Aquatic plants low maintenance?

July 22, 2011

The soothing sound of moving water makes a pond a popular garden feature. Add plants to a pond, and you’ve created a water garden. It’s more than just a name change, however. Water plants soften and naturalize constructed water features and play a vital role in establishing a pond’s balanced ecosystem.

Water plants are an excellent natural filter. For instance, if you have fish in your pond, the plants’ primary nutrient source is the very waste the fish produce. The fish and plants have a nice partnership. In return for the nutrients, the plants provide food and shelter for the fish. Water plants are also a natural algae deterrent. They consume the nutrients algae need to thrive and their leaves add shade to the water, reducing the sunlight that makes algae grow.

There are a wide range of water plants to consider. But, selection becomes easier when you follow a few basic guidelines. Aquatic plants are grouped into categories based loosely on growth habits and their placement in the pond. Each group – submerged, floating and marginal – plays a different role in the water garden.

Submerged plants can thrive in as much as three feet of water and include the showy water lily, the delicate water hawthorn and the largely unnoticed but crucial oxygenators such as eel grass and sagittaria. While the lilies and hawthorns add drama to your pond, their less flashy peers the oxygenators are extremely beneficial for water quality. This group of plants releases oxygen into the water and competes with algae for the excess nutrients the algae needs to survive. Add oxygenators to fight the green slime that can grow in water gardens.

Fish love the cover of floating plants such as delicate fairy moss or duckweed, as well as popular water hyacinth and water lettuce (However, they are ilegal in Florida). Floaters also provide an overhead smorgasbord for the fish, which graze on the snails and worms that attach to the plants’ dangling, filter-like root systems. You do need to be careful with floaters because they quickly multiply. Start with a few plants to avoid too much coverage. You don’t want your entire water surface to be covered because your submerged oxygenating plants need sunlight; your fish like the warmth of the sun; and exposed water surface allows healthy oxygen exchange.

Marginals are planted in shallow water (2-8 inches) and come in many varieties such as cattail, iris, cardinal flower and the rush/sedge family. A broad description of these plants is that their roots are underwater and their stems, leaves and flowers are above the water’s surface. While marginals are usually added to ponds for their beauty, they, too, provide shelter and filtration for pond dwellers such as fish and frogs. Birds and insects are attracted by their flowers.

When it comes time to place plants in your water feature, consider sunlight, water movement and, just as you do when planting in the dirt, heights and textures to enhance the pond’s appearance. Most water plants need sunlight to reach their potential, but there are shade-tolerant plants, including water hawthorn and marsh marigold. Consider the water movement in your pond before placing plants. For instance, water lilies prefer still water so plant them away from waterfalls and streams. Place oxygen-loving reeds and water mints in fast moving water.

Aquatic plants require little maintenance, which might be one of their most attractive features. In contrast to the weeding, fertilizing, pruning and watering terrestrial gardeners know and love, pond plants only need to be fed once a month during growing season and, of course, weeding and watering isn’t an issue. You should remove spent flowers and dead leaves and stalks to prevent the build-up of silt and algae in your pond. In the summer, sit back and enjoy the plants’ beautiful blooms and textures. When winter returns, there are at least two opinions on what to do. Some water gardeners prune their plants and place them in a deeper portion of the pond that will not freeze. Others prefer a more natural approach and leave the plants in place. In spring, if you’ve moved your plants, return them to their original placement. Aquatic plants are generally in stock May through Labor Day. Stop by to learn more about how these plants are important additions to the health of your pond … and a lovely way to add variety to your peaceful garden.

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How to Control Pond Algae

July 15, 2011

This article from discusses the many factors involved in controlling algae growth in ponds. It is designed to better enable the pond keeper to have a full range of knowledge about combating algae growth.

Proper Equipment

Algae is one of the most talked about topics among new pond owners. Controlling algae is usually more of a problem for new ponds. A new pond does not have the proper balance of plants and animal life.

