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Dreaming of Spring

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2017
The seemingly endless months of snow and cold weather have us dreaming of spring (unless you live in Florida and put on a jacket only once or twice this season). Our fingers ache to dig into the soil, tear out weeds, and scoop out fish feed. Our poor gardening tools haven’t been touched in months. Our koi are still sluggish and don’t greet us beneath the ice. It can be a little disheartening. We still have about a month until March 20th, the official start of spring, the Spring Equinox. Until the ice melts, there isn’t too much to do but plan and prep for spring, when the gardens will be brought back to life. While it is still frosty, clean and check all of the pumps, filters, waterfalls, etc. for signs of damage such as cracks. This is the time to replace any worn parts and do any upgrades. Do you need a more powerful pump this year, maybe one with a UV clarifier? Do you want to add a waterfall? Do you still need an aerator? Spring is a great time of year to add that pond or water feature you have been dreaming about all winter long. Check out our projects page for how to build a pond, how to build a fountain, and keep checking back all year long to see what new ideas we have been dreaming up for you. The possibilities are endless. Grab a pump and a container and let your imagination run wild. As the weather warms up you can pay more attention to the plants, pruning away any leaves or stems that didn’t make it through the frost. Check to see if your plants are too crowded; now is a great time to repot. You can also start shopping for new plants. Which annuals do you want to plant this year? Buy some plants that will bloom in the summer too! Plants are a great way to add color to a yard, especially a pond. Algae love sunlight and warm weather. Adding a large plant or tree can shade some of the pond and help with algae growth. Hardier plants can be reintroduced to your pond, and once the water temperature is in the high 60s, you can add your tropical plants. Could this be the year you start a vegetable garden? Spinach, lettuce, kale, and peas are great plants to start in the spring. They are easy bloomers and do not require too much attention. If you can, get organic seeds, soil, and avoid using any pesticides. You can use pots or do a D.I.Y vegetable bed using wood or even concrete blocks. Maybe you want to help save the bees? Plants like daisies, marigolds, wild lilac, calendula, hyacinth, crocus, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, sunflower, and lavender will attract bees. Be careful not to use any harmful pesticides for them either! You can do little fun projects in the spring like adding a brick path to the pond. Is your pond comfortable? You can add chairs or a hammock so you can soak up the Vitamin D you’ve been missing or read a good book. Ladybugs and praying mantis will eat aphids and other pests. You can buy them online and release them into your garden. Kids will love this!
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5 Ways to Live Well Through Winter

