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How to Build a Pond

Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
A pond is a great focal point for the yard. It brings nature to life, combining the sweet sounds of flowing water with the excitement of swimming fish. Ponds are incredibly peaceful. You can put a chair or bench by the edge, and feel the stress melt away while you read a good book. It’s exciting to build a relationship with your fish. You might even get adventurous and try to train them! Building a pond can seem daunting at first, but smartpond has designed products that make it an easy DIY project for any skill level. The hardest part is digging the hole, the rest is fun! You can get everything you need in one trip to Lowe’s! The process should be stress free from start to finish. It can cost thousands of dollars to have a “professional pond” installed and maintained, but smartpond makes it a budget friendly DIY with easy upkeep. Step 1: Plan Location It’s important to think about where you want your new pond to be. Consider the seasons, and how each spot in the yard is affected. Ideally you want an area that gets sunlight during the morning and shade in the afternoon. Be wary of trees that shed their leaves during the winter, it can create quite a battle in the fall! Research some pictures of different shapes and designs and try to imagine them in your yard. There are so many different options to go with! Some yards look nice with a classic oval shape, while others demand a chic rectangular oasis. The slope of the ground is also a big consideration. If your pond is built at the bottom of an incline, a heavy rain or melted snow will send runoff into the pond, and disrupt the water clarity. Size & Depth The size and depth of the pond are up to you. Winterization is an important consideration if you want to have fish. Depending on the severity of your winters, the pond must be deep enough not to freeze all of the way through for the fish to survive, unless you plan on keeping them indoors during the colder months. Fish can typically survive in the bottom waters of the pond as long as a section of the surface ice is kept open to allow the water to oxygenate. Eighteen inches is usually enough depth, but if your winters are extreme, 30 or more inches may be a better option. If you want to have koi, you need a larger space. The average koi grows 12 to 15 inches, but special variations of Japanese koi can grow up to 36 inches long! A good rule of thumb is a gallon of water for every inch of fish for the smaller varieties like goldfish and guppies. Research the type of fish and do the calculations based on the large end of how big they can grow to. Consider where you want to put the pump, skimmer, aerator, waterfall, fountains, etc.. This will determine the different area depths. You want the pond to look as organic as possible, hiding the cords, and pumps with plants and stones as needed. It adds to the mystique and allure to the pond. Think about plants; you may want to dig a shelf to put plants on around the surface of the water. Don’t forget to note power accessibility! Accessories: Most ponds require some sort of filter to help keep the water clear. Mechanical filters remove smaller debris, like dirt and waste from the water. Biological filters help remove contaminants that encourage the growth of harmful organisms. Some filters use UV technology to further eliminate harmful organisms and clean the water. Waterfalls and fountains are decorative, but also keep the water circulating. This helps with water clarity and reduced mosquito larvae, and also adds oxygen for fish. If you would like to install a waterfall, a simple option is the smartpond Waterfall Spillway with Filtration. It is easily disguisable and gives 16 inches of beautiful flow. It also has a built in filter, as well as bio-ball elements to help boost beneficial bacteria. You simply place the waterfall at the edge of the pond, hide using plants and rocks, and use tubing to connect it to the pump and voila! A pond skimmer helps remove debris such as leaves and sticks from the water, maintaining clarity. Water flows into the skimmer and the debris is trapped in the box, which is easy to remove and clean. The skimmer is easy to build into the pond and hide. It’s a great option for those who can’t scoop out debris every day or so. An aerator pumps oxygen directly into the bottom of the pond. As the oxygen bubbles rise, the water is circulated, and harmful gases are released at the surface. An aerator helps with low oxygen levels in the warm summer time, and will keep a section of the pond open during the winter so gases can escape. Step 2: Gather your supplies •Digging tools •Pump (click here for a pump picking guide) •Liner •Aerator •Skimmer •Tubing •Decor (waterfall, spitter, fountain, etc). •Rocks or stones (to create an edge around the pond and hold down the liner) •Plants Step 3: Start digging Digging the spot where the pond will be