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How to Build a Pond

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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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

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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Winter Pond Tips

Winter means different things depending on where you live.  In Florida, it could mean wearing a tank top on Christmas and owning a few sweatshirts, but if you live in Vermont or Montana it could mean blizzards and snowshoes!  Ice is a main concern with water gardening in the winter.  If the surface water will freeze over or even get some ice, winter prep is needed.  Winterizing your pond is crucial for avoiding winter fish kills, ensuring your plants survive, and easing the transition into spring. (more…)
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3 Things You Should Know About Ponds In Cooler Temperatures

There are cold weather people who love big jackets and hot chocolate and there are warm weather people, who enjoy bathing suits and smoothies.  Similar to people, ponds can flourish in any season, but have special needs to succeed in the fluctuating temperatures.  During the warm weather, the main concern is algae blooms, water quality, and oxygen levels.  The three things you should know about ponds in cooler temperatures are the decline of good bacteria, vulnerability of fish, and potential runoff exposure. (more…)
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Closing Down Your Pond

Winter is a magical time of year.  Unfortunately your koi can’t curl up in a Snuggie by the fire and read a good book while it snows; they need a little extra TLC to make it through the winter.  Fish are better equipped to handle the cold, but may need to be moved indoors depending on the situation.  Some plants need no help and will surprise you in spring with a bloom of hello. (more…)
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How to Train Your Fish to Eat from Your Hand

Koi are very intelligent fish with unique personalities.  Jackie Chan famously trained a koi to roll over for a belly rub in a viral video.  Training a fish to roll over is no easy feat, and should be worked up too.   Koi develop relationships with their owners, showing excitement when seeing them, and learning their routines.  Some Koi will even rub up on their owners hands when in the water and enjoy being hand fed.  Certain Koi are naturally more social than others due to their personalities, you may have already noticed a few “greeters” always say hi while the shy guys hang out in the back.   (more…)
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Feeding Your Fish as Temperatures Decline

  With Fall around the corner, it’s nearly time to break out the sweaters and boots and begin your diet of Pumpkin Spice.  Florida friends are still at war with algae in bathing suits and flip flops, but those a little more North are starting the battle of the leaves.  Pond care shifts as the weather becomes cooler, and a major area of concern is fish feeding. (more…)
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Don’t Be “Koi” with Water Treatments: The Guide to Water Clarity & Fish

  A morning highlight is walking out to your pond, prepped with coffee and fish food, and being greeted by hungry and feisty fish faces popping out of the water, excited for breakfast. The morning fun can be disrupted when your favorites become barely visible in cloudy or even green water.  The warm summer months tempt algae to take over.  Algae can steal your fish’s oxygen while turning your pond green, which is dangerous as oxygen levels naturally decrease in warm water.  As the weather warms, extra care is needed to maintain healthy and clear water. (more…)
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