Ponds and Water Features: A Backyard Paradise

A few years back, I installed a 11′ x 16′ pond with a waterfall in our back yard, next to our paver patio. It’s something that I’ve enjoyed immensely, and has become the focal point of the yard. Any water feature that we have installed for our clients has been become a real favorite spot for them to spend their outdoor time.
I thought I’d share with you some of the important features of a well-built system.The following is condensed is from an article I wrote for the Northfield News a while back.

DSCF0064.JPG

The popularity of water gardening is growing rapidly, as back yard ponds are becoming a frequent landscaping feature. More and more mn. are coming home at the end of a stressful day and unwinding to the relaxing sound of a stream, the enjoyment of seeing the water lilies with their white to pink blooms, the colorful fish, and birds of every kind that are attracted to this little oasis that you’ve provided for them.

One of the most enjoyable of having a water feature is that each one is a totally unique creation. You are only limited by your imagination as to it’s size and shape. A good standard size water feature is 11′ x16′ with a 6′ stream and a waterDSCF0026.JPGfall. If you are thinking about installing a pond of your own, it is better to invest a little more time and a few extra dollars into a system that will give you the most enjoyment for the longest time.A well designed system is a biologically balanced, self-maintained ecosystem. It is totally chemical free so that it’s not harmful to the fish. 1 (6).jpgNot only is there less maintenance involved, but the aesthetic differences are easily evident.

It is a common but mistaken belief that fish cannot survive a winter in in your pond. Fish can comfortably hibernate in a pond that is 24″ deep, if a hole is kept open in the winter so the gases created by the fish and organic matter can escape.. This can be done by an aerator or a floating de-icer, like you find in cattle tanks. Or you can bring them inside and put them in an aquarium.
What about mosquitoes? In a well balanced system the pond fish will eat the mosquito larvae and the moving water caused by the pond’s circulation system won’t be attractive to mosquitoes, anyway.
The nice thing about these pond systems is that they are almost maintenance free, with the exception of taking a few minutes each week to add a biological element that will control the algae (more about that later) and adding some water every now and then. (Or you can get an automatic fill valve soCopy (2) of DSCF0033.JPG you don’t have to worry about it).

If you are thinking about having a water feature installed or if you want to do it yourself, it is better to invest a little extra time and money in to a system that will give you the most enjoyment over theDSCF0073.JPG longest period of time. You’ll find that it is well worth it. Not only is there less maintenance, but the aesthetic differences are very easily evident.
A well-constructed water feature will be a beautiful addition to your home. It will be pleasure to look at and listen to. It won’t be long before you are watching the fish multiply, shopping for the newest varieties of water lilies, or or arranging a special rock here and there to get that “just right” look!

Next week I’ll be going over the basic elements of constructing a new waterfall and pond system.

Improve your basement walkout with a paver patio

First stages of the walkway leading from the steps to the patio

Many of our clients have walkout basements. Many of them will also have an overhead deck or sunporch above them. The space under the deck is more often than not a dark, empty, wasted space that no one uses, or is an unsightly storage area where anything from basketballs to snowmobiles are stored. Some will have concrete surfaces, probably built by the contractor when they built the house. One of the more common solutions  is to build  a screen, which can be some tall shrubs, lattice work. or fencing. This can work if done right, but usually it  looks like you are just trying to hide that unsightly mess that has been getting bigger and bigger over the last few years.

Jon making sure his paver cut will be "on the money"

So how do you make it attractive and usable at the same time?   We were contacted by a client to solve that issue. They had recently added a sun room to their main floor and wanted to make the walkout space under it usable. They also wanted to add an area for a gas grill. We constructed a paver patio under the sun room, and laid the pavers in a basket weave pattern. We extended the patio to include an area out from under the porch for grilling, changing the paver pattern in that area to running bond. This did a nice job of visually separating the grilling  and seating areas while at the same time  leaving them physically connected. The result was an area that was functional with a great look, along with a great view!

View of the wildlife area, before the paver patio and BBQ areas were finished