time to get to work.  Place your waterfall filter unit or water diffuser at the desired height you wish your stream to start. Get it close to level but don’t worry about getting things perfectly level at this point, we will do that in a later step.

Use a can of spray paint if possible and paint an outline of your project.  Remember before you start any project be sure the area is void of utilities. Call before you dig

Here We Go

Begin to dig, starting with where your reservoir will be.  As you dig, place the excavated dirt at the opposite end of your project, creating an elevation for the water to move through.  If your design is going to be similar to a mountain stream, then there will not be much elevation required.

Amazing steep waterfall

The pitch can be as gradual or as steep as you wish, but there needs to be one.  No less than 1 inch drop over 4 feet. For a 20’ stream you would need to drop at least 5 inches at the very minimum from start to finish in order to keep the water flowing.

As you dig your stream bed you also must dig a trench alongside the bed to place your return line.  This small trench only needs to be a little wider than your return line, and I would recommend a depth of at least 8 inches.  This trench needs to go from your reservoir to where you place your diffuser.

Time To Put The Pieces Together

Once you’ve excavated the dirt and are happy with the pitch it’s time to be sure your stream is free from rocks, roots or any other sharp objects that could possibly puncture your liner.  Now place your underlayment into the stream. It should be placed wherever the liner will lay.

Now place your liner into your river bed.  It’s ok to walk on the liner. Remove as many wrinkles as you can.  This could be difficult depending on the shape of your design. You don’t need to get all the wrinkles out the stone will hide them in the next step.

Take notice that when you place your liner there is excess of 8”-12” on all sides to allow for proper water containment.  The bank of your stream and the reservoir need this as well to be sure no water is lost when the feature is on.

Get The Right Gear

Aquascape Waterfall Spillway water diffuser

If you are using a typical water diffuser for the outlet of your pondless falls, then all you need to do is be sure it sits lower than the liner surrounding it.  Don’t worry about how it looks, this will all be taken care of in the next few steps.

I would recommend using a diffuser as opposed to a waterfall filter as the water outlet, just because it would be much less maintenance throughout the year.

Does Size Really Matter

Depending on the size and scope of your project you may find it beneficial to use two separate liners, one for your waterfall stream, and another for your reservoir.  Be sure that if you go this route the long stream liner goes into the reservoir liner and they overlap by a couple of feet. You could also seal them together for extra insurance.

Now that the liner is in place it’s time to create some empty space in your reservoir.  This can be done using large gravel, or the more efficient and cost effective way is to use Aquablox.  These polymer blocks can be used to fill the void allowing the maximum volume of water in your water feature system.  Use as many as necessary to fill the void.

large and small AquaBlox

At this point you will also need to put your pump housing in place.  If you use a pondless waterfall kit, then the pump housing and Aquablox will connect together assuring proper operation.  Be sure the top of the pump housing is above grade so it doesn’t wind up under water if things ever flood out. Use gravel or large rocks to level and get your housing to the desired height.

Putting It All Together

aquablox installed with optional waterfall vault

Now it’s time to hook everything up before we start to rock it all in.  Connect your return line to your pump and run it in the trench you made alongside of your stream.  Connect the other end to your water diffuser at the top of your water feature.

Go ahead and tighten all of your connections at this point.  We will be testing our system once we get our rocks in place.

Be One With Nature

Perhaps before you start to rock your stream or waterfall bed, take a walk in the woods and notice how nature is the perfect architect.  There are no perfectly straight paths. Creeks and streams are usually framed in with larger rocks and boulders.

a quiet stream in the woods

By doing the same thing in your project, you will create interest and make your feature more appealing.  Starting at the top of the stream where your water diffuser is, begin to rock your stream bed. Begin with the larger rocks and frame in the way you wish the water to flow.

Place larger rocks in the center of the stream to add interest and give the water something to flow around just like in nature.  Once you’ve framed in your stream it’s time to cover all the remaining liner with the river gravel (I usually use river rock that is native to my part of the country for a natural look). When you are placing your rocks, remember to try and mimic nature.

Waterfall Creation

If you are adding things to your feature like waterfalls and drop-offs, the key to this is to find the right spill rock.  I use a piece of slate which works very well. When setting your spillway, start from the bottom up. Stack up rocks under your spillway.  Use waterfall foam to help hold everything together, but don’t completely rely on it.

Your stacked stone should be able to stand on its own without the aid of the foam.  When stacking stone, it is a good practice not to let any vertical seams go more than two courses high.  This practice will add a lot of stability to your stonework.

natural waterfall

Once you’ve built a level solid place for your spillway rock to rest put it into place.  Check that it is level and slightly pitched forward to encourage the water to flow in the desired direction.

The biggest problem with spillover rocks in a stream is the fact that most of the water will tend to flow behind your spillover rock rather than over it.  To avoid this use waterfall foam between the spillover rock and the liner. After you spray the foam, immediately place rocks and pebbles into the fresh foam to disguise it.  This provides a great barrier to force the water in the right direction.

Merrily Down The Stream

Using large character boulders to make a man made stream look natural

Make your way down the stream covering the liner with rocks and pebbles.  Make things look as natural as possible. Don’t worry about the liner that is past the border of your stream.  That will be dealt with when we do our plantings in a later step. Stop when you get to the reservoir.

Clean It Up

Now it’s time to take a break and wash everything down.  I used a dirty water pump for this process. If you don’t have one they can be rented relatively cheap.  I knew I would use mine more than once so I purchased one.

Place the pump at the lowest point in the reservoir and begin to wash everything down.  As the reservoir fills up, pump out the dirty water. Doing this will save you wear and tear on your waterfall pump.  Keep rinsing everything down until the water is clear. It may take a while, and don’t worry about getting every last bit of dirt either.  Just get most of it. When you are done, pump out all the water from the reservoir and remove your dirty water pump.