is the hardest part of the whole project. Dig a bigger space than what you want the finished pond to be. Once you start adding the liner and rocks, it shrinks down. Having too small of a pond can restrict the amount of fish and accessories you can use. You want the surfaces to be as smooth as possible; it will make cleaning easier. You do not want any spots for algae and bacteria to hide! Once the area is dug, you can lay out the liner, making it lay as flat as possible with a few folds to allow for the liner to expand as water is added. Make sure to choose a durable liner, as it will insure the area will hold water. You don’t want any rips, tears, or wear over time. Use your heaviest stones to hold the liner down, and create a barrier around the pond. Step 4: Add your pumps Add your pumps and connect them to the filter, waterfall, fountain, or spitter it will be powering. You do not want to turn it on until the pond is full of water, or you will damage the motor. Use more rocks to disguise the cords to make it look as natural as possible. Once you like the initial look, you can begin to fill with water and start decorating with plants and any other accessories you like. Step 4: Fish Prep Before you add fish, you need to treat the water. Tap water contains contaminants like chlorine which can be harmful to your new fish. A chlorine remover with a conditioner will help ease the transition and protect the fish. When rehoming new fish, let them stay in their bag and place the bag floating on the surface of the pond. This will help the water temperatures regulate. Do this until the temperatures are the same, so the fish do not go into shock. A pond can transform a yard or garden. There’s a pond for every yard, with endless design options fitting nearly any space. Ponds can be as big or small as you need them to be. You can even set up an indoor pond if you don’t have enough space in your yard. A simple hole in the ground is turned into a nature oasis, filled with fish and flowering plants. You may even find wildlife like deer taking a sip in the early morning. A pond will help give you another reason to get outside and reconnect with nature.
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How to Pick the Right Pond Pump

Posted on Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Choosing the right pump is essential for water clarity and overall pond health. The pump is the life force of the pond. Stagnant water quickly attracts algae and mosquito larvae. Water in a pond must be circulating and ideally filtered. A pump can be used to power a filtration system, waterfall, fountain, or water feature. Waterfalls, fountains, and other features are decorative, but also play a vital role in the pond’s ecosystem. They keep the water flowing and oxygenated. There are many different pumps to choose from, ranging in function, features, and strength. Pump strength is measured in GPH, which stands for gallons per hour (1 gallon equals 3.8 liters). Deciding what strength and kind of pump you need depends on how much work the pump needs to do. The smartpond calculator is an easy way to get an estimate of essential information such as pond volume, pump size (in GPH), liner size, and ideal stock level (how many inches of fish your pond can safely handle). In order to use the calculator you’ll need to know the shape of the pond, as well as the length, width, maximum depth (how many feet at its deepest point), minimum depth (how many feet at its shallowest point), and how often the pump needs to turnover the pond water. The turnover rate is how many times per hour the pump needs to push all of the pond water through the filter or waterfall. We recommend using a turnover of 1 to 1-1/2 times per hour. For example, let’s say you want to build a rectangular pond. It will be 6 feet in length, and 3 feet in width. At its deepest, it will be 4 feet deep and at its shallowest, it will be 1 foot deep. You want the pond to turn over the water 1-1/2 times per hour. According to the pond calculator, your total pond volume is 335.7 gallons. The suggested pump size is 220 GPH, and the ideal stock level of fish is 44 inches. You could safely run your pond with the smartpond 210 GPH pump, as it is closest to the 220 GPH recommendation. If you want to power a waterfall or fountain, your calculations are going to be a little different. As a rule of thumb for waterfalls, you need 100-GPH for every inch of waterfall width for a nice even flow. If you would like a greater flow use 200-GPH per inch or 50-GPH for a trickling effect. Be sure to add more power based on the height of your waterfall from the water level of the pond. If you’re looking to power a fountain, you should focus on the “lift” or “pumping height.” Measure how far the water will have to travel from the water level to the fountain itself and then find a pump that lifts higher than that measurement. For example, if it’s 12 inches height difference from the water in your fountain basin to the