One of the most important things that you can do when setting up a new pond is to get the proper equipment installed. The pump you install should move at least 1/2 of the total pond volume for a water garden. The term “water garden” is assumed to be a pond with lots of plants and some fish. A koi pond usually has few plants and large fish requiring more filtration than a water garden. This type of pond is better off moving at least the full volume of the pond each hour. [Pond Volume Calculator]

Besides moving the water you also want to filter the water. The pump should move water through a filter that is sized for your pond. See How to Select a Filter for a page that provides choices for several pond sizes and filter combinations for you. Biological filtration takes several weeks or months to mature to the point that it makes a major improvement on your water quality. The filter needs to run 24 hours a day 7 days a week to work.

Proper Construction

Another major consideration for creating good water quality in the pond is one that is properly constructed. A pond should have about 40% of its surface area for the deep zone, which should be at least two feet for a water garden and three feet or more for a koi pond. Thirty percent should be an intermediate depth of 1-1/2 to 2 feet and the remaining 30% at least 1 to 1-1/2 feet deep. A slight slope to the deepest level allows for easier removal of debris from the pond.

pond skimmer is highly recommended as it can remove up to 85% of debris before it sinks. The pond should be constructed so that rainwater does not flow over the yard and into the pond. This is one of the more common causes of algae in the pond. Rain runoff carries with it lots of organic debris that contain nutrients that feed the algae. Also fertilizer or chemicals could be carried into the pond causing problems. If your pond is already constructed you cannot do much about the depths of the pond but you can alter the area around the pond to make sure that runoff does not flow into it.

A pond built using concrete, limestone, or marble will also tend to have a high pH, which can contribute to greater algae growth.

Proper Maintenance

Some debris buildup in the pond bottom is normal. As long as this sludge is no more than 1/4 inch or so physical removal is not necessary. In a properly constructed pond this debris ends up in a fairly small area where it can be removed when necessary. Course material like string algae and dead leaves can be removed with a net. A skimmer net or algae net does a good job of this. If the debris is too fine to be removed with a net then a pond vacuum works well. Using the following products should reduce the sludge and keep it to a minimum. The regular use of bacteria and enzyme products is not only good for the overall pond water quality they also help reduce odors, improve the health of the fish, reduces the amount of sludge in the pond which would otherwise promote algae growth.


Proper Plant Balance

If you have a water garden and not a koi pond then make sure you have the right types and numbers of plants in the 
pond. Anacharis or other underwater plants and floating plants remove excess nutrients from the pond by absorbing these nutrients for their own growth and starving the algae for its food source. Also provide approximately 2/3 surface coverage using water lilies, or other plants that shade the surface of the water. These plants reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates the pond; this helps keep the water cooler and starves the algae for sunlight.
[Pond Surface Area Calculator]
Even though you have set up your pond using the right components, have added the proper type and number of plants, and do not have an excessive number of fish you could still have some algae. This is especially true when a pond is young. Other methods of algae control may be called for during the first few years of a pond. As a pond matures (as long as it hasn’t been totally emptied and refilled) the algae gets less and less and may no longer be a problem.

Additional Algae Control Methods

What can we do while we are waiting for our ponds to mature? One thing that every pond owner should do is to add beneficial bacteria and enzyme products, as mentioned in the maintenance section above, to their pond on a regular basis. Not only is this good for the overall pond quality it reduces odors, improves the health of the fish, reduces the amount of sludge in the pond, and reduces the algae. If your problem is green water then you can solve this easily by installing an ultraviolet sterilizer. This is the only way to guarantee clear water 100% of the time [More information about UV sterilizers].

Filamentous algae have many algae cells attached together. It comes in many forms, it can be long and stringy, it can be short and furry or in the shape of webs or mats. The short velvet type of algae that covers the liner and everything else in the pond is beneficial. It helps provide a natural appearance to the pond. It uses nutrients from the water, provides oxygen during the day, and the fish nibble on it. This type of algae cannot be totally eliminated with fish and plants in the pond. String algae, which may coat the waterfall, is a little harder to control. You can physically remove it from the pond where possible. Filamentous type algae will flourish on waterfalls and in shallow streams because the sunlight is more intense providing more heat and light than what may be in other parts of the pond and there is a constant supply of nutrients flowing through it.