With your rocks and stream all rinsed off its time to fill in the reservoir around the Aquablox.  Be careful not to move them as you fill around them. As they sit, they should be well below grade so getting rocks and gravel beneath them could cause problems down the line.

hidden waterfall vault

Add gravel until the Aquablocks are covered being mindful not to get gravel into your pump housing.  With everything rocked it, now comes the fun part. Begin to fill up your reservoir. Do NOT turn your pump on until your reservoir is full.  Running a pump dry will burn it up. Keep filling until the water level is a few inches from the top of your pump housing.

The Moment of Truth

Now gather everyone around for the moment of truth!  Perhaps a drum roll may even be required. Plug in your pump and stand back in AWW as the space you’ve created comes to life.   At this point sit back and relax a bit. You should let your new water feature run for at least 24 hours just to be sure there are no leaks or issues.

Once you are confident everything is up to par, it’s time to do all the finishing touches.  Let’s start with trimming the excess liner from the edges. When doing this it’s important to leave a little extra just in case things settle and shift over the course of the seasons.

transition from water to land hiding a pond liner

The liner can be hidden fairly well by sandwiching it between rocks on the side closest to the water, and dirt on the backside.  Then whatever is sticking up can be trimmed off. The key is to be sure you don’t put the liner lower than your water line. If you do, water could leak out of your feature and your pump would run dry.

Another trick to hiding the liner is to add a planting where the stone meets the dirt.  This is great camouflage and adds a natural look to your whole feature. See some of our other articles for lighting tips and other ways to finish the edge.

In Conclusion

So there you have it.  The pondless waterfall (link to Amazon for the best price) may be exactly what you have been looking for.  All the perks of a garden waterfall without the maintenance involved with pond ownership. With the pondless water fall or stream, once its built there is nothing more to do but relax and enjoy it. 

Creating your own at home getaway can work wonders on your stress levels, not to mention the pride you will feel by doing this yourself.  Just follow the steps and you will get the professional results you deserve. If you found this tutorial helpful, please leave a comment below.  Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to leave them below, we love to hear from you.

November 27, 2018

Family Bonding Activities – The Water Garden

Family bond

When I first set out on the journey or should I say adventure of fatherhood, I knew there were a few key elements from my childhood that I wanted to carry on.  One of the most important things for us was that our family always sat down every night (not in front of the TV) and enjoyed dinner together. This was one of my favorite family bonding activities.  This was a time to share how our day had gone, any funny stories, or any positive and negative things that happened to us.  It was a wonderful outlet for a child. Everyone got their turn to add to the conversation, and everyone had a voice.

Lucky

clover close upI have been fortunate enough to carry on that same tradition with my family.  With technology advancing at unimaginable rates, all the while growing older and time seems to be speeding up.  It’s nice to think that there are still things that we can all do as a family.  No matter what age we are, we all need that feeling of togetherness and belonging.

Here I go rambling on, but think about a family trip you may have been on.  It’s much more difficult to remember the trips that went smoothly. For example, I bet you remember the trip when you got that flat tire, or your luggage was lost in oblivion.  The mishaps in life are what gives it flavor.

Overcoming difficulties and prevailing is what makes it all worthwhile.  Life wasn’t meant to run smoothly, and if it weren’t for the bumps, how would you even know you were living.  What we leave behind are the memories that we shared with others.

Bringing The Family Together

digging a holeOf all the family bonding activities, this was the mother of them all.  Trying to find activities that brings everyone together is more difficult now than ever before.  It’s hard to find people looking up from their phones for more than a few minutes… even while driving.  My son may disagree, but there is nothing better than digging in and getting your hands dirty. Even though I know he is allergic to hard work, the memories we all made was worth the sweat.

aquatic-plants-background-beautiful-424763digging a holeLife is a funny thing, when you look back in retrospect there are moments that really stand out among the rest.  I believe that is what I have created with my family.

That’s where my backyard water garden comes in.  It represents the time we all spent together. It’s something we can still do as a family.  It’s when we come together to accomplish something that we grow an appreciation for things. They all pitched in and helped with the digging, some more reluctant than others.  However, having a challenge that we all overcame together was a priceless lesson.

Never Stop Learning

albert-einstein-alphabet-black-and-white-256369Sounds crazy but you can learn a lot from digging a hole.  Digging a hole is a metaphor for life itself. Sometimes you hit a stone and have to dig around it to get the scope of it before you can remove it.  Running into a root and having to take a step backwards to get it out before you can move forwards. These all echo life, especially the notion that if you keep at something eventually you will get to your desired result.

Starting with a simple pond kit, building and working in my water garden has given me the opportunity to bond with my children. It has taught us all valuable lessons about life, persistence, and a little something about nature, all the while beautifying our home.

More Than I Could Imagine

amazing-balance-blur-312839I have to admit it has been a great experience all the way through.  Now when I get home from work I sit at the waters’ edge and drink coffee with my wife.  My kids come out in their own time and tell me about their day.  Carving out this little sanctuary in the busy world has worked wonders for my stress level. It also provides a welcoming, tranquil atmosphere for my family to gather and talk.

blue-sky-bright-cloud-formation-174540Creating your very own sanctuary to recharge your batteries and ponder all the things life throws at you is really not that difficult.  When you’re ready to start yours check out our how to build a pond tutorial and begin your journey. If you’re not sure what you will need to begin, complete kits can be found in our pond shop.  They have everything you need to get started.

Reflections In The Water

macro-reflection-splash-45229Life goes by in a hurry, I hope you are as fortunate as I have been to capture the moment and create memories with your family.  Remember the larger or more difficult the family bonding activities are, the more powerful memory they create. 

This article may not fit into the typical post about pond life, it’s just a reflection of what I have experienced building my backyard water garden.  I would love to hear your experiences, or if you have any questions or comments, please drop them below.  We enjoy the feedback we get from you. Wishing you only the best on all your future projects~

October 16, 2018

At The Water Garden – Season in Review

frog in the water garden

Summer in a Nutshell

I know I know; Most of my time has been spent at the water garden.  I haven’t added much as far as articles go this summer.  Things have been busy at backyard water garden headquarters. Between a constant string algae invasion, a family of frogs moving in and a new discovery, there is never a dull moment.