top of your fountain, you want to get a pump that has a pumping height that’s more than 12 inches. All smartpond fountain pumps are listed with an ideal pumping height chart on the side of the packaging. smartpond offers a wide variety of pumps that can be used for small projects, waterfalls, fountains, or to power filters. All of the pumps are oil-free, energy efficient, have adjustable flow control, and have a quiet operation, which is important for tranquility and fish happiness. What else to consider? Built in UV clarifiers maintain water clarity by reducing microorganisms and harmful bacteria. A pre-filter or Pumpshield™ will help with debris. Motors can be damaged or clogged by the intake of debris, and it can lower efficiency and require additional maintenance. Pumps can burn out and be damaged if they do not have enough water running through them. That is why it may be helpful to look for a fountain pump that allows for low water pickup or low water shut off are a great option. Low water pickup allows pumps to work in lower water conditions without burning out. Some pumps detects when water levels are too low and shuts itself off. A pump with a connected LED as an aesthetic option will illuminate water features at night. Choosing the right pump is important for pond health and aesthetics. The wrong pump can be too weak and not push enough water through the filter or circulate frequently enough. A waterfall, fountain, or spitter looks quite sad without enough power behind them. A pump that's too powerful can cause unnecessary water agitation. A little bit of measurement and research will make the choice easier. If you have any questions or issues, you can call smartpond representative at 1-888-755-4497, Monday – Friday, 8 AM to 6 PM.
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Spring Cleaning

Posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Finish your home cleaning now so you can enjoy your pond all season long. Spring has become synonymous with cleaning. The longer days of sunlight and warmer weather subconsciously remind us it’s time to break out the mops and brooms. During the winter we get a little stir crazy spending more time indoors, and during the short, darker days, the house gets filled with dust and dirt despite our best efforts. Spring cleaning has become a movement, a cleansing ritual to help get out of the winter funk and prepare for the the rest of the year. It is good for our health and state of mind. We open our windows, get rid of junk we never use, and finally clean all of the nooks and crannies we promised ourselves we’d get to eventually. Spring cleaning can seem a little daunting at first, where do you even being? All you need is some good music, the proper tools, a plan, and soon you’ll have your entire house tackled. You want to get your house in order as early as possible before you switch over to full-on gardening mode as you get further into spring. Plan: Cleaning can seem quite overwhelming if you try to tackle the whole house in one day. Try to go room to room and make a list of what you want to clean, and try to make a reasonable schedule. Cleaning can be relaxing and fun as long as you don’t stress yourself out by trying to tackle too much at one time. A good playlist or station is essential to the cleaning process. Upbeat music can help set a good pace and keep your spirits lift as you slowly begin to resemble Pig-pen from the Peanuts. Deep clean: A good spring clean is more than the weekly chore routine. This is the time to go crazy and get rid of all of the hidden dirt, dust, and grime in the house. If you can, open all of the windows! It will help freshen the air, which is much needed when dust and dirt are being stirred up. Deep cleaning will help with allergies, by getting rid of pet dander, dust, and dirt. Many cleaning solutions are filled with chemicals, which can be harmful if ingested. Making your life more “green” is a win-win. Typically it’s healthier for you and the environment. Many cleaning solutions are filled with chemicals, which can be harmful if ingested. Supermarkets usually have an “eco swap” for nearly any kind of cleaner you can need. If you’re really feeling it, you can make easy DIY cleaning solutions for a fraction of the cost, using simple ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. Here’s a short list of spaces that get overlooked: •Mattress: Take off all of the covers and vacuum. After vacuuming, sprinkle some baking soda, let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up. Baking soda helps with bacteria and odors. •Couch: Remove all of the cushions (if you can) and vacuum away all of the crumbs. •Kid’s toys: use soap and water on plastic toys, and throw plush toys into the washer on a gentle setting. •Oven & microwave: Most ovens have self-cleaning button. •Refrigerator & pantry: Double check expiration dates and clean up any spills. •Sinks & faucets: An old toothbrush will work great to scrub away any grime •Dust