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There are five main categories of water features and all five can be a joy to own, but you have to first choose which type of feature you want and then make sure it is properly designed, built and cared for. Here you will find descriptions of each and tips, tricks and other valuable information about Small backyard ponds, Large Ponds/Lakes and Large Fountains that it took us many years to acquire and develop while designing and installing affordable, high quality/low maintenance water features.


Getting Started

Water features can be a very beautiful, relaxing and low maintenance addition to your property. When you decide to put any type of water feature on your property, careful consideration should be given to design and equipment to ensure that your new water feature functions properly and does not become a green, stagnant, debris filled, mosquito breeding nightmare. Please consult someone with knowledge about proper design and equipment or just Contact Us. Believe me when I say I have spent many days correcting what started out as beautiful, well intended projects by others. Now on to more pleasant things.

  1. Koi Ponds and Water Gardens - A properly designed, self contained (liner) pond is like a living creature with a “body”- water/fish/plants, and needs a “heart”- pump, “lungs”- filter/aeration, “digestive system”- biological beneficial bacteria, and what I consider the “soul” of the pond, the skimmer, as it pre filters the water for and hides/protects the pump and UV light, if necessary and sometimes an automatic water level control, eliminating most clogging issues for the heart and lungs. Most importantly It relies on the builder and owner for the “brains”. When building a fish pond or water garden, you are trying to establish a balanced ecosystem. Most all types of plants, fish, beneficial bacteria and all associated creatures are a possibility and are very important. The closer you can imitate a natural pond ecosystem the more success you will have. Fish help fertilize plants and eat some algae, plants help filter water and absorb nutrients, beneficial bacteria also remove nutrients from the water, insects pollinate plants, frogs eat insects, etc...
  2. Basin Fountains - When building a basin type fountain you usually try to create a sterilized environment similar to a pool or spa with cascades, falls and/or spray nozzles, which come in many varieties and sizes. Then you use chlorine and sand/cartridge filters to maintain pristine pool quality water. This option eliminates any possibility of fish or plants, but is great for sight and sound
  3. Pond/Fountain combo - This works really well when properly designed, you can have the best of both worlds. This option allows you to add most any types of fish and plants to your water to enjoy, while having waterfalls, spray nozzles and many other really creative items that the industry has come up with lately, such as bubbling/trickling trees and boulders.
  4.  “Pondless” waterfall or fountain which allows you to have a waterfall, bubbler fountain, or bubbling/trickling trees and boulders. These features have many options, that again eliminate the possibility of fish, but you can still have certain plants. With this type of system there is very little maintenance and it can be turned on or off at any time, unless it is below freezing, which requires pump removal and maybe system purging.
  5. Large ponds and Lakes – These are primarily for land/home/business owners and require a lot of space, but are a dream to own and if properly designed and constructed, there are limitless options. Your imagination is your only limitation. Please read maintenance tips below.

Visit our Portfolio Page for some examples of all five.


  • Empty skimmer basket weekly or as needed to remove debris.
  • Rinse skimmer filter weekly or as needed to maintain maximum water flow.
  • Maintain proper water level weekly if not automatic so you will not be adding so much fresh water at one time. Fix any major leaks immediately.
  • Add beneficial bacteria concentration per directions, this consumes the excess nutrients that algae needs to grow, breaks down solids the skimmer might miss, helps remove ammonia and nitrates while also improving dissolved oxygen levels.
  • Check ph if you suspect a problem in water conditions, adjust if needed with ph up or ph down.
Small Pond
  • Do not put harmful chemicals in your pond to kill algae, when you kill algae it sinks to the bottom, decomposes and creates nutrients for a new and bigger algae bloom. Try Green Clean™ and follow up with Microbe Lift PBL™ or other natural biological products.
  • Do not over feed fish -use a floating ring made of small tubing, anchored with fishing line to regulate. This allows fish to come up under to eat and keeps food out of skimmer. Feed a little at a time.
  • Put any free floating  plants in similar ring so they do not wind up in the skimmer.
  • Schedule yearly cleaning to get out built up waste which can create excess ammonia, and nitrates that can cause fish kills on the hot days of summer, it will also remove excess nutrients that cause algae blooms. Best done early march - mid may but can be done anytime necessary.
  • Use pumps with solids handling capability to prevent clogging.
  • Use skimmers with basket and filter handles above waterline for easy maintenance. Skimmers also house the pump and sometimes the UV light and water level control, eliminating unsightly plumbing in your pond.
  • Use biological filters that create a waterfall for aeration and only have to be cleaned once a year, and/or use bubble aeration.
  • Add UV light only if you have a problem with green water-usually caused by too much direct sunlight ,or excess nutrients, which can usually be fixed naturally by, following directions on beneficial bacteria and/or adding an arbor or other type of shade over your pond.
  • Add auto water control if you take frequent trips or to reduce general maintenance.
  • Remember plants, fish, frogs, insects, beneficial bacteria and all associated creatures are an important part of your ecosystem
  • Locate your pond close to your porch or deck so you can enjoy it conveniently and comfortably and/or build a pergola or arbor for a sitting area.
  • Line all horizontal surfaces with small stone or gravel and all vertical walls with larger stone to keep UV rays from damaging liner and to give the beneficial bacteria more area to colonize.
  • For ponds deeper than 30" place a pump on the bottom with a aerator nozzle above or near the water level or add bubble aeration to bring up uncirculated water and add oxygen.
  • For ponds with a high fish load or high nutrient levels install a bottom drain to help remove bottom sludge build up.
  • Build a cave for fish to hide from predators, and/or use some type of predator control such as a motion activated sprayer like the (scarecrow™).
  • Light up your pond for spectacular night time viewing.


