Water has such a soothing effect, it’s no surprise that homeowners pay a premium for properties containing water, whether it’s a lake, a river, an ocean or a stream. But it’s also possible to add a water feature to your property and reap some of the rewards.
We spoke with Jennifer Zuri of Aquascape Inc., a water garden manufacturer based in St. Charles, Ill., that specializes in water landscapes. Aquascape has had such an impact on their home city that it is known as the water garden capital of the world. Zuri provided seven tips to planning a water garden that will capture your imagination and provide an outdoor focal point to your beautiful log home.
Location.  The first and most important element to creating a water garden is finding the right spot. She said that often people make the mistake of putting their pond in an unused portion of the yard, say a back corner or a low spot. For better enjoyment, integrate your pond into the outside experience. She said that many homeowners select a location close to decks and patios, so that the sights and sounds are readily accessible. When situating a water garden, the construction manager often takes a quick visit inside the home to see where views might be enhanced by a water feature. One dramatic effect is to cantilever the deck out over the pond to get a feeling of floating above the water.
Create an ecosytem. The water garden works best when it mimics nature in design. So, including filtration, fish, plants, rocks and gravel, and aeration are key to keeping your pond clean and enjoyable. Start with a base in the pond of gravel and rocks. Filtration can be provided by biological and mechanical filters, but certain types of aquatic plants can also provide additional filtering effects. Including fish in the pond can help to keep algae from building up on the rock bottom and can keep pests (such as mosquitoes) to a minimum.  For aeration, a small waterfall is the most attractive way to complete your ecosystem and allow the water in the pond to become better oxygenated for the fish.  Plantings surrounding the pond can incorporate those found in the wild or flowers and foliage that best suits your climate.

Plumbing and electrical work. To keep your pond clear and inviting, you’ll need to have electrical power available for the pump in the pond skimmer, the fountain feature and any lighting you might incorporate in the pond. Make sure you include a conversation with your contractor to include this work when finishing the house systems.
Select a mix of plants. Three types of plants can keep your pond attractive and healthy. Floating Flowering plants, such as waterlilies and lotus can be found in a broad range of colors and sizes for both blooms and foliage. Waterlilies are grown from rhizomes, and can either be planted directly in the bottom of the pond, or in aquatic plant pots and set in the pond at the proper planting depth. Marginal plants provide a natural boundary along the edge of the pond and might include reeds, grasses, ferns and other plants that like to have their roots wet. Submerged plants, like elodea, anacharis or hornwort provide oxygen and help to filter the water and keep it fresh. Plants also provide cover for fish or other wildlife you include in your pond.
Fish.  For visual interest, many people include fish in their ponds. Japanese koi and goldfish are common fish to include in a pond, but other species can also be incorporated. Before investing in fish, you’ll want to check in with your local department of fisheries to make sure you aren’t illegally introducing a new species. In some states, the emergence of invasive fish species in native lakes and ponds is a serious problem.  The fines and penalties can be quite steep for bringing fish in from out of state or introducing a non-native species into natural settings. For example, in Maine penalties for introducing fish illegally is a class E crime with fines up to $10,000.
Maintenance. If set up properly, ponds can be relatively low-maintenance and provide years of enjoyment. However, there are some tasks that should be done. Approximately once every three years, the pond should be drained and the rocks on the bottom cleaned. Regular maintenance of filters in any skimmers or filtration equipment should also be done according to manufacturer recommendations.
Starter waterfall. If you aren’t quite ready for the complete pond program, Aquascape offers a starter water feature, their Pondless® Waterfall (left). This is a great option to try out if you’re not sure about a pond or if you have concerns about safety with young children in the home. The gently falling water can make an entryway more inviting or provide water interest in a tight spot. (Photos courtesy of Aqascape Inc.)