Considerations Before You Install a Backyard Water Feature

A beautiful and tranquil water feature is pictured in this outdoor setting created by Tell Three Friends. Photo by: Susie BurnsA beautiful and tranquil water feature is pictured in this outdoor setting created by Tell Three Friends. Photo by: Susie Burns

By: Susie Burns—

I am passionate about water!!  Not drinking water…the kind of water that lives in your garden, falls and tumbles over rocks and ledges, sounds like nature’s symphony and gives a cool respite to birds, butterflies and dragonflies. I love the water that is home to pond fish that dart to and fro…the still water where water lilies love to bloom and grow. An ornamental pond or water garden will be the centerpiece of your garden. Now, you’re probably groaning and thinking of the enormous amount of time that will be required to take care of it. Truth is, if you’ve got about 10 minutes per week, that is all it takes. Today’s water garden systems are so self-sufficient they take practically no time or effort. You will actually spend more time on a lawn or flower bed than you would spend on the same area of water.

Photo by: Susie Burns

Photo by: Susie Burns

Before you build a pond, or have a contractor build a pond, there are various things to consider. The first thing is location. Do you want to see it from inside your home? Do you want to sit on a deck or patio outside to see and hear the water? If your location is in a low spot where you typically have run-off, that is NOT a good spot. Too many things can find their way into your water..i.e. leaves, twigs, fertilizer and insecticides. Is it near electricity ( you need to plug in a pump)?  Do you want koi or just pond goldfish? Koi require a larger deeper pond and triple the filtration…so this needs to be factored into your pond plan. Basically, water gardens are 2 feet deep, but for koi, you need at least 3 feet deep. Too many folks have told me their biggest mistake was not making the pond large enough. So, take the time to really research your options and your pond wishlist.

Today’s new systems include a skimmer and filter working together to keep your pond sparkling clear.  The skimmer has a basket that catches leaves, sticks and debris from the pond. Behind the basket is a vertical wall with a filter pad which catches the smaller particles that fall in the pond. These are pre-filters and protect the pump from debris that can damage or ruin a pump. Behind the filter wall is your pump. It pulls water into the skimmer from the pond, sends it in a 2″ flex hose around the pond to the opposite side where it goes into the filter which sits at the edge of your pond. The filter is a large ( 5 sizes available) heavy-duty “box”. This filter is filled with filter pads and bags of filter media and is surrounded by a bunker of soil and landscape stone, so it becomes invisible, or rather, integrated into the landscape.

The filter box has a lip which, when “stonescaped”, becomes a beautiful waterfall into your pond. It adds not only sound and beauty, but a healthy component…oxygen. Your fish and plants thrive when a pond is well oxygenated. The system is sized, based on the gallons of water in your pond, so that the entire water content of the pond goes through the filter twice per hour. The filter box also has biologic filtration as part of it’s function. The biologic filtration is a necessary component of keeping water healthy and converting fish waste into healthy water. The right amount of plants and fish create a balanced bio-system that you will enjoy for years to come. The pond is lined with 45 mil rubber…NO PVC!!…which has a 20 year warranty. We cover the entire interior of the pond with various types of stone and no rubber liner ever shows. We then edge the pond with stone, plants, river rock and the whole thing looks totally natural.

Photo by: Susie Burns

Photo by: Susie Burns

For some people who just don’t have the time or inclination for a pond, but still want the sight and sense of moving water there is another solution! A pondless waterfall may be just the answer. These can be any size, and be built just about anyplace. Underground, there is a hidden vault of about 200-300 gallons of water. This, with the help of a pump, is recirculated up to the top of a falls and the water flows back down over rocks and ledges to the unseen vault of water. Virtually maintenance free!!

So, if you don’t have water in your garden…let this be the year to change that! It adds beauty, sound and life to your garden. After a stressful day, sitting down with a cool beverage next to the pond is pure relaxation! We custom design and build each pond to the customer’s specific needs and wants.

If you already own a pond and have experienced frustrations or problems, give my company a call.  We make service calls, have bi-monthly maintenance service contracts and can diagnose pond problems and provide your solution.  Happy ponding!


Susie Burns is the owner of Tell Three Friends Water Gardens at 2301 N. Wheeling Av., in Muncie