magnets: Light fixtures, blinds, bookshelves, fans. You’ll be amazed by the amount of dust that sneaks in. •Under the furniture: Watch out for dust bunnies! •Air vents & air filters: Do the filters need replacing? Air filters can be a major source of allergies if used for too long. Organize Most people can add a little organization to their lives. Organization helps reduce anxiety and stress. Clutter can send your brain into overdrive, as there is too much for your brain to focus on. It’s harder to read a book in a loud environment isn’t it? You try to focus on the page, but get distracted by the conversations and noises around you. Organizing helps reduce the “noise” by giving your brain less unnecessary distractions, increasing focus and productivity. When you’re unorganized and drowning in clutter, everything starts going missing. You end up being late for an event because you couldn’t find your wallet or keys. There are so many DIY organizing hacks for every part of your house. Do a little research and you’ll be amazed by the tips you can find to help get your house in order. Try and get rid of anything you don’t use or want. Finally throw out any containers that don’t have lids. An old mismatched sock can be turned into a rag with a few snips of a scissor, or an cat or dog toy. Go through the old junk drawers and only keep what you really need. Go through your closet and only keep clothes you actually wear. Your old sweater could be someone’s new sweater if you donate it to a thrift store. If you have any name brand items you never wear, throw them up on Ebay or Tradesy and get some extra cash to buy something you really love and will wear more often. Spring cleaning is a great way to start the new season off on a good note and is great exercise. The satisfaction from getting rid of dirt, grime, and clutter will boost your mood. You’ll feel your worries and stress melt as you donate and get rid of things you didn’t know you had! There are so many ways to get creative with DIY projects to clean and organize, it can quickly become addictive. You can repurpose many everyday items into master organization tools. You’ll be surprised by what you find cleaning, maybe something you lost three months ago, or an oddly placed dust bunny. Once the weather warms up and the ground thaws, you can open your pond and enjoy it all season long now that your spring cleaning is finished!
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What to Expect When Reopening Your Pond

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
The last few months have been spent bundled in sweaters, staring at bare, leafless trees, and grounds covered in snow. Winter is beautiful and quiet, nature seems to go to sleep as animals hibernate and trees lose their leaves. It’s a great time to reflect on life and plan for the upcoming warmer months. Spring is known as the season of new beginnings as nature reawakens. Plants begin to bloom, animals come out of hibernation, and soon little baby squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits will be wandering about. Once the ice and snow thaws and the temperatures warm, you can reopen your pond finally! The first step is spring cleaning. Your pond has most likely been dormant for the past few months, so your oasis may need a little help to get back to its former glory. Cleaning is important for water clarity and overall pond health. Leaves and runoff fertilizer make their way into the pond as the snow melts, and cause a buildup of muck and excess nutrients. This can be damaging to fish health, and lead to an algae bloom as we advance into warmer months. Adding beneficial bacteria to the pond can give the water a good boost and will help battle the algae as it warms up. When the water temperature is consistently above 50 degrees, you can slowly start feeding the fish. Even if they’re giving you the “feed me” eyes, you want to start slowly because their metabolisms gradually take time to get back to normal. They also may seem sluggish, but they’ll become more active as the weather continues to warm. Once the pond is clean and the water has warmed to at least 50 degrees, you can reintroduce your pump and filter once they are both cleaned. If you haven’t already, take a bucket of water from the pond and scrub away any dirt from the pump or filter. Pond water is better than tap water as it won’t place chlorine or chloramines into the pond. Avoid using any chemicals on the pump or filter because they can be harmful to the fish. Keep an eye on the pump and filter when you run them for the first time this season to make sure everything is in order. You do not want to come home to any surprises. It’s better to run the pump and filter once you’ve cleaned the pond so you don’t stir up any muck and debris. Test the water to check the overall health of the pond. An imbalanced pH or high levels of ammonia level can cause stress and hurt the fish. They are fragile as they warm back up, needing time for their