  • When building make sure to put in proper overflow and drainage equipment so you can control water levels
  • Good aeration is the first and most important step to preventing algae and most other unwanted water quality situations.
  • Aerators/floating fountains(1) bring up otherwise uncirculated water from the bottom, which mixes the water column and helps to control algae, foul odors and distribute beneficial bacteria populations and any other treatments thoroughly(2) provide the much needed dissolved oxygen that fish, beneficial bacteria and all other aquatic life need to survive, especially during hot weather(3) help keep debris pushed out to the edges for easy collection(4) provide a beautiful water and light show for you and your guests to enjoy
  • A variety of Submersible aerators are available for those who do not want a visible display
  • Unless you have a severe existing problem do not put harmful chemicals in your water to kill algae or weeds, when you kill algae/vegetation it sinks to the bottom, decomposes, feeds the next algae bloom and can harm aquatic life and the environment. You also loose depth each year due to accumulation (your pond will eventually fill in) and risk costly dredging in the future. If chemicals are necessary make sure to consult a professional to choose the correct product and application procedures for your situation. Then follow up with aeration, grass carp and beneficial bacteria treatments for maintenance.
  • Use beneficial bacteria concentrations (bio-augmentation) to remove excess nutrients and bottom sludge that algae needs to grow. You can even regain some of your lost depth. For mild cases, try GreenClean™ and follow up with MicrobeLift PBL™ or other trusted brands of beneficial bacteria. For severe cases please consult a professional for advice on the proper product for your situation.
  • Stock 10-15 sterile grass carp per acre to control aquatic vegetation. They do not reproduce, they consume massive quantities of vegetation each day and live 15-20 years.
  • In very shallow ponds non toxic dye can be used (with aeration and beneficial bacteria concentrations) to help prevent UV light penetration that and algae aquatic vegetation needs to grow.
Large Lake
  • There are also debris skimmers available for large ponds and lakes to collect surface debris before it sinks to the bottom to decay and cause problems. They are also a great way to add a waterfall on the opposite end and create a beneficial flow across your pond while adding beauty.
  • Build a sitting area with shade, picnic table and maybe a dock for fishing or boating so you can enjoy your pond/lake more readily
  • Properly stock and fish your pond to keep a healthy balance
  • Contact us for our simple 3 step pond/lake water quality management program.


  • Make sure to use proper equipment for a more enjoyable and maintenance free fountain, such as correct pumps, controls, skimmers, over flow and auto refill, vacuum ports, circulation fittings and proper filtration/water treatment.
  • Empty skimmer basket weekly or as needed to remove debris and check any suction strainers or sumps for debris. This will greatly increase the life of your pumps and help with general water quality.
  • Clean or backwash pump filters weekly or as needed (always refer to manufacturer’s instructions) to reduce stress on pump motors.
  • Maintain water level weekly if not automatic. Add auto water control if you take frequent trips and/or to reduce general maintenance.
Large Fountain
  • Check ph weekly, correct if necessary using ph up or ph down.
  • Maintain chlorine/bromine levels weekly, if not auto or use a salt based system
  • Vacuum fountain as needed to remove scum and debris from sides and bottom.
  • If using spray nozzles place them at least the same distance from the edge horizontally according to the distance they are going to spray vertically, to reduce water loss from splash and wind.
  • If building waterfalls locate them at least the same distance from the edge horizontally according to the distance they are going to drop vertically to avoid water loss from splash and wind.
  • Locate your fountain close to your porch or deck so you can enjoy it readily, and/or build an arbor or pergola for a sitting area.
  • Light up your fountain for spectacular night time viewing.    

For examples of the above mentioned products and design methods please visit our Online Store and Portfolio pages. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.