Summer bloom blossom colorsNow that summer is slowly drawing to a close and we start to transition into the next season things are beginning to slow down a bit. It has been a wild summer (pun intended) this year for sure!  If you subscribe to my YouTube channel, then you know that things have been growing and evolving all season long.

From Out of Nowhere

My daughter was the first to notice our latest discovery. Nature had taken its course and our pond is now filled with tiny fry, one of which has actually changed to an orange and black color.  We call him “Tiny”, although he is growing rapidly. This was the first of the spawn that we noticed. Over the next few days we noticed more and more emerging from the pond vegetation.

The koi have only been in the water garden for two seasons, and I was under the impression that they would not spawn until they were at least three or four.  Must be something in the water “wink wink!”

All kidding aside, I think I may be in trouble.  From what I could count there seem to be dozens of them.  Another thing is that they are all different sizes, which leads me to believe they are from different batches.  

Small Fry

The fry, grey in color until they reach a certain size then it seems their true colors come shining through, although to contradict what I just said, I have seen some very small ones that are colored already. Koi fry start to get their colors approximately two weeks after hatching.

koi fry

I haven’t done anything to encourage this to happen.  I was always under the impression that getting koi to mate and have the fry survive was a daunting task.  This has been a learning experience thus far, and if things keep going this way I may just have to create another water garden… MY FAVORITE!!!

Onto the Next Big Thing

rushing waterfallMy mind is already filling with all sorts of crazy ideas!  In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts of the whole thing, letting my imagination dream up the next project, then bring it to life.  I am warning you, once you start with a hobby like this it’s tough to not let it get out of hand. 

I am already trying to figure out how to create a natural looking hillside in my backyard creating an upper and lower pond connected by a rushing stream.  Similar to the picture you see here… wouldn’t that be something!  I may need a little more help with this project than my kids!

The difficult part will be getting my wife to go along with it, although she has been nothing but supportive during this whole backyard adventure.  She has even been the one capturing most of the pictures you see here. To see more beautiful nature shots, not just ponds check out DK Photography.

Another Discovery

The other day I went to do my routine skimmer box clean out, when I was greeted by yet another guest.  A small water snake had made its home in the dark corners of my skimmer box.

I carefully and swiftly placed it into a bucket to transfer it across the road and around the corner in a nearby creek.  When it comes to location, I am fortunate to live where I do. Poisonous snakes, alligators, poisonous spiders and the like are not a huge concern.  Keep all this in mind if you do live in a warmer climate, just like that famous quote from Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come.”

Fortunately, the worst thing I have to be weary of is how cold it’s going to get this winter.

Be Sure to Prep

Now back to my dilemma.  My plan so far is to get my water garden ready for winter in the same way I did last year, and wait until the spring to see how many of the young koi make it through.  Our winters can be harsh up here in Western New York, but the koi seemed just fine all season long.

Autumn leaves over waterBut before I begin thinking about the snow, there is another nuisance that shows up first.  When the leaves come down. Sure they are a beautiful site on the country side and when driving through the mountains.

This can be an irritating time for any water garden owner.  However, there is a remedy for this just like everything else.  Use black netting to cover your pond. I have done this in previous years and it has worked like a charm.

One tip, keep the netting above the water by pulling it tight.  If the weight of the leaves makes the netting dip into the water, it will act like a giant tea bag.  This happened to me the first year. The water turned a deep brown in color. It went away after my spring cleaning, but why go through all that.

Beware Old Man Winter

The most important thing to remember is to keep the ice broken on the surface so the poisonous gasses can escape.  This can be accomplished by using an aerator to keep the water moving. An aerator is simply an air pump with a hose that connects to an air stone that is submerged in water.  If you have ever seen a bubbler in a fish tank that is essentially the same thing. That’s what I used and it seemed to do the trick.

winter landscapeThere were a few days that the surface froze over even with the aerator moving the water, and I had to go out and break up the ice a bit, but those days were rare.  Another thing is to not place your aerator on the bottom of your pond. If you built shelves like I did, then place them on the shallowest shelf. The reason for this is to not disturb the deeper water with air that is cooled by the winter air.  By keeping it close to the surface you will break the ice without super cooling your fish.

Wrapping It Up

frog in the water gardenIt has been a great season out by the water garden.  There is always something new to see and enjoy.  There is still plenty of time to enjoy out by the pond as the seasons change.  When you’re ready to start your project stop by our pond shop, we have everything you need to help you get started.  Comments and questions are always welcome so feel free to leave them below and I will respond as soon as possible. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to have their own waterfront property!

October 9, 2018

The Water Garden

the water garden

OK, let’s face it, this is obviously your “thing” or else you wouldn’t be here still reading this right now.  We all have a passion for gardening, and creating beautiful spaces by way of plantings and water features.  Here are a few tips to keep your water garden looking its best.  The key is naturally transitioning into the landscape.

Planning

waterfall with stone edgeWhen you first started out designing your project you may have had the edge in mind. Maybe your design includes a deck or boardwalk that hangs over the water to get you as close as possible to the water’s edge.  In this case you may make the water deeper where the deck is.  This way your fish will be happy to greet you at feeding time.  There is just something majestic about hand feeding koi.

Another beautiful design that may suit your taste is to have a flagstone walk up to the shore of your new water feature.  Whatever your vision, be sure to plan ahead for it so you can bring it to life when it is finished.

Gardening – Out of the Water

stone garden edgeNatural garden transitionA lot can be said for how you finish off your garden.  This is just as important as the construction of your pond.  After all, it’s the first thing you see when you walk up on your water garden.  The plants at the waters’ edge and surrounding area will determine how natural your pond blends into the landscape.

I have seen many a tacky pond where this was overlooked.  Their outdoor landscape looked like a black tub in the middle of their yard with mulch around it.  Avoid this mistake and take the time to research and do some proper plantings around your water feature.  This will bring all of your hard work together and create the masterpiece you desire.