We carry other products that will control algae during the time that your pond is maturing.  Barley Straw and Barley Straw Extract can also be effective in improving water conditions for most ponds. Pond Dye shades the water, which limits the amount of sunlight feeding the algae. We carryblue and black dye, this is a cost-effective solution in large ponds and lakes, but it can be used in any pond. If your pond does not contain fish then Fountec is a great product to use. This product is safe for pets that may drink from the pond but not for fish.

Remember that fish and fish food add nutrients to the pond, which in turn feed algae. Don’t add more fish than your pond and filter will support and don’t overfeed your fish.

To Summarize:

  1. Keep the organic load down by keeping runoff out of the pond and the sludge to a minimum. vacuum sludge that has already accumulated. Less than 1/4 of an inch of sludge on the bottom should not be a problem.
  2. Don’t over feed or keep more fish than your pond will support.
  3. Install a large biological filter and give it time to work, this could take several months.
  4. Use enough, and the right type of, aquatic plants. This means surface plants for shade and floaters and underwater plants to remove excess nutrients.
  5. Use biological treatments and give them time to work. Microbe-Lift will help but this is an ongoing process and takes time along with the methods outlined above for balancing your pond.
  6. Use an algacide to eliminate existing problems more quickly. Barley Straw Extract can be used in ponds less than 3000 gallons.
  7. Install an ultraviolet sterilizer for the most effective control of singe-cell (green water) algae.
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Landscaping with rocks

July 8, 2011

There are literally 101 ways of landscaping with rocks, and probably hundreds more. When many people think about landscaping they focus only on flowers, ground covers, shrubs and trees. The elements missing in this type of landscape design are stones and rocks, which provide varying heights and contours that keep the backyard landscape interesting and unique. Successfully integrating rocks into your landscape turns them into a focal point – each rock being placed to create a specific look and feel.

Additionally if you’re using natural rock, it looks like it’s part of your yard’s natural environment even if you purchased the stone elsewhere. Of course the greatest advantage of using rocks in your garden is they require no watering, trimming, or fuss.

Having rocks in your landscape changes the overall feel of your yard. Think of a Zen rock garden as one example. It’s both beautiful and relaxing, and has a practical application for individuals who enjoy moving meditations. Other ideas include using stone in combination with water features for a deep-forest atmosphere, or lava rock for a tropical paradise. The potential combinations are only limited by the space available, the budget and your imagination.

Choosing Rocks for your Landscape

Landscaping with rocks means taking a little time to educate yourself on the different types of rocks available to you. There’s a huge difference in cost and materials comparing a water feature with stone to decorative ground cover. Not all rock is the same in terms of durability.

Additionally you also have fake rock from which to choose. Fake rock is lighter and comes in custom sizes and colors. These stones offer the advantage of having hollow areas that are perfect for storing tools or hiding unappealing eyesores (like exposed piping).

Accent Landscape Boulders

Accent boulders help you build levels into your landscape without bringing in extra soil. They also give the whole landscape design a unique character that impacts the view with a little drama and interesting angles.

One of the keys to using accent boulders effectively is making them appear as if they literally grew out of that spot. Putting the bottom of the stone down about 4″-6″ achieves that effect, particularly in combination with decorative grasses nearby.

Planning and Placement of your Landscape Rocks

Use graph paper and try a couple of different plans for the landscape. Landscaping with rocks, and particularly boulders, is heavy work. You want to get the placement right on the first try. When drawing your rock design I would suggest grouping your rocks in sets of three, four, or five, in various sizes and shapes. This type of plan creates a natural appeal rather than something that seems formal and contrived.

An alternative to graph paper is using computerized landscaping software. This gives you a three-dimensional rendering of what your drafts will look like outdoors.

Types of Landscape Rocks

Small to medium sized rocks have a lot of flexibility in your landscape design. Use small stones in place of mulch in combination with landscape fabric for weed control, for example. Small stones help with drainage around pools and patios, and make a textural filler around trees too.