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Each season has it’s own beauty and allure. Winter is a great time for cuddly clothes and rich foods. People tend to spend more time indoors and out of the sun during the fall and winter months, sometimes leading to agitation and depression. While too much sunlight can be damaging, in the right amounts, it lowers blood pressure and provides necessary vitamin D. Water is an essential part of well-being and promotes relaxation and mental harmony. In the summer and spring, more time is spent outdoors and the activities are more water oriented. Winter air is typically less humid, containing less moisture than the warm summer air which is why skin gets dry and cracked. Incorporating more water into your winter lifestyle is great for healthy living and can help beat the “winter blues.” Indoor Fountain An indoor fountain is a winter must. Mild dehydration is common during the winter months as heaters make the air even drier. Humidifiers are commonly used to add water into the air. Fountains are a better option, as they are less likely to cause mold in the house. Fountains moisturize the air at a more natural rate. Fountains can be easily managed indoors using a container fountain kit, which is a great DIY project. Container fountains can be as big or small as you like, and add great ambiance to a home. There are few things more relaxing than a fountain. The splashing and running of water brings tranquility and a bit of nature into the home. Indoor Garden Gardening is a great hobby, but it’s harder to keep it going during the winter once the ponds are shut down, and the plants are pruned and ready for the drop in temperature. Small gardens can be made inside and tended to year round. Indoor bulbs can be used for plants that need more a little more sunlight. You can add a health boost by adding microgreens and herbs to your indoor garden. Herbs need sunlight and will do great on a windowsill that receives a lot. Mint, marjoram, chives, sage, and rosemary are great to grow year round. Microgreens are extremely healthy and are fairly easy to grow. You can put them on salads, or in even in a sandwich for added nutrients. Drink Water An adult should ideally drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drinking water is even more important during the winter months, as the heaters suck the moisture from the air. While the dehydration may not always be obvious, it can affect anxiety and concentration. Skip the juice and coffee, and drink a full cup of water each morning. We go easily eight hours without water while we sleep, and often do not replenish until lunchtime! The skin is brighter and more youthful when properly hydrated. Water helps detox the body and remove toxins. If you don’t like the taste of water by itself, you can add fresh fruit like apples, lemon, lime, or even mint to add a little bit of flavor. Reusable water bottles are great to have around, as they typically hold more water and remind you to drink. Drinking a glass of water before each meal can help prevent overeating. Exercise It can be hard to get motivated to exercise. It’s even harder when the snow falls, you can’t go for a run, and the streets are too slick to drive to the gym. Sweatpants are socially acceptable, and you generally have a few months to spare before you’ll have to put on a bathing suit. There are a lot of great indoor exercises like yoga that do not require a lot of space or equipment. Yoga is great for mental clarity and peace. You can stretch the body and tone muscle by adding pilates moves. A yoga ball, exercise bands, and ankle weights can help burn more calories. You can find videos online or even use an app on your phone to guide you through the exercise. Just starting with five to ten minutes a day can help create a new routine. Paint with watercolors Creative outlets are important to be well rounded. Art opens the mind, challenging it to think in a different ways. Watercolor paint is fun and the materials are less expensive than oils or acrylic. You can sketch a design beforehand and then fill the page with bright color. Watercolor painting can be hard to make sharp lines, as the colors bleed, but is nice for abstract paintings until you get the hang of it. Compared to other styles of painting and art, watercolors require a touch of gentleness and delicacy. Each stroke is deliberate and requires a little planning. You can mix colors, letting them fade into another creating flowers and other scenes of beautifully vibrant hues. The paint often comes in a tray with a lid, so it’s easier to transport and has less clean up, making it a great indoor option. It’s easy to get caught up in life and forget to take essential “me time” and focus on general health and well being. Life requires a balance of work and play, so the mind can rest and recuperate. Water is a natural healer, especially for the mind. Winter can be a very drying season, so it’s important to incorporate as much water into your life as possible.
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DIY Bird Feeder

Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
Birds bring a yard to life, a blend of nature and beauty with their various personalities, colors, and sounds. They also enjoy munching on bugs, worms, even spiders, and help with pollination. You can watch them for hours, allowing your mind to still, as they flit from one tree to the next, communicating with one another. They induce a state of peace and relaxation, as watching them forces you to live in the moment. It can help ease stress and make your problems seem less monumental, observing how large and intricate the world truly is, while breathing fresh air. An easy way to attract birds and the occasional squirrel into your yard and garden is by adding bird feeders. They’re easy to maintain and easily double as decor. Birdfeeders can be as easy or complex as you would like. They can be made out of almost anything. It can be more cost effective to make a DIY seed, and you can make as little or as much as you need without worrying about it staying fresh. It’s great if you can use organic bird seed. Some pesticides and insecticides can be harmful to birds. Only use unsalted nuts and no sugar added dried fruits. Birds begin nesting in the late winter or early spring and into summer. You can add yarn, fabric strips, or straw into the feeder and they will delightfully use it to make their homes. Birds have a difficult time seeing windows and can be seriously injured if they fly into one. It’s recommended that you keep your birdfeeders at least 30 feet from any windows. Easy DIY Birdseed •sunflower seeds (less mess if you used shelled) •cracked corn •millet (preferable white) •shelled peanuts •dried fruit Plastic Bottle Bird Feeder •plastic bottle •two large wooden spoons •string or a wire Take a big plastic soda bottle and cut two holes across from each other. The holes should be around the size a quarter. Place the end of the spoon through one of the holes and have it come out the other. The bill of the spool will be where the birds stand to eat the seed. Cut two more holes for the other spoon, leaving a few inches in between and allowing the spoons to cross so two birds can feed at once. A string or wire can be used to hang the bottle. If using a string, a hole may need to be cut through the neck of the bottle. Fill the bottle up with seed and watch as the wild birds feast! Hanging Orange Bird Feeder This birdfeeder has a shorter shelf life because real oranges are used, but it looks really pretty hanging from trees. It’s really simple to make, all you need are oranges and string. Cut the orange in half and scoop out the fruit. Poke matching holes on both side of the rind. Tie the yarn to each hole and leave enough string so it can hang from the tree. The orange should make a bowl to hold the birdseed. Tie it at the top, fill it with birdseed, and hang whenever you want! Tea Cup Bird Feeder •teacup with saucer •strong glue •string, chain, or a wooden post Teacups are an underutilized decoration that add a great whimsical, Alice in Wonderland, vibe. There are a few different ways you can make this birdfeeder. You can glue the teacup to the saucer at the bottom, so it is resting upright, or you can have the teacup laying on it’s handle facing upwards. Wait for the glue to dry properly. If the teacup handle is facing upwards, you can easily tie a string to it so it can hang. If it’s glued at the bottom, you can crisscross two pieces of string underneath the saucer and tie them together at the top. If you have a spare post laying around, the saucer can also be glued to the post, which looks really cool if you have more than one! Mason Jar Mason jars can be easily turned into a birdfeeder with the help of a chick feeder. This chick feeder can be ordered online or found at your local tractor and feed store. If it’s fit for a jar, you can simply screw the mason jar on, turn it upside down and have an instant bird feeder. You can add string to hang it or glue it to a post or fence. Toilet Paper Roll or Pinecone A really kid friendly bird feeder involves peanut butter and either a toilet paper roll or a pinecone. Have the kids lightly smear peanut butter over a toilet paper roll or a pinecone and then roll it in a bowl of birdseed. The seed will stick to it very well and the peanut butter is an added treat for the birds. Use string or yarn to hang them, and you’re finished. It’s really easy and doesn’t need a lot of time or preparation. Bird feeders are great fun and can me made by upcycling many everyday household items. You’ll feel like you gained a bunch of new pets as you begin recognizing frequent patrons. Birds often are migratory, so don’t be alarmed if your favorites desert you for a few months. They’ll most likely be back at the same time next year. Bird feeders help in the wintertime as food becomes more scarce as snow falls and trees become more barren. Down the road you can even add a birdbath in case your little friends get thirsty!
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Your First Fairy Garden