Softening the Edge

rock edgingThe stonework around your ponds edge came out incredibly!  You may be so happy with the job you did that you don’t want to hide it with plants.  I assure you that once you do, it will not hide your stone work, but enhance the overall look of the landscape.

Some plant species seem like a good idea at the time because they are fast growing and will add greenery to your landscape in a relatively short period of time.  Just look at the big picture when you are selecting which plants to use.  Some are extremely invasive and will take over if not kept at bay.  If you don’t mind the constant battle, then by all means use them.  Just remember when you spend an entire day cutting back the out of control Creeping Jenny, that you are the one who planted it!

If you insist on using an invasive species, you may want to give yourself a helping hand and plant in containers to stop it from spreading like wild fire.

Controlling Runoff – Avoid Contamination

Walk up pond edgeWhen it’s time to put the finishing touches around the edge of your pond it’s important to keep in mind that rain runoff water needs to be kept out.  To make this happen the liner of the pond needs to be brought up above the water level of the pond to make a ridge around the outside edge.

This can be accomplished by using a rock on the inside of the pond and back-filing behind the liner with dirt or stone.  In doing this you will ensure any runoff water will be kept out of your closed water ecosystem.

Another important thing to do is create an inviting way for visitors to walk up to the waters edge.  There are multiple ways this can be accomplished.  I’ve seen wooden decks built up to the edge, but I choose to use flagstone for a more natural transition.  Another reason to create an inviting walk up is to keep traffic where you want it.  I don’t want visitors walking and climbing on the other side of my water feature, so by creating this walk up area people are drawn to it and not the other side.

Planting up to the edge

transition from pond to gardenThe idea here is to make the transition between the water and land look as natural as possible.  The challenging part is to keep the water and land separate.  This can be accomplished by planting the same water loving plants in and out of the water close together.  The foliage from the plants will hide the transition for a natural look.

When planting in the waters’ edge, use pond soil wrapped in landscape fabric to hold the soil in place, then simply hide it in the rocks.  Plant the same type of plant on the other side of the liner so the foliage from both plants look like a single plant.

In Conclusion

The backyard water gardenBegin with the end in mind.  Just like any project, you need to plan it out before you begin.  Even the finishing touches need to be taken into consideration.  When you set yourself up in this way, it is much easier to see your vision come to life!

If you are ready to get started, check out our how to build a pond, or how to build a pondless waterfall series for some great ideas to bring your vision to life.  I believe everyone deserves their own water front property.

As always, I wish you the best on all your future projects.  Do you have any experiences you would like to share? I would love to hear about them.  Please leave a comment or any questions below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  That’s what I’m here for, so please don’t hesitate to ask.

Building a Dry Stack Stone Wall

dry stack stone wall

dry stacked stone wallBuilding a dry stack stone wall is not as difficult as it looks if you follow a few guidelines.  You can create a beautiful dry stacked stone retaining wall that won’t look like someone just dumped a pile of rocks around your garden.  You can also use these techniques when you are rocking in your pond.  If you follow these guidelines you will have a sturdy wall that will last for years.

Foundation

As with many things in life, you must start with a strong solid foundation.  The success of your project depends on this.  To begin with, dig down below grade. Keeping it as flat as possible.  If you are putting your stone wall on a hillside or ground with any sort of slant to it, then you want to start at the lowest point.  Dig down an inch or so below the lowest point.

This next part all depends on what type of climate you live in.  I am in the north east United States and we get our share of wintery weather. For me it is important to have proper drainage below your wall to prevent it from shifting during the freezing and thawing cycles.  This can be easily accomplished by simply adding about an inch or so of gravel below your first course.

By placing gravel below your wall you allow the water to drain out from beneath reducing your chances of the wall shifting due to excess rain or snow.

Keep It Tight

Be sure to compact the dirt or gravel to reduce settling. Try not to disturb the ground deeper than you plan on digging when you dig to lay your first course.  Keep your shovel flat will also reduce the amount of settling that occurs.

Start laying your first course.  Try to keep the size of the rocks random.  You don’t want to use all your large rocks in one course.  When laying the first course, find the flattest edge of the rock you intend to use and keep that on the top.  This creates a flat surface for the next rock to rest on.

The uneven portion of the rock can be placed in the ground.  Move the gravel around and ensure that your first course is straight and the flattest parts of your rocks are fairly level.  This is important because as you build your wall up all the uneven and unleveled parts will be magnified.  Sort of like a ripple in a calm body of water.

If you are building on a hillside, keep stepping up the courses and dig out your foundation as you go.  Lay your first course, then dig out where the next course will disappear into the hillside.  Then lay your second course across the entire wall.  Then dig in for your third course and so on.

Building up properly

well made dry stacked stone wallAs your awesome new masterpiece starts to take shape, remember these things take time.  Not just any rock will fit.  This is what separates the “men from the boys”.  I have built up most of a wall and stood back to look at it, and wasn’t “feeling” what I was looking at.  At that point I undid a course or two and then rebuilt it.

Remember when you do this, especially if it is for yourself, you are the one that has to look at it so take your time and make it what you imagine it could be.

As you build up it is very important to break the vertical seam.  What I mean by this is to make a letter “T”.  As you build you may have one or two courses where the seams between the stones line up with one another.  It is important to break that seam by laying another stone across the seam.

Never go further than three courses without breaking the seam.  That’s the rule of thumb that I use and it has suited me well.  This adds strength and stability to your wall.  If you don’t break the seam, the wall will topple over.

Drainage and backfill

gravelBuilding your wall up, it is important to back fill behind it as you go.  This will help tie everything together to give you a “rock solid” finished product.  It is important to have proper drainage behind your wall to help alleviate the pressure from excess rain or melting snow.

To be sure your wall is backfilled properly, bring dirt up to about 4” – 6” from the back of the wall.  Do this as you go.  Bring the dirt up every one or two courses.  As you bring the dirt up there will be a gap between the dirt and your wall.  Fill the gap with gravel.  This will allow water to escape without washing out your awesome wall.

