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Transformation from the Ground Up

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Q: What size is best?
A: 11’ x 16’ - Location and size are the two most important decisions you will make about your water feature. By some estimates, 90 percent of original water gardens sold are replaced later with larger ones. An enthusiastic pond hobbyist always finds new plants or interesting fish to add to his or her investment. As a general rule, a 180 square-foot or 11’ x 16’ pond is a good “standard” size water feature. Trace your prospective pond out on the ground with a garden hose to help you visualize what the finished size will be.

Q: Where should I place my pond in the yard?
A: Close to the house or viewing area. When we initially meet with customers, many want to place the pond in the back corner of the yard away from the house. Unless you are trying to create a private oasis away from everything, this is not the best location. The best location is a spot where you can enjoy your pond everyday from inside or outside of the house.

Q: Will predators eat all of my fish?
A: No - Many fear that raccoons, the neighborhood cat, or other wildlife will invade their ponds overnight and consume all of the fish. When you go out to your pond in the morning and discover you’re missing a fish or two, it’s very tempting to blame it on such critters, especially if you didn’t see it happen. However, please take the following facts into consideration before you jump to conclusions. Raccoons generally won’t swim. Cats don’t particularly like to swim either. That doesn’t mean that they won’t try to take a swipe or two at a fish along the edge, but the fish have the advantage and can dart away quickly into deeper water. The one predator with legitimate credentials is the blue heron. They are a protected species, so taking revenge against them is off limits. However, you can add a heron decoy or a scarecrow motion-sensing sprinkler. Giving your fish a place to hide dramatically helps their odds of survival.

Q: Doesn’t the pond need a UV light to keep it clean?
A: No - UV clarifiers are one of the ways to keep your pond water clear, but certainly not the only way, and arguably not the natural way. If you have a pond that is naturally balanced, you don’t need a UV light. But here are some UV drawbacks: 1) No matter how intense the UV, it doesn’t affect string algae at all. 2) After the regular algae is killed, it generally falls to the bottom of the pond, biodegrades, and provides another wave of nutrition for another often larger algae bloom. 3) UV lights are not inexpensive and the bulbs usually requirement replacement each season.

Q: Shouldn’t the pond be at least 3’ deep to keep koi?
A: No - There are thousands of two-foot deep ponds around the country full of happy and healthy koi. A common myth is that the ponds must be 3’ deep in colder climates or the fish will freeze in the winter. The truth is that the water in a 2’ deep pond usually only freezes 8 inches down even in the coldest of climates due to the insulating qualities of the earth that surrounds the pond. Also, a pond that is too deep may be considered a swimming pool by your local government and fall under more strict guidelines and codes.

Q: Do I need to test my pond water on a daily basis like a fish aquarium?
A: No - Fish aquariums are much smaller bodies of water and the small size makes it more difficult to balance. Mother Nature never tests her water, and her ecosystem does just fine. A well conceived, naturally-balanced water garden normally requires no testing either.

Q: Will I have problems with mosquitoes?
A: No - Mosquitoes will generally only lay their eggs in still, stagnant water, like water left in empty buckets, a puddle in the yard or driveway, a birdbath, etc. If mosquitoes happen to lay eggs in a pond and the larvae hatch, the fish in the pond will consider them a treat and will pick them off the water’s surface with great enthusiasm. The skimmer system will filter out whatever larvae the fish miss. If you are still concerned, another option is to use a natural mosquito larvae killer, such as Mosquito Dunks and Pre-Strike.

Q: Do I have to bring my fish inside for the winter?
A: No - Fish do fine during the coldest of winters as long as you give them two feet of water to swim in. The water must be oxygenated and a hole must be kept in the ice with a bubbler or pond heater. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond and then they will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.

Q: Do I have to keep my pond running 24/7?
Yes and No - Ponds are not like swimming pools that can be turned off every evening. During the spring, summer, and fall, your pond should be running 24/7. Your pond is a living, breathing ecosystem that needs constant oxygen. If you shut your system down at night, then you can never have sufficient growth of beneficial bacteria to fight algae blooms, and your finned friends will have a difficult time breathing especially in hot weather when oxygen levels decrease significantly during the night time hours. During the winter months (in cold climates) you do not have to keep your pond system running. You can shut the system off and remove your pump (keep it in a bucket of water in the basement so that the seals don’t dry out). However, you do need to add either a pond heater or a bubbler to keep an open hole in the ice to allow gases to escape and oxygen in to the water. At Kingdom Landscaping, we keep our large pond running during the winter months, so we can enjoy the icicles that form on the waterfall; it is so beautiful. We completely shut down our smaller pond.

Q: Do I need to drain and clean my pond on a monthly basis?
A: No - The reality is, if you fail to set your system up using the five-part Aquascape Ecosystem recipe so that it’s working in harmony with nature and not against nature, then you’ll be asking for a lot of related problems that may require you to drain and clean your pond out on a regular basis. On the other hand, if you decide to work in harmony with nature, then draining and cleaning your pond should take place only once a year. Clean-outs should occur in the spring before the weather gets too warm and the bacteria has had an opportunity to colonize. Kingdom Landscaping schedules pond cleanings in March and April. Never clean your biofall mats during the season! Cleaning your biofall mats during the season will completely imbalance the ecosystem.

Q: Can my pond have too much filtration?
A: Yes - Believe it or not, you can over-filter a pond. Remember, we are talking about a pond and not drinking water or swimming pool clarity. Fish in the wild certainly don’t swim around in bottled water. If you can see a dime on the bottom of the pond, then the water clarity is just right for your fish and filtering past that is overkill and will create headaches, not eliminate them.

Q: How do I figure out how much water is in my pond?
A: Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.48 = gallons of water. Use the above formula to determine your total water volume. Take into consideration that the shape of your pond is most likely not a perfect rectangle and it has rocks and gravel on the inside taking up space also. So, you may not know the exact amount of water in your pond, but you should be able to get a close estimate. For example, and 11’ x 16’ pond 2’ deep (with plant shelves average depth may be 16” not 24”) would be around 1,751 gallons (approximate would be 1,600 to 1,800).

Q: How many fish can I put in my pond?
A: 10” of fish for every 100 gallons of water. Fish are an important part of the balanced ecosystem. Not enough fish…out of balance. Too many fish…out of balance. Although, there is some leeway, if you start to have water clarity issues, take a look at how many fish are in your pond and how much you feed them. When purchasing fish for your new pond, remember fish grow, so don’t “max” out your pond immediately. Also, in a healthy pond environment, your fish will spawn, and you will have more fish. Kingdom Landscaping offers a fish rescue and relocation program to help you manage your fish population.

Q: How much does a pond cost?
A: $8,000 to $200,000 - Depending on the system and options you choose, the prices start at around $8,000 and could go up to $200,000+ for a commercial water feature in a zoo or park. The average cost for an 11’ x 16’ pond starts at around $16,000.