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
Ready for the newest trend in gardening? Here’s a hint: It involves fairies! Fairy gardening is the hottest trend in gardening and is slowly taking over the craft stores. Fairy gardens are miniature gardens, set in a container, decorating to a theme. You can create an entire world for the fairies, allowing for as much creativity and imagination as desired. Fairy gardening is also great for the wintertime, if indoors, so you can garden all year round. It’s the perfect craft for a snowy day and can ease any winter gloom. Children are given dolls and legos, allowing them to dream up ideas, storylines, and designs. Fairy gardening brings back the childhood imagination and wonder, and is attainable for any gardening skill level. Fairies have always been an alluring symbol of magic. Fairy gardens are an easy way to bring magic into the home or yard. Mini versions of everyday things things are notoriously cute and whimsical. There are few things cuter than a teacup piglet. The Japanese have a long history of creating miniature gardens to promote zen and relaxation. The theory of the allure of miniature items lies in psychology. Miniature gardens are less intimidating and give a sense of control. It is something you create and make decisions for, that doesn’t change unless you want it to, which helps reduce anxiety. A small indoor container garden is also significantly more manageable than a large yard. Step 1: Choose a theme The theme helps set the tone for the garden. Do you want it to have a rustic feel or more of a modern feel? Do you want it to be set in the woodlands or at the beach? Once you decide what theme you want, it’ll be easier to pick the decorations, plants, and even the container. Step 2: Choose a container The container can be as big or small as you like. A fairy garden can be created in anything from an old shoe, large planter, or a removed drawer. If using real plants indoors, the container needs to be able to hold water and not leak. Step 3: Choose a focal point The focal point is a decoration starting point. Many times the focal point is the fairy’s home, possibly a teacup with a door or treehouse. The focal point can be a scene, such as a dinner setting, or a fountain or stream. *we will insert more information about adding a fountain here* Step 4: Decorate Most craft stores now have entire sections dedicated to fairy gardening, as it has grown in popularity. You can find anything from tiny bridges, shovels, and farm animals, to seasonal decor. There are also great D.I.Y options, as many small items around the house and yard can be repurposed for the fairies. A big leaf can be a table spread or bedsheet, and acorn tops can be bowls or teacups. Because the containers are a smaller scale, you can go into a lot of detail with the decor. When choosing plants, be mindful of the environment they will be living in. Many plants need sunlight and will not survive indoors. Try not to add too many plants as they can overshadow the rest of the decor. Varied plants of different heights, textures, and colors look really cool. Some plants will stay tiny, others may need to be trimmed back. For fairy gardening, every detail is important and adds to the enchantment. Try to think about the fairies and the mischief they may get into when no one is looking. Show where they sleep or eat. Make pathways or a fountain for them to frolic in; it adds to the mystery and separates it from a terrarium Fairy gardening a fun hobby that allows for artistic expression and heaps of creativity. The options are limitless, it’s all up the the imagination. You can always make them bigger and add more realms or scenescapes. It’s also a great option for apartment dwellers, as they don’t need to be outside and can take up as little space as needed.
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Why Is Everyone Talking about Pond Aeration?

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
Aeration has become an increasingly popular topic amongst water gardening hobbyists because it is the easiest way to combat algae, mosquitoes, and keep fish healthy by circulating the water and diffusing oxygen. Standing water is rarely a beautiful sight, usually it is covered with green algae, inviting mosquitoes, and lacking healthy fish. Fish may not breathe air like we do, but they still require oxygen, which they absorb in the water using their gills. Wind naturally circulates the water but only at the surface, so the deeper parts remain stagnate. Today, people use different types of aeration to add oxygen and circulate the water in their ponds. Ponds need to have circulation to oxygenate the water and release the gases created by the breakdown of organic waste. Typically in a pond lacking aeration, the water at the top is slightly circulated by the wind periodically, but the bottom of the pond never is circulated (and can not receive sunlight for photosynthesis) so it slowly loses oxygen and becomes uninhabitable to pond life. The oxygen devoid part of the pond grows and during a storm, heavy rain or wind can churn the water, and the surface water mixes with the deeper water, the overall oxygen levels drop, making it harder for fish to breathe. smartpond suggests using fountains, waterfalls, and aerators to add oxygen to your pond. Fountains and Waterfalls Fountains and waterfalls are a common way to add aeration, as they are functional and decorative. Fountains pull water from below the surface and spray it into the air. Waterfalls pull water from the base of the pond through a pump and splash it over the surface of the water. Mosquitoes and algae flourish in calm water. Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs on still water. They will avoid the areas of the pond where the surface is agitated. Goldfish and guppies will help eat any mosquito larvae that do make it into the water. Algae requires sunlight to bloom. In a still pond, they can sit at the surface and receive maximum sunlight. In a circulating pond, algae is forced to move around and spend less time at the surface photosynthesizing. Aerators An aerator diffuses oxygen directly into the bottom of the pond. As the bubbles rise and pop, they diffuse oxygen and circulate the water. An aerator can provide a beautiful effect with its LED light ring to illuminate the bubbles at night. Aerators directly combat anaerobic bacteria that can thrive at the base of ponds with low levels of oxygen releasing harmful gases and nutrients. Phosphorus is one of the nutrients made available by anaerobic bacteria which feeds algae blooms. An aerator will help increase the good bacteria and therefore combat algae and increase water clarity. Beneficial bacteria decomposes organic waste efficiently and more quickly than the anaerobic bacteria, helping water clarity. Fish need adequate levels of dissolved oxygen to maintain overall good health in a pond. In the wintertime, fish become at-risk as the surface freezes over. Once the surface is completely frozen, there is no way for the water to oxygenate and release harmful gases. An aerator keeps a section of the pond open by circulating the water, and allows for the gases to release and the water to stay oxygenated. Fountains can be problematic in the winter if the water freezes, the pumps can burn out quickly if the water is unable to circulate and should be stored inside. Aeration is a year-round need. Summer months are typically when ponds have lower levels of oxygen in the water. Warm water in general is able to hold less oxygen than cold water. Fish are more active in the summer, requiring more oxygen. Overcrowding becomes another issue, especially if the bottom of the pond is uninhabitable, the fish fight for oxygen closest to the surface. An aerator works at the bottom, where the oxygen is often most needed. Aeration is a necessity for a healthy and beautiful pond. An aerator can be used along with a fountain to add decor and keep the water flowing. Aeration will keep fish healthy and help with nutrient build up, mosquitoes, and algae. Water treatments may still be necessary to assist with certain issues, aeration is the best way to keep the water clear and the fish happy all year round.
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Plants that Flower in Winter

Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Spring and summer gardens are known for their bright colors and vivacity.  Fall has the beautiful changing leaves.  Winter has bare trees...and snow?  There are many plants that prefer actually prefer the cold weather and will bloom beautiful flowers amidst the falling snowflakes.  There are even a few that will die off in the warm weather and reappear every fall or winter, with very little maintenance.  Plants help bring a pond to life, adding color and fun.  In the fall, before the ground freezes, plant some winter blooming plants around the pond and as the temperatures drop, wait for the flowers to peek under the blanket of snow.  Your pond will look extra beautiful even if it’s shut down until spring.

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Live Well

Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2017
Live Well
“Water is the driving force of nature”- Leonardo Da Vinci Here at smartpond the theme for 2017 is “Live Well.”  We want to promote well rounded lifestyles balanced by work and play.  Water gardening is a great way to destress and enjoy nature.  There a few things more calming than watching koi swim around a crystal clear pond with the sound of a fountain flowing.  Water is such an important part of our daily lives.     (more…)
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New Year’s Water Gardening Resolution

Posted on Thursday, December 29th, 2016
New Year's Water Gardening Resolution
A new year is a fresh start, a chance to reflect and make improvements.  Resolutions are made (and hopefully kept!) as people promise more exercise and healthier lifestyle for the New Year.  This year try adding a water gardening resolution.  Think back to 2016, how was your water clarity?  Were your fish healthy?  How often did you test your water? (more…)
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How to Enjoy Your Pond Through Winter

Posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
Winter Pond
The goal for a winter pond is to have healthy fish and good water quality, leading to a smooth spring transition.  A pond filled with fish, frogs, and snails requires a little extra care, but adds for even more fun in the spring with tadpoles and baby fish!  Depending on how harsh the climate is and the depth of your pond, you may decide to move everyone inside and close the pond for the winter.  If you do not have fish to worry about, the workload is a bit less and the pond can be shut down until the weather warms up in the spring.  Before the water freezes, don’t forget to add any lights or in-water decorations!  Here are three tips to keep your pond enjoyable throughout winter. (more…)
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DIY Indoor Winter Crafts

Posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Winter Crafts
  Indoor crafts can help keep the sanity a when blizzard comes through, and a blanket of howling snow prevents you from leaving the house.  Everyone can get a little stir crazy, kids especially.  Kids can make gifts for grandparents or teachers, it’s a win-win.  You can also trick your kids into decorating your house!  Hopefully in the fall you started hoarding all of the Mason jars you could find!  Mason jars are a DIY staple and make everything better.  They immediately add a delightfully rustic and home-style feel. (more…)
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