If you have major drainage issues where your wall is being built, you can also place drain tile (4” perforated flexible drain pipe) behind the wall before backfilling it to help guide the water to where you want it to go.  Just remember water will always go to the lowest point trying to seek its own level.

I have seen many mistakes where people thought that just because they put in drain tile the water would just magically flow against gravity.  Just a side note, that’s all.  If you do use drain tile or any other method just be sure that it is place and pitched in the direction you want it to flow.

Use a Dead Man to Hold It Together

As your wall begins to take shape there is another technique you may want to take advantage of.  This also depends on how high you intend to build your wall.  If it is nothing more than 2 or 3 courses high then don’t bother with this, however if it is of significant height this will be paramount to your success.

Instead of just having all your rocks follow the wall in a line, use longer rocks and lay them so the face is flush with the outside of the wall, but the rest of the large rock goes back into the dirt behind it.  This technique ties the wall in to the dirt it is retaining.  These dead men act as anchors keeping your wall secure and tying the whole thing together.

Keep At It

short stone wallBuilding a stone wall isn’t for everyone.  If you are like me and loved playing with Legos as a kid, then I think you should give it a shot.  It’s like having a never ending Lego set.  Yes, all the pieces may not fit perfectly together but when you find that perfect fit and your progress is rolling along, there is no better feeling.

One last word of advise, be sure you have enough rocks before you start.  When you think you have enough, get more.  You can never have enough, and when you are looking for that perfect fit it’s better to have many to choose from.  The last picture in this post was a poor attempt at a wall, I used all the rocks, and the ones you see are all I had left.

Just like people have writers block, the same type of thing can happen with a project like this.  The best remedy is to walk away for a bit and then come back to it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they sure have some beautiful stone work that has stood the test of time.

Conclusion

A dry stacked stone wall has a certain romantic charm to it.  It brings something magical to the landscape.  I would love to hear your experiences with this type of project.  Did you set out to build it and give up?  Did you seek out help?  What kinds of stones do you use for your projects?  Please leave any comments or questions below.  I would love to hear from you, and will respond ASAP.  Thanks for reading and keep building!

May 9, 2018

Small Garden Pond Ideas – Something for Every Budget

pink water lily

These small garden pond ideas prove good things do come in small packages.  Ok, you see all these wonderful pictures on Pinterest, Facebook, or even on display at your local garden center.   It’s got you thinking, “why can’t I have that?”.

This is the sort of hobby where you can start out small and scale up as you go. Perhaps jumping right into something and spending a couple thousand dollars isn’t how you want to start out.  If you want to test the waters (pun intended) before diving right in then these smaller, more budget friendly kits may be exactly what you are looking for.

Budget friendly pond kits

pink water lilySo what do I mean by budget friendly?  First let’s define exactly what “budget friendly” means.  Obviously this is a relative term, but for the sake of this article I’m talking a range of prices between $100 and $500.  At these prices, getting your hands on your own back yard pond is definitely within reach.  Let’s see what the best options are for building a pond a budget.

$100 or Less

At this price point you can create a small water garden for planting in.  Most species of aquatic plants do quite well in container gardens.  All that is required is a large pot with no drain hole in the bottom, and then simply place your plants in and above the water.  Occasionally the plants will require some plant food to obtain the required nutrients.  You could also decide to put in a few small goldfish.  This will bring your garden to life!

What you get for the money:

  • Large Vase or Planter (without a drain hole)
  • Aquatic plants
  • bamboo return with circulation pump
  • Aerator (if desired)
  • Small goldfish… see your local pet store for feeder goldfish.  They are inexpensive and will bring your container garden to life!

I’ve put together some products to help you get going.  This will help you to “get your feet wet” and put a water feature just about anywhere.

$100 – $200

Stepping up your price point a bit may get you started with a complete pond starter kit.  You could also get a pump and small fountain for this price.  A rigid liner would even be able to house some small gold fish.  This set up can be made to look natural depending on your creativity and desire to make it blend into the landscape.

If space is at a premium for you, then this is your ticket for sure!  I have seen many smaller ponds that look amazing, all because of the plantings around them.  The more greenery used, the more natural they look.  Depending on your climate, you may be able to get away with a few small goldfish to inhabit your new garden all year long.algreen 1,200 gallon pond kit

What you get for the money:

  • 14’ x 14’ pond liner up to 1,200 gallons use our pond calculator to see actual dimensions
  • UV filter to kill any algae and keep the water clear
  • 850 GPH pump
  • 12” rise fountain
  • 3 lights with transformers

Click here for best price and availabilityclick here

Follow the same steps as the how to build a water garden guide, just on a smaller scale. You will be enjoying the ambiance of the sound of moving water in no time.

$300 – $500

This will be the last level within our price point.  With another small price increase, you can step up to the next level.  Within this price range you can outfit a very nice small pond.  This kits available at within this range will give you complete kits with a flexible liner and everything else you may need to get started.

Like I said earlier, you can get a nice starter kit with just the essentials, then add on other things in the future.  For example, it’s better to get a kit with a better pump, or larger waterfall rather than one that comes with lots of lights.  You can always add things like lights later.  My advice, get the best bare essentials that will fit your budget.  Then get the accessories later down the line.

The kits below have everything you need to get you going and create an amazing water garden, complete with waterfall.  This is the same company that I purchased my pond kit from.  There are four of these kits that fall into our budget friendly category.

Go Big

Depending on your budget, I would recommend getting the largest one you can afford, as long as you have the space for it.  All of these kits come with the same hardware.  What you get for the money:

  • EPDM liner (link to my article on pond liners)
  • liner underlayment
  • 1,200 GPH pump
  • 8″ wide waterfall
  • 10″ skimmer
  • 15′ of 1″ hose
  • All necessary fittings
  • Skimmer and pump have 5 year waranty
  • 2 year warranty on the pump
  • 1 watt LED submersible light
  • Beneficial bacteria

The only difference between kits is the size of the liner and underlayment that comes with each kit.  That’s where the prices differ.

