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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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How to Pick the Right Pond Pump

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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5 Ways to Live Well Through Winter

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

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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Plants that Flower in Winter

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

“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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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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First Day of Fall DIY!

Happy first day of Fall! The Autumnal Equinox marked the official start of the new season despite the signs of fall already being scattered in supermarkets and Pinterest feeds. Fall is such an exhilarating and fun season, there’s no shame in wanted to make it last as long as possible. The clothes are softs, the trees magical, the food is comforting, everything tastes like pumpkin and smells like cinnamon. There are so many great DIY decorations, but ponds are often left out of the fun! (more…)
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How to Enjoy Your Pond Through Fall

Summer is nearly officially over.  Depending on where you are, you may have already begun to get the first gusts of fall wind.  Fall is a lovely time that smells of cinnamon and tastes of pumpkin.  It is a transitional period to help ease us into winter, which is much needed for pond owners.  Besides the fish care, there are other pond elements which must be prepared for freezing temperatures. (more…)
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Why Spring is the Best Season for Pond Life

Everybody prepares for a cold winter but pond enthusiasts can’t wait for March to come around. The cold, long months of an idle pond finally end and you are able to waken the fun, vibrant life a pond creates. There are few things that are both relaxing and fun as Pond Life, and you will FINALLY have the chance to enjoy it. (more…)
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