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Koi Pond Or Pondless Waterfall – Where Do I Begin?
1.) Have you considered a water feature?– Is it true that a water feature will add equity to my home? What about the pool? Doesn’t a pond require a lot of maintenance? What is the average cost? Do I need a building permit? Do I have to have fish?…we travel a lot!
American Society of Landscape Architects
Landscape architects identify trends for 2007
WASHINGTON , Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –“Sustainable design is bigger than ever, and homeowners and commercial owners alike are looking to get more out of their outdoor spaces. The new year will bring a number of exciting and creative landscape design solutions for architects.
Homeowners ask landscape architects to design complete outdoor spaces, such as kitchens and bars, for entertaining. Water features such as koi ponds, waterfalls and fountains remain popular (with no signs of slowing down), according to a new survey of leading members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).”
The American Nursery Association reports that “water features are the fastest growing landscaping trend since 1990 (2007 is set to break all records.)”
Regionally, in-ground pools will add about 5 percent to a home’s value in the Northeast, about 6 percent in the Midwest, and 7.5 percent in the Southeast and West. In the Southwest, a pool will add nearly 11 percent to a home’s value.
Adding a $35,000 pool to a $300,000 home will barely recoup your initial cost. However, you still have high maintenance costs and you’ve just limited your future home buyers to people who want a pool. Therefore, you have effectively reduced the equity in your home. On the other hand, everyone loves beautiful water features, young and old! Therefore, increased capital!
Pools require constant attention and maintenance. Unlike ponds, pool owners cannot rely on the nitrogen cycle to help keep the water healthy. This can only be achieved with due care and countless chemicals. Unlike a pond, the enjoyment of a pool comes from its use; and for most regions of the country, the climate dictates a very short time for pool use. Unless you heat your pool, you are throwing more money into your pool.
A pond requires minimal attention compared to a swimming pool. Once a properly constructed pond is established with the right ratio of fish, plants and biological elements, the pond will take care of itself, the rest is year round enjoyment. You don’t have to use a pond as a swimming pool, it just needs to be there for you to enjoy.
2.) What should I do about the safety of my young children or grandchildren? How big should it be? Can I do it myself or do I need professional help in building a pond?
Unlike swimming pools, ponds can be childproofed at very little cost. The pool, however, requires a special self-closing door with special latches. Another code requirement is a 95-decibel alarm on all exit doors leading to the yard.
And for your added peace of mind, you can install an unsightly, removable, lightweight fence that costs hundreds of dollars. Then you can constantly worry about whether you or someone else forgot to close the gate of the fence.
The pond, however, can be filled with large rocks that can be removed later when the children are older. Or you can build a waterfall without a pond to begin with. Now you can still enjoy the sight and sound of cascading water without worrying about safety.
An additional advantage of pondless waterfalls is that pondless waterfalls are less expensive to build and maintain. A pondless waterfall can be added to your front yard, meet all building code requirements, increase curb appeal and therefore increase your home’s equity and resale value.
“Water feature size” is a relative term. There are many factors to consider. Much more than can be discussed in the space I have allotted for this article. I will talk about this in the next article. A few questions to ask yourself: How big is your yard? Where do you spend most of your time? What is your budget? How does the size, shape and topography of your yard relate to certain building code restrictions? Will existing groundwater affect your water feature? Does your property currently have adequate drainage? Do you have underground installations? If so, where are they located? What are the local building codes regarding pond depth? Do you need a building permit or a licensed contractor?…just to name a few of the topics covered.
Whether you need a professional contractor is another article. What type of access do you have to your property? Do you want big boulders? If so, is there a suitable vacancy for a crane or Bobcat? How to find a qualified contractor? How do you qualify them? Are they properly licensed? Insured? Bound? Workers compensation? Liability Insurance? Hospitalization? References? Background checks and much, much more. Do your homework and do your research before you start, it could save you thousands of dollars.
3.) What is the most important first step in building a water feature? What about the equipment? Should I get a koi fish and a turtle? Where should I place my pond and waterfall? All these questions can be answered with two words: Plan & Design!
First, decide where you spend most of your leisure activities…family room, living room, patio, etc. Your waterfall and pond should be in close proximity to that location. Not in a remote corner of your property. Sound and visualization are the two main advantages of waterfalls and lakes. These decisions are part of the planning process. Once you decide on these questions, the design process begins.
The best way to approach this stage is to consider digital design. There are companies that can create an amazing digitally designed, virtual photo of your yard by simply giving them a digital photo of the area where you want the water feature to be. You can opt to digitally design your own. There are digital design programs that are easy to master yourself for less than a hundred dollars. Simply search the web by typing in digitally designed ponds or waterfalls.
The type of equipment you should use depends on the size of your pond. Your budget is another factor. If you are on a tight budget, you are thinking about designing a small pond. In addition, look at the available options for building materials.
You can buy a rubber trim kit and install it yourself or have a rubber trim kit installer install it for you. The bottom line, anyway, is that there’s no guarantee that critters with uneven teeth, like mice, rats, squirrels, gophers, and pigs, won’t burrow under your expensive rubber siding and chew a hole in it. Concrete (3500psi) and rebar is the best method of construction, and if done correctly, will last for generations. Concrete ponds cost only 10 to 20% more to build than lined ponds.
Your pond will require less maintenance if you let the nitrogen cycle do all the work. This means you have to do your part by providing the elements necessary for the nitrogen cycle to function. Fish produce waste that produces nitrates and ammonia. Certain essential bacteria break down nitrates and ammonia into safe byproducts that are used by plants and other organisms.
Once this process is started, with the help of a biological filter and possibly ultraviolet light, future maintenance is minimal and routine. An overhead high efficiency pump produces more water flow with half the energy and lower initial cost than a sump pump used with lined ponds. The savings in electricity costs alone could easily cover the additional costs of professional concrete construction in less than three years.
4.) Where can I find the equipment and building materials I need to complete my project? How will I know what size filter, pump or UV light I need? If I want to have a concrete pond and waterfall, where do I start?
The Internet is the best place to start looking for equipment. Local pond stores tend to have higher prices due to overhead costs. Most online retailers are knowledgeable about sizing pumps, filters, and UV lights for any size pond or waterfall. However, keep in mind that most online retailers try to push pond liners, pool pumps and filters and accessories related to pond liners.
Look first for energy-efficient pumps, and these dealers will have concrete pond related products such as bottom drains, pool skimmers, and biological filters with pressurized beads that can be backwashed. Also, Liner distributors sell cheap mechanical automatic filling devices because of the high profit margin.
Be sure to invest in a reliable electronic automatic filling system that is less likely to fail, such as leveling devices and aquafill systems. A stuck float could cause the death of all your fish from chlorine poisoning and possibly thousands of dollars in flood damage.
By acting as your own project manager, you can get competitive bids from a local concrete contractor to pour your pond and waterfall. Also find a stonemason to build your waterfall using mortar. With ponds and waterfalls on the line, the rocks lie on the line and can easily move when adults or children step on them, which can lead to serious accidents.
Trying to save hundreds upfront could end up costing you thousands later. What you paid for is what you got.
Penny wise and [pond] stupid? Happy koi, peace and joy.
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