Patriot pond kit with 8" waterfall and 1200 gph pump

This is the smallest kit they offer.  Do not be deceived by the size of the liner.  Although it is a 8′ x 10′ liner, it will create a 270 gallon pond that is approximately 4′ x 6′ with an average depth of 1.5′.  Keep that in mind when you are looking at different options for your pond.

This size will get you a 400 gallon pond that is 6′ x 6′ with an average depth of 1.5′

This size will get you a 6′ x 11′ 750 gallon pond with an average depth of 1.5′

Finally this kit will get you an 11′ x 11′ pond with an average depth of 1.5′.  This is a 1,300 gallon pond.

Another thing to keep in mind when sifting through all your options is the depth of your pond.  If you don’t make it as deep, you will be able to go bigger, however if you go deeper, then your pond surface area will shrink.

You will not regret going bigger.  That’s one of the biggest complaints from people is they always wish they would have gone bigger.  Now, the installation of these pond kits is exactly the same as the how to build a pond article.  Just follow the steps and you will be enjoying your waterfront property in no time.

I highly recommend one of the 4 four kits above.  They come complete with everything you need to get set up and running without breaking the bank.

Conclusion

So there are some small garden pond ideas to get you going on the right path. Create the “backyard” of your dreams for less than $500.

No matter where you live there is always room to create a relaxing getaway to reenergize your mind body and spirit.  Whether you live in the city or the country, bringing elements from the outdoors into your life is a great way to relieve stress and decompress after a long day.

What kind of water garden setup do you have?  Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Please leave them below so others can benefit from what you have to say, or advice you want to give.  I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, leave them below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Top 5 – Outdoor Fountains

top 5 water fountains

You feel as if you are missing something in your outdoor entertaining space, or garden, try adding one of these outdoor fountains.  These are exactly what you’ve been looking for. Add that WOW factor, and bring a natural element into your vision. The relaxing and soothing sound of babbling water as it cascades down a beautiful fountain. This can be achieved with minimal effort. Perhaps building your own water garden isn’t for you. These can be the answer you have been looking for. These top 5 outdoor fountains don’t disappoint.  Create a sense of “Zen” and relaxation right in your own backyard.

Instant Water Feature

These outdoor fountains can be immediately incorporated to create a peaceful space. Simply add water and plug them in. Let the sounds of flowing water wash over you and melt your stress away. These are perfect for anyone living in an apartment or any arrangement where digging a pond is not feasible. Here are my top 5 picks for creating a peaceful space with minimal effort.

#1 – Glenville Water Pump Outdoor Fountain

glenville water fountainThis is a great option if you have limited space and still want some greenery. This fountain has room for plantings, and offers a wonderful sound to any space. Made from fiberglass resin it can be used indoors or outdoors. This fountain comes with everything you need, a 15’ long power cord that plugs into a standard 110v outlet.

Weighing in at just 22 lbs, it would be the perfect addition to any deck or patio for the summer months. Because of its lightweight, can be easily moved indoors for winter, so you can still enjoy the peaceful sound of gurgling water all year long.

Dimensions: 32” high x 15” wide x 15” deep

glenville fountain

Click here for best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


#2 – Tuscan Faux Stone Patio Outdoor Fountain

tuscan water fountainThis is a perfect choice for someone who wants to add that little extra to their garden space. There are two spouts of cascading water that flows into two urns. It is the perfect accent for indoors or out. Featuring halogen or LED lights, depending on your bulb preference. Creating a warm glow at night, this outdoor fountain will prove to be the focal point of any patio, garden or deck. Weighing in at just 33 lbs., makes it no problem to move inside for the winter months.

Dimensions: 31.5” high x 19” wide x 19” deep

tuscan water fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


#3 – Mason Faux Stone Floor Fountain

Mason cascading fountatainHere is another lighted fountain that will add some ambiance, and peacefulness to your space. The three small spouts in each bowl produce a soothing peaceful sound.

Shipped with a halogen bulb that can easily be replaced with LED. This fountain is created from a cast poly-resin, making it extremely lightweight before water is added at only 26 lbs., making seasonal moves a breeze. It features a 6’ power cord, creating an instant enchanting atmosphere.

Dimensions: 35″ high x 15″ wide x 16.5″deep

mason cascading fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best most up to date price and fastest shipping)


#4 – Asian Garden Tiered Fountain With LED Light

Asian style water fountainAdd a touch of the orient to your space with this beautiful three tiered fountain. This fountain would be a wonderful addition around your koi pond, or add a touch of life to your patio or deck. The LED lighting makes this a spectacular focal point for any space. For indoor and outdoor use, weighing in at 34 Lbs. and can easily be moved to the perfect location. This Zen fountain will add peace and tranquility to any space.

Dimensions: 39” high x 17” wide x 17” deep

Asian fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


#5 – Modern Sphere Curve Outdoor Fountain

modern sphere fountain close upThe contemporary design brings a natural element to any modern design. The luxurious look created by the warmly lit bowls set a relaxing vibe to any space indoors, or out. Create a “Zen” atmosphere by adding this fountain to your space.
Dimensions: 39.5” high x 16.5” wide x 18” deep

modern sphere water fountain

Click here for the best price and availability

(link to Amazon for best price and fastest shipping)


Already Have an Outdoor Fountain?

Keep your outdoor fountain running smoothly. These two products will keep your water clear and your fountain free from scale, while making sure your pump is running at its best.



Conclusion

So there are my picks for the top 5 outdoor fountains I would add to my garden, patio, or deck space. The great thing about all these fountains is that they are lightweight, which makes moving them for the off-season a breeze. This allows you to bring an element of the outdoors inside for the winter months. Don’t wait until the season is over, pick one and enjoy it now and all season long.

I always love to hear what you think. Please leave any questions or comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. The seasons go by quickly, so don’t hesitate, order yours now and start enjoying the wonderful ambiance!