Place medium sized stones so as to create garden pathways. Or, use them as a natural support for a top heavy plant. Medium sized stones also create rustic borders and low-lying walls with a little engineering.

Three very popular natural stones for landscaping with rocks are flagstone, schist and river rock. The flat nature of flagstone and its unique shape makes it ideal for creating patios and pathways. Smaller pieces can be attached to garden boxes or fountains for a cobbled look.

Schist comes in a wide variety of colors, which is one reason why people like using it in landscape design. Schist has long, thin rock layers that work well in small garden streams. Blueschist provides striking appeal for wallscapes. Greenschist stands out when polished to a marble finish, and Chert has stripes of black for a dramatic backdrop in ponds.

As the name implies, river rock comes from rivers and has soft, round edges. This makes it a good option for landscape designs requiring draining. Of course river rock also suits water features beautifully. Scatter a few river rocks around areas that attract butterflies to give them a soft surface for landing.

Whether you want a splash of texture and natural colors for ground covering or a full-out rock garden, landscaping with rocks is a great choice. Rocks endure the elements and truly offer one-of-a-kind uniqueness in sizes and shapes, some of which are sure to fit your plans.

Use artificial rocks to cover unattractive areas or as clever hiding holes for tools, then bring natural rocks of all sizes into the landscape to tie your theme together perfectly.

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Cool Ponds & Rocks “CRASH SALE,” July 2-July 10

July 2, 2011






Cool Ponds & Rocks address:

2001 Bayshore Blvd
Dunedin, FL 34698
Tel: (727) 738-4974


How to repair a pond

July 1, 2011

Here we are showing you a list of useful steps required to repair a pond.

Step 1: Drain and Wash

Drain the remaining water from the pond. Pressure wash the concrete surface of pond’s interior, then apply a pond caulk to all major cracks. Because caulk is flexible and will shift with the crack, smooth caulk with a trowel for better and wider coverage.

Step 2: Repair Holes

If there are large holes in the concrete, you may have to mix a “quick drying concrete” to mend these areas. The new concrete should be spread evenly with the existing surface.

Step 3: Apply Primer and Sealant

Apply the alcohol-base primer to the dry surface. This creates a bond between the surface and new sealant. After 45 minutes the primer should be dry. Next, apply two coats of neoprene sealant.

Step 4: Create a Trench

Dig a trench from lowest portion of the pond to the highest (where filter system will be installed). Run the hose from the bottom portion of the pond (where the pump will sit) to the top (where the filter will sit).

Step 5: Place the Filter System

Position the filter system on a level surface of dirt. Use a level for precise placement. Fill in dirt around the filter, taking care not to cover the connections.

Step 6: Attach Hoses

A vinyl hose transitions to the spa hose and the vinyl hose attaches to the trickle filter at the inlet. Use the black UV staple hose and attach it with plastic clamps.

Step 7: Attach Filters

Once you’ve determined the proper length of vinyl hose from the trickle filter to the UV filter, cut the vinyl hose with a knife. Attach the two filters by joining them together with plastic clamps at the back of the trickle filter.

Step 8: Create a Waterfall

Another vinyl hose is attached to the opposite side of the filter with plastic black clamps, for the clean water to be returned back into the pond. Create a waterfall-like effect by hiding the vinyl hose under a pile of rocks, but only enough to hide, as the hose can be crushed by too much weight.

Step 9: Attach the Hose and Filter

Next, attach the spa hose to the UV filter and “pond beast.” First, use PVC cutters to cut the spa hose. Then, clean hose inside and out. Apply primer and glue to “seat” area of fitting and spa hose. Push the two together.

Step 10: Attach the Ball Valve

Run 1″ spa hose under the walkway. Add primer and glue to extension, then attach ball valve to control water flow direction. Glue reducing fitting inside the ball valve, then cut flexible tubing to attach the ball valve to UV filter.

Step 11: Lubricate the Pump Connection

Next, use Teflon tape to lubricate the connection of the waterfall pump, then connect the 1″ spa hose to the pump.

Step 12: Finish the Project

Apply primer and paint to discuss the pump and hoses , then fill the pond with water.

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