immune systems to reach full strength. Adding a water conditioner can help reduce stress. Since the weather can be a little drastic in the spring, with one day being cold and the other hot, adding an aerator will help keep the temperature more consistent, which will also lower stress levels. If you moved your fish inside for the winter, make sure they have time to adjust to the new water temperature. First, place a few fish at a time in the a bag with their current water in it, leaving a few inches of air at the top. Tie the bag and let it sit on the surface of the pond so they can acclimate. Check the temperatures after 10 minutes, and if the water in the bag is the same temperature as the pond water, they can be released. It can be stressful on fish to move back and forth. The process is less stressful when the conditions are as similar as possible. As the weather continues to warm, you can begin gardening again. Plants will need fertilizers, and spring is a great time to introduce new plants to the garden. Make sure any fertilizers added have enough separation from your pond to not runoff into your pond at the first spring shower. You will need to wait until the weather is in the 60s and 70s before replanting any tropical plants. Reopening your pond can be a relaxing and cathartic experience. You’ve been waiting a long time to put on the gardening clothes and get to work! Cleaning and making sure you pond is in tiptop shape can help make the seasonal transitions easier. Your fish will soon be swimming with full-energy and greeting you each morning again. Your yard will be vibrant and alive as plants bloom and trees regain their leaves. You will once again be able to retreat to your peaceful oasis, crack open a good book, soak up some vitamin D, and listen to the beautiful sounds of running water and relax.
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How to Build a Disappearing Feature

Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
Water features bring a garden to life, adding peaceful sounds of water flowing and a pretty focal point. The sound of flowing water has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels. There are many different varieties of water features to chose from. Ponds create an oasis, teeming with fish and floating plants. Smaller scale features like waterfalls and fountains are beautiful, moving, decorations that create music with their flowing water. A disappearing water feature will add a touch of elegance and tranquility to a garden. Disappearing features are magical; you cannot see where they start and end. The basin full of water sits in the ground usually under a bed of pebbles and stones. The water flows through the the planter and spills over, splashing on the rocks, and cycled back again. It looks beautiful and is a great D.I.Y project. You’ll quickly find yourself retreating to your new fountain after a long day, letting the flowing water captivate your senses, and melt the stress away. What you’ll need: smartpond® 300-GPH Fountain Pump smartpond® 3/4-in Corrugated Tubing Tall planter (ideally this would have a textured sides and a hole in the base) Small planter (this diameter should fit snugly into the top of the taller planter) Basin (we used a cement mixing tray) Grate (we used an area wall grate) Shovel Step 1: Place the Basin The best part of disappearing water features are the mystery. All of the work occurs beneath the pebbles and inside the planter. You want to dig a hole in the ground large enough for the basin to sit in. The grate will sit in the middle of the basin with the main planter on top of it. Step 2: Add the Grate and the Pump The pump can be placed discretely in the basin. Connect the tubing and run it through the bottom of the large planter and into the smaller planter. The smaller planter should be nearly the diameter of the big planter, so the water spills over the outer edge of the large planter. Step 3: Hide the Basin You can use pebbles and rocks to cover the basin and surround the planter. You can add plants or any other decorations for extra decor. Step 4: Add Water You want to add enough water so the smaller planter at the top is filled with water and overflows onto the pebbles below, with water also filling the basin. You will need to periodically add water, especially in the summer, as it will evaporate. Pumps can be damaged if they run dry. Disappearing water features are fun and do not need to take up a lot of space. They can be a standalone feature or compliment a pond or waterfall. Water features make great DIY decorations for less than half the price it would be at a store. You can use those extra savings to splurge on beautiful planters and other decorations! The disappearing water feature will impress the neighbors and start great conversations. It’s a must for any garden!
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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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