April 29, 2018

Backyard Water Garden Visits The Koi Pond Supply Store

full grow koi

koi pond supply store waterfallThere is nothing I enjoy more than paying a visit to the local koi pond supply store.  When my wife asked me if we were going to add more fish to the pond this year, my answer was a resounding “YES!”  The best thing about having a water garden is going to the store and picking out fish.  I am like a kid on Christmas morning. 

Once my pond was up and running, I couldn’t wait to get to the store and pick out some fish to bring some life to my pond. 

My local pond supply store gets their fish in early spring.  I recommend going to a pond outlet if there is one close to you, rather than a pet store, just because the selection will be that much better, and the prices are usually decent.

My mission for the day was to get my hands on some butterfly koi. 

A Brief History of Butterfly Koi

Koi (link to my article on what to know before owning koi) enthusiasts that are purest, consider butterfly koi to be mutts.  They were discovered in Indonesia in the early 1980’s.  Considered “ugly” when first discovered they were merely grey and brown carp with large fins. 

Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery can be credited with breeding the fish to what we know today.  They discovered that by crossbreeding them with colorful koi, the gene for their long fins was the dominant one.  This allowed them to be bred with color, while still retaining their long fins.

The crossbreeding also made this strain of koi disease resistant.  The solid color black butterflies have less gene strain making  them more resilient than than their colored koi counterpart.

The fins of the butterfly koi keep growing.  Fins get longer with age until the blood vessels can’t sustain any more growth.

These koi have more than just their color pattern going for them when it comes to their value.  Even without properly defined color patterns, they are an impressive sight with their long flowing fins as they appear as dragons gracefully move through the water.

What a Selection

butterfly koi shoppingIf you go to an actual pond supply outlet, they will be able to answer any immediate questions you may have.  In the video, I had some questions about breeding.  I wanted to know if the koi I was purchasing would ever produce offspring.  They were able to put me on the right path.  I just wanted to make sure my pond wouldn’t get over run with fish.

Other Fish at The Store

All the other fish at the store will coexist with one another, including the koi.  They all will eat the same food as well.

Sarasa goldfish – There were two types of these at the store, the fancy tail and the single tail variety.  Similar to the comet except with splotches of white and orange.  These fish thrive in a pond of at lest 180 gallons.    These fish will grow to the size of their surroundings to a maximum of 14”.

Shubunkin Goldfish – These are a great alternative to koi.  They have similar markings and will grow to a maximum size of 14”.  This is perfect for a smaller pond of at least 180 gallons. 

Red Comet Goldfish – These are bright reddish/orange in color with a longer tail fin.  Similar to the fish mentioned above, they grow to a maximum size of 14”, and require a minimum habitat size of 180 gallons.

Final Thoughts

Koi pond suppliesIf you can’t find what you are looking for locally, shopping online is a great option.  I love adding new things to my pond!  The problem is, eventually I will be at my max as far as fish go.  At that point I will have to hold back and enjoy what I have. 

Do you have any different varieties of fish in your pond?  How do you hold back from overstocking your pond?  Any comments below would be helpful.  If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them as soon as possible, so don’t hesitate to ask.  Until next time, enjoy your backyard water garden!

April 23, 2018

Homitt 600D Heavy Duty Grill Cover

Homitt grill cover

Homitt 600D Heavy Duty Grill Cover

Click Here For Best Price!

https://amzn.to/2vDubGlYou work hard to get the things you want and have. Once you have them, sometimes keeping them in pristine condition can be a challenge.  When it comes to an outdoor kitchen dealing with mother nature takes its toll on your equipment. With no shelter from the weather the best solution is to cover your grill with a custom fit grill cover.

This is for anyone who has a grill that is outside in the elements’ with no shelter. Keeping your grill protected from the elements’ will help to prevent rust and premature deterioration.

I have had countless grill covers over the years. I have had my current grill for 4 years now. I am on my second grill cover for this grill. What I have determined is these grill covers, no matter who makes them or what color they are, the sun deteriorates the material they are made of.

My grill is still in decent shape because when it isn’t in use, I keep it covered. It is outside in the sun, rain and snow. The grill cover is a small price to pay for the protection year after year. I have purchased expensive heavy-duty grill covers in various colors with the same result. After about 2 years, the sun causes the material to break down and the cover needs to be replaced. All that being said, this is my cover of choice, the Homitt 600D Heavy Duty Grill Cover. (link to Amazon)

Overview

This cover comes in multiple sizes to fit just about any configuration. The widths available are 58, 60, 64, and 72 inches. It is 26” deep, and 51” high. There are Velcro straps on the side to secure it for a custom fit, and to keep the cover on during windy conditions.

grill cover UV protectionThe Homitt Cover is weather proof. It goes one step above most covers. The weak point in most covers as far as water protection goes is the fact that water can get in through the stitching at the seams. The Homitt on the other hand uses waterproof adhesive on all the sewn edges, making rain impermeable.

Another great feature about this cover is its layer of UV protection from the sun. There is a UV coating on the outer cover to protect it from the sun’s rays. This leads to less fading and deterioration.

Pros:

+ UV protection

+ Multiple sizes

+ Weather proof

+homitt grill cover Water proof seams

+ Handles for easy cover removal

+ Heavy duty 600D Oxford fabric

+ Wind resistant

+ Price

Cons:

– Will need to be replaced average every 2 years (any grill cover).

Final Thoughts

The deciding factor for me, when it comes to choosing a grill cover is price. They are all similar in their fabrication. When shopping for a cover, go in with the understanding that ANY grill cover will need to be replaced at least every 2 years if left out in the elements’ year round. That is why I give this cover a 4 out of 5. I have purchased much more expensive covers in the past all with the same result.

Any thoughts on any other covers? I am always looking for something better, but have not been able to find anything that will stand the test of time. If you have come across the holy grail of covers, please share. I welcome any thoughts or comments you may have. Thanks for sharing your comments below.

April 20, 2018

Japanese Koi Carp – Bred To Perfection

Japanese Koi Carp banner

Japanese KoiWhen I first went into the local pond outlet, walking past the registers and the racks of fish food and various pond products, I heard a sound that got my attention. The sound of rushing water was filling the room I was in. It was coming from the back if the store. I walked through the opening, and out into a display area filled ponds of all different sizes.

These were impressive displays each surrounded with magnificent plantings. The sound that had gotten my attention was coming from the back of the display area. As I made my way to the back of the store… there it was! The source of the sound. It was a waterfall display that drained into a large, deep pond filled with slow moving magnificent creatures. I was mesmerized by their beauty and grace as they slowly flowed about. It was from that moment on that I knew I HAD to have that.

These particular Koi were full-grown, approximately 26 inches in length. I counted 9 of them as they gracefully made their way around the natural pool. I was totally hooked! My only remedy would be to create this in my own backyard to enjoy on a daily basis.

Basic needs

Japanese Koi carpOnce you have made a decision to keep Koi, there are some things you need to keep in mind. The habitat necessary for keeping Koi can be a challenge depending on how fully stocked the pond will be. Some suggest that a pond or fountain needs to be a minimum of 1000 gallons in order to keep Koi. This is the bare minimum! I don’t think this is large enough to house one of these magnificent creatures.

Because of their size Koi require a habitat that allows them to swim, not only horizontally, but vertically as well. They need exercise just as we do. In order for that, their pond or tank should allow them to swim up and down. If a koi reaches say 26 inches in length, then his habitat should be twice as deep as his length to allow for proper exercise.

It is a great misconception that Koi will grow to the size of the tank or enclosure. Koi will grow to the size of that particular type. It would be an injustice to the fish if it were kept in a pond and barely had enough room to turn around. Although these are hardy fish, in order for them to thrive they generally require extensive filter systems to keep the water clean and clear.

The reason there is such an emphasis on water quality is because the Koi that we enjoy today are a result of generations and generations of inbreeding in order to achieve the desired color and scale pattern. As a result, the colorful Koi we see today have a weakened immune system. This makes water quality a number one concern to keep these fish healthy and thriving.

Achieving Great Water Quality

If your focus is to keep koi, then it is a good idea to include a bottom drain in your pond. This will help in the collection of fish waste and for proper water circulation. Another recommendation to maintain a high quality of water is the flow of the water.

Instead of a typical skimmer box/waterfall setup, it is recommended to have more than one outlet for the filtered water to flow back into the pond. By doing this it creates a swirling effect that forces debris to the bottom drain, while the skimmer box takes care of any floating debris. This is the best way to keep the water quality high. Below is a diagram of a typical setup. This is from the instruction manual of the UV light featured here. A UV light is also an essential part in keeping water quality high.

Build a Koi pond

Feeding

Koi, just like most other pets you keep can be trained. It is possible to train your fish to be hand fed. There is nothing like the bonding experience you get from have your Koi come to the surface and eat out of the palm of your hand.


Koi are omnivores which means they will eat just about anything. In order to keep your fish healthy, it’s important to feed them a balanced diet. Just like people, Koi need proteins, fats, carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When deciding on what food to give your Koi, choose one that provides balanced nutrition.

There are many types of koi food products on the market. Some float, some sink. I prefer the food that floats on the water. This allows you to enjoy your koi at feeding time and make sure they eat all that you give them. Uneaten food may sink to the bottom and cause excess waste, which is another reason I prefer the foo that floats.

If you would like to enhance their color, look for food that contains plankton, shrimp meal, marigold petals, and spirulina. These ingredients will bring out the natural colors in your fish. The ingredient that will have the largest effect is spirulina. This ingredient is known to turn the yellow into a rich gold, and orange deeper richer orange, and the red even deeper red. It is an all-round color boost!

History of Koi

Koi artworkKoi have traditionally symbolized wealth, success, and good fortune, along with determination and persistence.

The typical Japanese koi, actually originated in China.  Chinese ledgend has it that Koi swam up the waterfall and through the dragon gate where they were transformed into a dragon.  This story sybolizes many great traits such as independence.  The Koi went against the flow of the waterfall to reach its desired goal. the fact that the Koi swam up the waterfall is where the idea that Koi is a symbol of strength originated.

Koi carp were kept in Chinese rice fields in the 17th century as a food source. Hardy Carp are very resilient and easy to keep making them ideal to keep in the rice fields. These fish are so hardy that they are found all over the world, surviving in all types of climates. The Japanese Koi that we know today are actually ancestors of those carp from China. In the wild carp are naturally brown.

Eventually the practice of keeping Koi carp as a food source spread to Japan. The Japanese noticed slight color variations in some carp. Using selective breeding techniques the Japanese have brought about the amazing color variations that we see today. So in essence the Japanese Koi we see today are merely mutated carp that origtinated in China.

Koi selective breeding results by Seishu Kataoka

Seishu Kataoka Gene Tree

Breeding

This is a topic that is more expansive than I would like to get into in this article. That being said I will just point out some basic points of the breeding process.

Koi typically become sexually active when they are around three to four years old. Typically, Koi will mate and produce offspring all the way up to age 15. The water temperature needs to reach 60 – 70 degrees F. Mating takes place during late spring or early summer.

koi fryIf your purpose it to breed Koi, you will need more specialized equipment for keeping the water optimal. You will also need multiple tanks to separate the mating couples. Koi like to have their privacy during the mating cycle. It is also important to provide them with a fry mate to encourage them to lay their eggs with confidence.

The fry must then be protected after hatching. Not just from predators, but also from getting sucked up into the filtration system. This can be accomplished with the use of fine netting.

Simply for the love of it

Throughout history Koi have been a symbol of prosperity and success, and I can see why. Since my first encounter with these magnificent animals I was hooked. I knew what I wanted. Their beautiful colors and graceful movement is mesmerizing.

Japanese Koi pond

People are passionate about their Koi ponds. The problem with Koi is once you get the fever, the obsession will continue to grow! I would love to hear what you think about keeping these enchanting creatures. Do you have any experience with the keeping these wonderful fish? How about any added advice you would like to pass on to others?  Thank you for reading, please leave any comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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